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Frank Zappa - Jazz From Hell

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Jazz from Hell is an instrumental album whose selections were all composed and recorded by Frank Zappa. It was released in 1986 by Barking Pumpkin Records on vinyl and by Rykodisc on CD. Jazz from Hell was Zappa's final studio album released in his lifetime; for the remaining seven years of his life, he would only release live concert albums.

Zappa explains the title as a political reference: "Things in America can be from hell. Right now we have a president from hell [Reagan], and a National Security Council from hell, so we should add Jazz from Hell also."1987's Video from Hell is titled similarly.

All compositions were executed by Frank Zappa on the Synclavier DMS with the exception of "St. Etienne", a guitar solo excerpted from a live performance Zappa gave of "Drowning Witch" during a concert in Saint-Étienne, France, on his 1982 tour.

"While You Were Art II" is a Synclavier performance based on a transcription of Zappa's improvised guitar solo on the track "While You Were Out" from the album Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar (1981). The unreleased original Synclavier performance was done using only the unit's FM synthesis, while the recording found here was Zappa's "deluxe" arrangement featuring newer samples and timbres.

"Night School" was possibly named for a late-night show that Zappa pitched to ABC; the network did not pick it up. A music video was made for the song."G-Spot Tornado", assumed by Zappa to be impossible to play by humans, would be performed by Ensemble Modern on the concert recording The Yellow Shark (1993).

In the initial Europe CD release, the album was featured as the second album on a "two for the price of one compilation," with nine tracks from Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention (1985) on the same disc.

Zappa won a 1988 Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for this album.

Though Jazz from Hell is an entirely instrumental album, there is an unconfirmed report that the Fred Meyer chain of stores sold it in their Music Market department featuring an RIAA Parental Advisory sticker. This could have been the result of Zappa's feud with the Parents Music Resource Center (which had also inspired the 1985 album Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention), an objection to the use of the word "hell" in the album title, or in reference to the track "G-Spot Tornado", describing the erogenous zone in human anatomy commonly known as the G-spot.

Track Listings:
    1. "Night School" 4:47
    2. "The Beltway Bandits" 3:25
    3. "While You Were Art II" 7:17
    4. "Jazz from Hell" 2:58
    5. "G-Spot Tornado" 3:17
    6. "Damp Ankles" 3:45
    7. "St. Etienne" 6:26
    8. "Massaggio Galore" 2:31
Total Time: 34:26
Artist Name(s):
Frank Zappa – lead guitar, Synclavier, keyboards

Track 7

Steve Vai – rhythm guitar
Ray White – rhythm guitar
Tommy Mars – keyboards
Bobby Martin – keyboards
Scott Thunes – bass guitar
Chad Wackerman – drums
Ed Mann – percussion
Frank Zappa
Release Year: 1986
Experimental, Jazz
Album Type:
Cassette, Compact Disc, Digital / Download, LP 33 1/3
Cover & Packge Design:
Greg Gorman
Studio Name:
UMRK * Track 7 at Palais des Sports, St. Etienne, France
Mastering: Frank Zappa
Engineer(s): Bob Rice
Label / Publishing
Label Name:
Barking Pumpkin
Catalog Number(s):
ST 74205
Los Angeles, CA
Editions / Reissues
  1. EMI 31 C 064 240673 Brazil 1987
  2. EMI EMC 3521 US 1986
  3. Rykodisc RCD 10549 US 1995
  4. Eldorado, Rykodisc 968045 Brazil 1995
  5. EMI Music Belgium 1A 064-24 0673 1 Belgium 1986
Synthesizers Used
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