I have been a Frank Zappa fan for a long time. I collected all the albums he released while alive and some that have been released since he died in 1993. Imaginary Diseases is one of the albums released after his death and it is a great live instrumental Zappa album. The material is from his 1972 tour featuring the Petit Wazoo lineup, which is a stripped-down version of his big band Wazoo lineup. The band consists of 10 members including: Frank Zappa (guitar), Earl Dumler (woodwinds), Tom Malone (horns), Malcolm McNab (trumpet), Gary Barone (trumpet/flugelhorn), Glenn Ferris (trombone), Bruce Fowler (trombone), Tony Duran (slide guitar), Dave Parlato (bass), and Jim Gordon (drums). Zappa was always known for having great drummers in his band and there is no exception here. Jim Gordon was the drummer for Derek and the Dominoes as well as performing with the Beach Boys, The Byrds, Traffic, Joes Cocker, and many other great rock and blues musicians. He was a monster of a drummer before he, unfortunately, went insane in the early ‘80s, started hearing voices, and killed his mother. While he had a sad ending to his career he absolutely rocks on this album, especially during his solo at the end of “Father O’Blivion”.
The version of “Father O’Blivion” on this album is a lot different than the version released on Apostrophe (‘). On Imaginary Diseases, it is a 16-minute instrumental epic containing music that later became part of “Greggery Peccery” from Studio Tan. I am not quite sure why they share the same name, but I am glad both versions exist because they both rock. It absolutely amazes me that it took this long for a recording to be released of this version of Zappa’s band. Any other band would have released this right away and been extremely proud of it. That just goes to show how much good music Frank Zappa made that he didn’t have time to finish this album because he was working on something new. This whole album is good but I particularly like the title track. It starts with the horns section before Zappa comes in with a searing guitar solo. After the guitar solo the horns come triumphantly back and conclude the song.
This album, being instrumental, doesn’t have any of Zappa’s witty lyrics and criticism of modern society that is he was known for. There are better albums for that such as You Are What You Is, but if you love the jazz rock instrumentals of Zappa or his blazing hot live guitar solos from the ‘70s then this is an album you must listen to.