Orchestral Favorites

Orchestral Favorites is an album by Frank Zappa first released in May 1979 on his own DiscReet Records label. The album is entirely instrumental and features music performed by the 37-piece Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra. It reached #168 on the Billboard 200 album chart in the United States.

Orchestral Favorites
Orchestral Favorites.jpg
Cover art designed by Gary Panter
Live album by
ReleasedMay 4, 1979
RecordedRoyce Hall, UCLA
September 17-19, 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]

Recording sessionsEdit

The recordings were sourced from performances recorded September 17-19, 1975 at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus with conductor Michael Zearott. There were 2 nights of live concert performances and an additional day of recording sessions without the audience.

Strictly Genteel was heard earlier as part of the 200 Motels film and soundtrack album in 1971. Bogus Pomp is also made up of themes that were used in 200 Motels. The album contains a new arrangement of Duke of Prunes, originally on the 1967 album Absolutely Free. There are no overdubs on the album other than Zappa's electric guitar solo, which he later added to this track.[2] According to Zappa, he funded the entire production cost of about $200,000 from his own pocket.[3]


An early version of the album titled Six Things was cut as a demo acetate disc at Kendun Recorders in Burbank, California in April 1976. This was a different edit which included Re-Gyptian Strut and Music For Guitar & Low Budget Orch, which were later cut from the album.[4] The same year Zappa attempted to negotiate a distribution agreement for the album with Columbia Masterworks. But the deal fell through when Columbia would not agree to Zappa's terms.[5] Zappa also played a demo disc of an as yet unreleased orchestral album in 1976, according to biographer Barry Miles.[6]

In May 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. At this point Zappa was still contracted to deliver 4 more albums to Warner for release on Discreet. In March 1977 Zappa delivered master tapes for all 4 albums to Warner to fulfill this contract.[7] Zappa did not receive payment from Warner upon delivery of the tapes, which was a contract violation.[8] In a 1978 radio interview Zappa listed the four albums delivered to Warner and called this album by the title Zappa Orchestral Favorites.[9]

After a long legal between Zappa and Warner, the Discreet label eventually released 4 Zappa albums during 1978 and 1979: Zappa In New York, Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt and Orchestral Favorites.

Much of the material from these 4 albums was also compiled by Zappa in 1977 into a 4-LP box set called Läther. Three tracks from Orchestral Favorites also were included in Läther: "Pedro's Dowry", "Naval Aviation in Art?", and "Duke of Prunes" (titled there as "The Duke of Orchestral Prunes".)

Zappa negotiated a distribution deal with Phonogram Inc. to release Läther as the first release on the Zappa Records label. The album was scheduled for a Halloween October 31, 1977 release date. But Warner claimed ownership of the material and threatened legal action, forcing Zappa to shelve the project.[10]

As Zappa had delivered only the tapes to Warner, Orchestral Favorites was released in May 1979 with no musician credits.[11] Warner also commissioned sleeve art by cartoonist Gary Panter, which was not approved by Zappa.

CD editionsEdit

Zappa chose to issue Orchestral Favorites on Compact Disc on his Barking Pumpkin label in 1991 with Panter's original artwork and added credits. This edition has the stereo orientation of the left and right channels switched from the original release. This CD was reissued in 1995 by Rykodisc and at that time Panter provided additional art.

The Läther album was eventually released on CD in 1996 after Zappa's death.

In 2012 Orchestral Favorites was reissued by the Zappa Records label. Despite new packaging the content is the same as previous CD releases. The 40th Anniversary Edition, released in 2019 uses the original stereo orientation as the 1979 LP. This version also contains two discs of previously unreleased bonus material from the 1975 sessions.

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[12]
Chart (2019) Peak
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[13] 48
Scottish Albums (OCC)[14] 59
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[15] 77


  1. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Orchestral Favorites – Frank Zappa". Allmusic. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  2. ^ https://www.afka.net/Articles/1979-04_Record_Review.htm
  3. ^ https://www.afka.net/Articles/1977-12_The_Valley_News.htm
  4. ^ https://www.popsike.com/FRANK-ZAPPA-Lather-Six-Things-1976-6Song-12-Metal-Acetate-LP/382184734213.html
  5. ^ http://www.tieyourshoesreviews.com/1976/10/frank-zappa-fort-homer-hesterly-armory-10-14-76/
  6. ^ Zappa: A Biography, by Barry Miles, published 2005
  7. ^ https://www.afka.net/Articles/1977-12_The_Valley_News.htm
  8. ^ https://www.afka.net/Articles/1979-04_Record_Review.htm
  9. ^ http://www.donlope.net/fz/radio/1978-10-02_CFNY_Toronto.html
  10. ^ Miles, 2004, Frank Zappa, p. 261.
  11. ^ FZ vs. Warner Brs. Story or Lather/Laether/Leather, Zappa in New York, Arf.ru
  12. ^ "Charts and Awards for Orchestral Favorites". AllMusic. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
  13. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Frank Zappa – Orchestral Favorites" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  14. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 7, 2019.
  15. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Frank Zappa – Orchestral Favorites". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 11, 2019.