Introduction 1

Hunchentoot or Spider Of Destiny

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From: Kristian Kier wrote:
  Couldn't it be that the lyrics were made during composing on some of the pieces? And not, as some of you mentioned, developed subsequently? "Spider of destiny" could be such a piece.
From: Biffyshrew <>
  You are absolutely correct. "Spider Of Destiny," "Time Is Money" and "Flambay" were all written in 1972 *with* lyrics for the never-realized "Hunchentoot" stage musical. ("Think It Over," also known as the title track of _The Grand Wazoo_, was also part of this project, and also originally had lyrics.) The songs were all first recorded and released as instrumentals, and the vocal parts were not actually added until the early '80s. So the versions with lyrics do represent Zappa's original intentions for these songs. I still greatly prefer the instrumental versions, myself...although I'd be a lot happier with the vocal versions if FZ hadn't also wiped some of Ruth Underwood's percussion parts and let Chad Wackerman add such inappropriate drum tracks (especially on "Flambay") on the remixes. I don't think the vocals themselves are even the worst part--although I do have a tendency to prefer FZ's instrumentals. (And do you realize that Sleep Dirt was FZ's FIRST EVER 100% instrumental LP? [Not counting Lumpy Gravy, which is too word-oriented to be considered instrumental.]) Anyway, the worst part is the new drum tracks, on those same tunes. The intro to "Flambe" in particular is ruined. And wiping out Ruth's percussion on "Spider Of Destiny"--that's SACRILEGE!
From: John Henley <>
  I concur with the above entirely. The vocals in and of themselves are not the problem - it's what he did to the backing tracks. I especially hate the fast figure that Wackerman plays on the cymbals under the free-time opening of Flambay - that's supposed to be just a quiet piano and upright bass! Putting a rhythm over it makes no sense. But as Biffy says, the fatal damage came when he stripped off Ruth's percussion track, and changed the segues between Flambay, Spider of Destiny and Regyptian Strut. Those 3 pieces used to flow together so beautifully. Now, they're just 3 disjointed pieces on a CD. (P.S. "Flambay" is the spelling on the LP cover - I don't insist on its "accuracy.")
From: Vladimir Sovetov <>
  Being the dubious story of the HUNCHENTOOT comedy, Just Another Project of The Composer From L.A.
  As was told by
Christophe DELBROCK

(French-to-English translation by Vladimir)

  Put in cast by his diverse fate Frank Zappa composed a great lot of music. Surely of all styles and for all kind of performers, from simple songs to orchestral pieces for brass ensemble or symphonic orchestra. At the same time he also actively worked on a project of a musical comedy for which he developed not only the script but the scenography, the conception of the costumes and of course the collection of the new musical pieces as well. Unfortunately, the high constantly rising budget demands of the comedy (named Hunchentoot) production forced Zappa to cancel the project in halfway, despite even the obvious interest on the side of Barbra Streisand manager.
  It's a great pity, because practically everything was ready, including even the cast for staging it on Broadway. This sad event left us the script. From it Hunchentoot comes to look like parody tribute to the science-fiction TV movies of the late 50s. Zappa seems to have special place in his heart for those kind of low budget productions, which was in its turn inspired by comics and heroic fantasies. The main heroine, as it was conceived by Zappa, is the character named Drakma - the sexy incarnation of the evil forces. It's very possible that it's a direct reference to the Barbarella comics and the whole world of a future-erotic of the cinema of the epoch, and in a first place the Roger Vadim's movie featuring Jane Fonda, after the comics of Forest, which caused the one of the loudest scandals in 1967 in France and in United States as well.
  It's still amazing after all those years to see detailed notes and directions written by Zappa for this show. At first the stage itself, should be divided on four parts, two groups of actors on the left and on the right, the orchestra at the center and behind it on the foreground the chorus, the decorations included small mountain with the cave, couples of papier-mache volcano should represent the planet of Drakma. The cast, actors and chorus, consists of three sopranos, two altos, one tenor, two baritones and two basses. Add to it eleven musicians of classic orchestra, electric string quartet, two percussionists, piano player, guitar player (in charge of six string, twelve string and mandolin too), acoustic bass and drummer.
  Hunchentoot supposed be the play in two acts. The themes of the first part were "Hunchentoot Blues", "Maximum Potential", "Think It Over", "Time Is Money", "Spider Of Destiny" and "Flambay". The second act should start with a classical piece "Prelude To Act 2" followed by "Hunchentoot The Pimp", "Space Boy" and "The Final Solution".
  Five of them were recorded as a demo in 1972. Those were "Space Boy", used in a film Queen Of Blood of Curtis Harrington, "Final Solution" (recorded by Richard Starkey), "Time Is Money", "Spider Of Destiny" and "Flambay". All five appeared later on a bootleg "Beyond The Frince Of Audience Comprehension". "Think It Over" was stripped of lyrics and recorded under the name of "The Grand Wazoo".
  Vladimir's Correction #1.
  The bootleg reference is correct, but the name of the boot itself isn't. See the info I snatched from Johan's authoritive site
Beyond the Fringe of Audience Comprehension
- Live 1971
- Various studio
Re-issued as record 3 of the Mystery Box
Length: 46 min
Label: Nifty, Tough & Bitchen Records
1. What Will This Morning Bring Me This Evening?
2. Watering Holes
3. What Kind of Girl Do You Think We Are?
4. Bwana Dik
5. Latex Solar Beef
6. Daddy Daddy Daddy
7. Do You Like My New Car?
8. Magic Fingers.
9. What Will This Evening Bring Me This Morning?
10. Interview (Part 1)
11. The Final Solution
12. Interview (Part 2)
13. Penis Dimension
14. Time Is Money
15. Flambay
16. Spider of Destiny
17. Space Boy
  The Mystery Box version has these liner notes: "Tracks 1-4 [of side 2] are from the film 200 motels. Tracks 5-7 are from Hunchentoot." "Space Boy is the rarest track in this entire box. It was recorded for the Curtis Harrington film, Queen of Blood. Words, music and vocals by Florence Marley. Orchestration and additional instruments by FZ. Sound effects by Ackerman & Cole." Be that as it may, tracks 14-16 have been said to be the remixed Sleep Dirt versions. Side 1 appears to be an unknown live 1971. And the title refers to Zappa's (in my opinion much under-quoted) saying: "Some of us live beyond the fringe of audience comprehension. The air is better here."
  Charles' Comment #1.
  All five may have appeared on the bootleg, but they certainly weren't all recorded as a demo in 1972. "Final Solution" is from 200 Motels (1971). The film Queen of Blood was released in 1966.
  Vladimir's Comments #2.
  So now we have two different version of Hunchentoot vocal numbers order.
  First, supposedly from original Broadway script:
Act 1:
1. "Hunchentoot Blues"
2. "Maximum Potential"
3. "Think It Over",
4. "Time Is Money"
5. "Spider Of Destiny"
6. "Flambay"
Act 2:
1. "Prelude To Act 2"
2. "Hunchentoot The Pimp"
3. "Space Boy"
4. "The Final Solution
  Second, as it appeared later in Them Or Us (The Book) ("gleaned" for you by Charles Ulrich <> )
1. "Time Is Money"--Drakma. On Sleep Dirt.
2. "The Human Mind Is the Ultimate Power"/"We Are the Force- Lings"-- Durk and the Force-Lings. Title and recording status uncertain.
3. "Think It Over"--Durk and the Force-Lings. Instrumental version exists as title track of Grand Wazoo.
4. "Hunchentootin' Blues"--Hunchentoot. Title and recording status uncertain.
5. "Spider Lady"--Hunchentoot. Title and recording status uncertain.
6. "Spider Lady (Reprise)"--Hunchentoot. Title and recording status uncertain. May be a separate song.
7. "Flambay"--Drakma. On Sleep Dirt.
8. "Spider Of Destiny"--Drakma. On Sleep Dirt.
9. "Think It Over (Reprise)"--Durk, Drakma, and the Force-Lings. Recording status uncertain.
10. "The Planet Of My Dreams"--Durk. On Them Or Us.
11. "Cheepnis"--Hunchentoot et al. On Roxy & Elsewhere.
  What seems almost:-)) obvious:
  1. Vladimir:
  The song Charles named "Spider Lady" is most probably called "Maximum Potential" in DELBROCK's list. As he pointed it out to me:
  Note that Delbrock's title occurs (in Thing-Fishized/Smothersized form) in the song I labelled "Spider Lady":
It take a reg'luh SPIDER LADY
Fo' de `maximum potentium'
  Notice also the letter i in "potentium"
  2. Vladimir:
  In the text of Them Or Us (The Book) in the Hunchentoot The Pimp part there is nothing that can be seen as a song lyrics.
  3. Vladimir:
  While nobody knows why comments to Mystery Box 3 (Beyond The Fringe boot) didn't attribute the song Space Boy to the original Broadway Hunchentoot it seems to be correct to me because words and music wasn't of FZ. It is possible to conclude that the name "Space Boy" was in 1972 given to what later became "The Planet Of My Dreams" but when it should go before "Hunchentoot The Pimp".
  On other hand if the entire part of DURK-DRAKMA affair wasn't in the original Broadway script as DELBROCK's list suggests, and all action revolved only around Hunchentoot's Spider Lady problem then "Space Boy"/"The Planet Of My Dreams" piece shouldn't be there at all. After the Them Or Us (The Book) it's very hard to imagine anything between "Hunchentoot The Pimp" and "The Final Solution".
  I think it more likely that "Space Boy" refers to "Space Boy", and that Delbrock was wrong about it being part of Hunchentoot. We have only his word for it that it's in the original script. Maybe Delbrock pieced his account together from other sources, such as the bootleg and perhaps interviews.
  But maybe it was intended to be the pun, or a re-use of the low budget sci-fi movie stuff in a manner of the old familiar doo-wops re-usage?
  4. Because Hunchentoot story in Them Or Us (The Book) is in fact a TV story about Papier-Mache Space Spider which was shown to real Papier-Mache Spider by Almost Carl Sagan I tend to think that "Cheepnis" too wasn't in the original Broadway comedy. I mean in the book it seems to be rather from the real Papier-Mache Spider story then from happily ended his Space Spider Hunchentoot's alter-ego one.
From: (Biffyshrew)
  The write-up on _Hunchentoot_ by Zomby Woof from Mother People #16, based on a review of the script, shows the following sequence of musical numbers indicated therein:
1. The Overture
2. Time Is Money
3. Think It Over
4. Hunchentoot Blues
5. Maximum Potential
6, DE-stroy
7. Flambay
8. Prelude To Act Two Of Hunchentoot
9. Space Boogie
10. It Will Fall Down
11. The Earth, My Earth
12. Hunchentoot The Pimp
  It is not 100% clear, but it is strongly implied, that the song *titles* are taken directly from the 1972 script, even though they may vary from officially released versions (e.g., "The Earth, My Earth" instead of "Planet Of my Dreams"). This is in contrast to _Them Or Us: The Book_, where the lyrics appear without titles. The presence of "Space Boy" in the Delbrock list above may be the result of confusing the song on the _Mystery Box_ bootleg with "Space Boogie" (apparently an instrumental jam). Also note the absence of "Spider Of Destiny" from the Mother People account. The article does use the words "spider of destiny" at a point between "Time Is Money" and "Think It Over," so my guess is that the song goes there and Zomby Woof just forgot to write it in the form of a title.
  Vladimir's Correction #2.
  About Barbarella being "one of the loudest scandals in 1967": 1968 seems to be the more appropriate year. Here is a result of quick AltaVista search.
  "Barbarella" Queen of the Galaxy
main role: Jane Fonda
dir: Roger Vadim
Barbarella (1968)

See Barbarella do her thing!

France / Italy 1968 Color (Technicolor)
  Starring: Jane Fonda, Milo O'Shea, Marcel Marceau
  In the year 40,000 a beautiful young astronaut, Barbarella (Fonda) is interrupted from peacefully floating around in zero gravity by a call from the President of Earth. Barbarella must prevent the Positronic Ray from getting into the wrong hands, namely those of the young scientist, Durand-Durand (O'Shea) who is threatening the ancient universal peace. During her mission, Barbarella never finds herself in a situation where it isn't possible to lose at least part of her already minimal clothing.
  Charles' Comments #2
  I don't think Barbarella caused a scandal in the US. I'd say that Jane Fonda's nude scene enjoyed a certain notoriety, but I think "one of the loudest scandals" is an overstatement. But I was only eleven in 1968, so maybe I missed something.
From: (John Henley)
  I was 13, and I recall that the film gained a fair amount of notoriety. over the fact that Jane Fonda had a nude scene in the movie, because nude scenes were still daring and "revolutionary" and movies were in general "pushing the envelope." Plus, Jane Fonda was still "Henry's daughter" to a lot of the public and was known for her cute romantic movies like "Barefoot in the Park." The press made a lot of noise about this nude scene. But it's not just an overstatement to say "Barbarella" caused a scandal, it's not true. "Scandal" is a BADLY OVERUSED word these days. Hardly anyone knows what a real scandal would be like.
  Jane Fonda caused a MUCH BIGGER scandal about 3 years later when she traveled to North Viet Nam and made comments about how she supported Ho Chi Minh in his "struggle" against the U.S.
  Vladimir's Comments #2.
  Apart from suggested link between Barbarella movie and Hunchentoot comedy undisputed link exists between Frank Zappa and Barbarella. The quote below is from Michael Gray's depiction of first Mother's European tour (fall 1967)
  Michael Gray. The Mother! p.100
  "Next day, The Mothers and the entourage flew on to Copenhagen while Tom Wilson and Zappa darted out for a brief visit to Italy, to investigate the possibility of being commissioned to write the music for Vadim's movie, Barbarella. Frank flew back to Copenhagen for the third European concert."
  Obviously nothing came, and the music was written by Bob Crewe and Charles Fox
  Charles' (Ulrich not Fox:-) Addition
  By the way, Bob Crewe was involved with the Four Seasons, as producer and songwriter.
  Vladimir's Comment #3
  The name of the comedy HUNCHENTOOT is just Nothing, NUF-IN' as it could be played out by good old Mississippi harmonica. Or in exact words of Them Or Is (The Book) version.
"This stupid little world down there
THRIVES on nothing but GREED! It is
to sustain it, The Earth wouldn't be
worth a HUNCH ... Or a TOOT!"

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