52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
This collection can be hit or miss. I gave it five stars, but it isn't a five star cd. The five stars are there because this cd changed my life. It opened a whole new door to me, and for that I'll always be thankful for this cd. This collection may not have the same effect on you, but you never know. To those unfamiliar, yet curious about Zappa, I'm sure it must be frustrating standing in the record store staring down hundreds of Zappa albums and thinking, "My God, which one do I get?" Well, this collection(one of the first Zappa collections to come out) is a good place to start, but be forewarned: It is misleading. Trying to cram 60 albums' worth of music on one cd is an impossible task, especially from an artist who experimented with so many sounds. This compilation exists in a fantasy world where all the songs on the disc would be Frank Zappa's hit singles. As we all know, he didn't have hit singles, but if he did, these would be it. That's where it's misleading coz Zappa's music goes way beyond what you'll hear on this cd. Most of the tunes here are kept to 4 minute, humorous, catchy rock tunes that make Zappa sound like Weird Al with much better guitar playing ability. Gone are the modern classical pieces, the free jazz, the ten minute guitar solos and the crude humor. Yes folks, you won't hear it on Strictly Commercial, but Zappa said things that would make The Insane Clown Posse blush. So, I would suggest this compilation just to get a fair idea of what Zappa's about, though many compilations have been released since(ones that include the offensive stuff). So, if you like what you hear on this cd, this can open the door to the Zappa Universe(and it's a huge one) for you, and you'll be quite surprised at all the wonderful things you'll find there. Then, once you get some albums, you probably won't ever listen to this disc again, but you'll be forever thankful that you took the gamble and bought it.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2003
It's obvious that this collection draws large amounts of heat. I think the people who issued this release knew this would happen going into it. Of course, it pretty much is impossible to sum up approximately 70 albums (containing everything like serious classical, jazz, rock, doo-wop, fusion, satire, computer music and nearly everything in between) into one album. So, can _Strictly Commercial_ be a good starting point for the people totally unfamiliar with Zappa's music? I say "Yes."
Given Zappa's irreverent and often misunderstood style of making music, many beginners wouldn't be able to handle jumping into many of Frank's studio discs (and he has MANY.) So, on this collection, you get traces of instrumental jazz, satire, hard rock, pop (well...Zappa's brand of pop, so to speak) and other goodies. However, this collection doesn't contain much of Zappa's "serious" music (i.e. lengthy instrumental classical and jazz tracks) which is probably what many people are complaining about. But, hence the name "STRICTLY COMMERCIAL." This collection wasn't meant to show off Zappa's lengthy/serious instrumental works and/or his most off-the-wall and bizarre. This was meant to show off much of what can be considered his most "accessible" work (Note: if any beginner is interested in sampling some of Zappa's classical compositions, check out _Strictly Genteel_.)
You get the bizarre, but equally appealing classical/jazz instrumental "Peaches En Regalia." This melodic number can appeal to those who like instrumental music. For hilarious humor, check out "Dancin' Fool" and "Disco Boy." Want hard rock and good guitar playing? "San Ber'dino" and "Tell Me You Love Me" should take care of that.
There's plenty more here that I didn't cover. As I've said, this collection is only meant as an "accessible" introduction for the beginner who has an interest to ease his/her way into something we'd call a large, diverse and mostly inaccessible catalog (Note: Zappa certainly has some studio albums that are fairly accessible as well.) Sure, it may not profile EVERYTHING, but, I think it's still a good effort.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2005
I've always been interested in Frank Zappa because of songs like VALLEY GIRL but I never really knew where to start so I never bothered until I ran across this cd in a cd mail order catalog. Its a nice introduction to his music. The first page of the jewel case booklet has the song list along with the albums that each song is from listed next to them. That allowed me to explore his music further. In the jewel case booklet it is admitted that there are many more tunes from Zappa's recording output that could've easily found its way on STRICTLY COMMERCIAL. This cd makes for a good decent starting point for anyone wanting to introduce themselves to Zappa's music. It gives you probably his most well known songs but it doesn't give you his extreme or controversial songs like KEEP IT GREASY or even YOU ARE WHAT YOU IS.
Zappa's music was , obviously , not commercial friendly. I have great respect for anyone that has the nerve to stay true to their art without compromising their integrity for corporations so not only does that make me curious about Frank Zappa ; the artist it makes me curious about Frank Zappa ; the man. He was not a sell out thats for sure so the sarcastic title of this cd is perfect.
Favorite song from cd ; MUFFIN MAN originally from the album BONGO FURY. A blistering live guitar solo that would put a smile on Hendrix's face combined with the sinister bass playing and drums makes this track an absolute gem! Very inspiring instrumentals. "Goodnight , Austin , Texas where ever you are!!!"
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2002
There are few artists less suitable for a "best-of" collection than Frank Zappa: The man made ALBUMS, not hit singles which could be compiled later. Throughout his career, Zappa made a point of NOT compiling his work (His one concession being the "Mothermania" LP, which Zappa put together in 1969 to fulfill his contract with MGM/Verve, where things had turned very ugly between Zappa and the label's honchos.) Since Zappa's focus was on albums, it can be jarring to hear a track from "Freak Out," for example, colliding with a track from "Zoot Allures."
That being said, the problem I have with this particular collection--aside from the really stupid cover photo--is that it places FAR too much emphasis on "Zappa, The Funny Guy." This has led some reviewers who don't know any better to compare Zappa to "Weird Al" Yankovic (a comparison which makes me cringe.)
If you're new to Frank Zappa and you're looking for a "sampler" CD, then by all means pick up this collection. But, if you like what you hear, be sure to check out some of the other sides of Zappa's career, like the jazz-rock brilliance of "Hot Rats," the classical leanings of "London Symphony Orchestra," the many different styles of guitar playing on "Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar" and its sequel, "Guitar," and Zappa's strongest political statements, such as the anti-censorship material on "Frank Zappa Meets The Mothers of Prevention."
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2005
After re-reading my comments I'm afraid that the reader might come away with a negative impression of the music itself. Let me clarify by saying that the songs on this CD are, for the most part, really great! Let me also point out that NONE of this music could ever possibly be confused for the standard fare of commercial radio, either now or in Zappa's day. Even his most "normal" stuff found here is totally unique!
If all you ever listened to by Zappa was this album, however, you would not get the full picture about what made him great. It does beg the question, if you want "commercial" music, would you turn to Zappa for that???
The fact is that there is no one album that is representative of his whole range. I would be hard-pressed to narrow it down to 7 albums, but here goes, in chronological order:
- We're Only In It For the Money - surrealist satire mocking "St. Pepper" equally ridiculing hippies and squares
- Uncle Meat - wonderful dense mix of classical, jazz, rock, and avant-guarde elements - a high point
- Hot Rats - classic jazz rock with one Captain Beefheart vocal
- 200 Motels - orchestral mixed with Flo & Eddie
- Grand Wazoo - big band with great jazz players
- Roxy & Elsewhere - great "big band" Zappa sound & great guitar
- Sheikh Yerbouti - great songs & a lot of fun
- Civilization Phase III - last completed work - orchestral and electronic mixed with surreal dialog result in a truly intense work. You must listen to this!
I have put together a "starter" list - see my profile, if you're interested.
So, in short, this CD is like dipping your toe into the pool. That's OK, but I say jump right in.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2008
'Strictly Commercial: The Best of Frank Zappa' is a great set for fans who aren't ready to buy his individual albums. The record's title is taken from a lyric from the hit comedic rock song 'Don't Eat The Yellow Snow.'
You will find that track and many other gems here, such as 'Muffin Man,' 'Peaches En Regalia,' 'Joe's Garage' 'My Guitar Wants To Kill Yer Mama,' 'Montana' and many other gems appear on this nice set.
And, it's a career spanning retrospective. It spans his entire career as a performer, from the beginnings (like 1969's legendary 'Hot Rats') to the 1980s endings, you'll get a great overview of Zappa's finest work.
If you're a casual fan looking for the hits and the hits only, look no further. And, it's readily available at many stores, so it's easy to track down. And if you're a beginner looking for a starting point into the legendary music of Zappa, than this is an excellent choice.
New fans who have enjoyed this release may want to move on to records like 'Hot Rats,' 'Joe's Garage,' 'Sheik Yerbouti' and 'Roxy & Elsewhere.' And, Rykodisc remastered the tracks. In translation, the sound quality is superb.
Highly recommended for the new or casual Zappa fan. ENJOY!!!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2008
As you probably already know Frank Zappa is an extreme musical genius/composer/comedian/guitarist. I think this is a comprehensive greatest hits album of the "approachable" variety especially for newcomers to Zappas' work. You know this guy is one of the few if not the only artist to ever successfully merge excellent rock with satirical comedy. He's also classically trained and has put out classical albums. But back to the album.
1.Peaches in regalia: A gorgeous instrumental complete with keybords, pianos, syncopated drums, and a brass section, it has goofy twists where the song actually seems to parody itself, and there are lovely guitar solos.There is a sweet sax solo.
2.Very funny song/story about a dream of being an eskimo and getting in a fight with a fur trapper who beat his favorite baby seal. Chorus is "watch out where the huskies go, and don't you eat that yellow snow".
3.Dancin' fool-goofy disco/rock song about a disco dancer, one chorus is "the beat goes on and I'm so wrong"...
4. Passionate hilarious song about a woman that "lives in mulholly in a Winnabago, and his name is Bobby, he looks like a potato".Bluesy, rock and roll with great harmonica acompaniment.A funny love song.
5.Dirty Love-Lusty laid back rock "Give me, your dirty love...I'll ignore your cheap aroma, and your little bo peep diploma, I'll just put you in a coma with my dirty love"
6.My guitar wants to kill your mama-sick satire about a frustrated boyfriend, who's girlfriens mom is blocking the relationship.
7.Cosmik Debris- very funny ditty 'bout a fake guru. Slow and sexy, with nice jazzy xylophone perks. Chorus sung by african american women goes "Look here brother, who you jivin' with that Cosmik Debris"
8.Trouble every day-Dylanesque bluesy song about the troubles of life.
9.disco boy-"run to the toilet and comb your hair, pucker yoiur lips and check your shoulder 'cause some dandruff might be hiding there" sweet cheeky ditty.
10.Fine Girl-passionate funky bouncy rock song about a woman who is every straight mans dream, does dishes, laundry, cooks, makes love, ooh yeah...
11.sexual harrassment in the workplace- no lyrics- a truly awesome live
recording of zappa doing a long bluesy guitar solo on par with the likes of Carlos Santana.Great Stuff.
12.Lets make the water turn black-Goofy childish song about god knows what...
13.I'm the slime-Satire about TV...chorus": I'm the slime coming out of your TV set... you will obey me while I read you the garbage that I feed you.Wonderfull afric. amer. singers and gtr. solos.
14.Joes garage- 50's style,sweet song about a teenage garage band. taken from the anti-censorship concept album "joes garage"; beautiful.
15.Tell me you love me-passionate 70's rock, nice gtr. work
16.montana-"I might be movin' to Montana soon, just to raise me crop of dental floss" silly song.
17. valley girl-parody on CA valley girls of the 80's. hard edge rock.
18.be in my video-50's style song.
19.muffin man-story about a muffin man; "girl, you thought it was a man, but it was a muffin, AWeSOME guitar solo... and a beautiful ending to my favorite album in the world.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 1998
This was the first FZ album I got. I had listened to records of Freak Out! and a tape of We're Only In It For The Money, and I wanted more. This album is great for anyone who would like Frank Zappa in any way, shape, or form. The only time I wouldn't reccomend it would be if someone planned to get all of his albums (almost impossible; amazon.com alone has almost 80 of his albums and collections). This is the only way anyone could get a taste for everything he did.
Frank Zappa is probably the best composer i know of. He could write for any instrument, any kind of music, any rhythm, any topic, you get the idea. And anything he wrote sounded incredible. Strictly Commercial gives everything. From Don't Eat The Yellow Snow to Muffin Man to Valley Girl to Peaches en Regalia.
The first track, (Peaches en Regalia) immediately shows his genius. It is an intrumental, with a distinct style all Frank's own. I'm not really into brass and horn instrumentals, but I really like this one. The next is Don't Eat The Yellow Snow. A long, rambling, song with a myriad of topics based around a theme, it brings Frank's twisted and amused sense of humor to light. One thing common in almost all of FZ's work; an immense sense of humor and very well written music.
His song Trouble Every Day (#8) is one exception to that rule. He lays down a rolling beat with accompanying guitar, and proceeds with the lyrics. They're about the turmoil of the mid-sixties (the song is of his first album; '67 or thereabouts), and explain about everything that's going wrong with the whole situation. He talks about the riots, of course, but he is very savage with the news reports. He goes over how sleazy they were getting (and still are) in a raking, point-by-point dissection. Then he discusses the fact that there was nowhere to go for a lot of people, and other problems. From there, the CD goes back to being silly. Disco Boy touches on the plastic self-absorbtion of the seventies, while Fine Girl is a return to the morals of the early 1900's.
Let's Make The Water Turn Black is again a commentary on the crazy sixties, except from a lighter point of view. Joe's Garage is the title track to one of his biggest albums. It's about a pop-garage band that half made it, and then broke up. The guitar here rivals some of the best in the buisness; it is comparable to Ten Years After(here I'm thinking of their Woodstock performance) or even Hendrix - very different styles, but an extemely well-done piece. Montana has a catchy lilt, and is one of Frank's best comedy songs. Rasing dental floss on a ranch is a very good topic for a song; especially if you are trying to be non-conformist.
Valley Girl was Frank's best-selling single, and his daughter Moon Unit Zappa does a very good job getting the air-headed Val sound. It has very good guitar, a good beat, and lyrics to rival anything on the CD. However, it is fairly simple compared with, for example, San Berdino. Muffin Man rounds out the collection; it was taken from a live performance from Austin (that's what I think, anyway; at the end, he says, "Thank You and goodnight Austin Texas wherever you are...!"). Frank does a long, rambling, guitar piece which is magnificent. If nothing else, he could play the guitar. It's a perfect finishing piece.
I haven't mentioned some songs because they are yours to find out; I've heard them enough to know that none could be called poor, and all are good enough to propell any band now to the top. I'll leave you to listen to them to discover their majesty; maybe not the first time you hear them, maybe not the second, but very quickly you'll realize that they are some of the best songs you can hear. It's too bad Frank Zappa isn't here today. I'm sure he had lots more to share.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 1999
While it's impossible to for one Zappa purchase to perfectly encapsulate the man's genius, this disc is actually not a bad place for the neophyte to begin his journey. It's got a little bit of everything: compact mini-symphonies ("Peaches en Regalia"), guitar solo extravaganzas ("Sexual Harrassment in the Workplace"), some good old-fashioned 70's rock'n'boogie ("San Ber'dino") and a whole lot more. Once you've discovered the magic of Frank's musical touch, go out and buy "One Size Fits All," "Hot Rats," "Make a Jazz Noise Here," "The Yellow Shark" and "We're Only In It For the Money." You'll be glad you did.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2008
Strictly Commercial is by no means a definitive Zappa collection. Between his work with the Mothers of Invention, Solo albums, live albums, orchestral works and the later solo guitar albums (and who knows how much unreleased stuff is sitting in his archives), 19 songs on 1 CD barely scratches the surface if you're a hardcore fan. The important word being IF. But if you're a casual fan (like me), and your local radio station occasionally played "Montana", "Joe's Garage", "Cosmik Debris", or even "Valley Girl" (like mine did) this might be the collection for you. Strictly Commercial is just that, some (but probably not all) of the commercial (i.e. accessible, or best known) music Zappa recorded in his long career. Don't get me wrong, Frank Zappa was an artist way ahead of his time. He challenged not only his audience, but himself with every album he recorded. Did he get it right every time? Not always. Was it always different? Absolutely. But the problem with Zappa is he more than often went too far and created immensely complicated or flat-out weird albums (i.e. Uncle Meat, Lather, Thing-Fish) that probably drove fans away shaking their heads. So an album like SC works as a starting point. If you want to go further, there are plenty of paths you can take. But as the saying goes; a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. For better or worse, Strictly Commercial is that first step.