The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life
Frank Zappa, Best Band You Never Heard.jpg
Live album by
ReleasedApril 16, 1991
May 30, 1995 (reissue)
RecordedFebruary 14 – June 6, 1988 at Munich; Würzburg; Allentown, PA; Rotterdam; Brighton; Strasbourg; Binghamton, NY; Grenoble; Linz; Modena; Philadelphia, PA; London, England; Pittsburgh, PA; Teaneck, NJ; Poughkeepsie, NY; Syracuse, NY; Royal Oak (Detroit). MI; Vienna; and Florence
LabelBarking Pumpkin
ProducerFrank Zappa
Frank Zappa chronology
You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 3
The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life
Make a Jazz Noise Here
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The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life is a double-disc live album by American musician Frank Zappa, released in 1991. The album was one of three to be recorded during the 1988 world tour, along with Broadway the Hard Way and Make a Jazz Noise Here. Each of these three accounts of the 1988 tour has a different emphasis: Broadway the Hard Way mainly consists of new compositions; Make a Jazz Noise Here is a sampler of classic Zappa tunes, most of them instrumental; and The Best Band... devotes itself to covers. Some of these are unlikely (such as "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin), while many are from Zappa's extensive back catalogue. His mid-1970s output is emphasized in the selection, but there is also some material from the Mothers of Invention's late 1960s recordings and one song ("Lonesome Cowboy Burt") from 200 Motels. It was re-issued in 1995 and 2012 along with his entire catalogue.

The album is also notable for its extended section of potshots against American Pentecostal televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, who had then just confessed to transgressions with a prostitute on live television; the speech was later dubbed his "I have sinned" speech. "Lonesome Cowboy Burt", "More Trouble Every Day" and "Penguin in Bondage" feature entirely rewritten lyrics to capitalize on and satirize the scandal.

Cover with photograph removed
Cover with photograph removed
1995 reissued and remastered Cal Shenkel Cover
1995 reissued and remastered Cal Shenkel Cover

Cover artwork

The original album simply featured a photograph of Frank Zappa and his band against a black background with blue lettering, but upon discovering that the photograph had been used without the permission of the photographer, Bruce Malone, Zappa simply continued issuing the cover with the photograph replaced with an empty black space. When the album was reissued and remastered in 1995, it featured artwork by long-time Zappa artist Cal Schenkel that had been created for the album's original Japanese release. The Japanese kanji at the top of the sign on this version do not together form any meaningful sentence to a speaker of Japanese, but can be read with the on readings of fu-ran-ku-za-pa, an approximation of Frank Zappa in Japanese sounds. In addition, Schenkel used characters from his artwork on the cover of Zappa's 1972 release The Grand Wazoo, such as Stu (AKA Uncle Meat), as well as a man from the playing a Mystery Horn. In addition there is a red sofa, that while not an exact duplicate, is reminiscent of the red sofa from his art on Zappa's 1975 One Size Fits All. In 2012, when the album was reissued again, it returned the cover to the version featuring a blank space in place of the photograph.

Track listing

All tracks by Frank Zappa, except where noted. The European re-releases of this album omit "Bolero" due to an objection from the rights-holders of the piece.

Disc one
No.TitleRecording venue and datesLength
1."Heavy Duty Judy"Carl-Diem-Halle, April 22, 1988
The Ahoy, May 3, 1988
2."Ring of Fire" (Merle Kilgore, June Carter)Carl-Diem-Halle, April 22, 19882:00
3."Cosmik Debris"Carl-Diem-Halle, April 22, 19884:32
4."Find Her Finer"Rudi-Sedlmayer-Halle, May 9, 19882:42
5."Who Needs the Peace Corps?"Carl-Diem-Halle, April 22, 19882:40
6."I Left My Heart in San Francisco" (George C. Cory Jr., Douglas Cross)Carl-Diem-Halle, April 22, 19880:36
7."Zomby Woof"Rudi-Sedlmayer-Halle, May 9, 1988
Muhlenberg Memorial Hall, March 19, 1988
8."Boléro" (Maurice Ravel)The Ahoy, May 3, 19885:19
9."Zoot Allures"Brighton Centre, April 16, 19887:07
10."Mr. Green Genes"Hall Tivoli, May 23, 19883:40
11."Florentine Pogen"Hall Tivoli, May 23, 1988
Palasport, June 6, 1988 (guitar solo)
12."Andy"Stadthalle, May 26, 19885:51
13."Inca Roads"Stadthalle, May 8, 1988
Carl-Diem-Halle, April 22, 1988
14."Sofa No. 1"Beethovensaal, May 24, 19882:49
Disc two
No.TitleRecording venue and datesLength
1."Purple Haze" (Jimi Hendrix)Sporthalle, May 28, 19882:27
2."Sunshine of Your Love" (Pete Brown, Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton)Sporthalle, May 28, 19882:30
3."Let's Move to Cleveland"Palasport, June 5, 1988
Le Zenith, May 18, 1988
4."When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" (Ernest Ball, George Graff, Chancellor Olcott)Broome County Arena, March 17, 19880:46
5.""Godfather Part II" Theme" (Nino Rota)Broome County Arena, March 17, 19880:30
6."A Few Moments with Brother A. West" (Brother A. West, Zappa)Tower Theater, February 14, 19884:00
7."The Torture Never Stops, Pt. 1"Wembley Arena, April 19, 1988
Carl-Diem-Halle, April 22, 1988
8."Theme from "Bonanza"" (Ray Evans, Jay Livingston)Wembley Arena, April 19, 19880:28
9."Lonesome Cowboy Burt" (Swaggart version)Syria Mosque, February 25, 19884:54
10."The Torture Never Stops, Pt. 2"Rothman Centre, March 20, 198810:47
11."More Trouble Every Day" (Swaggart version)Mid Hudson Civic Centre, February 23, 19885:28
12."Penguin in Bondage" (Swaggart version)Mid Hudson Civic Centre, February 23, 19885:05
13."The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue"Royal Oak Music Theatre, February 28, 1988
Landmark Theatre, March 21, 1988
Stadthalle, May 8, 1988
14."Stairway to Heaven" (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant)Stadthalle, May 8, 1988
Palasport, June 6, 1988
Wembley Arena, April 18, 1988