Franks First Record

Complete Works of Edgard Varèse, Volume 1
The image represents the cover of the Complete Works of Edgard Varèse, Volume 1. According to Zappa, this is the first record he actually bought.

The story of how he came to discover the record was well-rehearsed. The following quotation is drawn from an article he wrote for Stereo Review:

I was about thirteen when I read an article in Look about Sam Goody’s Record Store in New York. My memory is not too clear on the details, but I recall it was praising the store’s exceptional record merchandising ability. One example of brilliant salesmanship described how, through some mysterious trickery, the store actually managed to sell an album called “Ionization” (the real name of the album was “The Complete Works of Edgard Varèse, Volume One”). The article described the record as a weird jumble of drums and other unpleasant sounds. I dashed off to my local record store and asked for it. Nobody ever heard of it. I told the guy in the store what it was like. He turned away, repulsed, and mumbled solemnly, “I probably wouldn’t stock it anyway … nobody here in San Diego would buy it.” I didn’t give up. I was so hot to get that record I couldn’t even believe it."



From Real Frank Zappa Book:
 There was another town just over the hill called La Mesa -- a bit more upscale (they had a 'hi-fi store'). Some time later, I was staying overnight with Dave Franken, a friend who lived in La Mesa, and we wound up going to the hi-fi place -- they were having a sale on R&B singles.
After shuffling through the rack and finding a couple of Joe Huston records, I made my way toward the cash register and happened to glance at the LP bin. I noticed a strange-looking black-and-white album cover with a guy on it who had frizzy gray hair and looked like a mad scientist. I thought it was great that a mad scientist had finally made a record, so I picked it up -- and there it was, the record with "Ionisation" on it.
The author of the Look article had gotten it slightly wrong -- the correct title was The Complete Works of Edgard Varèse, Volume I, including "Ionisation," among other pieces, on an obscure label called EMS (Elaine Music Store). The record number was 401.
I returned the Joe Huston records and checked my pockets to see how much money I had -- I think it came to about $3.75. I'd never bought an album before, but I knew they must be expensive because mostly old people bought them. I asked the man at the cash register how much EMS 401 cost.
"That gray one in the box?" he said. "$5.95."
I'd been searching for that record for over a year and I wasn't about to give up. I told him I had $3.75. He thought about it for a minute, and said, "We've been using that record to demonstrate hi-fi's with -- but nobody ever buys one when we use it. I guess if you want it that bad you can have it for $3.75."


Franks First Record Franks First Record Reviewed by Klemen Hlupič on 06:53 Rating: 5

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