London Symphony Orchestra, Vol II
September 17th 1987
Note: This is the track listing for the original vinyl release. London Symphony Orchestra, Vol II was combined with it’s predecessor London Symphony Orchestra, Vol I (1983) and remixed and remastered for the combined London Symphony Orchestra, Vol I & II release in 1995.
Official Release #48
Originally Released: September 17, 1987
Label: Barking Pumpkin Records
Catalog Number: SJ-74207
Produced/Composed/Orchestrated by Frank Zappa
The London Symphony Orchestra
Music composed & arranged by Frank Zappa
Conducted by Kent Nagano
David Ocker: Solo Clarinet
Chad Wackerman: Drum Set
Ed Mann: Featured Percussionist
Recording Dates: January 12-14, 1983
Produced by Frank Zappa
Recording Engineer: Mark Pinske
Re-mix engineer: Bob Stone
Disc Mastering: Bernie Grundman
Graphic Design: James Stagnitta
Cover photo: Mark Hanauer
Rock journalists (especially the British ones) who have complained about the “coldness,” the “attempts at perfection,” and missing “human elements” in JAZZ FROM HELL should find L.S.O. Volume II a real treat. It is infested with wrong notes and out-of-tune passages. I postponed its release for several years, hoping that a digital technologist somewhere might develop a piece of machinery powerful enough to conceal the evils lurking on the master tapes. Since 1983 there have been a few advances, but nothing sophisticated enough to remove “human elements” like the out-of-tune trumpets in STRICTLY GENTEEL, or the lack of rhythmic coordination elsewhere.
BOGUS POMP (24:34)
Large Orchestra Version (Orchestration by David Ocker)
This piece is a parody of movie music cliches and mannerisms. It is derived from themes first performed by members of the BBC Symphony during a MOTHERS OF INVENTION concert October 28, 1968 at the Royal Festival Hall in London (the original recording has been included in the Mystery Disc of THE OLD MASTERS, BOX II). The themes were further developed in the film ‘200 MOTELS.’ An early version of BOGUS POMP (for 40-piece orchestra) was released on the ill-fated ORCHESTRAL FAVORITES album in the mid-70’s.
Built into the composition is a little psychodrama based on the idea that in an orchestra, the principal violist never gets a good solo. What happens in the minds of the other principal string players when the lowly viola gets all the hot licks? Something stupid, of course, culminating in the principal cellist’s improvised emotional outburst near the end of the piece. All of this is supported by cheesy fanfares, drooling sentimental passages and predictable ‘scary music.’
BOB IN DACRON (12:11)
Under normal performance conditions, this piece is coupled with SAD JANE. It is a ballet, and has been performed as such by the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra (Kent Nagano conducting). The scenario depicts an unpleasant urban scoundrel (BOB) in his quest for mid-life erotic gratification in a singles bar. The first section, subtitled “Bob’s Clothes,” is a musical description of patterns which do not blend and textures only a ‘BOB’ could love, as he gets dressed for the evening foray. Battery-operated plastic ‘laugh boxes’ represent the voices of the ‘imaginary girls’ BOB seeks to impress. The second section, “Bob Gets Drunk” shows him in action at the bar. During the Berkeley dance premiere, the bartender, played by a life-sized puppet (operated by two dancers in black), gets so busy serving the thirsty yupsters he literally splits in half, continuing his shift with entrails dangling behind. The rest of the scenario is too lengthy to include here.
STRICTLY GENTEEL (6:58)
This was written for the finale of ‘200 MOTELS.’ It has lyrics and was sung by Theodore Bickel, Mark Volman, and Howard Kaylan on the original United Artists soundtrack album released in 1971. The performance included here was recorded in the last hour of the last session of the last night . . . with no possibility of overtime (at any price) to correct mistakes. During the final ‘rest period’ just before the big push to get a good take, the entire trumpet section decided to visit a pub across the street. They returned 15 minutes late. No recording could be done without them. The orchestra refused to spend another 15 minutes at the end of the session to make up for their glowing brass section neighbors. I have done as much as possible to enhance this fine British ‘craftsmanship’ (at least 50 edits in 6:56), but, to no avail . . . the ‘human element’ remains intact.
Original Volume II liner notes written by Frank Zappa, 1987.