Previously released on VHS and Beta and only available through mail order, Frank Zappa?s Dub Room Special is an extremely rare TV special comprising two live performances from one of Rock?s great individuals. Zappa?s unpa... more »ralleled abilities as a composer, guitarist, and absurdist/social commentator run rampant on The Dub Room Special - and it is a unique window on his willingness to push the envelope of what is possible no matter how improbable. Selections from two separate concerts, one, called A Token of His Extreme, shot in 1974 at Los Angeles public television station KCET and one in 1981 filmed at his annual New York Halloween show, are interspersed with then-cutting edge claymation/stop motion animation from Bruce Bickford and assorted comedy bits. Since 1966, Zappa had established himself as perhaps the most fearless musician known to popular music. He incorporated modern classical music, blazing rock and blues and doo wop, guitar solos he called "air sculpture" and an extremely cynical point of view to forge a legacy that remains completely unique 12 years after his death.« less
Ivan Brantes Salinas | Santiago, Santiago Chile | 11/22/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I've been waiting for this release since it contain the only official performance of Zappa/Mothers in 74 (from the "A Token of his Extreme" show). I have seen it twice and I have to admit I'm quite dissappointed since there's no improvement on the vintage footage and the extra material it's absolutely useless (Moon Valley feature, discography,...). This is the SAME VHS or Beta(max) we all ordered from Zappa's mail order service back in the 80's, but packaged under a DVD mask.
Most of the tracks from 1974 and 1981 are edited, cut and/or mixed with additional images. Also there are lots of "noises" added to some tracks. Bootleggers who used to offer the 1974 performance must be very happy with this edited video.
I wish they had included a CLEAN, FULL and CONTINOUS live performance at KCTTV Culver City Studios on 08/07/1974 with Zappa / Mothers and SEPARATELY the 10/31/1981 New York Halloween Party concert at the Palladium. Also they could have put as a worth - having extra "The Amazing Mr Brickford" video (the man behind those great clay animation).
If you want an in deep review, here is:
- (1974) DOG BREATH (VARIATIONS) / UNCLE MEAT Uncomplete: no intro. and there's fade at the end. Original film is heavily distorted with additional images (mostly from Brickford), video effects and external "noises". Nevertheless you can see for brief moments Frank playing drums with Ruth Underwood (former Ruth Kammanoff)
- (circa 1974) PORTIONS OF MR BRICKFORD: Formerly shown on Baby Snake VHS / DVD - DIALOGUE AT COMPACT VIDEO (the place where this video was made) - (1974) ROOM SERVICE Uncomplete: Maybe introduction is lost and there's CUT at the end. This is a classic Zappa talking - number. Just listen to that funky back up rhythm by Fowler, Duke, Underwood & Thompson.
- (1981) NIG BIZ Uncomplete. - DIALOGUE AT COMPACT VIDEO - (1974) APPROXIMATE Perfect. Complete number. Zappa at his most DADA / Experimental phase. Simply great.
- (1974) COSMIK DEBRIS Right after Approximate comes this number which is sadly cut and glued to Cocaine Decision
- (1981) COCAINE DECISION Uncomplete number. It's mixed with video images of Massimo Bassoli a man supposed to be funny. Not for me.
- (1982) MASSIMO BASSOLI IN PALERMO / DIALOGUE AT COMPACT VIDEO - (1974) MONTANA: Introduction is lost. Seriously cut at the end. - (1982) MASSIMO BASSOLI - SINGLE: Useless. - DIALOGUE AT COMPACT VIDEO - (1974) FLORENTINE POGEN Beginning of original broadcast is mixed with images at Compact Video. Cut before the number really ends. Edited Frank speech "Thank you. Chester's Gorilla was played by Marty Perellis"
- STEVIE'S SPANKING: This is an edited number from a longer one.
- DIALOGUE AT COMPACT VIDEO - (1974) STINK FOOT Introduction is lost. Heavily mixed with Mr Brickford clay animation and finally cut and glued to 1981's Flakes.
- (1981) FLAKES: Uncomplete number. - (1974) INCA ROADS No introduction. Mixed with Mr Brickford clay animation which at the same time is overdub with studio "noises". The main part of this number was used for "One Size Fits All" album (except guitar solo). Parts of this number were broadcasted on The Midnight Special TV show back in the 70's.
- (1981) EASY MEAT: Uncomplete - DIALOGUE AT COMPACT VIDEO "
Now a review from someone who bought the DVD...
James Simon | New York, NY USA | 10/20/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"All these reviews from people who have never seen the DVD of The Dub Room are utterly useless. I actually bought the disc (what a concept) so I can actually review it. Wow.
The disc includes selcection of performances from 1974 and 1982 tied together with bits by Zappa and Massimo Bassoli, though I have no idea why Zappa thought this guy is funny by picking his nose. Lets face it, Zappa is about music. The 1974 selections include a rather ordinary Montana and Cosmic Debris as well as a bit with Napoleon Murphy Brock called Room Service which goes nowhere. As they rip into Inca Road, just as we're trying to enjoy Zappa's great solo guitar work, we're subjected to Bruce Bickford's clay surreal animation which gets annoying really fast. A highlight from the '74 group is Approximate where the band plays the incredibly syncopated melody, then attempts to sing it, then dance it.
The '82 section fairs slightly better from a band perspective as they generally seem more alert and enjoying themselves but the selections are weaker. Florentine Pagen and Steve's Spanking come off as decent. The perk here is Flakes since it has so rarely recorded.
Also included in the disc is a six minute documentary recorded after Valley Girl became Zappa's biggest hit. It's a nice addition but really doesn't any additional insight to who Zappa was. On the plus side, the makers of the disc obviuosly put a lot of time into the audio remixing it in crisp and clear surround sound.
I can only moderately recommend this disc for the die-hard Zappaphite. For everyone else, I would suggest the DVD of "Does Humor Belong In Music?" where the band and track selections are much better and you really get the feel of a full Zappa show."
I am torn on how many stars to give this
A Hermit | Southwestern Pa. | 06/12/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The Dub Room Special" is a somewhat interesting, somewhat inconsistent, somewhat annoying, sometimes brilliant film comprised from the 1974 tour, the 1981 tour, some straggler footage from 1982, and some clips from 1968, all spliced together in a documentary(?) film I have never seen on TV, its intended medium, despite some not-so-TV-friendly content.
Of course, the music itself, is always tops in its field, but there are some issues with the editing. Some people complain about several intros missing from the final edit, but I understand this. It is meant to look in on the band while on stage, but why would the solo from "Montana" be taken out? Time constraints? Chronology and continuity are obviously not an issue here, as the skit number "Room Service," which is a dialogue based only on inside jokes taken from lyrics from "Roxy & Elsewhere," features an extremely sweat-soaked Napoleon Murphy Brock, and this is only a few minutes into the film, but the next time you see him, he is dry. This sequence is obviously from the later part of the show. No biggie, just a talking point.
One thing, the 1974 line-up of The Mothers apparently gave FZ a far more enjoyable time on stage than the 1981 band. In 1974, he is laughing and cracking jokes from the stage, and generally having fun. Jump to 1981: he is stone-faced throughout, almost like some field marshall, but with a gaudy jumpsuit. Both of the two bands featured play their material wonderfully, the chops of the players is never an issue. He always used the best musicians he could find at any time.
The animated segments are, in my opinion, incredible. Even though Zappa is briefly shown in a clip toying with the animation process, this is the forte of Bruce Bickford. Some people complain about the segments being too long, obstructing one's enjoyment of the band itself, but I just see it as a visual compliment to the music. But, in my humble opinion, the sound effects in the animations could have been erased, or at least, toned down. This DOES interfere with my enjoyment of the music. But watching these segments, I am astonished.
Some of the "interviews" are superfluous, specious even, but this is pretty much a film of Frank Zappa having fun in the "Dub Room." It is what is said to be. But, I do have to concur with many of this video's critics when it comes to Massimo, the nose-picking journalist. His "song," as it were, is one of Frank's duds. And including it on the Mothers' LP "Uncle Meat," WHY??? And I don't mind peurile humor, but listening to the bridge in "Montana," while seeing him with his finger all the way up in his nose, giving the camera a 'fecal-matter-eating' grin, is simply juvenile. I showed this part to my 6-year old niece, and she just said "...eww." Sometimes the humor just falls flat.
But to sum it up, "The Dub Room Special" is a patchwork of what Frank Zappa was doing in 1981 and 1982, with some gems from 1974, for good measure.
He was definitely a better musician than he was a film maker."
Dub Room Special DVD, which is what you get.
Clem | Somewhere | 05/03/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Before I get started a couple of words to all of the "real Frank Zappa fans" out there. This is the same Dub Room Special you had deteriorating on VHS (either an original or copy) with all of those drop outs and lines running through the solo on "Inca Roads", as a clean DVD. In this day and age of bonus features; extra footage, interviews, and easter egg( the single most annoying feature ever) it seems like too many people expect extras with the VHS to DVD transfers. Plus there is NO fan base with a bigger sense if entitlement than Zappa fans who for some reason feel Gail Zappa should personally consult each and every one of them on what, when, and how things should be released. It's thrilling that the stuff is being released at all considering what a niche market Zappa's catalog is in this day and age of american idol. If you didn't like Dub Room then don't, don't buy it now, but if you did or have always wanted it, this is your golden opportunity. The more product you buy the better chance you have of getting the Holy Grail on DVD (and we all know what I speak of)
And now for my review, this is great stuff, reasonable price, nifty packaging, no episode of Simon and Simon in the runoff at the end. Who could ask for more?"
Brian C. Gardner | Cleveland, Ohio | 10/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of all of my regrets in life (which are many), my one regret is that I never got to see a live Zappa show (though in all honesty I was born in 82 and so that severely limited my capabilities).
As a teenager I listened to Zappa's albums with fascination (spending hours trying to guess what time signature certain passages where in) and with absolute delight (it's hard to listen to Joe's Garage and not laugh at the reductio ad absurdum the he draws in relation to music censorship).
However, "The Dub Room Special" was my first introduction into witnessing FZ perform live, and I was absolutely blown away. I am still yet to find adequate words to describe it, but I want to world to know that the performances you see here defy all description.
I wish I could go into great detail (i.e. describing each song) about the disk, but I don't want to rant. My best advice to those who are familiar with Zappa's albums, but not his DVD's is to start here. And for those of you who have never gotten to hear him, take a chance and check out the Dub Room Special. You will not leave the same person."