Everything Is Healing Nicely

Frank Zappa

Zappa Family Trust, 1999


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


As the final disc released in Frank Zappa's lifetime, The Yellow Shark captured what Zappa considered to be the best experience he had ever had with a symphony orchestra. Yet, as talked about in a previous review, even the pairing with Ensemble Modern didn't prove to be a wholly satisfying album, though the talent of the musicians was never in question.

So one has to wonder why Zappa's estate would, six years later, bring out Everything Is Healing Nicely, a disc that captures some of the rehearsals that Zappa had with Ensemble Modern in preparation for the "Yellow Shark" concerts. Much more fragmented than the concert, this disc, while having its moments of charm, adds absolutely zero to the specter that is Frank Zappa, as well as his musical legacy.

Once again, make no mistake regarding Ensemble Modern - the talents that these men and women have are above questioning, and that is not my aim in this review. But it often sounds like the group is trying out pieces that Zappa threw together for the purpose of seeing how well they could perform his music, no matter how twisted it got.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Take, for example, the running joke of having Hermann Kretzschmar reading letters to the editor of a body piercing magazine (one line from which is where the title of this album is derived). As much as Zappa wanted to be taken seriously as a composer, apparently he never shook the desire to shock people, even as he inched closer to his own demise. The sad thing is that, while this was a predecessor to Kretzschmar's performance on "Welcome To The United States," the graphic descriptions of some of the, aah, modifications that one can make to certain areas of one's body. Yeesh...

The bulk of this disc has the feel of being extremely disorganized, in that it doesn't quite seem like the musical pieces had come together into a whole, and were thrown to the orchestra in an incomplete state. The first third of the disc moves slowly because of this, and tracks such as "This Is A Test" and "Jolly Good Fellow" never materialize into anything special.

Interestingly enough, right after the first dramatic reading from the piercing magazine ("Master Ringo"), Zappa and Ensemble Modern do hit paydirt with the next two offerings, "T'Mershi Duween" and "Nap Time," although the latter seems to stretch on a little farther than it probably should have. It is on these two songs that the collaboration between artist and ensemble shows that this pairing would indeed work, and would work well.

Regrettably, that momentum cannot be carried through to the second half of Everything Is Healing Nicely. Tracks like "Amnerika Goes Home," "Naked City," "None Of The Above (Revised And Previsited)" and the continuation of the dramatic reading, "Wonderful Tattoo!" fall completely flat.

Zappa insiders and extreme fans will probably say that the general public's inability to warm up to and understand composers like Varese make approaching Everything Is Healing Nicely difficult, and they'd probably be right. Yet Zappa was able to utilize an orchestra and get them to perform music that sounded magical - and was even able to make this happen with Ensemble Modern. But this particular disc does nothing much to build on the legacy that Zappa and Ensemble Modern created with The Yellow Shark, and, like many of the other posthumous releases, is one recommended for completists only.

2005 Christopher Thelen and "The Daily Vault." All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of the Zappa Family Trust / record label, and is used for informational purposes only.

Rating: C-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2005 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Zappa Family Trust, and is used for informational purposes only.