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Music / Studio Tan

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Studio Tan is a 1978 album by Frank Zappa, best remembered for the epic song "The Adventures Of Greggery Peccary".

However, at the time, just like Sleep Dirt (1978) and Orchestral Favorites (1979), the album was released by his label Warner Brothers without Zappa's permission. The company had indulged in Executive Meddling on Zappa in New York (1977) and re-released the album in a censored version, which prompted Zappa to sue both Warners and his former manager Herb Cohen for contract violation. As a result Warners froze all of Zappa's production temporarily, while he was forced to continue touring as it was the only way to make new money. To add insult to injury Warners released all these three albums as separate records, while Zappa intended them to appear on a quadruple album (eventually released on 3 CDs) Läther. Not only was this done without his permission, but there were no liner notes or art work prepared, causing the musicians to remain uncredited. Comic strip artist Gary Panter was brought in to design the album cover and sleeve art, without being informed of all this backstabbing.

Meanwhile Zappa provided a Take That! against Warners by bringing all the tracks from these albums to a local radio station and broadcasting them live on air for his fans to tape and bootleg. Luckily he would eventually win his lawsuit and become owner of his entire catalogue. The CD versions of "Studio Tan", "Sleep Dirt" and "Orchestral Favorites" give the musicians proper credit, but after Zappa's death most of the material was also made available on the album he originally intended it for: Läther (1996).


Side 1
  1. "The Adventures Of Greggery Peccary" (20:40)

Side 2

  1. "Lemme Take You To The Beach" (2:44)
  2. "Revised Music For Guitar & Low-Budget Orchestra" (7:36)
  3. "RDNZL" (8:12)


  • Frank Zappa: vocals, guitar, percussion
  • Davey Moire: vocals
  • George Duke: keyboards
  • John Berkman: piano
  • Tom Fowler: bass guitar
  • Terry Bozzio: drums
  • Eddie Jobson: keyboards, yodeling
  • Max Bennett: bass guitar
  • Paul Humphrey: drums
  • Don Brewer: bongos
  • James "Bird Legs" Youmans: bass guitar
  • Ruth Underwood: percussion, synthesizer
  • Michael Zearott: conductor
  • Pamela Goldsmith: viola
  • Murray Adler and Sheldon Sanov: violin

Trendmonging tropes

  • Animal Stereotypes: Greggery Peccary is a filthy and sleazy pig.
  • Call-Back and Continuity Nod:
    • Greggery Peccary is a pig, an animal that appeared in other Zappa works too, including Lumpy Gravy (1968). He also wears a tie and a collar, something that is part of Zappa's conceptual continuity, along with the cars and motorcycles mentioned in the song.
    • Flower Power, described as a trend in "Greggery Peccary", was attacked earlier on We're Only in It for the Money (1968).
    • Greggery has hidden himself inside the mouth of Billy The Mountain, a character from "Billy The Mountain" on Just Another Band from L.A. (1972). The Short Forest, which appeared in Weasels Ripped My Flesh (1970), Chunga's Revenge (1970) and Over-Nite Sensation (1973), is also referenced again.
    • The company "Big Swifty & Associates: Trend-Mongers" is a throwback to the track "Big Swifty" on Waka/Jawaka (1973).
    • Parts of the story, with Greggery driving his little red Volkswagen around while being chased by the hunchmen and -women in their cars into Billy the Mountain was made into clay animation by Bruce Bickford in Baby Snakes (1979).
    • "Lemme Take You To The Beach" mentions weenies and cookies, also objects which appeared in earlier Zappa songs.
    • "RDNZL" is a star on the back cover of One Size Fits All (1975).
    • All tracks on this album are available in the same version on Läther (1996). Only "Greggery Peccary" is a bit longer, 21 minutes compared to the 20:40 on this record.
    • A four minute version of "RDNZL" appears on "The Lost Episodes" (1995).
  • Capitalism Is Bad: Greggery Peccary thinks up time-wasting trends to capitalize on them.
  • Cold Open: "The Adventures Of Greggery Peccary".
  • Cool Shades: The man on the album cover wears them.
  • Cut Short: Originally Quentin Robert DeNameland's philosophical speech was a lot longer. In Zappa's book "Them Or Us" (1984) the entire text is printed:
    Well folks as you can see for yourself the way this clock over here is behaving: time is an affliction. Now this might be cause for alarm on a portion of you that's from a certain experience I tend to proclaim: the eons are closing. Now what does this mean precisely to the layman? Simply this: Momentarily the need for the construction of the new light will no longer exist. Of course some of you will think, "Who is he to fell me from this light?" But in all seriousness, ladies and gentlemen, a quick glance at the erratic behavior of the large precision built time delineating apparatus beside me will show that it is perhaps only a few moments now... Look how funny it's going around there! Personally, I find mechanical behavior of this nature to be highly suspicious. When such a device doesn't go normal, the implication of such a behaviour bodes not well (if you know what I mean). And quite naturally ladies and gentlemen if the mechanism in question is entrusted with the task of the delineation of time itself and ahh if such a mechanism goes "On the bum".... or the fritz... Well, it spells trouble.
  • Epic Rocking: "The Adventures of Greggery Peccary" takes up an entire LP side and is 20:40 long. All of it was performed live and is so complicated that Zappa never performed it on stage. "Revised Music For Guitar And Low-Budget Orchestra" is 7:36 long, while "RDNZL" is 8:12 long.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Typewriters are heard when Greggery visits his office.
  • Gluttonous Pig: Greggery certainly takes financial advantage of anything that could be changed into a trend.
  • Instrumentals: "Revised Music For Guitar & Low-Budget Orchestra" and "RDNZL".
  • In the Style of: "Greggery Peccary"'s music resembles a cartoon soundtrack.
  • Lemony Narrator: During "Greggery Peccary" Zappa describes all the events in sarcastic fashion.
  • Longest Song Goes First: The nearly 21-minute "The Adventures of Greggery Peccary" opens the album, occupying all of side one.
  • Mickey Mousing: "The Adventures Of Greggery Peccary" has various scenes that are illustrated musically or by sound effects.
  • Non-Appearing Title: The title doesn't appear in any of the tracks.
  • Only in It for the Money: Greggery thinks up time wasting trends, just for profits, and Quentin Robert DeNameland gives not really helpful philosophical advice, while still demanding to be paid in huge cheques.
  • The Parody: "Greggery Peccary" is a parody of musical fairy tales such as Peter and the Wolf and rock operas, while "Lemme Take You The Beach" is a parody of Surf Rock pop tunes, with insanely happy lyrics.
  • Pig Man: Greggery is described as "a little pig", yet he drives a car and works at an office.
  • Product Placement: Greggery rides around in a red Volkswagen and checks out "The Whole Earth Catalogue".
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: A peccary swine actually exists. The species lives in South America.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The name of "Greggery Peccary" is a pun on Gregory Peck. His invention of the calendar references the Gregorian calendar.
    • Two trends that are brought up are the Twist and Flower Power.
    • Greggery's line "what hath God wrought?" is a reference to Alexander Graham Bell's famous line after the telephone was invented.
    • After the line about "slowly aging very hip young people" Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon" from Head Hunters is quoted.
    • The honky tonk piano section references the theme from the TV show My Three Sons.
    • After the line "garishly painted buses" Zappa quotes from "Entry Of The Gladiators" by Julius Fucik.
    • "Louie Louie" is quoted after the line "perform lewd acts".
    • The radios tuned to different channels all paying at once, references "Imaginary Landscape" by John Cage.
  • Silly Love Songs: "Lemme Take You To The Beach"
    Eat a candy!
    You are dandy!
    'Can I kiss you?
    Maybe I'll just hold your hand-eeee!