Blu-Ray Review – Summer 82: When Zappa Came to Sicily

Sicilian filmmaker Salvo Cuccia has made this documentary, which is partly the filmmaker’s own story about his experience of not seeing Frank Zappa the one time he played Sicily, and recent footage of the Zappa family visiting the island to talk about their family heritage. Zappa was of course famously of Sicilian descent. It’s interspersed with footage of Zappa’s band in Italy and Sicily, and the gig that Cuccia missed (and which became a riot).

What happened was that a gig had been planned for the local stadium. The promoter had the idea of having the band in the middle of the field. The band cant see the audience, the audience cant see the band, and it’s the same day as the celebration of the patron saint of Palermo—and there was also a Mafia war going on. In other words, the worst circumstances ever for a gig. There’s some crazy footage from backstage, where everyone had to put on bulletproof vests, and from the gig itself. The police hit the audience with tear gas, which soon drifted towards the band as well… obviously the concert had to be cut short.

Zappa biographer and friend Massimo Bassoli was there, and just before the gig he drove Zappa to Partinico, where his father was from. This wasn’t filmed, but there is footage of his reaction when arriving at the venue. You also get the whole context of his album The Man From Utopia, the cover of which is all about the tour.

It’s a really interesting documentary about Sicily at the time, one of the very first rock concerts ever on the island, and the Zappa family story. Gail Zappa, Moon Unit, Diva and Dweezel all visit Partinico, where there is a street named after Zappa, and a music room dedicated to him.

Summer 82: When Zappa Came to Sicily shows a really interesting side of Zappa’s life that hasn’t previously been told. It’s also nice to see the Zappa family when they were still on speaking terms. The only feature is a stills gallery.

★★★★

Ian Schultz

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