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Music / London Symphony Orchestra

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Album cover of the first volume.
Album cover of the second volume.

London Symphony Orchestra is a Classical Music album featuring a collaboration between Frank Zappa and The London Symphony Orchestra. It was released in two separate volumes between 1983 and 1987, but has since been made available as a double album.

Zappa later had a major Creator Backlash over the album because of the Troubled Production, even postponing the second volume for five years. He felt the musicians' hearts were never into the project and that they came in late at sessions and made too many mistakes. He also felt that there hadn't been enough proper rehearsal time and blamed this on the unions who prevented him from making overtime and working long hours. Zappa was also irritated by the fact that many of them went to a pub between recordings. In his opinion this had a bad effect on the performances, especially "Strictly Genteel".


Volume I

Side One
  1. "Sad Jane" (10:05)
  2. "Pedro's Dowry" (10:26)
  3. "Envelopes" (4:11)

Side Two

  1. "Mo 'n' Herb's Vacation" (27:11)
    1. First Movement (4:50)
    2. Second Movement (10:05)
    3. Third Movement (12:56)

Volume II

Side One
  1. "Bogus Pomp" (24:32)

Side Two

  1. "Bob in Dacron" (12:12)
  2. "Strictly Genteel" (6:53)


  • Frank Zappa: compositions.
  • Kent Nagano: conductor.
  • The London Symphony Orchestra
  • David Ocker: clarinet
  • Chad Wackerman: drums
  • Ed Mann: percussion

Bogus Tropes:

  • The Alcoholic: Zappa wrote in the liner notes on the back cover that "Bob In Dacron" is basically a story about an "unpleasant urban scoundrel (Bob) in his quest for mid-life erotic gratification in a singles bar." The first section is subtitled Bob's Clothes. The second Bob Gets Drunk.
  • Classical Music: The album is entirely classical.
  • Distinct Double Album: Two volumes.
  • Epic Rocking: Most tracks are several minutes long, the longest being "Bogus Pump", over 24:32 minutes. Both it and "Mo 'n' Herb's Vacation" take up the entirety of one side on their respective volumes' LP releases.
  • Face on the Cover: The album cover of the second volume features a picture of Zappa and his black cat.
  • Instrumentals: All tracks are instrumental.
  • Longest Song Goes First: Volume II, which was originally a standalone release, kicks off with the 24:32 "Bogus Pomp", which takes up the entire first side; later releases append Volumes I and II together, thus resulting in "Bogus Pomp" opening side three instead.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The album cover of the first volume is just a grey color with a straight text written across it.
  • Name and Name: Mo and Herb in "Mo 'n' Herb's Vacation".
  • Non-Appearing Title: The title does not appear.
  • One-Man Song: "Bob in Dacron".
  • One-Woman Song: "Sad Jane".
  • One-Word Title: "Envelopes".
  • The Parody: Zappa described "Bogus Pomp" as a "parody of movie music clichés and mannerisms". As he wrote on the back cover:
    Built into the composition is a little psychodrama based on the idea that in an orchestra, the principal violist never gets a good solo. What happens in the minds of the other principal string players when the lowly viola gets all the hot licks? Something stupid, of course, culminating in the principal cellist's improvised emotional outburst near the end of the piece. All of this is supported by cheesy fanfares, drooling sentimental passages and predictable 'scary music'.
  • Repurposed Pop Song: "Strictly Genteel" had appeared earlier with lyrics 200 Motels (1971), just like large parts of the score from that movie on the rest of this album. "Pedro's Dowry" and "Bogus Pomp" made their debut on Orchestral Favorites (1979) and would reappear again on Lšther (1993). "Envelopes" had already debuted on Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch (1982). "Bogus Pomp" is also the prologue heard on "Ahead Of Their Time" (1993).
  • Siamese Twin Songs: "Sad Jane" and "Bob In Dacron" are described by Zappa on the back cover as "pieces that are coupled, under normal performance conditions."
  • Take That! and Take That, Critics!: Zappa was so angry about the performances album that he wrote a Dead Pan Snarker text on the back cover of the second volume:
    Rock journalists (especially the British ones) who have complained about the 'coldness', the 'attempts at perfection', and missing 'human elements' in Jazz from Hell should find "L.S.O. Volume II" a real treat. It is infested with wrong notes and out-of-tune passages. I postponed its release for several years, hoping that a digital technologist somewhere might develop a piece of machinery powerful enough to conceal the evils lurking on the master tapes. Since 1983 there have been a few advances, but nothing sophisticated enough to remove 'human elements' like the out-of-tune trumpets in "Strictly Genteel", or the lack of rhythmic coordination elsewhere".
  • Spoken Word in Music and Studio Chatter: Near the end of "Bogus Pomp" some The Unintelligible shouting is heard, followed by sped-up laughing and someone saying: "Finished?".