From Straight To Bizarre:: Zappa, Beefheart, Alice Cooper and LA’s Lunatic Fringe


Very cool to see the upcoming release of From Straight To Bizarre: Zappa, Beefheart, Alice Cooper and La’s Lunatic Fringe, out on DVD February 21st. You probably already know the story, but if you don’t, get a preview below as taken from the press release.

Once upon a time Frank Zappa wanted to remove himself from his original deal with Verve Records. In 1968 he set up the Bizarre and Straight labels with manger Herb Cohen, and began a string of releases which long removed from their context in time still remain strange and extraordinary.  Records by Frank himself and with his Mothers of Invention would join releases by notorious paranoid schizophrenic and part time songwriter, Wild Man Fischer, ex-groupies; the all female GTOs, acapella gospel collective The Persuasions, the first clutch of Alice Cooper records, Tim Buckley’s enigmatic Starsailor, live recordings by Lenny Bruce and Lord Buckley, and a range of other musical oddities.

But it would be a 1969 release by the Mother Superior’s old teenage buddy Don Van Vliet – by then long re-christened Captain Beefheart – that would provide the art-statement for which the Bizarre/Straight enterprise is remembered best, and which remains to this day the pinnacle of achievement, not just at the House of Zappa & Cohen, but, for many, also within the normal confines of the genre loosely termed ‘Rock & Roll’. To suggest that Trout Mask Replica – for it is this sonic marvel of which we speak – moved-the-goalposts is akin to claiming Jack the Ripper had ‘an eye for the ladies’!

This film revisits and reviews the astonishing music that came out on Bizarre and Straight, and reveals the background, operations and, crucially, the lives of the musicians, performers and management who made these labels the legendary reality they became.

The film contains exclusive interviews with many of the labels’ contributors including, Pamela Des Barres, John French, Jerry Lawson, Jeff Simmons, Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith, Essra Mohawk, Miss Mercy, Kim Fowley, Bill Harkleroad plus authors Ben Watson, Barry Miles, Mark Paytress, Billy James and Ritchie Unterberger. Also includes rare footage, archive interviews, location shoots, extras – and of course the music.

pre-order

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