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Zappa, Frank: Baby Snakes (DVD)

What would the world have been without Frank Zappa in it for 50 some odd years? Pretty damn boring in my estimation, and a lot less wackier for sure. Frank's 1979 film Baby Snakes has finally been released on DVD, and you will be pleased to know that this close to three-hour gem is greatly presented in both sound and picture (although neither has been remastered), not to mention that the packaging is superb. You get a pair of "No-D" glasses and accompanying honker, complete with punch out assembly instructions, and a nifty little "top secret file" containing all sorts of useful program information, photos, magazine article clippings, etc. Oh yeah, and what about the movie?

Well, the film is part Halloween concert in New York City, part rehearsal and backstage goofiness, and part off-the-wall, clay animation from seemingly drugged out Bruce Bickford. Bruce rambles on and on in an apparent pot induced haze about stuff that makes little sense while Zappa looks on with a big smile on his face, but his claymation is equally impressive and bizarre. Most of the animation sequences are in the first half of the film, so unless you are into that sort of thing or are looking to partake in some recreational drugs and follow along for some cool "freak out" fun, you can easily skip ahead a few chapter to get to the meat-and-potatoes of the concert, which runs almost uninterrupted from the midway point of the DVD to the end.

Joining Zappa on stage is a well known cast of characters; Terry Bozzio on drums & vocals (who is absolutely awesome here), Adrian Belew on guitar & vocals, Patrick O'Hearn on bass & vocals, Roy Estrada on vocals & strange utterings with a gas mask (!), Ed Mann on percussion, and the keyboard duo of Tommy Mars and Peter Wolf. Many of the songs played in the set are from the then upcoming album Sheik Yerbouti, like "I Have Been in You", "I'm So Cute", "Bobby Brown Goes Down", and "Broken Hearts are for Assholes", but some Zappa staples are included as well. Guitar nuts will revel in the searing sounds of "The Black Page" , one of many songs featuring the scorching leads from Zappa (check out the rampaging "Muffin Man" as well) and there's even the humorous "Titties & Beer" and the Zappa/Bozzio banter of "Punky's Whips." One part serious jazz-rock, the other part humorous, sex/political tinged rock, but all parts Frank Zappa.

There's not much as far as special features on the DVD other than a few trailers, but noteworthy is a trailer for the upcoming Roxy & Elsewhere DVD, which should be a real treat for anyone who is familiar with the Roxy album.

Watching this DVD makes it all the more painful to think just how much I miss having Frank around to create more of the unique and wonderful music he always gave us. We miss ya man!! Run out and get this DVD, and after viewing it you too will be walking around your house singing in your best "my balls just got squeezed" voice, "Baaaabyyyy....Snaaaakes!!!!"

Added: January 24th 2004
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Frank Zappa's Official Website
Hits: 4840
Language: english

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