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Jazz From Hell [Original recording remastered]

Frank ZappaAudio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Amazon Price New from Used from
MP3 Music, 8 Songs, 1 Digital Booklet, 2012 $9.49  
Audio CD, 2012 $11.88  
Audio CD, Original recording remastered, 1995 --  
Vinyl, 1990 --  
Audio Cassette, 1993 --  

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Image of album by Frank Zappa


Image of Frank Zappa


Composer, guitarist, singer, and bandleader Frank Zappa was a singular musical figure during a performing and recording career that lasted from the 1960s to the '90s. His disparate influences included doo wop music and avant-garde classical music; although he led groups that could be called rock & roll bands for much of his career, he used them to create a hybrid style that bordered on ... Read more in Amazon's Frank Zappa Store

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 2, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Zappa Records
  • ASIN: B0000009TG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,215 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Night School
2. The Beltway Bandits
3. While You Were Art ll
4. Jazz From Hell
5. G-Spot Tornado
6. Damp Ankles
7. St. Etienne
8. Massaggio Galore

Editorial Reviews

From the Label

Perhaps the first INSTRUMENTAL album to be removed from Wal-Mart's shelves for unacceptable lyric content, this was also 1987's Grammy winner for Best Rock Instrumental Album.

Having gotten his hands on a Synclavier for the first time, FZ was finally able to compose any damn thing he pleased without having to worry about whether human players would be able to handle it. Along with fiendishly complicated pieces like "While You Were Art II" and the title track, the result was also some fun-and-frantic moments like "Night School" and "G-Spot Tornado." For anti-electronic purists there's also "St. Etienne," a majestic guitar piece recorded live in 1984.

Product Description

Jazz From Hell by Frank Zappa

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius working with what would work for him June 3, 2003
Format:Audio CD
Frank for years tried to get his compositions played by either a rock band, or played by orchestras. Sometimes the rock bands came through for him (see 'Drowning Witch', or any of the 'You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore' live collections) and sometimes they didn't. Up to the point of this release (86) FZ had nothing but tribulations with orchestras, and from what I understand, they were expensive tribulations.

Hence the synclavier. A machine that sorta works on the same premise as one of those old fashioned piano's that had a wheel in the middle of it, and it played by itself... you just wound it up... Anyway, FZ took to being able to write any time signature into this computer machine, not only did it play it, but it would print the music as well. FZ, as I understand it, was in heaven. And why woudn't he be?

Yes, this music on JFH misses the 'human element', and it sometimes dwells into time signatures so unfamiliar (even to Frank Aappa fans) that it causes ones head to spin. I remember when I first bought it, I had no idea what the heck was going on. I did know that I liked it.

Steve Vai, former alumnis, says that this FZ recording is his total favorite, and 'he never travels anywhere without it.'

I totally agree. This is a fantastic piece of construction much in the same way Ensemble Modern was later on with 'YELLOW SHARK'.

You won't be disapointed, but you might be suprized.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars passion and intellect galore December 6, 1998
Format:Audio CD
A masterpiece from Zappa, his use of the synclavier music computer is brilliant, one of the most interesting electronic music of the century. The album is full of interesting harmonies and sophisticated melodies and Zappas sense of polyrhythms is pure genius.
There is also one guitar solo on the c.d. i'm a big fan of electric guitar solos and in my opinion this is the best guitar solo by anyone, anywhere. The guitar solo is just packed full of one beautifull melodic line after another, the jazz may be from hell but this guitar solo is obviously made in heaven.
If you only like the comedy/rock side of Zappa this album may not be your cup of tea but for anyone interested in higly unusual, original musical brilliance they should check this one out.
Other albums by Zappa with synclavier music are "the mothers of prevention" and "civilisation phase III", both exellent. And you might want to check out another genious with a music machine, one who influenced Zappa, Conlon Nancarrows player piano studies,really interesting music, highly recomended. MUSIC IS THE BEST.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Techno From Purgatory April 2, 2003
Format:Audio CD
In contrast with nearly all of his Sixties & Seventies musical contemporaries, Frank Zappa's music was increasingly adventurous and provocative during the antiseptic Eighties. I must admit that I find his earlier work to be more interesting, but Jazz From Hell is a masterpiece by any standard.
"La Machine," as Zappa called it, sounds pretty dated, but such is the quality of these compositions, that it really doesn't matter. While You Were Art, Jazz From Hell, & The Beltway Bandits all sound brilliantly twisted. Just imagine The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue performed by Devo and you'll get a sense of what these pieces sound like.
St. Etienne is the token organic piece, and very well-played it is too. Massaggio Galore is the obligatory "dirty" track, but it seems to be the most dated of all. G-Spot Tornado is a frantic whirlwind of a masterpiece. You should check out the Yellow Shark version: yes, this music can actually be played by human beings!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh Hell. June 20, 2005
Format:Audio CD
I bought "Jazz From Hell" around the mid-80's when it first came out and it was extraordinarily hard to find *any* Zappa albums, much less his albums which one might specifically prefer, and I was not favorably impressed. In fact, I think I put the tape in a drawer and didn't listen to it again for quite some time. When I did pick it back up again (maybe because I was sick of everything else I had at the time), I wasn't encumbered with my prior and extremely biased expectations of what a Zappa album should sound like, and I loved it. That was an important lesson about being a Zappa afficianado: expectations will only lead to disappointment with Zappa, so empty your mind before you listen to any Zappa for the first time.

That said, the *specific* Zappa albums one likes says a lot about what kind of music consumer someone is. Most people like the Blues-based naughty troubadour Zappa of.... well... "Strictly Commercial", "Apostrophe", "Joe's Garage" and so forth. When they get an earful of "Jazz From Hell" or "Civilization Phaze III", you can hear their auditory canals gagging. So being a Jazz From Hell fan puts you in a sub-cult of a sub-cult and even further at odds with mainstream culture. For the most part, the "true" Zappa fans are not JFH fans.

Nevertheless, I think Jazz From Hell is not only highly enjoyable to listen to, but a piece of music culture equivalent to (but far less appreciated than) Andy Warhol: it captures something about early digital music in the late 70's / early 80's that is just spectacular and inimitable. Jazz From Hell isn't just a good listen, it's a piece of cultural history claimed by one of those vanguards who earned their way into the books by forceing themselves ahead of the curve.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Can't Wrap My Brain Around This One...
This album fails to completely entertain me the way FZ's music usually does. Seven of these tracks are self performed on the synclavier, and it lacks what FZ himself called "the... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Robert
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Album,..Great Service,..bluesman69 Deserves 5 Stars!!
First Of All Frank Zappa Is Definitely the Master At Anything and Everything He Has Played,..Written and Performed Live and Or Studio!! Read more
Published on June 24, 2012 by Paul Paul
5.0 out of 5 stars Soon to be reissued !!!
Give thanks to all who make the yellow snow - The Zappa Family Trust has finally regained control of Frank's catalog and ALL 60 FZ albums will once again be available at realistic... Read more
Published on June 14, 2012 by MidWest Phil
5.0 out of 5 stars A Landmark Work - Shut Up & Play Synclavier!
The 3 greatest composers of the 20th century to me are Duke, Frank, and Monk. But only one had sampling and synthesis available during his life. Read more
Published on February 12, 2012 by Spitting Lama
4.0 out of 5 stars Zappa's Electronic Music + one Rocker
Frank Zappa

Jazz From Hell

(Rykodisc/FZ - 1986 / FZ approved 1993 Master / 1995 CD)

This is an Instrumental album (no vocals)

First,... Read more
Published on January 30, 2012 by J. Bynum
5.0 out of 5 stars Frank's only Grammy award-winning album!
Just wanted to add to the many fine reviews here that this album won Frank his first and I believe only Grammy award while he was still alive; from his Wikipedia entry:... Read more
Published on May 27, 2010 by DistantRhythm
3.0 out of 5 stars Synclavier
Synclavier combined the ability to sample and manipulate sounds before assigning them to the various notes on a piano-type keyboard. This is Zappa as a solo artist. Read more
Published on March 5, 2010 by Matti
5.0 out of 5 stars classic
I'll bet in 1952, Zappa ran to the mailbox to get his latest Heathkit the way most kids did the latest model plane. Read more
Published on December 9, 2009 by Bill Your 'Free Form FM Print DJ
3.0 out of 5 stars Very clever - but almost no soul
This is not going to be to everybodys taste. Certainly the vast majority of Jazz fans will NOT like this. Its also likely that a lot of Zappa fans will not like it either. Read more
Published on August 6, 2007 by S J Buck
3.0 out of 5 stars Very clever - but almost no soul
This is not going to be to everybodys taste. Certainly the vast majority of Jazz fans will NOT like this. Its also likely that a lot of Zappa fans will not like it either. Read more
Published on August 6, 2007 by S J Buck
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