Tuesday, 26 May 2015

26 Years Ago: Frank Zappa’s ‘Broadway the Hard Way’ Released on CD Read More: 26 Years Ago: Zappa's 'Broadway the Hard Way' Released on CD

Broadway the Hard Way
Zappa Records
Before we go any further, we need to address the curious title of this little essay. What’s with this “released on CD” business? Why not just say “released?”

Well, because Broadway the Hard Way was released on CD almost seven months after its vinyl release, that’s why.

The differences between the two formats aren’t just limited to release dates, either. The vinyl version, released on Oct. 14,1988, was a mail-order only release through Zappa‘s own Barking Pumpkin label and included only nine tracks. The CD, released May 25, 1989 through Zappa’s $22 million dollar deal with Rykodisc, contains those nine cuts along with eight more. That’s 17 tracks for your Zappa dollar, and you get a guest appearance from Sting … but we’ll get to that in a bit.

If that strikes you as an unconventional way to release an album; well, there wasn’t much about Frank Zappa that was conventional. He was the hippie icon who abstained from drugs. He was fiercely intelligent, yet he held formal education in such disdain that he refused to pay for his children’s college educations. Zappa: the promiscuous family man.

In reality, though, Zappa wasn’t the walking contradiction that such a cursory overview might suggest. The axes around which he revolved commercially, artistically and personally were his disdain for authority and his unwillingness to cede control in any aspect of his life. Open his autobiography at random and one is likely to come across a passage such as this:

My best advice to anyone who wants to raise a happy, mentally healthy child is: Keep him or her as far away from a church as you can. Children are naive — they trust everyone. School is bad enough, but, if you put a child anywhere in the vicinity of a church, you’re asking for trouble.

His anti-authoritarian image reached its peak in the mid-’80s courtesy of the Parents Music Resource Center. The PMRC’s proposal that explicit records should be labeled put Zappa in the spotlight as the most articulate of musicians to speak at the Senate hearings on the subject. After that he was a regular on talk shows and news programs. The crazy hippie with the funny-named kids was reinvented as a suit and tie pundit.

Read on...


Frank Zappa is considered to be one of the most influential rock musicians of the late twentieth century. Between the start of his career in the late fifties and his death in 1993 he recorded and rele..

On September 19, 1985, Frank Zappa testified before the United States Senate Commerce, Technology, and Transportation committee, attacking the Parents Music Resource Center or PMRC, a music organizati..

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