The Man from Utopia
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|The Man from Utopia|
|Studio album by Frank Zappa|
|Released||March 28, 1983|
|Recorded||October 1980 - October 1982|
|Genre||Hard rock, progressive rock, art rock, comedy rock|
|Frank Zappa chronology|
|Singles from The Man from Utopia|
"The Dangerous Kitchen", "Mōggio" and "The Jazz Discharge Party Hats" were all prepared for Zappa's unreleased album Chalk Pie, which was scrapped after it had been bootlegged.
The sleeve art features the work of RanXerox artist Tanino Liberatore. It portrays Zappa on stage trying to kill mosquitos. That is a reference of a concert held in Italy in 1982, the year before the release of the album, on the 7th of July at Parco Redecesio (which is also referred in a street sign on the album cover) in Segrate, near Milan. While Zappa was playing a huge number of mosquitos began flying on stage and gave the band a hard time. The back cover shows the audience as seen from the stage during the 1982 concert in Palermo, Italy, ended in a riot. The album was the second of two to credit Steve Vai with "impossible guitar parts" (the first being the preceding album Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch).
Music and lyrics
The album's opening track "Cocaine Decisions", with its groove redolent of skiffle washboards, is an angry, disgusted attack on drug-influenced businessmen and features an ironically cheerful harmonica. "The Dangerous Kitchen" satirizes dirty, unkempt kitchens, specifically the one in the Zappa household at the time. "Stick Together" is a deeply passionate attack on all unions in general, especially those controlled by organized crime. "The Radio Is Broken" satirizes 1950's sci-fi B-movies. "SEX" is a blunt, crude song which unabashedly celebrates the title topic; lyrics include "Maybe you could use a protein surprise" and "The bigger the cushion, the better the pushin'". The "Mary Lou/Man From Utopia" medley finds Zappa returning to his beloved doo-wop roots in a completely sincere style; no satire included.
"Kitchen", "Radio", and "The Jazz Discharge Party Hats" all feature Zappa's "meltdown" style of generally pre-written but sometimes improvised singing/speaking. For "Jazz" and "Kitchen", Zappa had guitarist Steve Vai overdub complex guitar parts for the entire length of the songs, which perfectly copied Frank's every word and syllable. Vai considers it to be one of his most difficult assignments as a musician; it required him to detune his guitar at times to match Frank's varying pitches. This unique type of overdub was a one-time experiment that Zappa never repeated. Peter Eötvös composer said in an interview:
"Dangerous Kitchen", off the album "The Man From Utopia", grew to become a basic piece for me, especially in later years, after I began working on operas. The technique that he uses in this particular song is very interesting: it's this half-sung, half-spoken performing method that's not quite like Sprechgesang, but what makes it so interesting is that he accompanies it with an instrumental solo. I was very surprised to find out that the guitar part was recorded separately. As it seemed so synchronous, I was convinced that Zappa had sung and played at the same time. Nevertheless the technique itself, the idea of "the singing instrument" comes from "Dangerous Kitchen".
"Jazz" became semi-infamous in Zappa circles for its extremely scatological subject matter: certain substances found in a woman's discarded underwear, and what certain band members did with those substances while at a hotel pool late one night in Albuquerque, NM. The song was written to humorously explain to audiences the origin of why certain band members occasionally wore underwear on their heads onstage.
The original album had instrumentals ending each side: "Mōggio" and "We Are Not Alone" featuring Marty Krystall on overdubbed baritone saxophones. A third instrumental, "Tink Walks Amok", gets its clever name from bass player Arthur Barrow's nickname (Tink), and a term (walking amok) for what 'out of control robots' do in old sci-fi films, hence its thematic sequencing next to "Radio". 'Walk' in the title has additional significance because it musically refers to a style of bass playing, and since Barrow plays multiple and highly unusual bass parts on the song, he is indeed "walking amok" at times.
The album was originally released on vinyl in 1983. An unauthorized CD of this edition (with the exception of a remixed "Moggio") was issued by EMI in the UK in 1986. The album was issued (in remixed and resequenced form) on CD in 1993 by Barking Pumpkin. The later 1995 Rykodisc edition is identical.
All songs written, composed and arranged by Frank Zappa, except where noted.
|2.||"The Dangerous Kitchen"||2:51|
|3.||"Tink Walks Amok"||3:40|
|4.||"The Radio is Broken"||5:52|
|6.||"The Man From Utopia Meets Mary Lou" (Donald and Doris Woods, Obie Jessie)||3:19|
|9.||"The Jazz Discharge Party Hats"||4:30|
|10.||"We Are Not Alone"||3:31|
|3.||"Tink Walks Amok"||3:39|
|4.||"The Radio is Broken"||5:51|
|5.||"We Are Not Alone"||3:18|
|6.||"The Dangerous Kitchen"||2:51|
|7.||"The Man from Utopia Meets Mary Lou"||3:22|
|9.||"The Jazz Discharge Party Hats"||4:29|
|10.||"Luigi & the Wise Guys" (bonus track)||3:25|
- Frank Zappa – guitar, vocals, drum machine, ARP 2600
- Steve Vai – guitar, acoustic guitar
- Ray White – guitar, vocals
- Roy Estrada – vocals
- Bob Harris – boy soprano
- Ike Willis – vocals
- Bobby Martin – keyboards, saxophone, vocals
- Tommy Mars – keyboards
- Arthur Barrow – keyboards, bass, micro bass, rhythm guitar
- Ed Mann – percussion
- Scott Thunes – bass
- Chad Wackerman – drums
- Vinnie Colaiuta – drums
- Craig Twister Steward – harmonica
- Dick Fegy – mandolin
- Marty Krystall – saxophone
Album - Billboard (North America)
- Allmusic review
- We share the same background - Peter Eötvös remembers Frank Zappa (zappa.hu)
- "Charts and Awards for The Man from Utopia". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-08-22.