Follow TV Tropes


Music / The Grand Wazoo

Go To
Provider of blessed relief...

The Grand Wazoo is a 1972 album by Frank Zappa and the final part in what, along with Hot Rats (1969) and Waka/Jawaka (1972), could be called his Jazz Fusion trilogy. The record is best remembered for the fan favorites "The Grand Wazoo", "Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus", "Eat That Question" and "Blessed Relief".


Side One
  1. "For Calvin (And His Next Two Hitch-Hikers)" (6:06)
  2. "The Grand Wazoo" (13:20)

Side Two

  1. "Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus" (2:57)
  2. "Eat That Question" (6:42)
  3. "Blessed Relief" (8:00)

The 1995 CD release re-arranged the titles by putting "The Grand Wazoo" as the first track and "For Calvin" as the second.


  • Frank Zappa: vocals, guitar, percussion
  • Lauren Wood, aka "Chunky": vocals
  • George Duke: vocals, keyboards
  • Tony Duran: guitars
  • Alex Dmochowski "Erroneous": bass
  • Billy Byers and Ernie Tack: brass
  • Malcolm McNabb: trombone, horn, trumpet
  • Ken Shroyer: brass, trombones
  • Don Preston: mini-Moog
  • Janet Ferguson: vocals, woodwinds
  • Sal Marquez: vocals, brass, 'multiple toots', woodwinds
  • Mike Altschul, JoAnn Caldwell, Earle Dumler, Fred Jackson, Tony Ortega, Johnny Rotella : woodwinds
  • Joel Peskin: woodwinds, saxophone
  • Ernie Watts: woodwinds, tenor saxophone, c melody saxophone
  • Alan Estes, Bob Zimmitti: percussion
  • Lee Clement: percussion, gong
  • Aynsley Dunbar: drums
  • Cal Schenkel: album cover design

For Calvin And His Next Two Tropers

  • Alliterative Name and Alliterative Title: "Cletus Awreetus Awrightus".
  • All There in the Manual: The liner notes tell a story about "The Legend of Cleetus Awreetus-Awrightus & The Grand Wazoo".
  • Ancient Rome: According to the liner notes Uncle Meat owns a " life-size, minutely detailed, historically inaccurate, somewhat perverted illusionary replica of ANCIENT ROME or something."
  • Apathetic Citizens: The Questions don't wish to conform to new and exciting music. A wagon appears with a giant aquarium, in which we see "an impressive amount of U.D.T. (Undifferentiated Tissue), a symbolic accumulation of all the statistical errors and failed attempts of this empire's illusionary scientific community."
  • A Taste of the Lash: Trivia is a "hot girl who likes to be flogged".
  • Author Avatar: Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus, who fights against Mediocrates of Pedestrium, can be seen as a metaphor for Zappa himself, fighting against the mediocrity of most mainstream music. A group of people "who don't like music" are called "Questions".
  • Balance Between Good and Evil: According to the liner notes Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus -The Funky Emperor- fights against his arch-villain Mediocrates of Pedestrium. They have a "weekly battle" and the scores are posted for all there to see.
  • Big Band: The music was performed with a huge line-up. In the liner notes it is implied that Emperor Cletus also has a big band, but with a lot more musicians than your average group:
    The combined forces of the Army Awreetus include 5,000 brass players (assorted) which is the AIR FORCE, 5,000 drummers (assorted) which is THE ARTILLERY, 5,000 players of electric instruments (assorted) which is THE CHEMICAL / BIOLOGICAL / PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE SECTION, and 5,000 guys with masonite boards strapped on their chests, each one firmly grasping half a coconut shell in either hand which they pummel rhythmically on the board... this is THE CAVALRY. CLETUS leads them into battle with his gleaming MYSTERY HORN (many believe this instrument to be nothing more than a "C" Melody Saxophone, borrowed from Jackie Kelso).
    • The opposing army has similar amounts of musicians:
    THE M.O.P. has 5,000 dynamic male vocalists in tuxedos who stand in the middle of the road, loosen their bow ties, and arch one eyebrow, 5,000 dynamic male vocalists with fringed smocks, tunics, jumpers, and Nudie shirts, 5,000 dynamic (but carefully understated) male vocalists in old Levi clothes who cry, sulk, whimper, and play harmonica, plus 5,000 more dynamic performers of indeterminate sex who can't sing at all, but dance good and do hot moves with the mike wire.These are reinforced by 100,000 black girl backup singers (assorted) who sway in a trained manner and get funky on command. As if that weren't enough, there's another 5,000 girl Lead Singers, many of which are so sensitive they're invisible and the rest of which are so overwhelming they hurt your eyes whenever the light gets on them.
  • Brotherhood of Funny Hats: Zappa claimed in the liner notes for The Lost Episodes that the title The Grand Wazoo referred to whoever it is one of these organizations who has the biggest, stupidest hat.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • During "For Calvin" we hear the melody that would later become "who's makin' those new brown clouds" on "The Adventures Of Greggery Peccary" from "Studio Tan" and Lšther (1993).
    • During "Cosmik Debris" from Over-Nite Sensation (1973) Zappa makes mention of "the dust of the grand wazoo", a Call-Back to this album.
    • In the liner notes it is explained that "the grand wazoo" is a "primitive-but-effective megaphone", which brings up associations with the Central Scrutinizer on Joe's Garage (1979). However, on Zappa's later album "The Lost Episodes" (1995) there is a track called "I'm The Grand Wazoo", which is musically unsimilar to the instrumental on The Grand Wazoo. In the liner notes to "The Lost Episodes" Zappa gives a totally different explanation to what "the Grand Wazoo" is:
    Anybody in any one of those lodge organizations with a stupid hat on,(...) actually, the guy with the biggest, dumbest hat is the Grand Wazoo.
    • "Eat That Question" would be performed live on Zappa's "Make A Jazz Noise Here" (1988).
    • The liner notes of "The Grand Wazoo" tell a background story to the tracks. This mentions the character Uncle Meat from Uncle Meat again (also seen on the back cover) and a maroon sofa, which is part of Zappa's conceptual continuity. Cletus appears "in full regalia", a continuity nod to "Peaches En Regalia" from Hot Rats. Reformed Questions join Cletus' army, where they get to work in one of the many beer-dispensing topless/bottomless night clubs, which brings up images of "America Drinks & Goes Home" from Absolutely Free (1967). A scantily-clad nubile maiden appears with "gaily painted cardboard box containing spoons", which is similar to the track "A Nun's Suit Painted On Some Boxes" from 200 Motels (1971) and the spoon that appears in "Dancin' Fool" in Sheik Yerbouti (1979). Zappa also mentions unions, people he criticized before during "Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink" on Chunga's Revenge (1970). The M.O.P. has vocalists in tuxedos who "loosen their bow ties", a Call-Back to the bow tie of "Bow Tie Daddy" in We're Only in It for the Money (1968).
    • The roadie Per Diem would reappear as a star sign constellation on the back cover of One Size Fits All.
  • Epic Rocking: The 13:20 "The Grand Wazoo" and the 8:00 "Blessed Relief".
  • Evil Uncle: Uncle Meat is described as an evil Mad Scientist in the liner notes.
  • Given Name Reveal: The liner notes reveal that Uncle Meat is in fact called Stu.
  • Gladiator Games: Emperor Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus holds fights in an arena.
  • Instrumental: This album is predominantly instrumental, save for "For Calvin", which has lyrics. Originally "The Grand Wazoo" had lyrics too, as the tune "Think It Over", but this version would not become available until the posthumous release of "Joe's Domage" (2004).
  • Gratuitous French: There has been a theory that the "wazoo" in the title might be a corruption of the French word "oiseau" (=bird), much like Zoot Allures is a corruption of "zut alors" (=gosh, darn it, heck!).
  • Mad Scientist: Uncle Meat is described in the liner notes as such.
  • Meaningful Name: Cletus' staff members all have meaningful names: Erroneous the bass player, Gregarious the drummer note , Per Diem the roadie note , Trivia "a hot giro who likes to be flogged" note , Cretinous the biographer note , Nefarious his advisor note , Equilibrium the pharmacist, Dysmenhorrea the "squinting female oracle" note  and "Photon" the lighting director note . Mediocrates of Pedestrium, the opposing emperor, also has a name that implies that he is in charge of mediocrity for pedestrians.
  • One-Man Song: "Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus".
  • Product Placement: The liner notes make mention of
    Male vocalists in old Levi clothes
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: "For Calvin (And His Next Two Hitch-Hikers)" was inspired an anecdote that happened to Cal Schenkel, Zappa's graphic designer:
    (...)I just left Frank's house & I'm stopped at the corner of Mulholland & Laurel Canyon Blvd waiting for a red light to change, when I notice these two hitch-hikers, a hippie couple standing there waiting for a ride. The next thing I know they are getting in the back of the car. I guess they must have thought I offered them a ride (I didn't tell them to come into my car or motion them or anything— I wasn't even thinking of it), so I ask them where they are going & they didn't say ANYTHING! I drive down Laurel Canyon Blvd past the Log Cabin, past Harry Houdini's, past the country store & into Hollywood. (I'm with Sherri at the time, but I forgot that until she told me a couple of months ago— & she remembers all this too!) I get to the bottom of the hill, I was going to turn right. I kind of asked them "look I'm turning right, do you want to get out here?" They didn't say anything. They were just blank. I figured they were on acid or something. I just couldn't communicate with them. I wasn't sure what to do, so I just continued on to my destination. When I get there I said, "OK, this is where I'm going. Good-bye!" They just stayed in the car & didn't get out. So I parked the car, got out & went up to my studio & started to work. I was working on the album cover for Uncle Meat. This is in my studio that was a dentist's office over a hotdog joint on Melrose. Every once in a while I'd look out of the window to see if they were gone but they were still sitting in the back seat of the car. An hour or two later, I looked out the window & I noticed they were gone. I thought, "Finally!" Then shortly afterwards, I saw that they were back! They went to the supermarket for a loaf of bread & lunchmeat & started making sandwiches in the back of the car. They were eating their lunch! Then they left.
  • Rock Me, Asmodeus!: Sol Bloom's 1893 song "The Streets of Cairo, or The Poor Little Country Maid" is popular as a comically stereotypical Standard Snippet for vaguely Middle Eastern settings, so there's no surprise it's been referenced quite a lot.
  • Scatting: During "Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus" some scatting can be heard.
  • Shout-Out:
    • According to the liner notes an exhausted messenger is revived "with a transistor radio tuned to Wolfman Jack".
    • The British electronica group Fila Brazillia sampled "Eat That Question" on their track "Ridden Pony" from their album "A Touch Of Cloth" (1999).
    • The hiphop duo Madvillain sampled "Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus" on the single "Never Go Pop".
  • Speech Balloon: Seen on the album cover.
  • Title Track: "The Grand Wazoo".
  • Vulgar Humor: The title of the album and its title track is a roundabout way of saying "the huge anus."