Frank Zappa: Classic or Dud?

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He's hardly ever been mentioned here, but in my humble opinion Frank Zappa was one of the towering figures in late-twentieth century American music. He was an impeccable, perfectionistic musician responsible for some of the most amazing and ahead-of-its-time music. From his first album ("Freak Out" in 1966) to his sadly-early death in 1993, he continually pushed the musical envelope throughout amazingly prolific career, combining elements of rock, jazz, avant-garde music concrete and even modern classical music (Varèse, Stravinsky, von Webern, etc.). Lyrically, Zappa was one of the most amazingly astute social commentators on American life (God, what a field day he would have had a _field day_ with the imbecile Chimp in the White House now!)

On the other hand, some contend that Zappa was a musical con-artist, a pretentious artiste peddling scatological, misanthropic lyrics. Or, as one of my friends put it, "Zappa fans are just pretentious Dead Heads."

So, what do you think?

Tadeusz Suchodolski, Monday, 14 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I own a couple of albums and know some hardcore fans -- generally, though, I find him easier to regard than to enjoy. I won't doubt his compositional range, but even so.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 14 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

the fact that he would have a _field day_ with george w. just proves zappa's tendency for cheap, easy humour. that said, his music is often gleefully hilarious and i thoroughly love 'apostrophe' to the point that i'm just now regretting leaving it off my forty albums. every song on that is fantastic.

ethan, Monday, 14 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Weird that this should come up because I've just been contemplating Zappa again after picking up used copies of You Are What You Is and One Size Fits All the other day. I'd have to say classic just because he release so much good stuff, mostly in the early days. One Size Fits All fits this, as do the aforementioned Apostrophe (though I preferred Overnite Sensation just a bit more, it's pretty close), Freak Out, Absolutely Free, Hot Rats, Lumpy Gravy and We're Only In it For the Money...virtually no filler on any of these.

On the other hand, stuff released in the late seventies and through the eighties was often fairly puzzling. Musically speaking, it was incredibly well-played, and the lyrics had a bitter sting to them that you couldn't help but admire a good chunk of the time. By this time, though, he got into a really nasty groove that went past obvious satire to the point where you weren't quite sure that he wasn't being serious anymore: how many times can you release an album filled to the gills with songs about big breasts, blow jobs, drugs, and various other degeneracies until any claims to satire are dismissed? In a lot of ways it became a one-note dirty joke, and while it remained clever it became redundant and increasingly transparent. Moments of brilliance were still there: Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch was actually quite solid if you jettisoned the novelty hit single. The Yellow Shark proved that the man knew how to compose music (though Jazz From Hell had already proved that, it was a bit on the sterile side). More than anything, this became a period where Zappa was more notable just for the sheer amount of product he cranked out. That's not enough to change my vote, though. Still classic.

Sean Carruthers, Tuesday, 15 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

You know, Zappa is a classic to me, but not as *holy crap* amazing as I once thought. People really give him too much credit for his weird music. To me, it seems natural to write that sort of crap. It comes from not being able to focus very well, or not wanting to bother, perhaps as a sort of gimmick! You'll notice his stripped down songs on "Zoot Allures", "Freak Out" and "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" are booooring. He's not very good at writing real (what most people would consider "normal") songs. "Cheapnis" is one exception, though it is full of weird changes and "humorous" subject matter, it does feel like a good rock song.

If you bother to learn how to write music, write a big, run-on sentence like Zappa did so you can just sit back and hire super-professional musicians to play it later, as a challenge to their virtuosity and a feather in all of your caps! And then mix and match your paragraphs, so you never have to start a new book (since it's such a mess to begin with) and have people call your entire body of work a brilliant intertwined "concept"!

Music that is composeurish is rather dull, unless it is actually goodlike Mozart, Vivaldi or Beethoven, when the orchestration is so good, you don't notice the minutia unless you concentrate and are then blown away on a whole different level. Zappa falls way short of that. Everything is "hey, listen to this little weird thing" *insert cowbell rattle followed by kazoo*. (This reminds me of Metallica, by the way; I can hear the metronome ticking in the background. That's bad music! Is that supposed to be emotion? Hmmm...)

I prefer the Grateful Dead to most Zappa, with the exception of "Apostrophe" & "Sheik Yerbouti". Some others that are okay, but by no means what the fans make it out to be, are "The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life", "Yellow Shark", "Joe's Garage" and "You Are What You Is". I also have "Live At The Ritz" (or something?) that I never listen to. It is some of the most boring shit I own, except for the one track "I Am The Slime" which I don't have on any other recording... Which album has "Zombie Woof"? That'sa good one, actually.

Anyway, I think what I'm trying to say is that it's a lot harder to make a cohesive song that has some emotion rather than filling a music sheet with black dots and having Steve Vai and Anton Figg play it for you while you play composer genius. The main guy from Jethro Tull is like that, too, but I think he actually has a reason to be, since it's not 1/2 just free improvisation and studio overdubs.

Of course, if you are a fan of his music, you'll be ridiculously offended by the notion that he's nota super genius, even if you have no musical knowledge or skill yourself as a source to draw upon for judgement, and tell me to piss off or something for daring to compare my unfamous non-music-reading sensibilities to the god of avant garde. He definitely gets tons of points for being first. Who knows if I would be able to lay on a couch, imagining constantly changing music patterns if he hadn't shown me how (or did he)? I do it all the time, but it drives me nuts because songs that wander off into insanity are boring. Playing simple and well is difficult. I think Zappa released too much of too little value (except to those fanatics of course). But, I still think he's a classic for the good stuff he did put out and for trying to do something interesting (even if not really very funny at all, just weird and kinda perverted) with music.

, Tuesday, 15 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

'zomby woof' and 'i am the slime' are on the same album, 'overnite sensation', which is really great. buy it.

hey, nobody's mentioned 'hot rats' yet, perhaps his greatest album?

ethan, Tuesday, 15 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I did! One of my faves of the early period.

Sean Carruthers, Tuesday, 15 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

There is (or was recently) an article on The Wire website by a writer who really hated Zappa, and I had never heard anybody who really hated him before. While I really like a lot of stuff like "Weasels Ripped My Flesh", "Uncle Meat", "Apostrophe", and even some parts of "Sheik Yerbouti", a lot of the criticisms hit home for me. He really did end up being a lot of the things he parodied. Too bad, really.

Oh, check out his autobiography. It's got some good laughs. Spoo!

Dave M., Tuesday, 15 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I think Hot Rats is boring.

Interestingly I don't really feel qualified to respond to this thread any more, despite owning a load of Zappa. I haven't listened to any of it in more than a year.

I think my favorites used to be Apostrophe'/Overnite Sensation (esp. "Montana" - "I think I'll raise me up some DENNIL FLOSS"), the guitar box (esp. the track with the bouzouki), parts of Joe's Garage (mostly for the guitar sound, cf. 'Watermelon in Easter Hay', and because I get an enormous kick out of hearing the Ceeeeentral Scrooooaaaatinizer), One Size Fits All, much of Zoot Allures and Lather (I get an infantile kick out of the Stravinsky namedrop on "Titties 'n' Beer", but that's just a perk).

Josh, Tuesday, 15 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Utter, utter, utter, utter...dud. One of the most overrated artists of all time. Penman's excellent hatchet-job in The Wire has already been mentioned, he's say it all, have nothing to add.

Omar, Tuesday, 15 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Was it him who named his kid 'Moon Unit'? If so, dud.

DG, Tuesday, 15 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Total DUD - "the single most untalented man in rock" or whatever it was Lou Reed once said (tho' I notice Louis kissed and made up once FZ was safely brown bread...) Ugly, unfunny lyrics, pointless musicianly grandstanding, total lack of quality control, etc. etc. Tiny bonus points for 'Trout Mask Replica', Wild Man Fischer, the alb cover to 'Weasels Ripped My Flesh', the first side of Hot Rats and the title 'Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue'. And that's it.

Andrew L, Tuesday, 15 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link


- following the awesome tribute night to zappa and beefheart at THE CLUNY - where was the fuckin' WIRE ? - another night is planned on thursday 17th may at newcastle arts centre - featuring ex- zappa/beefheart drummer jimmy carl black and the muffin men, zoviet france, hounds of the hill and many others - zappa and beefheart classics fucked over bigstyle - like susan george in straw dogs !

geordie racer, Tuesday, 15 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

i'm not really into the idea of zappa. too much 'virtuosity' and 'cleverness'. and from the early 70s onwards, i'm imagining too many guitar twiddlybits?

but. having said that, Peaches In Regalia is very good, doesn't seem forced like a lot of his stuff (although the rest of Hot Rats is booring)

Absolutely Free is 'wacky' and 'clever' and 'over the top', but on that album it actually works very well, is a great album

everything else i'm kind of indifferent to.

what was the teddy & his patches thing, erm, Suzy Creamcheese? that was good.

gareth, Tuesday, 15 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Actually, Moon Unit still happily calls herself Moon Unit — ditto Dweezil, ditto Achmed — which points up the absolutely least dud side of Zappa: his happy personal life, relationship with kids etc (compare/contrast Zowie Bowie = Joey Jones, or whatever). Plus she was central to the only FZ artefact I've unforcedly actually liked (as opposed to guardedly "appreciated"): the Valley Girl single.

Tadeusz says astute, but I've never thought FZ was over-and-above astute — just, y'know, run-of-the-mill astute. Never heard an FZ commentary that I hadn't already heard elsewhere (not nec. heard elsewhere in pop /rock, but in Letterman or Alex Cockburn, or just somewhere... ): I think the prob. is he NEVER turned his laser-eye on himself and the wackness of his dreams/fears. "Astute" somewhat excepted, all the good words TS uses are true — but (to me) so what. FZ is just too guarded, so that's how he makes me.

mark s, Tuesday, 15 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Wow, this place moves fast. Set this thread up a week ago, and it's at the bottom of the heap already. Hmmm.

Anyway, my own thoughts: I tend to like Zappa's earlier stuff most (just about everything he did with the Mothers of Invention), plus a great deal of his late seventies/early eighties post-Mothers stuff. Faves would have to be Apostrophe (as someone upthread said, so gleeful), Freak Out!, Hot Rats, Joe's Garage, and Läther (because it's so over-the-top, has all of the best bits from Sheikh Yerbouti and Orchestral Favorites, and that cow on the cover with the Zappa goatee-and-beard). Guilty favorites would be Sheikh Yerbouti (great pop songs and awesome guitarwork mixed with pure wank and pointlessly stupid lyrics) and Thing Fish (mainly because it brings together everything that was good and was bad about Zappa). Largely agree that he tapered off towards the end, when he was releasing albums largely because he could (and because he'd gotten that damn Synclavier doing music by himself, without anyone or anything to keep him or his sketchier ideas in check).

As for the astuteness -- I guess some of that's from my having read a lot of his interviews as well as his autobiography. His lyrics are a grab-bag of the funny, the astute, the obscene and the flat-out stupid ... even he admitted that a lot of his lyrics and plots (esp. Joe's Garage) were stupid.

Tadeusz Suchodolski, Monday, 21 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

one year passes...
Can I just say quickly that Zappa is cod weirdo pseudo-freak out obscurist balderdash for muso's with no soul to wank over whilst the rest of us bite our tongues whilst searching frantically for a tune or vibe to grip. Insincere rubbish written by someone who had a deep musical understanding but not the wit to realise it.

'Hot Rats' is good though, and is it 'Suzy Cream Cheese' (?). Actually, Zap ain't so bad. I mean the guy did twiddle the knobs on 'Troutmask' right? It's just he's so fucking odd; but for the sake of being odd, you know. Whereas with Loonheart, you know that he is genuinely fucking out there, Zappa is always trying so damn hard.

With this is mind: Dud.

Roger Fascist, Monday, 29 July 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) link

how could you not like frank? he looks like a hippie. Classic for that.

JUlio Desouza, Monday, 29 July 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) link

Disclaimer: I have a very spotty knowledge of Frank Zappa's catalogue, and most of what I have heard has been heard over the radio or while visiting friends. I have a sense of frustration with Zappa. He seems to have all of this talent of some sort, but why does he choose to make so much awful music with it? His social commentary doesn't impress me too much, though I guess it meant more when I was in high school. The scatological stuff I've heard (e.g. Joe's Garage) bores me. Still, like many non-fans above, I have some favorite songs. I like "You Are What You Is," the song, quite a bit. I like some of what I have heard from Freakout. More dud than classic, to me, but I haven't heard enough to make a serious judgment. (I've heard enough to know that I'm not interested enough to want to spend money on any of his CDs though.)

DeRayMi, Monday, 29 July 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) link

True story: about 12 years ago I exchanged a series of tapes with a work colleague / fellow music lover (like you do). At first, he couldn't get his head around rap at all, but the Public Enemy stuff clicked with him and he suddenly got really excited about hip hop. Turning to his own collection to try and find a parallel, he came up with ... a Zappa mixtape! (which I've still got)

Jeff W, Monday, 29 July 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) link

I recently bought "Strictly Commerical: The Best of Frank Zappa" mostly because I've had "Let's Make The Water Turn Black" in my head since I first heard it. Quite disappointed with the rest of the album and the version of LMTWTB is different from the one I heard which was instrumental with trumpets replacing the singing and was impossibly ace. The rest of his stuff is hit and miss. I rode home stoned the other day with "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" on my walkman and found myself laughing uncontrollably hard at the lyrics. Listneing back the next day, I found it hard to see why they were so funny at the time.

dog latin, Sunday, 4 August 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) link

four years pass...

So... Nobody here has a sense of humor unless they're STONED??

All of you hate fun and sweet sweet guitar solos. REVIVE!

Andi Mags, Monday, 28 May 2007 04:34 (twelve years ago) link

Alternate '73 version of Montana with better video quality but lower sound. KILLER solo.

Andi Mags, Monday, 28 May 2007 04:50 (twelve years ago) link

ahhhhh thanks

cutty, Monday, 28 May 2007 04:50 (twelve years ago) link

whoa i just clicked on that "last zappa interview" video--really sad

cutty, Monday, 28 May 2007 04:53 (twelve years ago) link

fuckin ian underwood!

cutty, Monday, 28 May 2007 04:57 (twelve years ago) link

I haven't brought myself to watch that yet, but there are 5 sections of the Zappa bio from BBC on there too, which I highly recommend.

Andi Mags, Monday, 28 May 2007 05:11 (twelve years ago) link

That video of "You are what you is" made the 8 year old me extremely nauseous when it originally aired.

Sparkle Motion, Monday, 28 May 2007 16:08 (twelve years ago) link

four years pass...

I just read about this morning--no recollection of it playing any festivals here, and I can't find a listing on IMDB.

clemenza, Sunday, 4 March 2012 13:48 (seven years ago) link

”both” is the answer to the this thread

the wild eyed boy from soundcloud (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Sunday, 4 March 2012 18:41 (seven years ago) link

haha, otm

Steamtable Willie (WmC), Sunday, 4 March 2012 19:49 (seven years ago) link

So much material that there are extremes of both.

c'est ne pas un car wash (snoball), Sunday, 4 March 2012 20:59 (seven years ago) link

three months pass...

Full catalogue to be reissued by Universal this year, apparently including some new mastering jobs. (By Joe Travers? No details given.)

My first question is whether Gail and the ZFT retains the right to keep on mining the extensive vaults and putting stuff out themselves.

Biff Wellington (WmC), Tuesday, 12 June 2012 21:30 (seven years ago) link

hmmm, i seem to recall that the mixes of a lot of those 90s reissues had been futzed w/ by Zappa? wonder if these are the "original" mixes or whatever.

tylerw, Tuesday, 12 June 2012 21:43 (seven years ago) link

RIP Rykodisc.

Electro-Shock Rory (C. Grisso/McCain), Tuesday, 12 June 2012 21:47 (seven years ago) link

I hope they're the "unfutzed" versions.

EZ Snappin, Tuesday, 12 June 2012 21:50 (seven years ago) link

I dunno - the original version of "We're Only In It For the Money" is pretty horrible, really

frogbs, Tuesday, 12 June 2012 21:53 (seven years ago) link

sonically, I mean

frogbs, Tuesday, 12 June 2012 21:54 (seven years ago) link

Would like somebody to explain me the difference between remixing and remastering in the context of this news. When FZ did the CD releases of Ruben and the Jets and WOIIFTM with new bass & drum tracks, it's safe to say he did new mixes. There are fairly radical differences in LP and CD mixes of Hot Rats. But I imagine that most of the CD catalogue consisted of digital transfer of the original vinyl masters, right, without much fiddling around?

Biff Wellington (WmC), Tuesday, 12 June 2012 22:06 (seven years ago) link

You have it right, Remastering is tracking down the best possible format of the final mixes of an album (in Zappa's case probably 1/2 or 1/4 inch analog tape reels and adding equalisation and/or compression & limiting to get the best overall sound and dynamics onto whichever format the recording is going to end up on. Of course the potential abuse of the process is a big issue in the digital age.

Remixing is loading the original unmixed master tapes onto whatever the relevant playback machine would be and repeating the process of mixing the album from scratch.

MaresNest, Tuesday, 12 June 2012 22:15 (seven years ago) link

The regular cds of Freak Out have a bunch of digital echo Frank added in the 80s. The reissue entitled MOFO has the og mix.

Electro-Shock Rory (C. Grisso/McCain), Tuesday, 12 June 2012 22:18 (seven years ago) link

I remember reading that he apparently dicked about with recordings other than Hot Rats and WOIIFTM too, that's where the UMRK Approved master tag came in.

MaresNest, Tuesday, 12 June 2012 22:19 (seven years ago) link

I dunno - the original version of "We're Only In It For the Money" is pretty horrible, really

the version on cd with added slap bass is a whole new level of awful though

zappi, Tuesday, 12 June 2012 22:38 (seven years ago) link

hmmm, i seem to recall that the mixes of a lot of those 90s reissues had been futzed w/ by Zappa? wonder if these are the "original" mixes or whatever.

"futzed" is putting it mildly.


In 1984, Zappa prepared a remix of Cruising with Ruben & the Jets for its compact disc reissue and the vinyl box set The Old Masters I. The remix featured new rhythm tracks recorded by bassist Arthur Barrow and drummer Chad Wackerman, much as the 1984 remix of We're Only in It for the Money had featured. Zappa stated "The master tapes for Ruben and the Jets were in better shape, but since I liked the results on We're Only in it For the Money, I decided to do it on Ruben too. But those are the only two albums on which the original performances were replaced. I thought the important thing was the material itself."[2]

After the remixing was announced, a $13 million lawsuit was filed against Zappa by Jimmy Carl Black, Bunk Gardner and Don Preston, who were later joined by Ray Collins, Art Tripp and Motorhead Sherwood, increasing the claim to $16.4 million, stating that they had received no royalties from Zappa since 1969.[2]

In 2009, the original mix of the album was released as part of a compilation entitled Greasy Love Songs.[6]

Tarfumes The Escape Goat, Tuesday, 12 June 2012 22:40 (seven years ago) link

zappa was so nuts about that sort of thing, it seems. i remember reading something about the creation of "shut and play your guitar" (i think) where he would put guitar solos from, say, 1974 into a recording from 1981.

tylerw, Tuesday, 12 June 2012 22:43 (seven years ago) link

He would lift guitar tracks from live recordings and drop them into studio based stuff, he did a whole track by layering elements from different recordings, Tink Runs Amok? He called it Xenochrony iirc.

MaresNest, Tuesday, 12 June 2012 22:51 (seven years ago) link

XENOCHRONY! Exciting. Bands that never were.

tylerw, Tuesday, 12 June 2012 22:53 (seven years ago) link

"Rubber Shirt," from Sheik Yerbouti:

SPECIAL NOTE: The bass part is extracted from
a four track master of a performance from Goteborg,
Sweden 1974 which I had Patrick O"Hearn overdub on
a medium tempo guitar solo track in 4/4. The noted
chosen were more or less specified during the overdub
session, and so it was not completely an improvised
"bass solo." A year and a half later, the bass track was
peeled off the Swedish master and transferred to one
track of another studio 24 track master for a slow song
in 11/4. The result of this experimental re-synchronization
(the same technique was used on the Zoot Allures
album in "Friendly Little Finger") is the piece you are
listening to. All of the sensitive, interesting interplay
between the bass and drums never actually happened ...
also note, the guitar solo section of the song "Yo' Mama"
on side four was done the same way.

One of my favorite Sheik Yerbouti tracks.

Biff Wellington (WmC), Tuesday, 12 June 2012 22:59 (seven years ago) link

I was just to talking to a big Zappaphile firend of mine, and he mentioned that some of the other "futzing" was undoing vintage edit jobs done to fit lp time constraints. He cited these two (and was only partially wrong):

Wiki on Hot Rats:

In 1987 Zappa remixed Hot Rats for re-issue on Compact Disc. "Willie the Pimp" is edited differently during the introduction and guitar solo. "The Gumbo Variations" has 4 minutes of additional material including an introduction and guitar and saxophone solo sections which were cut from the vinyl LP version. Piano and flute which were buried the LP mix of "Little Umbrellas" are prominent on the CD. Other differences include significant changes to the overall ambiance and dynamic range. The original mix was reissued in 2009 as a limited edition audiophile LP by Classic Records.

Wiki on Weasels...:

The CD version of the album features different versions of "Didja Get Any Onya?" and "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask", which featured music edited out of the LP versions. Some of this extra music was used (in a different studio recording) as the backing track for "The Blimp" on the Captain Beefheart album Trout Mask Replica, produced by Frank Zappa.

Electro-Shock Rory (C. Grisso/McCain), Wednesday, 13 June 2012 01:16 (seven years ago) link

the version on cd with added slap bass is a whole new level of awful though

― zappi

I was trying to youtube some songs off it a few years back, and the only versions that came up were from this, which I hadn't been aware of before, and I was seriously appalled. Especially since the original WOIIFTM is one of my all-time faves.

I wish to incorporate disco into my small business (chap), Wednesday, 13 June 2012 12:04 (seven years ago) link

yea that's just completely wrong. no "memorable melodies", what ??? god, "Absolutely Free" still pops into my head on a weekly basis, and I haven't heard the album in years. in fact that take as a whole - liking Zappa but not his music - sounds like the absolute worst take you can have on him

frogbs, Thursday, 7 December 2017 13:09 (one year ago) link


WilliamC, Thursday, 7 December 2017 13:47 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

Had only heard bits and pieces from it before, but really digging this copy of Roxy & Elsewhere I got yesterday.

Never Learn To Mike Love (C. Grisso/McCain), Monday, 29 January 2018 19:36 (one year ago) link

It's my favorite Zappa record. Though I'm worried the upcoming Roxy box might be too much of a good thing.

EZ Snappin, Monday, 29 January 2018 19:39 (one year ago) link

two weeks pass...

just listened to Hot Rats all the way through - i have a recentish memory of mark s telling me it's no good but MAN IT IS GOOD

peaches en regalia somewhat aside (sorry zap-hedz) it is one stonking hard jam after another. some of zappa's best solo playing. and the drums! even son of mr green genes somewhat improbably becomes amazing after a typically fussy "here comes the king" intro

the gumbo variations in particular is just magisterial and stands out as ultra-funky relative to zappa's often stiff-backed steez - i can actually imagine playing it for a dancefloor

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Saturday, 17 February 2018 22:39 (one year ago) link

of course there's a library music version of mr. green genes (xref: library music thread):

here's a high school jazz group playing excerpts from hot rats in 1969

ziggy the ginhead (rushomancy), Saturday, 17 February 2018 22:41 (one year ago) link

hot rats is great. his court appearances challenging censorship are classic as well

kolakube (Ross), Saturday, 17 February 2018 22:43 (one year ago) link

just picked up an old vinyl copy of Absolutely Free to add to the collection as my son has been wanting to check out some of our old timey Zappa albums

Moodles, Saturday, 17 February 2018 22:44 (one year ago) link

yeah i heard hot rats for the first time recently and was amazed by how much i dug it.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Saturday, 17 February 2018 22:44 (one year ago) link

i should have put my post here!

teaching mark s a *LESSON* response one: ZAPPA

well, now they're CONNECTED and it's all right

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Saturday, 17 February 2018 22:48 (one year ago) link

I heard Waka/Jawaka for the first time last week, that's another one I need to get eventually

sleeve, Saturday, 17 February 2018 22:50 (one year ago) link

add Grand Wazoo to that list too, if you haven't already

Moodles, Saturday, 17 February 2018 22:57 (one year ago) link

Hot Rats fans, seek out both mixes (1969, 1987) -- they're like 2 different albums, both great.

WilliamC, Saturday, 17 February 2018 23:00 (one year ago) link

dont trust mark s!!

Algerian Goalkeeper (Odysseus), Saturday, 17 February 2018 23:08 (one year ago) link

the vinyl mix is nice. i like the omission of the first three and a half minutes of the "gumbo variations" jam. the "little umbrellas" mix also has way more bass in it and is really good.

also worth finding: the radio ads by david ossman (firesign theatre) for the album. one of them actually has an unreleased frank zappa song ("passacaglia", track 6 of "the artisan acetate") in the background.

ziggy the ginhead (rushomancy), Saturday, 17 February 2018 23:17 (one year ago) link

oh, and there's a great 12 minute jam on "sharleena" from the "hot rats" sessions closing out the "lost episodes" cd.

ziggy the ginhead (rushomancy), Saturday, 17 February 2018 23:18 (one year ago) link

I've got the vinyl! never knew there was a difft version of gumbo variations

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Saturday, 17 February 2018 23:50 (one year ago) link

they're all bad not good

mark s, Sunday, 18 February 2018 11:49 (one year ago) link

(xp) One feels like it lasts 10 years, the other is longer.

Video reach stereo bog (Tom D.), Sunday, 18 February 2018 11:58 (one year ago) link

My gateway into moderate Zappa fandom (strictly 60's MoI tbh). The drums as noted above are great and the guitar showboating actually works (eg Willie the Pimp ios pretty badass). Also love the overlooked angular jazzy closer It Must be a Camel

licorice oratorio (baaderonixx), Sunday, 18 February 2018 14:02 (one year ago) link

two months pass...

classic clip

done and dusted (Ross), Thursday, 26 April 2018 08:42 (one year ago) link

six months pass...

I just had the realization that Zappa if alive today would totally go on the Joe Rogan podcast

The Poppy Bush AutoZone (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 20 November 2018 12:29 (eight months ago) link

He'd not just be a guest, he'd be a regular.

EZ Snappin, Tuesday, 20 November 2018 13:27 (eight months ago) link

He'd have gone into an incoherent apoplectic rage when we invaded Iraq and burned himself out of any creativity or coherence he might have had left. Now, in his late 70s, he'd tell anyone calling on him to fuck off and let him die in peace.

I hear you've been having trouble with pigs and ponies. (WmC), Tuesday, 20 November 2018 13:35 (eight months ago) link

His whole persona is like the template for YouTube guys, like sarcastic, know it all, vaguely libertarian, "people today are too easily offended/controlled by the government/corporate media", misogynistic, casually racist

The Poppy Bush AutoZone (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 20 November 2018 13:35 (eight months ago) link

He'd have gone into an incoherent apoplectic rage when we invaded Iraq and burned himself out of any creativity or coherence he might have had left. Now, in his late 70s, he'd tell anyone calling on him to fuck off and let him die in peace.

― I hear you've been having trouble with pigs and ponies. (WmC)

he'd have gone into an incoherent apopleptic rage over napster and would've spent the last twenty years suing his fans

politically he's a pretty clear forerunner of today's social media assholes but he probably would hate them just as much as he hated everybody else

dub pilates (rushomancy), Tuesday, 20 November 2018 15:12 (eight months ago) link

Eh, ultimately, I think he cared more about music than any of that. Maybe he'd be programming with Max/MSP and doing TED talks on Varese idk.

Locked in silent monologue, in silent scream (Sund4r), Tuesday, 20 November 2018 15:20 (eight months ago) link

Oh god yeah Napster/streaming would have drove him nuts

The Poppy Bush AutoZone (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 20 November 2018 15:24 (eight months ago) link

That one I could maybe see.

Locked in silent monologue, in silent scream (Sund4r), Tuesday, 20 November 2018 15:25 (eight months ago) link

he probably would've done a "Macarena" parody in like...2004

frogbs, Tuesday, 20 November 2018 15:28 (eight months ago) link

All of you otm. He’d also be prime material for a WTF sit down with Marc Maron

licorice oratorio (baaderonixx), Wednesday, 21 November 2018 08:48 (eight months ago) link

he probably would've done a "Macarena" parody in like...2004

― frogbs

look he wasn't "shitty weird al yankovic", his being old and out of touch manifested in other ways. he'd probably be making fun of, like, jerry garcia's od (timeline works out: made fun of hendrix's death in 1984, elvis's death in 1988). that's another thing: he loved to make fun of people for dying, and as far as i can tell, nobody ever died as a result of the macarena.

but of course most of his "satire" in 2004 would likely be taken up with songs attacking george w. bush and islam in roughly equal measure.

he probably would have had his own porn site.

dub pilates (rushomancy), Wednesday, 21 November 2018 09:30 (eight months ago) link

lol just thinking about him releasing an album called "Shiek Yerbouti" in 1979

frogbs, Wednesday, 21 November 2018 15:04 (eight months ago) link

TED talks on Varese


timellison, Wednesday, 21 November 2018 17:55 (eight months ago) link

two months pass...

Zappa in New York is being blown out to a 5CD set in March.

Limited edition 5CD set in an embossed tin box

CD 1 – The Original 1977 vinyl mix
1 Titties & Beer 5:01
2 I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth 3:31
3 Big Leg Emma 2:17
4 Sofa 3:16
5 Manx Needs Women 1:34
6 The Black Page Drum Solo/Black Page #1 4:06
7 Black Page #2 5:42
8 Honey, Don’t You Want A Man Like Me? 4:16
9 The Illinois Enema Bandit 12:41
10 The Purple Lagoon 17:12

CD 2 – Bonus Concert Performances – Part One
1 “The Most Important Musical Event Of 1976”
2 Peaches En Regalia
3 The Torture Never Stops
4 Black Page #2
5 Punky’s Whips intro
6 Punky’s Whips
7 I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth
8 Honey, Don’t You Want A Man Like Me?
9 The Illinois Enema Bandit
10 “Two For The Price Of One”
11 Penis Dimension
12 Montana

CD 3 – Bonus Concert Performances – Part Two
1 America Drinks 4:52
2 “Irate Phone Calls” 1:37
3 Sofa #2 3:04
4 “The Moment You’ve All Been Waiting For” :58
5 I’m The Slime 5:38
6 Pound For A Brown 4:50
7 Terry’s Solo 2:47
8 The Black Page Drum Solo/Black Page #1 3:53
9 Big Leg Emma 2:19
10 “Jazz Buffs and Buff-etts” 1:51
11 The Purple Lagoon 17:00
12 Find Her Finer 5:22
13 The Origin Of Manx 1:48
14 Manx Needs Women 1:37
15 Chrissy Puked Twice 6:40
16 Cruisin’ For Burgers 9:56

CD 4 – Bonus Concert Performances – Part Three
1 The Purple Lagoon/Any Kind Of Pain 4:25
2 “The Greatest New Undiscovered Group In America” 2:18
3 Black Napkins 28:33
4 Dinah-Moe Humm 6:16
5 Finale 4:40

CD 5 – Bonus Vault Content
1 The Black Page #2 (Piano Version) 3:16
2 I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth (Alternate Version) 3:55
3 Chrissy Puked Twice
4 Cruisin’ For Burgers (1977 Mix) 9:08
5 Black Napkins (c)1976 10:56
6 Punky’s Whips (Unused Version) 10:55
7 The Black Page #1 (Piano Version) . 2:13

There's also a 3LP version with a much shorter track listing:

Side A
1. Titties N Beer
2. I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth
3. Big Leg Emma

Side B
1. Sofa
2. Manx Needs Women
3. The Black Page Drum Solo/Black Page #1
4. Black Page #2

Side C
1. Honey, Dont You Want A Man Like Me?
2. The Illinois Enema Bandit

Side D
1. The Purple Lagoon (Side B)

Side E
1. Black Napkins
2. Cruisin For Burgers (1977 Mix)

Side F
1. The Black Page #2 (Piano Version)
2. I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth (Alt. Version)
3. Punkys Whips (Unused Version)
4. The Black Page #1 (Piano Version)

grawlix (unperson), Wednesday, 30 January 2019 23:36 (five months ago) link

five months pass...

What's the deal with Orchestral Favorites?

I recently found a CD I barely remember owning or playing. Coincidentally there seems to be an expanded reissue in the works.

Was it from a concert or not? Some kind of contractual obligation thing? Anyway, glad I dug it out of that box.

Invisible (Noel Emits), Thursday, 4 July 2019 10:03 (two weeks ago) link

Another early attempt he made at getting his "orchestral" music recorded with a pickup orchestra (really mostly an expanded version of the Grand Wazoo big band). It's OK, and it's nice to hear Emil Richards playing Zappa's stuff, but it's still probably the weakest of his "orchestral" works. It was another one that came out of the material intended for Läther (learned how to type umlauts on a US keyboard this week)

Quilter Ray (rushomancy), Thursday, 4 July 2019 12:55 (two weeks ago) link

is that the same as the Revised Music for a Low Budget Symphony Orchestra -Live at Royce Hall 75

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 4 July 2019 14:25 (two weeks ago) link

I believe so, yeah.

Manfred Hemming-Hawing (WmC), Thursday, 4 July 2019 15:20 (two weeks ago) link

Anyone who hasn't heard the original Music for Low Budget Symphony Orchestra on Jean-Luc Ponty's album of Zappa compositions should do, it's nice!

Un Poco Loco Moco (rushomancy), Thursday, 4 July 2019 16:35 (two weeks ago) link

Thanks rushomancy et al. Just the kind of context I was hoping for.

Invisible (Noel Emits), Friday, 5 July 2019 14:35 (two weeks ago) link

I think this was partly opaque to me because the inlay on the (1991) CD says "Recorded at Royce Hall, LA, September 1975" but also, "originally released in LP format, May, 1974" (impressive!), while the artwork is dated 1979.

Invisible (Noel Emits), Friday, 5 July 2019 14:44 (two weeks ago) link

My friend and I improvised a Zappa song the other day. It was this big, heavy pentatonic scale riff, then after a few runs through the riff he leaned over to his keyboard and dooped out a crazy cartoon-random mallet percussion part while I intoned in some ironic narrator voice. "Meanwhile, back stage, the group was engaged in sexual proclivities of a sort that would make you blush..." And then back to the riff. It was called, iirc, "Dwarf Athlete."

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 5 July 2019 14:51 (two weeks ago) link

I think this was partly opaque to me because the inlay on the (1991) CD says "Recorded at Royce Hall, LA, September 1975" but also, "originally released in LP format, May, 1974" (impressive!), while the artwork is dated 1979.

― Invisible (Noel Emits)

The 1974 date is a typo.

Un Poco Loco Moco (rushomancy), Friday, 5 July 2019 18:46 (two weeks ago) link

My friend and I improvised a Zappa song the other day.

Lol at this.

Vini C. Riley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 5 July 2019 18:48 (two weeks ago) link

lol @ Josh I can hear it in my head

Is that Zappa in NY album considered a classic or something to get a 5 CD treatment? I listened a bit and really dug the brass on "Titties & Beer" and the moody angular vibe throughout.

licorice oratorio (baaderonixx), Monday, 8 July 2019 12:16 (two weeks ago) link

"Titties and Beer" not widely considered a classic, no. Also, there's "The Illinois Enema Bandit", which is hands down the vilest piece of shit Zappa ever wrote, and there's some pretty fierce competition.

Un Poco Loco Moco (rushomancy), Monday, 8 July 2019 13:49 (two weeks ago) link

Really don't dig Zappa, but if I recall correctly I had a copy of this LP, which might be the only place to get, or for the long time was the only place to get, "The Black Page?'

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 8 July 2019 14:07 (two weeks ago) link

I still get more pissed off about "Jumbo Go Away"

frogbs, Monday, 8 July 2019 14:10 (two weeks ago) link

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