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Zappa, Frank: From Straight to Bizarre-Zappa, Beefheart, Alice Cooper, and LA's Lunatic Fringe (DVD)

Let me get it out of the way right off the bat; From Straight to Bizarre-Zappa, Beefheart, Alice Cooper, and LA's Lunatic Fringe is not really a DVD all about Frank Zappa. Well, in a way it kinda is. What you have here is a near 3 hour documentary of the rise and fall of Zappa's record labels Bizarre & Straight Records, both which came into prominence in 1968 after Zappa got out of his personal contract with Verve Records.

The film takes you through the history of the artists that appeared on the roster of these two labels, including Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band, the GTO's, Wild Man Fischer, The Persuasions, Lenny Bruce, Tim Buckley, Jeff Simmons, and more. Included are recent interviews with many of the artists & musicians who appeared on these releases, as well as Zappa historian Barry Miles. Legendary GTO member Pamela Des Barres is here as well, talking about her time with the band and around Zappa as producer. Much time is spent discussing the classic Beefheart album Trout Mask Replica, and there's even some old footage of the band spliced in for good measure. Thankfully you get a lot of that throughout this documentary, including some vintage footage of Zappa and The Mothers from the late 60's as well as some great clips of the early Alice Cooper band, which helps this rather long movie flow. Sadly there's no dialogue with anyone from the Zappa estate (though not surprising), nor Alice himself, and Beefheart is no longer with us, so that lessens the impact of all this somewhat. Still, a few members of the GTO, Magic Band, and Alice Cooper are here to talk about those days, which makes for interesting viewing.

In the end, despite putting out what later was seen as some groundbreaking stuff, the labels couldn't support the lack of sales for such uncommercial music. Out of all the acts on Zappa's labels, only Alice Cooper really went on to international stardom (though after they signed elsewhere), which is a shame, but it makes for fascinating discussion in the present day. From Straight to Bizarre-Zappa, Beefheart, Alice Cooper, and LA's Lunatic Fringe certainly isn't going to appeal to many folks outside the Zappa, Beefheart, or Cooper fanbase, but if you want to see and hear how things went behind the scenes of a small record label in the late 60's/early 70's, this is a DVD well worth seeking out.

Added: January 18th 2012
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: MVD
Hits: 2721
Language: english

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