Follow TV Tropes


Music / The Man from Utopia

Go To

The Man from Utopia is a 1983 album by Frank Zappa. Originally Zappa wanted to bring out an album called Chalk Pie, but when a bootleg copy was brought out he scrapped the plans. "The Man From Utopia" is best remembered for songs like "Cocaine Decisions", "The Dangerous Kitchen", "SEX", "The Jazz Discharge Party Hats" and "Moggio". Like many albums Zappa released during The '80s it's not highly regarded among fans, mostly due to the fact that in three songs Zappa and his band members sing in rather obnoxious voices and the rest of the material isn't particularly up to Zappa's standards either. Together with Thing-Fish (1984) it's often perceived as his worst album.

The album cover was designed by Italian comic book artist Tanino Liberatore, best known for his series Ranxerox.


Side One
  1. "Cocaine Decisions" (2:56)
  2. "The Dangerous Kitchen" (2:51) note 
  3. "Tink Walks Amok" (3:40)
  4. "The Radio Is Broken" (5:52)
  5. "Moggio" (3:05) note 

Side Two

  1. "The Man from Utopia Meets Mary Lou" (3:19)
  2. "Stick Together" (3:50)
  3. "SEX" (3:00) note 
  4. "The Jazz Discharge Party Hats" (4:30)
  5. "We Are Not Alone" (3:31) note 

The CD re-release has a different track order (see the notes) and adds "Luigi & the Wise Guys" as bonus track.


  • Frank Zappa: vocals, guitar, drum machine, ARP 2600
  • Steve Vai: guitar
  • Ike Willis: vocals
  • Ray White: vocals, guitar
  • Roy Estrada: vocals
  • Bob Harris: boy soprano
  • Bobby Martin: vocals, keyboards, saxophone
  • Tommy Mars: keyboards
  • Arthur Barrow: keyboards, bass, micro bass, rhythm guitar
  • Ed Mann: percussion
  • Scott Thunes: bass
  • Chad Wackerman: drums
  • Vinnie Colaiuta: drums
  • Craig Twister Steward: harmonica
  • Dick Fegy: mandolin
  • Marty Krystall: saxophone

The Man From Utropia

  • A Cappella: "Luigi & the Wise Guys" is sang with vocals only.
  • All Women Are Lustful: "The Jazz Discharge Party Hats" is both an example as well as a subversion:
    One of them thought she was a beauty queen...
    The other one was a walking Blow-Job
    And then there was this skinny girl...
    Oh well...Some of the guys in the band got together
    With the girls from the college
    They were having a good time...
    (We were in Alburquerque for a couple of days)
    But these girls thought they were Hot Shit
    'N wouldn't pooch the guys in the band
    On the first day, so...
    A couple of the guys in the band
    Who were desperate for THAT KIND OF ACTION
    Kept workin' on 'em for two days
    (Which is a waste of fuckin' time anyway...)
    So, anyway... but if that's your idea of a good time, what the hey?
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: "SEX"
    The bigger the cushion, the better the pushin
  • B-Movie: "The Radio Is Broken" is a Homage to cheap science fiction movies and all the clichés found in them.
  • Call-Back and Continuity Nod:
    • "Cocaine Decisions" attacks coke sniffing yuppies, a topic Zappa handled before in "Charlie's Enormous Mouth" from You Are What You Is (1981). It also mentions noses, which are part of Zappa's conceptual continuity. The opening line "chop up a line now" was used before during "Tinseltown Rebellion" from Tinseltown Rebellion (1981).
    • "The Radio Is Broken" is a homage to sciencefiction B-movies. Zappa expressed his love for B-movies before, most notably during "Cheepnis" from Roxy & Elsewhere (1973). The song also mentions a "gigantic spider", which also appeared before in "Cheepnis", and the co-pilot "always plays the harmonica", which is similar to the line "Blow your harmonica, son" that Zappa used before on Freak Out (1966). The final line, "Dwarf nebula!" is a call back to "Dwarf Nebula Processional March & Nebula" from Weasels Ripped My Flesh (1970). The adjective "blobulent" would reappear during "The Massive Improve'lence" from Thing-Fish (1984).
    • "The Man from Utopia Meets Mary Lou" mentions that Mary Lou "took my watch", which is similar to "Advance Romance"'s from Bongo Fury ("they took George's watch like they always do"). The mention of a Cadillac and '55 Chevy continues car imagery in Zappa's lyrics. The song also appears on "You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Volume 4" (1991).
    • "The Jazz Discharge Party Hats" has people skinny dipping and Zappa mentioning "the water was very, very cold". He says a similar line during "Fembot In A Wet T-Shirt Nite" from Joe's Garage (1979). Interestingly enough one of the band members also wears a T-shirt in the song and Zappa says "this would make a great way of life for them", similar to his line "Ain't this what livin' is all about?" in "Fembot In a Wet T-Shirt Nite". The song also mentions undergarments, which have been alluded before in Zappa's songs. The girls are also described as "college girls", whom Zappa satirized before in "The Illinois Enema Bandit" from Zappa in New York (1978).
    • "The Dangerous Kitchen" would reappear again live on "You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Volume 1" (1988).
    • Just like he did before with "Rudy Wants to Buy Yez a Drink" from Chunga's Revenge (1970) Zappa attacks unions in "Stick Together".
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: The band members wearing women's pants on their heads and snorting them in "The Jazz Discharge Party Hats", as Zappa lampshades:
    Some of you might think this is weird...
    No wonder. It's not exactly normal, but "What the fuck?"
    So, they're snorting it...
    Hey! It's the twentieth century...
    Whatever you can do to have a good time, let's get on with it,
    So long as it doesn't cause a murder...
  • Cover Version: "The Man from Utopia Meets Mary Lou".
  • Doo-wop and Doowop Progression: "Mary Lou/Man from Utopia".
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: "Moggio" was inspired by a dream Zappa's daughter Diva once had.
  • Drugs Are Bad: "Cocaine Decisions" is a satirical attack on yuppies, who often snorted coke in The '80s.
    And the cocaine decisions that you make today
    Will mean nothing later on, when you get nose decay
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: "The Dangerous Kitchen"
    The bananas are black
    They got flies in the back
    And also the chicken
    In the dish with the foil
    Where the cream is all clabbered
    And the salad is frightful
    Your return in the evening
    Can be less than delightful
  • Femme Fatale: Mary Lou in "The Man From Utopia Meets Mary Lou".
    Well, she picked up from Georgia, moved to Kalamazoo
    Made her a fortune outta fools like you
    Meet her a rich man who was married and had two kids
    She stoked that cat till he flipped his lid
    Mary Lou — she took my watch and chain
    Mary Lou — she took my diamond ring
    Mary Lou — she took my Cadillac car
    Jumped in my Kitty and drove far
  • Food Songs Are Funny: "The Dangerous Kitchen", about the dangers of disgusting, stale and/or rotting food in the kitchen, stuff you can cut your fingers on and all the things that you can step on and/or slip over.
    While you're sleeping
    It crawls off
    It gets in your bed
    It could get on your face then
    It could eat your complexion
    You could die from the danger of the dangerous kitchen
  • Hiding Behind Religion: "SEX"
    Even them Christians who are born again
    Go out 'n' get pooched every now and then
    Do ya do or don't ya don't
    Bet your lyin' if ya say ya won't
  • Hurricane of Puns:
    • "Cocaine Decisions"
    You're a person with a snow job note 
    • "The Radio Is Broken"
    You can land on Uranus note 
  • Instrumentals: "Moggio", "Tink Walks Amok" and "We Are Not Alone".
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: "SEX".
  • Live Album: Some tracks are performed live, but with overdubs.
  • Mars Needs Women: "The Radio Is Broken"
    The tiny little dresses on the space girls
    A love-starved race begging to reproduce with earthmen
  • Medley: "The Man From Utopia Meets Mary Lou" is a medley of the original 1950s song "The Man From Utopia" and additional lyrics by Zappa.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: "The Dangerous Kitchen", about the dangers of going out to get some food at night, "The Radio Is Broken" about cheap science fiction B-movies and "The Jazz Discharge Party Hats", about his band members putting girls' panties on their head and wearing them like hats.
  • Mundangerous: "The Dangerous Kitchen", where Zappa warns for the dangers of going to your kitchen at night and trying to find something to eat:
    The can things with the sharp little edges
    That can cut your fingers when you're not looking
    The soft little things on the floor that you step on
    They can all be dangerous
    Sometimes the milk can hurt you
    (If you put it on your cereal
    Before you smell the plastic container)
    And the stuff in the strainer has a mind of its own
  • My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting: Zappa calls collecting female underpants "part of a Great American Tradition, the tradition of the Jazz discharge party hats".
  • The Nameless: "The Jazz Discharge Party Hats"
    A couple of the guys in the band, who shall go nameless
    Because their girlfriends might find out
    Decided they were gonna work the wall on these girls from the college
  • The Navigator: "The Radio Is Broken"
    The navigator always gets killed by a bad space person
  • One-Man Song: "The Man From Utopia" and "Moggio".
  • Product Placement: "The Man From Utopia Meets Mary Lou"
    Mary Lou - she took my Cadillac car
    (...) I had a '55 Ford and a two dollar bill
  • Protest Song:
    • "Cocaine Decisions" is aimed at yuppies:
    I don't wanna know about the things that you pull outta your nose
    Or where they goes
    But if you are wasted from the stuff you're stickin' in it
    I get madder every day because what you do 'n' what you say
    Affects my life in such a way
    I learn to hate it every minute!
    • "Stick Together" attacks unions.
    Once upon a time the idea was good
    If only they'd a done what they said they would
    It ain't no better, they's makin' it worse
    The labor movement's got the Mafia curse
  • The Radio Dies First: "The Radio Is Broken" is just one of the clichés in sciencefiction B-movies Zappa addresses.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • Zappa is depicted with a fly swatter on the cover. This is a reference to the 1982 concert he and his band held in Segrate, Italy, where the group battled mosquitos on stage. Later a riot broke out, which is depicted on the back cover.
    • "The Dangerous Kitchen" was based on Zappa's own experiences of working all night in his studio and getting something to eat from the kitchen downstairs. As he explained in The Real Frank Zappa Book.
    • "The Jazz Discharge Party Hats" was based on a real life touring anecdote, described in full in the lyrics.
    • Zappa said in "They're Doing the Interview of the Century", published in the June issue of Society Pages in 1990, that "Moggio" was based on a dream Zappa's daughter Diva had about a "tiny little father named Moggio, who lived under the pillow".
  • Real Women Have Curves: "SEX"
    Some girls try it 'n' go on a diet
    Then they worry 'cause they's too fat
    Who wants t'ride on an ironin' board?
    That ain't no fun, I tried me one
    Grow that meat all over your bones
    Work the wall with the local jones
  • Sex Is Good: "SEX"
    Any time, anywhere
    Why d'ya think it's growing there?
  • Shout-Out:
  • Singer Name Drop:
    • "Tink Walks Amok" references Arthur Barrow, Zappa's bassist, whose nickname was "Tink".
    • Avoided in "The Jazz Discharge Party Hats".
    A couple of the guys in the band, who shall go nameless
    Because their girlfriends might find out
    Decided they were gonna work the wall on these girls from the college
  • Skinnydipping: The band members and groupies do this in "The Jazz Discharge Party Hats"
  • Spoken Word in Music: "The Dangerous Kitchen", "The Radio Is Broken" and "The Jazz Discharge Party Hats" are performed in sprechstimme, which is a waying of singing while talking.
  • Take That!: "Cocaine Decisions"
    But if you are wasted from the stuff you're stickin' in it.
    I get madder every day 'cause what you do 'n' what you say affects my life in such a way. I learn to hate it every minute!
  • Time Marches On: "The Jazz Discharge Party Hats"
    Hey! It's the twentieth century...
    Whatever you can do to have a good time, let's get on with it,
    So long as it doesn't cause a murder...
  • Unabashed B-Movie Fan: Zappa expresses his love for cheap and laughable science fiction movies in "The Radio Is Broken".
  • Unusual Euphemism: "The Radio Broken" speaks of a "blobulent suit".
  • Upperclass Twit: "Cocaine Decisions"
    You are a person who is high class
    You are a person not in my class
  • Uranus Is Showing: "The Radio Is Broken"
    We have to fall in love on Uranus!