The Zappa Family Trust will kick off a comprehensive campaign to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the late Frank Zappa's albums next month. "Lumpy Money," a three-CD "audio documentary" due out Nov. 25, is the first offering in the series -- and, according to Zappa's widow Gail, the most unique.
"These two records happen to be Frank's masterworks," Zappa tells Billboard, "so this is the most ambitious of all the (40th anniversary) projects. The challenge is how to educate the audience to understand what 'Lumpy Gravy' and 'We're Only in It for the Money' are, and what they're part of. "So in this particular case we have to be more about the process than the outtakes. You're going to be listening to how Frank worked, all the little developments of these pieces as opposed to just an outtake or another performance of that particular piece. You're going to hear how he got there from here." The "Lumpy Money" package will feature two separate mixes of each album, done by Frank himself. It will include feature the first official release of the instrumental, Igor Stravinsky-influenced orchestral "ballet" version of "Lumpy Gravy" that Zappa recorded in 1967 for Capitol Records but decided to revamp, adding rock musicians and eventually releasing it on MGM/Verve four months after "We're Only in it For the Money" in 1968. Gail Zappa says a "sister" project will be released shortly after "Lumpy Money" that will contain more music from those sessions. Other releases in the series will be treated "more as individual albums," drawing material from the Sequin Mines vault underneath the Zappa family home. A new version of "Cruising with Ruben and the Jets," Frank Zappa's third 1968 release, is also being prepared, while the Zappa Family Trust is working on other projects such as a vintage live album from the Roxy in Los Angeles and a set of Zappa's renditions of the compositions French composer Edgar Varese. "With the 40th anniversary projects, it's not as much about 'Can we make a date?' as 'Can we make it? Do we have vault material we can put together for these?'" Gail Zappa explains. "That's something we have to do if these are going to be worth anything to people."