Listening to the latest Ed Palermo album – ‘The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren‘– which itself is a wonderful melange of both obvious and obscure Zappa tunes along with some Rundgren deep cuts, I suddenly realised that his ‘Un-American Songbook Volumes 1&2‘ was, by a long chalk, my most played album of 2017 and somewhat oddly I haven’t recommended it to both of my readers here.
I first popped a copy of it into my in-car CD player back in April ’17, en route to see Denny & The MuffinZ through on the East Coast (Scotland) and it hasn’t seen the light of day since!
Ed P must surely have one of those Men In Black memory erasers. How else could I not recall him hanging around, with me, when I dropped the needle regularly on at least 95% of the tunes here, way back in the Seventies?
It’s uncanny, his particular selection of these sounds – my personal favourites back then – have now been dusted off and remade/remodelled into new great things of wonder.
Ed first came up on my radar. twenty years ago. when he released ‘Big Band Zappa’. Since then EPBB recordings have been fairly thin on the ground until suddenly during the last eighteen months when, all of a sudden, a burst of activity (or should that read prolificity?) has resulted in, first of all, ‘ One Child Left Behind’ then this beauty (Songbook #1&2), before the latest Rundgren adventure.
There are no Zappa credits or titles at all on these ‘Un-American Songbook’ recordings but Francophiles need not fret, FZ is all over this disc, like a rash. Whether it’s Hot Plate Heaven during King Crimson‘s ’21sr Century Schizoid Man’ , Blodwyn Pig’s ‘Send Your Son to Die!’ being squeezed through an Electric Aunt Jemima filter or indeed that ‘Chunga’s Revenge’ bassline on Traffic‘s Low Spark of High Heeled Boys (very Gotan Project ! ). Zappa peeks out behind the curtains in far too many places to begin to catalogue here!
High spots abound, however my particular favourite, today anyway, is Ed’s amazing arrangement of the Stones ‘We Love You’.
As the tune progresses, it slowly gets mashed up with The Beatles ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, violinist Virtuoso Katie Jacoby plays the original vocal melody THEN some those backward tape loops. As if that weren’t enough, the horns are simultaneously playing ‘G Spot Tornado’ over the top of all this glorious madness.
First time I heard this, I nearly crashed the car!!!
Elsewhere, the plaintive strains of their version of Radiohead’s ‘The Tourist’ sounds to these ears like the best record Robert Wyatt never made.
The ONLY thing that could have improved this record would have been to get Green Day‘s Billy Joe Armstrong read out Lee Jackson’s vocal sign off to the EPBB’s version of The Nice’s assault on Leonard Bernstein’s America!
“America is pregnant with promises and anticipation but is murdered by the hand of the inevitable”
Go buy this record, now!