In another interview given to the Italian Magazine XL (n.80, October 2012), also documented in video on the XL blog, Tanino [Liberatorie] explains that it was a young woman who showed a copy of RanXerox to Zappa after the 1982 Rome concert.
She said she was a Frigidaire (the Italian magazine that first published the adventures of the cyborg-punk hero) journalist and showed the freshly published album fully devoted to RanXerox. Zappa was so amused by the comic album that asked his friend Massimo Bassoli to put him in touch with the authors. And here they are in 1982, with a copy of RanXerox.
[...] Here is an excerpt of a 2012 interview given by Tanino Liberatore to Pubblico (November 20, 2012, clippings available here) :
The cover of The Man from Utopia is Zappa as RanXerox!
It was him who wanted it, he liked the idea of Frank Xerox.
It was him who told you about the stories depicted or did you witness all those scenes?
I was at the Naples and Rome concerts where nothing special happened. After the Naples concert we went dining together to discuss the cover. In the beginning it should have been a six pages comic strip, but the project was later reduced. Since I don't like covers with a lot of details or messages, and I prefer a strong drawing to leave a powerful impact, I proposed to draw the front cover according to my approach, leaving to him any decision concerning the back cover. Frank accepted. So in the back I drew the promoters who worry only about sniffing cocaine, The Pope, the gal who let Zappa know about RanXerox. Also, the famous "3-1 Vaffanculo" banner (referred to the 1982 FIFA World Cup Final, editor's note), the infamous Palermo tear gas riot and the sun with the face, because he loved an Italian olive oil with a similar logo.
An italian artist, Tanino Liberatore, was introduced to Frank from Massimo and he was so impressed by his character, Rank Xerox, to ask him to draw an entire book with all the stories happened to him and the band during the tour. What remained from that project had been the simple studio album Man from Utopia and the only thing Tanino sold to zappa was the cover of the album and that's why you see the android Zappa/Rank playing with the Milano mosquitos and the arrows indicating the italian tour dates. In the back of the cover of that album, you can see in the bottom part of it, a girl with curly hair and white shirt, that's Valentina, my previous girlfriend who helped Tanino speaking with Zappa; you can even see Smothers crashing the head of an italian journalist (Red Ronnie) who had been caught taping the show after the interview.....
Siempre me gustaron los viejos comics de la EC. Me encantaba Wallace Wood y Jack Davis. Y Jim Steranko, del que me dicen que ahora es un alcohólico internado en un hospital. Me sentí muy emocionado de que un día viniera a visitarme Jack Kirby, el de Forever People y The New Gods. Un personaje encantador. Creo que hay mucho solape entre el público del rock y del comics y lo demostré convenciendo a la compañía de discos para que anunciara mi LP We're Only In It For The Money en las publicaciones de Marvel, la primera vez que se anunciaba un disco en esas revistas. También estoy al tanto de los nuevos dibujantes europeos. De hecho, la portada de mi nuevo LP, The Man From Utopia, está hecha por Tanino Liberatorie, al que conocí leyendo Frigidaire, esa revista italiana. A través de unos amigos, le conocí y apenas pudimos entendernos, no sabe hablar inglés, pero resultó un tipo majo. La portada va a ser entendida en Europa mejor que en USA, Liberatore me ha retratado a partir de su personaje Rank Xerox.
Google Translate (with slight corrections):
I always liked the old EC comics. I loved Wallace Wood and Jack Davis. And Jim Steranko, who they tell me that is now an alcoholic hospitalized. I was very excited that one day Jack Kirby, from Forever People and The New Gods came to visit me. A lovely character. I think there is a lot of overlap between the rock and comic public and I proved it by convincing the record company to announce my LP We're Only In It For The Money in Marvel publications, the first time a record was announced In those magazines. I am also aware of the new European artists. In fact, the cover of my new LP, The Man From Utopia, is made by Tanino Liberatorie, whom I met reading Frigidaire, that Italian magazine. Through some friends, I met him and we could barely understand each other, he can't speak English, but he turned out to be a nice guy. The cover is going to be understood in Europe better than in the USA, Liberatore has portrayed me from his character Rank Xerox.
Tanino Liberatore, Frank Zappa, The Man from Utopia, back cover sketch, posted by Gil Chaya at comicartfans.com
On the left side of the sketch above, note the placeholder for a six sides tracklist!
Zappa did switch the sides of the LP itself at the last minute, which caused a delay in the album's release. This was not an error, just an eleventh-hour decision (not to be confused with a cocaine decision).
FRANK ZAPPA GUITAR, VOCALS, ARP 2600, LYNN DRUM MACHINE
STEVE VAI IMPOSSIBLE GUITAR PARTS (ON STRAT & ACOUSTIC)
RAY WHITE GUITAR & VOCALS
ROY ESTRADA PACHUCO FALSETTOS, ETC.
BOB HARRIS BOY SOPRANO
IKE WILLIS BIONIC BARITONE
BOBBY MARTIN KEYBOARDS, SAX & VOCALS
TOMMY MARS KEYBOARDS
ARTHUR "TINK" BARROW KEYBOARDS, BASS, MICRO-BASS, RHYTHM GUITAR
ED MANN PERCUSSION
SCOTT THUNES BASS
CHAD WACKERMAN DRUMS
VINNIE COLAIUTA DRUMS (ON "DANGEROUS KITCHEN" & "JAZZ DISCHARGE PARTY HATS"
CRAIG "TWISTER" STEWARD HARMONICA
DICK FEGY MANDOLIN
MARTY KRYSTALL SAXOPHONES
PRODUCED BY FRANK ZAPPA
ENGINEERED BY BOB STONE
STUDIOS CUTS RECORDED AND MIXED AT U.M.R.K. CENTRAL
LIVE CUTS RECORDED BY U.M.R.K. REMOTE
DISK MASTERING BY JO HANSCH FRO DINKUM
DISK CUTTIN FACILITY K-DISC
ALPHABET & ILLUSTRATION BY TANINO LIBERATORE
ART DIRECTION JOHN VINCE
Here is how it went. Frank wanted to find someone I could tag team with because we had too much work to finish. First we tried out Alan Sides because Alan had done some of the live recordings from a remote truck before for Frank (1978 I think). Frank thought Alan was a little slow and he always wanted to do things in a different way then Frank did. Alan did lay a few overdub tracks that we used on You Are What You Is. Then we tried out Bob Stone and Frank didn't think he would work out because he didn't want to work long hours. Next we worked with Dave Jerdan who I thought was the best engineer out of all of them and Dave and I worked very well together. (Some of his work was used later on Man From Utopia). But, Dave got another gig and he was then out of the picture which brought us back to Bob Stone.
After [My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts (1981) and Remain In Light (1980)] I worked for Frank Zappa. Frank Zappa called me up, he said his engineer been injured and whether I wanted to work for him. He actually— He was looking for an engineer and he called Hal [Zeiger]—he had hired me, Hal had been in the business for years—and Hal suggests me so Hal brought me along to Frank Zappa and I would work for him for a while. [...]
I did an album when I was there—I did a bunch of other stuff with him too. I redid his first six albums—he got the catalog back from Warner Bros. and he was putting out in one label, Barking Pumpkin and I would do—we recued, remastered his first six albums once—and I worked on a film called Baby Snakes—there was always something going on. It was funny, when you showed up for work with Frank he had a time clock like in a factory and I had a time card and I punch it in and I punch out to go to lunch, you know.
But how I got the job, he had a song that he said—he wanted it finished but he said it's been considered unmixable, and the song called "What's New In Baltimore?," and it was a song consisting of live concert tapes edited in with studio tapes and what I found when I started mixing it how it was inconsistent—the drum sound changes, you know, from tape to tape, and that's why it was considered unmixable—and remember at the time there were no samples. So what I did—I used to get there in the afternoon at three o'clock or something and start working and Frank would start work with me till about, you know, ten o'clock at night and he'd go to sleep and then I'd still be working when he woke up about six in the morning and then we work till about ten in the morning—I worked long hours—while he was sleeping what I did was—Frank had tons of equipment, you know, not only instruments but, you know, speakers, microphones, whatever—what I did was I took—I set up a kick drum, toms and snare and what I did it was [...] sounds out, like the snare on the tape going from studio to live tapes and I had it triggered into a [...] snare—I gave it all the drums, one at a time—I redid the snare, the toms, everything, and I made a consisting drum sound and then I mix it, and when he came in and woke up in the morning I just hit play and I said, "Tell me yes or no."
And he said—he was astounded, he said it was the first time anybody would mix that thing and then I took him out to the studio to show him what I did—and all the mikes and speakers and drumsets that I set up and he called—I remember he called [...] Magazine—I think it was [...] at the time—he brought them in and he said, "Look how we're working here in my studio." You know, he was so proud of the fact that I—
From working with Brian Eno and David Byrne [on My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts (1981) and Remain In Light (1980)], it led me to some other strange gigs, like for instance I worked for Frank Zappa [...]. I did a lot of mixes and stuff for him and I worked on the film Baby Snakes and there was a lot of stuff that I did for him—it's just all over the place. But you never knew what you're gonna do, like when we showed up to work for Frank Zappa in the morning, he has a time clock, like in a factory. You actually time yourself in. You punch in and you punch out for lunch.
[...] Working with Frank was basicly, I'd show up at maybe two o'clock in the afternoon and I'd work with him till about maybe ten at night and then he'd go to sleep and then I'd still be working when he got up [...].
I had a big test for that record—he had me mixed something he said it had never been mixed before and it was considered unmixable, and it was a song called "What's New In Baltimore?" And I mixed it. The problem with the song was it was studio takes intercut with live takes and the drum sound kept changing, so what I did was, Frank goes to sleep and I figured out, "How am I gonna make— Okay, what's the problem here? The problem is the drum sound changes. How am I gonna fix it?" So I used a technique that I learned working with, you know, on all those crazy records, you know, where I took drums, acoustic drums, and I sent out from the tape machine like the snare to a snare and we miked it [...] basically we triggered it. Of course the sound in itself wasn't great but mixing it on top of what was there gave a cohesive sound. And the bottom line is he woke up the next day and goes, "Okay, what do we got?" And I just hit play and he goes, "[...] like a long song, you did it," and he said, "How did you do this?" So I take him out to the studio and I showed him this crazy—it looked like the merry-go-round at Santa Monica Pier, it has the drums beaten by this mechanical thing [...]. Anyway, he calls out Mix Magazine and he says, "Look what we've doing here! This is how we're making records now."
OK, you're a teenager and you want to have a good time, you go out and you get high. No, no, that doesn't bother me so much. What bothers me is, you're a brain surgeon, and you're using cocaine, and you may operate on somebody one day and they'll die. Or you're a Supreme Court justice, and you're going to pass a law that is going to affect life in the United States for the next 200 years, and you're doing it under the influence of drugs. Or you're working in Congress and you're working on a law that will affect everybody's life. Or you're the President of the United States, or whoever you are, drugs are all over the place. It's not just kids who are using the stuff, its people who are involved in life and death decisions for large numbers of people in this country. Whether it's a corporate executive, or whatever, their decision to do something, if it's chemically based, is going to affect the quality of everybody else's life and that's what "Cocaine Decisions" is all about.
The recording of "Cocaine Decisions" occurred during my audition in 1981, the very first day I met Frank. I played to a track that had drum machine, Tommy Mars and probably something else but I can't remember. Chad [Wackerman] wasn't hired yet, so he was NOT originally on it.
We did a bunch of recording before we left LA [in September 1981]. [...] Another song called "Sex," which is a very nice song.
|Lyrics||TMFU (LP)||TMFU (CD)||HIOS?||PWD (UA)|
What's the thing that they's talkin' about everywhere?
What's poppin' up the most from coast to coast
Even them Christians who is born again
Do ya do or don't ya don't
Some girls try it 'n go on a diet
Grow that meat all over yer bones
"THE BIGGER THE CUSHION, THE BETTER THE PUSHIN'
Makes no difference if yer young or old
Ladies they need it just like the guys
Layin' down or standin' up
Any time, anywhere
Some girls try it 'n they don't like it
Watch the scenery while you ride
"THE BIGGER THE CUSHION, THE BETTER THE PUSHIN'
"THE BIGGER THE CUSHION, THE BETTER THE PUSHIN'
"Tink Walks Amok" is a tribute to Arthur Barrow, who was the bass player in the band for quite some time. "Tink" is his nickname, although he wouldn't like people to know that, but that's what they used to call him when he was in school in San Antonio, Texas. And "walking amok" is not like "running amok." Bass players walk.
I got another call from Zappa [...]. The call was to do another recording session up at Frank's house on March 10th. It was a nice fat double session, going from 9 pm to 3 am. I'm not sure, but I think that was when we recorded "Tink Walks Amok," the tune that features me on multiple bass tracks. It did not have that title at the time we recorded it. The first section was part of something he called "Atomic Paganini" and most of the rest of the bass part was from the version of "Thirteen" that we were working on in early 1980, just before Vinnie quit the band. [...]
Sitting in the control room, I was recording the bass to a click track with Frank sitting right next to me. The "Paganini" part is mainly just a repeating riff in 11/8 time. Frank started inventing the arrangement on the fly, as we were recording. We started off with me playing the riff in one position, then he would say, "Move up two frets—OK, now!" or "Move the whole thing over to the A string position—OK, now!" After we had done that for a while, he remembered the "Thirteen" arrangement we used to do, sohe had me do the bass part to that. I fully expected that he would overdub all the great keyboard and guitar parts that were part of it, but he never did.
[...] When I arrived at the house for one of the sessions during this time, Frank greeted me with a big smile and said, "Hi, Tink!" [...] One evening at some fancy restaurant in New York there was a meeting, a chance meeting of Frank and Chirstopher Cross. [...] They ended up hanging out for a while, whereupon Chris took the opportunity to inform Frank that my childhood name was the despised "Tink." I think it was Chris's way of getting his revenge on me for inciting Zappa to write "Teenage Wind."
We did a bunch of recording before we left LA [in September 1981]. [...] Another song called "Willing Suspension of Disbelief" which is a science fiction extravaganza. It has everything in it about cheap monster movies that wasn't included in the song "Cheepnis."
I am playing piano and guitar on "The Radio Is Broken," and I came up with the idea to use the chord progression from the Doors' "Love Street" in that song, too.
The botchino . . . the botchino . . .
BILLY: What's this "Batchino"?
CELESTIA: It's a line from an old Zsa Zsa Gabor movie: "QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE"
Queen of Outer Space is a 1958 American DeLuxe Color science fiction feature film in CinemaScope. Produced by Ben Schwalb and directed by Edward Bernds, it stars Zsa Zsa Gabor, Eric Fleming, and Laurie Mitchell. The screenplay by Charles Beaumont, about a revolt against a cruel Venusian queen, is based on an idea supplied by Ben Hecht.
I'm pretty sure that's me playing bass on "We Are Not Alone."
04/13/81 (2-5PM and 6-9PM) Studio Z (soon to be known as UMRK), Los Angeles, CA—Mo & Herb's Vacation; Stevie's Spanking
MUSICIANS: FZ (leader), Arthur William Barrow, David Ocker (6-9PM), John Steinmetz (6-9PM)
What version of Stevie's Spanking is this??? It can't be overdubs on a live version, because the song wasn't performed in concert until September '81.
Possibly relevant: the 8/?/81 90-minute rehearsal tape with Lisa Popeil includes We Are Not Alone with lyrics about the spanking incident.
Some of the new songs were written within the last few days. We have a song called "The Dangerous Kitchen," that I think you will enjoy. It's a tragic tale of what happens when you come home late at night to your house and you go in the kitchen and get something to eat and find out that somebody has left this total mess all over the place. It talks about the soft things that you step on on the floor that you don't know what they are, and the meat, you know, wrapped up in paper that's sitting out on the counter and the cats get to it and they have torn a hole in it and there's this stuff hanging out. And the stuff in the strainer that has a mind of its own.
He was a funny little fella with feet just like I showed ya
The lyric sheet of FZ's MFU has "He was a funny little fella with feet just like I showed ya". But to me it doesn't sound like that's what Donald Woods sang in the original.
I think it's:
He was a funny little fella
And people I'm not shuckin' ya
Shuck 'to deceive', as in shuck & jive.
As you'll see on the next album, "The Man From Utopia", there's a song called "The Jazz Discharge Party Hats". On it, Frank does a part that's half talk and half singing. And I transcribed that part and doubled it on guitar. And it sounds really weird—like George Benson from Venus. It sounds so bizarre. If you listen hard enough after you write down the notes in each syllable, and use the right articulation markings to phrase the notes so that they sound like they're in a sentence, you'll come out with some really strange effects.
The skinny girl, she says to one of the guys in the band
She says, well, to several of the guys in the band
And one of the T-shirt guys too . . .
Joey [Psychotic] and I wound up unwitting subjects of the song "Jazz Discharge Party Hats," as Joey ran around a hotel swimming pool wearing a particularly pungent pair of unmentionables as a face mask and yelling, "I'm Gorgar! Space Monster!"
This came up during "Torture Never Stops" at one fall '80 show. (FZ mentions in Electric Don Qioxite that it was "in Illinois"—I'm betting 11/15 Carbondale, since the Chicago shows were not recorded due to union problems.)
I thought it was unlikely the tour would have had hit more than one city in that region (and FZ had mentioned Carbondale in the TTR liner notes), [but] more recently we have had two references identifying it as [November 21, 1980] Normal, IL
In 1988, FZ told Pauline Butcher Bird, "The song was improvised during a concert at a college in Normal, Illinois. And it's a true story that happened to some of the guys in the band when we played in Albuquerque, New Mexico."
Moreover, the text file that accompanied the Digital Vault Pass from Alex Winter's Kickstarter campaign (Vault Pass Audio digital download 2018 04 03.txt) said,
"05 Radio Show 1981 (Part 2/5)
Compiled & Produced by Frank Zappa, circa 1981.
Source: 1/4" 2-Track Stereo Analog Masters
1. The Jazz Discharge Party Hats
(University Union Auditorium, Normal IL, 11-21-80)"
My daughter Diva, who is 4 years old, has a number of imaginary playmates—well, I think they are imaginary—she has one called Moggio who is her tiny father, the father that sleeps underneath of a pillow, and that's what this song is—
I had an imaginary friend when I was little named Chana. She lived in my pocket with her entire family and Moggio was her dad.
Reviewing this song recently I have found most of the basic track is from 1981 12 11 (E) Santa Monica (including the "wrong" notes from Scott Thunes someone on Zappateers mentioned, heard at 0:48 on the 1992 Barking Pumpkin CD version). Only the ending (starting around 2:09) is from 1981 11 27 (L) Chicago.
It was arranged with really nice, beautifully arpeggiated chords with odd meters in it. But there's one great thing about the way Frank writes odd meters. As far as I'm concerned, he doesn't just write odd meters for the sake of writing odd meters. If something is in an odd meter, it's the effect he wanted. So this song started out with the arpeggiated chords, and then it went to a guitar solo, and then it went back to the arpeggiated chords, with a big, long melody on top of it. And the melody's really tough, but it's nice. The only thing that's in the final mix of the album is the melody. Frank just sliced the melody off and put it on the record.
Research, compilation and maintenance by Román García Albertos