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Cosmic Debris: The Collected History & Improvisations of Frank Zappa Paperback – December 2, 1999

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Paperback, December 2, 1999

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Crossfire Pubns; Revised edition (December 2, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 096481577X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0964815773
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,809,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Congratulations to Greg Russo for a great book and an amazing research work." -- Roman Garcia Albertos, Frank Zappa site administrator, Spain

"Greg Russo has done an incredible job of reporting and organizing a gargantuan amount of information about FZ. Extra thanks go out to Greg for his more than rational assessment of Ben Watson's failure to communicate any real idea of what Frank was about in his unreadable attempt at analysis. Many of us hated and rejected the 'Negative Dialectics Of Poodle Play' debacle, and Greg's book is the first time that I have seen anything in print that had the guts to take it to task. 'Cosmik Debris' is an amazing book!" -- Tom Brown, Rhino Records' creator of the "Beat The Boots!" series

"I have read the book, and I enjoy it immensely. I'm definitely impressed by it, and I speak as one who has read all the rest of the books. It is a perfect read for both the long-time fan and for the Zappa newcomer. A long-time fan like myself will probably get a pretty worn out copy after a while, and for the newcomer it's a mighty fine introduction to further reading too.

It's seldom that I am amazed by reading about Zappa, but this time I was amazed several times. Many facts pointed out in the book were new to me. The biography is simply great too: short, but on the whole, a true rendition of his life, as well as plenty of little-known facts thrown in. The language is easy to understand, even for international readers, and the book avoids those rude subjective remarks littered throughout other books. It's nice when the author has an affection for the subject! Greg Russo should be very proud of this book, because it's a success!" -- Fredrik Johansson, Zappa fanatic, Sweden

"It's a reference book, kind of a very elaborate discography, and a very good one. Simply put, I like the book and found it very useful. Now you don't need to pay needless, extra money for Ben Watson's Marxist mind-jerking just to get Greg Russo's real stuff! Hi-ho silver!" -- Vladimir Sovetov, newsgroup administrator

"Of all the Zappa books I've seen and read (six or seven), Greg Russo's is certainly the one most worthy of attention, because it's the ultimate Zappa information source. This book has a straightforward brief: 'The facts, ma'am, just the facts' and it fulfils this brief admirably. In other words, if you're interested in a blow-by-blow factual account of Zappa's life and career, complemented by exhaustive listings of recordings, gigs, radio shows and so on... in short, Information, then This Has To Be The Book For You.

Russo's research is clearly extremely thorough....

Overall, there's a refreshing lack of bull**** about this book. It's unpretentious, written in a simple journalistic style, and straight to the point....

When dealing with individual albums, he inserts special box-outs in the text, headed "CCC" for "Conceptual Continuity Clues". These highlight how various tracks - often the lyrics thereof - on the album relate or refer to other points in Zappa's and other people's output. Some of these are quite revealing....

If you're a serious Zappa follower, I do strongly recommend that you purchase this book! -- Chris Sansom, Highway 57 Zappa Zone, England

From the Back Cover

Frank Zappa is the most prolific composer and recording artist of the 20th Century. Besides his guitar mastery, Zappa's ability of incorporating any style into his unique body of work is unprecedented. Even before his death in 1993, Frank Zappa attained success and respect in the rock and classical worlds. In recent years, an increasing number of classical ensembles have included Zappa's music on programs including other great masters, such as Mozart and Rossini. Now updated with amazing information published for the first time, "Cosmik Debris" provides readers with the first fully accurate and comprehensive overview of Frank Zappa's career and output.

Read the Look Magazine article that encouraged Frank Zappa to discover the music of Edgard Varese and see the first LPs he bought. Find out about Frank's early '60s Studio Z recordings and the infamous raid on his studio. Discover the humble beginnings of The Mothers Of Invention and their notorious rise to prominence as kings of the underground. Armed with "conceptual continuity clues," a gig list and a massive discography, "Cosmik Debris" gives Frank Zappa fans a view of his career that no other books has ever attempted.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Hutch on January 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
I have, in the past, collected most if not all of the zappa books. I have read the Negative Dialetics, Electric Don, MOTHER! and a host of other semi famous books - not to exclude FZ's own book on himself... they all have good parts and not so good parts... but this particular book is pretty impressive.
It has a detailed account of each release, the people that FZ ran into, most of the silly stories of encounters. And the best part, the author does not seem to have an opinion of the subject. This makes the reading easy to read... a lot of the books mentioned earlier, either tried to paint FZ as a communist or a socialist or this or that, and the agenda they had writing the book really disjointed the writing.
So, if you are looking for a good book to read about frank and what he did music wise, entertainment wise, this is a very good place.
However, I am not knocking the other books, they were, at the very least, entertaining. I enjoyed reading them. They are all worth the purchase price (Maybe not Negative Dialetcts Of Poodle Play).
have fun!
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By S. M Marson on April 22, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read the following books about Frank Zappa:
THE REAL FRANK ZAPPA BOOK by Frank Zappa and Peter Occhioigrosso
With the exception of BEING FRANK, all were well written, interesting, thought provoking and worthwhile reading material.
Each of these books (again with the exception of BEING FRANK) creates a picture of Frank Zappa. Each shows a different dimension of the same person. COSMIK DEBRIS is unlike the two because it provides greater technical details. For example, Russo provides the greatest degree of information regarding the business and artistic aspects of Zappa's life and musical history. He shows how classical artists had an impact on Zappa's musical proclivities, but explains historical linkages based on the artistical/musical techniques. For years, I've been attempting to explain Zappa to a friend in Maine who is a classical pianist. I don't think she understood me until I gave her some passages to read from COSMIK DEBRIS.
COSMIK DEBRIS provides an important dimension into the understanding of this artist that none of the other books do. It is more technical than the others are. However, and most importantly, it is a critical addition to everyone's Frank Zappa library.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 31, 1999
Format: Paperback
I've just read all the wonderful, praising reviews of several FZ hardcores whose opinions I hold very highly and feel I have to put my own two cents in since I paid the admission price and bought the book.

It is NOT the fully accurate FZ book the the by-line indicates. While Russo does assemble easily the most data about Frank per square inch I've ever seen bound in a book, the usual (and unusal) errors make reading it (at least for me) very frustrating. The photos are great, the discography and gig lists are essential (and mostly right) - this book is still worth picking up.

I have it on good account the Russo has assembled a crack team of aff-z'ers to help correct this first edition and make the second edition the truly excellent book that it could be.

It might be worth the wait to see if this happens. Perhaps the author will chime in and give us his thoughts and plans on a future edition.

edit (10 years later and a few years behind): Greg had made this a terrific reference. Make sure you get the the third edition.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By notverysuttle on December 21, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Russo has compiled an enormous amount of information on Zappa's life, career, and work. The Zappaphile will find numerous details and sidebars to fill evenings of reading and curiosity. The problem with 'Cosmik Debris' is that it reads like a vast compilation facts and tidbits. The author will seamlessly jump from a storyline to a sidebar with little relevance or no relevance, as if he cannot leave anything out. The book is difficult to read because of this overflow of information--it is more like a misguided reference guide.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
Sometimes it makes me wonder what book people are reading when I look at other reviews. I have more than 20 books on Zappa and this is the most amazing collection of Zappa information ever compiled. Since more than half of the information in this book has not appeared elsewhere, it was certainly not cut and pasted from another book. It is, in fact, Neil Slaven's book which is rife with errors. This book, in a convincing fashion, proves Slaven wrong time after time with the documentation enclosed within. Why can't other books be put together like this one? If you want to learn about Zappa, this is the place to go after you purchase Frank's book. It should also be noted that the author of "Cosmik Debris" was also greatly involved with the Original Sound CD reissue of Frank's earliest recordings. No other FZ book author can claim this on their resume. I would suggest that all FZ fans buy the book now!
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