Jazz from Hell

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Jazz from Hell
Zappa Jazz From Hell.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 15, 1986 (1986-11-15)
StudioUMRK (except "St. Etienne": May 28, 1982 at Palais des Sports, Saint-Étienne, France)
LabelBarking Pumpkin (US)
EMI Records (UK)
ProducerFrank Zappa
Frank Zappa chronology
The Old Masters Box II
Jazz from Hell
London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. II
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars [1]
Rolling Stone(favorable)[2]

Jazz from Hell is an instrumental album whose selections were all composed and recorded by American musician Frank Zappa. It was released on November 15, 1986 by Barking Pumpkin Records on vinyl and cassette, and in 1987 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, although the posthumous Civilization Phaze III was completed shortly before his death.


Frank Zappa explained that the album title was a political reference: "Things in America can be from hell. Right now we have a president from hell [Ronald Reagan], and a National Security Council from hell, so we should add Jazz from Hell also."[3] 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" from his Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch album, 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 European 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.[4]

Track listing[edit]

The music to all selections was composed, and all selections were arranged, by Frank Zappa.

Side one
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
Side two
5."G-Spot Tornado"3:17
6."Damp Ankles"3:45
7."St. Etienne"6:26
8."Massaggio Galore"2:31


Technical personnel
  • Greg Gorman – cover photo
  • Bob Rice – computer assistant
  • Bob Stone – engineering


  1. ^ Planer, L. (2011). "Jazz from Hell - Frank Zappa | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
  2. ^ Fricke, D. (2011). "Frank Zappa: Jazz From Hell : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". web.archive.org. Archived from the original on May 25, 2009. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
  3. ^ de la Fuente, Manuel (2016). "Zappa and His Cultural Legacy" (pp.33-48), Frank Zappa and the And, p.45. Quotes Zappa in Video from Hell. Carr, Paul; ed. Routledge. 2013 Ashgate. ISBN 9781317133155.
  4. ^ Nuzum, Eric. "Censorship Incidents: 1980s". Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America. Archived from the original on 2007-06-21. Retrieved 2010-10-02.