Outrage At Valdez

Original version(s)


FZ album(s) in which song has appeared


Tour(s) on which song is known to have been performed (main source: FZShows, v. 7.1)



FZ liner notes:

That was the theme music for a 1990 Cousteau Society documentary about the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. In the documentary, they only used 50 seconds of it. So this is full-blown.

FZ, interviewed by Co de Kloet for Suplement, NOS Radio, December 21, 1990

Well, they came to me kind of at the last minute before they were doing the show when they asked me to do the score. And it was a very, very, very rush job, it was very difficult, because I finished it just before I got on a plane to go to Moscow in January. And— I'm glad I did it, but it was very hard.

Matt Groening, quoted by Richard Gehr, JamBands, April 1999

Zappa constantly snuck in musical references, quotes, and parodies [...]. Once he played me some music he'd written for a documentary on the Exxon Valdez disaster. "Did you hear that?" he asked me. In the middle of this beautiful Synclavier score, he'd hid the "What do you do with a drunken sailor?" melody.


"The Valdez Score"

Tal (affz, November 28, 1999)

Co de Kloet was given exclusive permission to broadcast the "Valdez Score." At first it was the 11:30 version, from the 12/21/1990 FZ special. And later, 2/14/92, the 14:32 version was broadcasted. Which is not the complete piece.

Theo Alers (affz, January 11, 1998)

Seems to me that "Jonestown" on The Perfect Stranger (1984) is the basis for the "Outrage At Valdez" score.

John Hutchison (affz, June 2, 2001)

According to FZ (Yellow Shark liner notes) "That was the theme music for a 1990 Cousteau Society documentary about the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. In the documentary, they only used 50 seconds of it."

By my count, the opening credits only used 25 seconds of the piece, and Frank edited the piece to end with a little drum roll...

If you follow the Yellow Shark version, then the material used for the opening credits spans 00:00—00:23.

Other snippets:

The documentary opens with a haunting piece a la Jonestown, but redone with a step towards the sample quality we hear in CPIII... A low drone, animal cries, running water and low gong/soft tubes form the backdrop. At about 20 seconds in, there is a muted helicopter effect, which cues the thematic material. There's a piano/percussion cluster, followed by low brass and pizz strings.

At 1:57, this piece returns to a simple drone to back Jean Cousteau's intro. At 2:24, we hear Frank work in the theme from "What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor?" on Accordion, Trem. Violin and Water Droplets... At 2:56 we're back to the drone, with low brass. At 3:57 the piece segues into the main title theme...

John Hutchison (June 7, 2001)

On the piece that is circulating under the name of "The Valdez Core" or "The Valdez Score", there is a little snippet of Buffalo Voice on CPIII.

Paolo Fabretti (September 7, 2007)

I think both the background music at the beginning of the "Yellow Shark" video (when the musicians enter the stage) and the "Overture" itself derive from the first part of the Synclavier version of "Outrage at Valdez" (a.k.a. "The Valdez Score", 1990). They could actually be considered as a live version of the Synclavier piece ("Overture" is dated 1990). Both versions are based on the same sort of bourdon and the same basic sounds (metal-like, bell-like etc., with further background sounds in the live version). The only difference is that the acoustic "landscape" of the old piece (mostly made of string sounds: pizzicatos, "sul ponticello", etc.), are replaced by an improvisation. I think that was the only way to re-create the mood of the Synclavier piece in a concert hall.

The Different Versions:

In spite of FZ saying they only used 50 seconds of the score on the documentary, there are actually 17 minutes of Synclavier music on the film, most of it also appearing on "The Valdez Score." All timings approximate.

Outrage At Valdez (1990) "The Valdez Score" (NOS, Feb. 14, 1992) "The Valdez Score" (mp3 file) Other Appearances
00:00-00:16 00:00-00:16 00:00-00:16 Overture (The Yellow Shark) 0:00-2:08 approx. *
00:16-00:40 00:16-00:39 03:59-04:20
00:40-01:01 00:39-01:01 08:04-08:27
01:01-01:24 01:01-01:24 12:10-12:32
01:24-03:16 01:24-03:18    
03:16-03:59 03:18-04:02 00:16-01:00  
03:59-04:25 04:02-04:30 01:00-01:27 Outrage At Valdez (The Yellow Shark) 0:00-0:23
04:45-06:22 04:30-06:13 01:27-03:08  
07:20-08:12 06:13-07:08 03:08-03:59  
09:01-09:30 07:08-07:41 04:24-04:57  
10:31-10:44 07:41-07:58 04:57-05:13  
11:09-11:54 07:58-08:46 05:13-06:01  
14:39-14:48 08:46-09:00 06:01-06:14  
16:32-16:58 09:00-09:32 06:14-06:46  
  09:32-10:44 06:46-07:56  
22:43-22:51 10:44-10:52 07:56-08:04 Buffalo Voice (Civilization Phaze III (1994)) 0:00-0:07
22:51-23:18 10:52-11:26 08:27-09:00 Buffalo Voice (Civilization Phaze III (1994)) 0:07-0:34
24:01-24:45 11:26-12:14 09:00-09:47  
25:07-25:40 12:14-12:51 09:47-10:23  
26:50-26:58 12:51-13:04 10:23-10:35  
27:38-27:50 13:04-13:22 10:35-10:53  
28:05-28:39 13:22-13:58 10:53-11:29  
36:42-37:04 13:58-14:23 11:29-11:53  
41:06-41:23 14:23-14:35 11:53-12:05  
46:58-47:42     Outrage At Valdez (The Yellow Shark) 2:09-3:08

* It's hard to say which parts of the Valdez score exactly match the Yellow Shark Overture, because of the applause and the Ensemble Modern playing over the Synclavier track, though there are some identifiable loops and sounds.


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This page updated: 2022-07-21