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Frank Zappa 70th birthday digital bundle on iTunes

December 21, 2010 |  3:05 pm

Frank ZappaJohn Lennon isn’t the only rock star with a 70th birthday in 2010. Frank Zappa would have hit 7-0 today, Dec. 21, and to mark the occasion his estate has assembled a birthday bundle of a dozen recordings that is now up on iTunes.

“The Frank Zappa Aaafnraaaa Collection” includes half a dozen tracks from the man himself (“Treacherous Cretins,” “My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama” and “City of Tiny Lites”), a few featuring offspring Dweezil and Ahmet Zappa plus a couple of salutes to the influential composer, guitarist and singer by Macy Gray (“Your Mouth”) and a compendium of admirers including DMC, Talib Kweli and MMM.

The live rendition of “City of Tiny Lites” was recorded in 1978 at London’s Hammersmith Odeon and is drawn from the three-CD "Frank Zappa: Hammersmith Odeon" set released earlier this month, also in conjunction with the 70th anniversary of his birth. Zappa's widow, Gail, said none of the tracks had been previously released. Another live track on the new "Aaanfraaaa Collection," this one from 1988 -- five years before the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee died of prostate cancer -- captures Zappa’s version of “Stairway to Heaven.”

As one who is writing about Zappa on what would have been his 70th, I feel compelled to include his celebrated definition of the rock journalist: "People who can’t write, doing interviews with people who can’t think, in order to prepare articles for people who can’t read."

-- Randy Lewis

Photo of Frank Zappa. Credit: Shore Fire Media