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Music / Jazz from Hell

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"Well, things in America can be from Hell. Right now we have a president from Hell, and the National Security Council from hell, so we should add jazz from hell also."
Frank Zappa, interviewed at the start of his home video "Video from Hell" (1987).

Jazz from Hell is an instrumental album by Frank Zappa. Released in 1986 through Barking Pumpkin Records in the US and EMI internationally, it won him his first Grammy Award (for "Best Rock Instrumental" via the Title Track). The album was (yet another) New Sound Album for Zappa as it was almost entirely made on the Synclavier computer, save for the one live track "St. Etienne". The album is well known for the audience favorites "Night School", "St. Etienne" and the incredibly catchy "G-Spot Tornado", which would be performed live on The Yellow Shark and is reportedly the song that Germaine Greer wants to be played at her funeral. The album is also notable for allegedly being the only Zappa record to have a Parental Advisory sticker slapped onto it, despite not featuring any lyrics whatsoever, with the title of "G-Spot Tornado" being cited as the reasoning behind the sticker's inclusion.note 

Jazz From Hell was the final studio album that Zappa would release in his lifetime; all later releases that he lived to see were live recordings, and his next (and last) new studio album, Civilization Phaze III, would be released nearly a year after his passingnote .


Side One
  1. "Night School" (4:47)
  2. "The Beltway Bandits" (3:25)
  3. "While You Were Art II" (7:17)
  4. "Jazz from Hell" (2:58)

Side Two

  1. "G-Spot Tornado" (3:17)
  2. "Damp Ankles" (3:45)
  3. "St. Etienne" (6:26)
  4. "Massaggio Galore" (2:31)


  • Frank Zappa: Composition, lead guitar, synclavier, keyboards, percussion
  • Ed Mann: percussion
  • Tommy Mars: keyboards
  • Bobby Martin: keyboards, saxophone
  • Scott Thunes: bass guitar, keyboards
  • Steve Vai: rhythm guitar
  • Chad Wackerman: drums
  • Ray White: rhythm guitar

G-Spot Trope-nado:

  • Album Title Drop: The Title Track "Jazz from Hell".
  • Alliterative Title: "The Beltway Bandits".
  • Call-Back: "While You Were Art II" was based on the track "While You Were Out" from Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar. The "Hi Ho Silver" yells in "Massaggio Galore" were referenced before during "Jewish Princess" on Sheik Yerbouti.
  • Continuity Nod: "G-Spot Tornado" would be performed live on The Yellow Shark (1993).
  • Covers Always Lie:
    • None of the music on this album could be called Jazz.
    • If we give any credit to the urban legend that some stores labelled the album with the RIAA warning sticker (at the time, "Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics"), we have a further example, as the entire album was instrumental.
  • Epic Rocking: The 7:17 "While You Were Art II" and the 6:26 "St. Etienne".
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Orgasmic screams, rubbed glass, sneezes and the yell "Hi Ho Silver", are heard during "Massaggio Galore".
  • Face on the Cover: Zappa's face is featured on the album cover in close-up.
  • Instrumentals: All tracks are instrumental.
  • Live Album: Only one track is live and performed by human beings: "St. Etienne", lifted from a 1982 concert in Saint-Étienne, France that has been captured on camera too. It features Zappa played a minuscule guitar that is so small that he has to sit on a chair to properly play it. Originally it was a solo from "Drowning Witch", but it was renamed "St. Etienne" after the name of the location where it was first performed.
  • New Sound Album: This was Zappa's first major album performed on his Synclavier computer.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Naming the most catchy track on the album after a g-spot is bound to baffle some people.
  • Shout-Out: "Hi, Ho Silver" is a reference to The Lone Ranger. It was the phrase that cowboy star Tom Mix used to lead his horse Trigger into action.