Orchestral Favorites

Orchestral Favorites is an album by Frank Zappa first released in May 1979 on his own DiscReet Records label. The album is instrumental and features music performed by the 37-piece Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra.

Orchestral Favorites
Orchestral Favorites.jpg
Live album by
ReleasedMay 4, 1979
RecordedRoyce Hall, UCLA
September 19, 1975
GenreSymphonic rock
LabelDiscReet Records
ProducerFrank Zappa
Frank Zappa chronology
Sheik Yerbouti
Orchestral Favorites
Joe's Garage
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3/5 stars[1]


The album's creation was spurred by Warner Bros.' rejection of Zappa's Läther album. After Warner had demanded more albums than Zappa was contractually obliged to provide and had reedited the live album Zappa in New York, a lawsuit ensued, during which Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt and Orchestral Favorites were issued without Zappa's permission.


In early 1976, Zappa's relationship with manager and business partner Herb Cohen ended in litigation. Zappa and Cohen's company DiscReet Records was distributed by Warner Bros. Records. When Zappa asked for a reassignment of his contract from DiscReet to Warner in order to advance the possibility of doing special projects without Cohen's involvement, Warner briefly agreed. This led to the 1976 release of Zoot Allures on Warner. Early in 1977, Zappa delivered the master tapes for a quadruple-LP set, entitled Läther. However, Warner changed its position following legal action from Cohen, and refused to release the album, claiming that Zappa was contractually bound to deliver four more albums to Warner for the DiscReet label.

During 1977, Zappa created the individual albums Zappa In New York, Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt and Orchestral Favorites by re-editing recordings from the same batch of tapes that made up the 4-LP configuration.[2] After Warner Bros. released Zappa In New York, they told him that he still owed them four more albums. He then attempted to get a distribution deal with Phonogram Inc. to release Läther on the new Zappa Records label. This led Warner to threaten legal action, preventing the release of Läther and forcing Zappa to shelve the project. In 1978 and 1979 Warner finally decided to release the three remaining individual albums they still held, Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt and Orchestral Favorites. As Zappa had delivered the tapes only, these three individual albums were released with no musical credits.[3] Warner also commissioned sleeve art by Gary Panter, which was not approved by Zappa. The material was first released on CD in 1991, along with Panter's artwork. Panter would later provide additional art for the album when it was reissued in 1995. Much of the material on Orchestral Favorites was made available to the public again in a different form when the alternate version of Läther was finally officially released posthumously in 1996.


Three of the album's five tracks were intended for the shelved Läther album. The music was performed by the 37-piece Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra with Terry Bozzio on drums. The material included is primarily sourced from live performances recorded at Royce Hall under conductor Michael Zearott on the UCLA campus in September, 1975, with additional studio overdubs to correct performance errors. This was the third album by Zappa to use a full orchestra, following Lumpy Gravy and 200 Motels. The album contains an instrumental version of the suite, The Duke of Prunes, originally from the 1967 album Absolutely Free. Zappa plays an electric lead guitar solo with the orchestra on this track. Strictly Genteel was heard earlier as part of the 200 Motels film and soundtrack album. Bogus Pomp is also made up of themes that were used in 200 Motels.

CD editionsEdit

Orchestral Favorites was reissued in a digitally remastered version on CD by Barking Pumpkin in 1991. On the CD version the left and right stereo channels were reversed. This CD was reissued again in 1995 by Rykodisc. Much of the material on the album was made available to the public again when Läther was finally officially released to the public in 1996 after Zappa's death. In 2012, under a new distribution agreement between Gail Zappa (Frank's widow) and Universal Music Group, the CD was reissued yet again under the Zappa Records label. Despite new packaging the content is the same as other CD releases. In 2019, the original mix was reissued as part of the expanded 40th anniversary edition, which also contains two discs of bonus material.

Track listingEdit

All tracks written, composed and arranged by Frank Zappa.

Side one
1."Strictly Genteel"7:04
2."Pedro's Dowry"7:42
3."Naval Aviation in Art"1:20
Side two
1."Duke of Prunes"4:20
2."Bogus Pomp"13:29


  • Frank Zappa – guitar, vocals
  • Ian Underwood, Mike Lang & Ralph Grierson – keyboards
  • Bill Mays - Clavinet
  • Dave Parlato – bass
  • Terry Bozzio – drums
  • Emil Richards, Alan Estes, John Bergamo & Tom Raney – percussion
  • Mike Altschul – flute and clarinet
  • Malcolm McNab, Gene Goe & Ray Poper – trumpet
  • Bruce Fowler, Jock Ellis & Kenny Shroyer – trombone
  • Dana Hughes – bass trombone
  • Don Waldrop - tuba & contrabass trombone
  • Dave Shostac – flute, tenor sax
  • Gary Foster - 2nd flute (and doubles)
  • Ray Reed - flute, alto sax
  • Vic Morosco - clarinet, alto sax
  • Jay Migliori - clarinet, tenor sax
  • Mike Altschul - bass clarinet, baritone sax
  • Earle Dumler – oboe, English horn, bass oboe
  • John Winter - oboe, English horn
  • David Scherr - 2nd oboe, tenor sax
  • Joann Caldwell – bassoon
  • Bobby Tricarico - bassoon, contrabassoon
  • David Duke, Arthur Briegleb, Todd Miller & Bob Henderson – French horn
  • Tommy Morgan - harmonica (on "Duke Of Prunes")
  • John Wittenberg & Bobby Dubow – violin
  • Pamela Goldsmith – viola
  • Jerry Kessler – cello
  • Lou Anne Neill - harp
  • Michael Zearott - conductor


AlbumBillboard (United States)

Year Chart Position
1979 Billboard 200 168[4]
Chart (2019) Peak
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[5] 48
Scottish Albums (OCC)[6] 59
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[7] 77


  1. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Orchestral Favorites – Frank Zappa". Allmusic. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  2. ^ Gail Zappa's liner notes for Läther
  3. ^ FZ vs. Warner Brs. Story or Lather/Laether/Leather, Zappa in New York, Arf.ru
  4. ^ "Charts and Awards for Orchestral Favorites". AllMusic. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
  5. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Frank Zappa – Orchestral Favorites" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  6. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 7, 2019.
  7. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Frank Zappa – Orchestral Favorites". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 11, 2019.