Cucamonga Years - The Early Works of Frank Zappa (1962-1964)

(Japanese Import)

Memories of El Monte The Penguins 1962      2:44
How's Your Bird? Baby Ray and the Ferns 1963 2:11
The World's Greatest Sinner Baby Ray and the Ferns 1963 2:27
Dear Jeepers Bob Guy 1963 2:28
Letter From Jeepers Bob Guy 1964 2:23
Grunion Run The Hollywood Persuaders   1963 2:24
Tijuana Surf The Hollywood Persuaders 1963 2:20
Mr. Clean Mr. Clean 1964 2:11
Jessie Lee Mr. Clean 1964 1:55
Heavies The Rotations 1964 1:49
The Cruncher The Rotations 1964 2:23
Every Time I See You The Heartbreakers 1964 2:34
Cradle Rock The Heartbreakers 1964 2:54
Total Time: 30 min, 43 sec


As mentioned in the Rare Meat review, this is another disc of Frank's really early work at Paul Buff's studio, long before the formation of the Mothers of Invention and Zappa's rise to fame. This disc is the more complete of the two, so if you really want to hear this stuff, this is the one to track down.

The World's Greatest Sinner was inspired by a movie of the same title that Frank wrote the musical score for. The song might even been featured in the movie, but there seems to be some disagreement about that on the Zappa newsgroup (a video tape copy that someone sent me had this song playing against a black background as the "overture" to the movie).

Ray of "Baby Ray and the Ferns" is Ray Collins, the original Mothers Of Invention vocalist.

The Jeepers tracks feature a semi-comic Dracula-style narrator talking over Halloween sound effects like wolves howling and creaking doors and whatnot. At one point the narrator describes the weather as "raining and damp 400 days of the year". 400 Days of the Year was later reused as the title of a track on Uncle Meat, but then the track was mysteriously retitled Nine Types of Industrial Pollution on later pressings.

How's Your Bird? was apparently based on a phrase used by Steve Allen on his TV show.

The beginning of the surf music track Heavies appears briefly near the end of the song Nasal Retentive Calliope Music on We're Only In It For the Money, but is quickly ended with the sound of a record player arm being "ripped" off the record.

The bass line of The Cruncher sounds suspiciously like the Peter Gunn theme.

These tracks were recorded at PAL studios, which Zappa bought from his friend Paul Buff. Frank was involved with these songs mainly as a producer, although he also played on most of the tracks. The music is mainly 50s style rock/doo-wop/surf music, plus the two Halloween novelty tracks.

Some of the tracks are pretty good, if you like this kind of stuff. Nothing really essential though, unless you're the hard-core Zappa completist collector type. If you can find the Cucamonga Years (not to be confused with another early works album released recently called Cucamonga, which features material from both Zappa and Paul Buff), it's the one to buy. CY includes everything that's on Rare Meat, and with equal or better sound quality, plus the RM tracks are some of the least interesting ones on CY. All of the Zappa tracks on C are also on CY, but from what I've read, the sound quality of C is inferior.

Oddly, when I played this disc through Windows Media Player, it incorrectly identifies the disc as Cucamonga, with the track listing for that album instead of this one.

Album Cover

Image of the Cucamonga Years album cover