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Cosmik Debris. The collected history and improvisations of Frank Zappa Russo, Greg.
Crossfire Publications, USA
ISBN: ISBN 0-9648157-4-5
Pages: 224
Language: English Category: About

Cosmik Debris. The collected history and improvisations of Frank Zappa (Revised) Russo, Greg.
Crossfire Publications, USA
ISBN: ISBN 0-9648157-7-X
Pages: 288
Language: English Category: About
Revised edition
Cosmik Debris. The collected history and improvisations of Frank Zappa (The Son Of Revised) Russo, Greg.
Crossfire Publications, USA
ISBN: ISBN 0-9648157-0-2
Pages: 352
Language: English Category: About
Newly revised edition


From: (Henk Dolleman)
  29 Aug 1998 01:15:19 GMT

 Grusso published, among other things, not so long ago an interesting book about the Yardbirds. If his book about Zappa is of the same quality as that one I'll buy it for certain in the near future. Anybody read it yet?

From: (Charles Ulrich)
 Date: Sun, 13 Sep 1998 21:03:42 -0700

 A couple of days ago I received my copy of Greg Russo's Cosmik Debris: The Collected History and Improvisations of Frank Zappa. Mail order service was very prompt (order faxed 9/3, book shipped 9/4, package ransomed from Canada Post 9/11).
 I haven't read the whole book yet, but I want to review it anyway. Who forbids it?
 The book contains 224 pages, of which 62 feature photographs. Many of these are familiar from previous FZ books, but others were new to me. Of note are what appears to be Paul Buff's high school yearbook photo (p. 16); the full front page of the "2 A-GO-GO-TO-JAIL" newspaper, which includes a photo of FZ hugging Lorraine Belcher (p. 24); and a photo of the fall 1980 band (p. 94), which is the only photo I've ever seen of Bob Harris #2 with FZ.
  74 pages are devoted to discographies, gig lists, an index of song releases, and the like. The book is advertised as containing "the most complete gig list ever". As many of you could have predicted, the first thing I did was to turn to 1972 in the gig list (pp. 195-196). If by "most complete" they meant "containing the greatest number of entries", then--judging by 1972--they're probably right. However, what one really wants is the gig list with the greatest number of *accurate* entries. Unfortunately, Russo not only repeats the usual spurious shows (9/25/72 LA, 12/31/72 WDC) but also adds one I hadn't seen before (9/28/72 LA). Moreover, he omits the first Felt Forum Grand Wazoo show (9/22/72), even though he reprints a review of it (p. 75). (I will add this review to my website very soon.) He also repeats the familiar errors of saying that Earle Dumler (whose name he misspells) played double bass and that Malcolm McNabb played tuba.
 Russo lists five shows in early August, 1969, as featuring the Hot Rats line-up, including Aynsley Dunbar (p. 193). Yeah, right. If Russo had listened to tapes of some of these shows, he would have recognized the band as the 1969 MOI. But he states (p.5), "no bootlegs or una[u]thorized product are discussed or offered here... I do not encourage selling or trading bootlegs or tapes--this is not a forum for these items, and in fact, I don't have any and I don't sell or trade any!" Too bad. If he did, he might know what he was talking about in the gig list and the discography of "unreleased compositions, cover versions and live routines" (pp. 187-188). The latter is a hodge-podge of accurate titles of unreleased FZ compositions (e.g. Imaginary Diseases, Gypsy Airs), accurate titles of songs covered by FZ (e.g. Nite Owl, Agon), alternate titles of released songs (e.g. The String Quartet [A Pound For A Brown/Sleeping In A Jar], Think It Over [Grand Wazoo]), lyric mutations (e.g. Lonesome Cowboy Ron, Keep It Corny), and names made up by bootleggers (e.g. A Room Who Did It--Acts 1-3 [Approximate]). My favorite: did you know that FZ once performed a piece entitled The Tape Changing Fart Around?
 But Russo's focus is clearly on officially-released recordings. In that area, he does indeed know what he's talking about. The book contains photos of many rare album covers and 45 labels, including at least two items that have been claimed not to exist: The Big Surfer on Capitol (p. 19) and the non-dj Tears Began To Fall/Junier Mintz Boogie credited to Junier Mintz (p. 71).
 Russo takes official recordings, and the printing thereon, too seriously. He writes, "The track listed as 'The Duke Of Prunes' [on Mothermania] includes 'Amnesia Vivace' and 'The Duke Regains His Chops'" (p. 52) and "The beginning of 'Shove It Right In' includes a reprise of 'She Painted Up Her Face'" (p. 68), as if these were independent pieces rather than merely titles for different portions of larger works (with one of the portions bearing the same title as the work as a whole). He writes, "Cucurullo (now spelled Cuccurullo) joined British pop group Duran Duran". Did Warren change his name, or do Duran Duran just employ a better proof-reader than Zappa? By the same token, Russo accords too much value to chart positions, although I will confess to being amused by the Mexican chart with the Persuaders' Tijuana at #1 and the Beatles' I Want To Hold Your Hand at #4 (p. 25).
 The text contains more errors than I care to list. Here are a few:
  1. Ahmet, not Dweezil, wanted to change his name to Rick (p. 58).
  2. The second part of Toads Of The Red [sic] Forest (p. 66) does not contain xenochrony as FZ defined it, since all the musicians performed together, albeit in different rhythms.
  3. It's not true that Jimmy Carl Black didn't cross paths with FZ between 7/7/71 and 10/12/80 (p. 73); he sang two songs on stage with the Bongo Fury band in El Paso on 5/23/75.
  4. The violist pictured on p. 81 is Novi Novog, not (saxophonist/vocalist) Norma Bell. I'm not sure who the guitarist in the same photo is (Bird Legs?), but it's not Andre Lewis, who is African-American.
  5. Patrick O'Hearn, not Arthur Barrow (p. 87), was the bass player on the 1977-78 tour.
 Nonetheless, Russo comes through with two bombshells (that I've found--maybe there are more that I haven't read yet). First, he debunks FZ's story of how he first learned of Varese through a Look magazine article on Sam Goody. On page 8, Russo reprints a favorable review of the Varese album (EMS 401) from Look magazine (11/7/50). He claims that Look never mentioned this album in any other issue, and that they never mentioned Sam Goody during the 1950s. (Still, I wish that Russo had investigated another possibility: that an article about how Sam Goody could sell anything, even Varese albums, appeared somewhere other than Look, and that FZ conflated the two articles in his memory.)
 The other revelation of the book is that Michael Erso, who replaced Tom Fowler for four nights in 11/74, was actually Mick Rogers, lead guitarist and vocalist with Manfred Mann's Earth Band (p. 80). Presumably Russo made this discovery while interviewing Rogers for his earlier book on Manfred Mann. It's too bad he didn't interview any members of Zappa's bands for this book.
 Like every book on FZ except for the one we haven't yet persuaded Biffy to write, Russo's Cosmik Debris contains many inaccuracies. But, like all those other books, it has something to offer, as long as you maintain a skeptical attitude. Books about FZ should be read the way FZ himself watched the news. Don't believe everything you read.
 Cosmik Debris is published by Crossfire Publications, P.O. Box 20406, Floral Park, NY 11002-0406, USA. List price is $22.95 (not including postage). Ordering information can be found at

From: (Charles Ulrich)
 I didn't read carefully enough. Russo also has the entire Grand Wazoo trombone section (Fowler, Ferris, Shroyer) playing trumpet instead, and Ian Underwood playing woodwinds as well as piano.

From: Vladimir Sovetov <>
 Date: Tue, 15 Sep 1998

  I've got my copy too directly from Greg obviously as FZ biblio/book reviews site maintainer yesterday.
  It looks to me like a cross between Miles Visual Documentary
 and Zappalog
  Torchum volumes.
  It's reference book to boot, kind of very elaborate discography, and very good one, despite some errors and inaccuracies that were already pointed out by Charles Ulrich. The absence of unoffical/bootleg stuff is pitiful but excusable for regular copyright observing edition. And with the long-out-of-print Zappalog/Torchum it's much better than nothing. To simply put it I like the book and found it very useful even with Viva Zappa style front cover (you know Cosmic debris around Zappafrank Nebula). The back-cover picture of FZ with ma & dad is way, way better.
  Interesting to note that this detailed reference stuff that now constituted the book by itself was originally proposed by folks from St.Martin Press to Ben Watson as appendix to his Negative Screwing Of Poodles Behind
  Ben rejected the idea, I believe for the better. Thanks to it you don't need now to pay needless extra for Ben's Marxist Mind-Jerking just to get the Greg Russo's real stuff appendix.

From (Greg Russo)
 Date: Tue, 15 Sep 1998 00:41:37 EDT

 I saw your posting today, and as I say in the book, I can take whatever criticism you can dish out! I mentioned in an e-mail to Ulrich earlier that I treat this book, as well as my other books, as "works in progress". They are not set in stone and all corrections/ errors that you or anyone else in the NG point out will be made in the second edition. This is the advantage of having a small publishing company - I can change anything in the book whenever I reprint. You won't get this from St. Martin's Press!
 As you read in the book's introduction, I felt that I put up with enough shit from Watson and Mark Holdom (formerly with Barking Pumpkin) that I had to put out the best book I could with the information that I had. If I was to rely on the information in either the Miles or Watson books as source material, my book would have been really horrible! Please note that I do provide the correct translation of the Spanish end section of "WPLJ" in the "conceptual continuity" box following the discussion of the "Burnt Weeny Sandwich" album.
 Obviously, not being a tape collector/trader, I was working at a disadvantage, but I spend all my money getting the really hard released stuff! That's why I need input from people like Ulrich and others that have these other tapes. I only wish that I had this information earlier! As I said, this can be corrected.
 Based on the large number of sales that I have had so far, I expect to reprint the book within a couple of months. So, if you or anyone else want to put together a list of things that you would like to see changed, I'm all for it. Too bad you don't like the front cover - a lot of work went into that! I would have used the photo with his parents as the front cover, but believe it or not, some people I showed the photo to didn't even know who they were! Obviously newbies.
 I want to make the book as useful and accurate as possible to Zappa fans, and any assistance in that regard would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again for your comments, and I hope that I can make the second edition even better.

From: Vladimir Sovetov <>
 Date: Tue, Nov 24 1998

  Woow, at last I gave Greg's book carefull from cover to cover reading it really deserve. And after finishing I think it's one of the best so to say Frank Zappa fact book. Yes, even despite a lot of misprintes and annoying errors it's very, very good, matter of fact FZ productive life chronicle.
  I mean Greg' biography sketch which at first glance looks to me like un-necessary addition to the great reference stuff is really good work in itself. Simple but continuos flow of events and releases you so often lack in much more elaborate propoganda:-))) tomes.
  Hope all corrections will be made in the next edition and index (yes, INDEX!) also added.

From: Charles Ulrich <>

Subject: Russo 2nd edition review


Here's a short blurb for your bibliography:

  The revised edition of Russo's Cosmik Debris incorporates hundreds of corrections suggested by a panel of six affz regulars. He has also added a 1300-entry index and photo captions identifying band members.

  Among the corrections is the fact that Mike Urso (of Rare Earth) and Mick Rogers (of Manfred Mann's Earth Band) are two different people, each of whom substituted for Tom Fowler in the Mothers.

From: Vladimir Sovetov

  Yes, the revised edition is really great. AFFZ rules!-)

  And the latest hot news


 Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2001 09:41:37 EDT

 I'm working on the third edition now.

From: Vladimir Sovetov

  Wow! At last got my copy of The Son Of Revised. Good job, Greg. Congratulations.

  All my wishes come true. Russian records added, Radio shows list introduced, what more? But there are more! For real! More than 64 new pages added to previous Revised editions. More facts, more documents, more pictures, including proposed gatefold sleeve for "Lumpy Gravy" LP on Capitol.

 By the way, Greg, why not "Man's Life" magasine weasels ripped my flesh front cover? Gonna be special of the "Return of the Son Of Revised"? Not that bad as an idea. But for the next step I would recommend the bright new layout for the book. It's really deserve attention of a good book art designer. Material maturity already requires smart professional hand book presentaion.

  But, anyway, coodos!

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