Frank Zappa - Baby Snakes (1983)

Intro Rap   0:36
Baby Snakes   1:45
Titties 'n' Beer   6:14
The Black Page #2   2:51
Jones Crusher   2:53
Disco Boy   3:55
Dinah Moe Humm   6:40
Punky's Whips 11:30
Total Time: 36 min, 15 sec

Although this CD is listed in the liner notes as being released in 1982, every other source I've checked (including the official Rykodisc catalog) lists it as 1983 and puts it after Man From Utopia. So that's where I'm putting it.

This disc is the soundtrack to a concert movie of the same name. Some fans are disappointed that, while the movie was over three hours long, this album is only 36 minutes. The impression I get is that this disc was put together to appeal to casual fans, since it's packed with some of Franks more crowd-pleasing songs. Still, the short running time is odd given the length of the film.

The opening track is just a quick sound clip of Zappa trying to talk someone into singing Baby Snakes (I got an email from one Mikael Sillman who informed me that the "someone" in question was Warren Cuccurullo, before he had actually joined the band). This segues into the studio version of that song. Then we get a shortened live version of Titties and Beer, followed by a quick Black Page #2. I like this version of BP, because it's very energetic and you can hear the audience getting into it. If I remember correctly from the movie, there was all sorts of chaos going on, with audience members running around the stage during this one.

The versions of Jones Crusher, Disco Boy and Dinah Moe Humm are also high-energy, with the band sounding very enthusiastic. They absolutely rip through Dinah, with all sorts of funkiness coming out of the band while oddballs from the audience come up and join the festivities on stage. The closing Punky's Whips is OK, but doesn't add much to the In New York version other than an FZ guitar solo (I wonder if the whole motivation for releasing this album was because Warner Brothers deleted the original Punky from most copies of In New York for fear of a lawsuit).

This album doesn't add anything new to the Zappa catalog, but is probably worth having just because the performances are so immediate and enthusiastic. This was a group who were having a blast playing together.

Album Cover

Image of the Baby Snakes album cover