teaching mark s a *LESSON* response one: ZAPPA

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
Not all messages are displayed: show all messages (69 of them)
Also, there's possibly nothing more dangerous or futile than trying to convert a Zappa-hater to the other side--I mean, I love some of Zappa's (the Mothers's) music, but I feel a lot more in step with the haters, for some reason.

scott woods (s woods), Saturday, 31 May 2003 14:14 (sixteen years ago) link

well, i wasn't really trying to convert anyone. if mark or anyone else really doesn't like zappa and his music, that's their prerogative. i was just responding to the criticisms of same in this thread, and in the spirit in which the thread was created.

along with the "rockist or not?" angle, i also agree with the "punk" angle. not a few people have considered Zappa to have been one of the godfathers of punk, though less so with his music than his attitude. (since i'm not so up on my LA punk, the punk/new wave groups that immediately come to mind in a comparison with Zappa would be Devo and the Fall, both of whom always reminded me of the Mothers). which may be another reason why he got under the skins of later, punk-influenced listeners -- i.e., here's a guy who had a lot of similar attitudes, lyrical conceits, etc., as the punks, but didn't make "punk" music and in fact was openly hostile to it. Zappa isn't as easily embraceable a pre-punk musical figure as, say, Lou Reed.

Tad (llamasfur), Saturday, 31 May 2003 18:06 (sixteen years ago) link

some biographical stuff, as to why some of the lyrics on freak out! might be a little more "direct" than was usually the case on a zappa record -- i think that FZ had divorced his first wife at or around the time of freak out! (and had yet to marry his second wife, now his widow). so the sentiments on stuff like "i ain't got no heart" or "how could i be such a fool" might have been a little more genuine -- or as "heart on his sleave" as a notoriously non-"heart on his sleave" lyricist like Zappa could get.

Tad (llamasfur), Saturday, 31 May 2003 18:09 (sixteen years ago) link

yes tad, thx, i do want ppl to disagree w.me

mark s (mark s), Saturday, 31 May 2003 18:11 (sixteen years ago) link

Okay: you're talking crap! (To the small extent that I like Zappa even less than you do.)

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Saturday, 31 May 2003 19:01 (sixteen years ago) link

apropos to nothing, and re woiiftm and cruising with ruben and the jets: on their original cd versions, zappa scrapped large portions of those 2 recordings (i.e., the rhythm section) and overdubbed them with the instrumentals from his then-current band (Scott Thunes on bass and Chad Wackerman on drums, i think). zappa's rationale for doing so was, to put it mildly, pretty slippery -- at one point, he claimed that the original masters were unusable (though they managed to "reappear" when woiiftm was re-remastered in 1995). but another reason he gave -- and one closer to the truth, i think -- is that he wasn't pleased with the original sound, and that he wanted to "update" the sixties sound with one that was more "friendly" to the ears of mid-eighties listeners. seems odd now, esp. since one of the biggest rips on zappa's eighties recordings among zappa-niks is that they were colder and more sterile-sounding than his earlier, pre-Barking Pumpkins studio productions. it's still instructive, though for several reasons: (a) zappa seemed to be aware that maybe one of the things that made modern audiences wary of his sixties recordings was their sound -- that eighties production techniques had so conditioned listeners and their expectations as to what a CD should sound like that such expectations were a barrier to appreciating music recorded in less-technologically advanced times (and wasn't this view somewhat vindicated by the stones' recent reissuing their sixties back catalogue with a vastly different sound?); (b) however correct (a) might be, Zappa also badly underestimated how attached some had become to the original sound of the sixties recordings -- he called it "fetishization" (which may be right) and others might call such a reaction "rockist."

Tad (llamasfur), Saturday, 31 May 2003 19:37 (sixteen years ago) link

*emerges fifteen (not too) freak-ed-out-sounding tracks later, not much the wiser, neither greatly illuminated nor singularly entertained. murmurs, sourly, 'period piece' & 'darn-dang-doodle' & 'has not aged well', and thinks of the time spent on "monster magnet", "help, i'm a rock" and "trouble every day" as of time spent miserably and uselessly. considers, tho, playing "go cry on somebody else's shoulder" or "wowie zowie" or "it can't happen here" in one of the future radio shows ...possibly. selects another album from 1966, wayne shorter's adam's apple, to be listened to next. makes coffee*

t\'\'t (t\'\'t), Saturday, 31 May 2003 21:40 (sixteen years ago) link

I love some of Zappa's (the Mothers's) music, but I feel a lot more in step with the haters, for some reason.

I think I agree most with this viewpoint.

Dadaismus (Dada), Sunday, 1 June 2003 14:05 (sixteen years ago) link

It took "Ruben and the Jets" for me to appreciate a lot of teh tracks on "Freak Out". Yet, that album remains a curiosity for me, since I don't really warm up to the garage-ish sound. The whole early Mothers sound gelled on "In it for the money", where the pop sensibility, the anti-hippie humour and the experimental leanings really merged.
"Uncle Meat" will always remain my favourite though..

Fabrice (Fabfunk), Monday, 2 June 2003 06:58 (sixteen years ago) link

Tad - what's your take on Lee Ving?

dave q, Monday, 2 June 2003 09:30 (sixteen years ago) link

two years pass...
I'm currently doing an overnight gig at a community radio station, playing Zappa's "Lather" album in its entirety. Thought the comments here were interesting, and I may read some on the air as a way to add balance to the program. I won't argue for Zappa or against Zappa. I can see how he was a condescending prick in many ways, but nonetheless, he stimulates my mind and makes me think, by virtue simply of his extreme eccentricity. And his intelligence--you have to admit it. But an asshole too, there's no doubt about it. As Grace Slick put it, "the most intelligent asshole I ever met." All in all, an extremely interesting figure in music--let's face it, love him or hate him, here we are talking about him. He brings about strong feelings, and that's what art is all about. And what a guitarist!

Joseph Allen Russell, Thursday, 13 October 2005 10:51 (thirteen years ago) link

Any Way the Wind Blows is the only song I actually like on this record

I think this song is the best thing he ever did! And i'm far from being a Zappahata.

Dadaismus (Dada), Thursday, 13 October 2005 11:38 (thirteen years ago) link

T/S: Freak Out! version vs. Cruising with Ruben & the Jets version.

I admire FZ the person less and less, esp. after reading Barry Miles' bio, but I listen to the original Mothers' albums more and more.

William Paper Scissors (Rock Hardy), Thursday, 13 October 2005 12:07 (thirteen years ago) link

random bump

Britain's Obtusest Shepherd (Alan), Friday, 14 October 2005 06:22 (thirteen years ago) link

belated response to sinker's original stream (gad how did i miss this first time around?):

from pov of "cackling crack," my dad was there and assured me that even then it was viewed with carpetbagging suspicion, precisely because it landed right in the middle of possibly the most happily extended period of mainstream experimental weirdness/cohabitation in pop - in other words you had this whole STREAM of fuck-what's-going-on-here records arriving week after week, from revolver to pet sounds to aftermath to ammmusic to heliocentric to tauhid to globe unity to a quick one to blonde on blonde + the esp stuff was only just coming through to britain + lamonte y & reich was just starting to get noticed + etc. etc., thus freak out was subjected to the "anyone who says they're mad" isn't meme. whereas vu + nico seven months later was bought by nobody, but the nobodies who bought it (incl my dad) thought, ok this is crackerbarrel warholian carpetbagging, but of a higher order. obv it was unplayed on mainstream '66 uk radio but peel noticeably didn't bother with zappa/mothers much at all throughout his/their career/s though it must have got some late night pirate plays.

my pov on freak out now is that if mike love had gone diving instead of brian w this is how smile would have come out sounding - ostensibly "adventurous" but incredibly smug about it, as in hey chicks dig my weird record collection (this is also the differential between the 148 names on freak out and the names on NWW's chance meeting 'cos stapleton KNEW that only blokes were likely to buy the record, even though laura bought it back in '79 time ahem).

but then it becomes more complicated insofar as hot rats DID get to me when i was v young (7/8, maybe) and underwood's alto and sugarcane's violin freaking out on gumbo variations hit me (ditto ponty doing king kong as opposed to king kong on uncle meat) so that + peaches en regalia (greatest chatshow theme tune never) + beefheart's vox made it a truly guilty pleasure.

maybe he needed to get into the top 40 more. but perhaps the airsucked airs and graceless graces conspired against that (see also mark s' brilliant post on "subversion" in current brown wedge menu). that being said, i spent the summer of '82 in new york while valley girl was top 20, and predictably IT ALL SUDDENLY MADE SENSE, thus zappa falls into the same category as the police, viz. insufferable when out of the charts, indispensable when in them.

the tears of quiet rage in ben w woefully trying to convert derek b to the frank z cause in invisible jukebox are still a compelling magnet for the discernible reader.

Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Friday, 14 October 2005 07:00 (thirteen years ago) link

my pov on freak out now is that if mike love had gone diving instead of brian w this is how smile would have come out sounding

couldn't have said it better!

i never cease to be impressed at mark's willingness to dig into his own likes and dislikes this way, espec since it yields such interesting and weird results.

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Friday, 14 October 2005 08:28 (thirteen years ago) link

mark on bw v. related to latest round of dissensian threads!

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Friday, 14 October 2005 08:36 (thirteen years ago) link

Well I wasn't going to mention that but I'm glad you did. Apparently according to Dissensus, ILx now lacks "an adequate sense of comradeship." In the original Stalinist sense, presumably.

Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Friday, 14 October 2005 08:47 (thirteen years ago) link

oh ahha not like that. i meant the threads on dissensus and here alike w/r/t bw's piece on rip it up.

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Friday, 14 October 2005 10:42 (thirteen years ago) link

well i got kicked off dissensus for agreeing with said bw piece so there's a correspondence there somewhere!

Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Friday, 14 October 2005 10:43 (thirteen years ago) link

I read that BW piece on Rip It Up and thought he made a lot of good points!

Dadaismus (Dada), Friday, 14 October 2005 10:46 (thirteen years ago) link

seven years pass...

Random bump... A lot of tremendous and compelling writing and thinking on this thread.

Clarke B., Sunday, 6 October 2013 00:04 (five years ago) link

agreed. this thread prompted me to buy that ben watson book back in the day and make a mighty effort to get into zappa tho all that really stuck was hot rats, jazz from hell and bongo fury. when i romanticize "old ilm" i think of this instead of like, politely twee 100000 word disagreements about the manic street preachers.

adam, Sunday, 6 October 2013 00:47 (five years ago) link

Totally... And the Dave Q "x versus y" threads. I'd buy a book that compiled all of his intro paragraphs for those threads.

Clarke B., Sunday, 6 October 2013 00:50 (five years ago) link

And I find myself in this thread because I'm in the middle of an "intro to Zappa" phase myself, and am trying to work out my thus-far pretty complex response pattern to his works.

Clarke B., Sunday, 6 October 2013 00:51 (five years ago) link

ultimately i couldn't hang with the zappa wacky.

adam, Sunday, 6 October 2013 01:17 (five years ago) link

I'm having this weird repulsion/attraction thing where some of the stuff really puts me off but I can't help wanting to relisten to it. (Part of it is because it just SOUNDS so damn good--did you notice how beautifully and dynamically recorded his stuff is? At least on vinyl, which is how I've been gathering them.) My favorite stuff so far, probably unsurprisingly, is the really instrumental-based early-'70s fusion stuff: Hot Rats, Waka/Jawaka, Grand Wazoo. But I'm also loving One Size Fits All (this one might be The One for me), Uncle Meat, and Overnite Sensation. It's Zappa himself that I'm having the hardest time with--figuring out where he's coming from, what he likes about what he's doing, how sincere he is, etc. It's fascinating but a bit obtuse and difficult and not like many engagements with music I've ever had before. That's probably what keeps me digging and investigating.

Clarke B., Sunday, 6 October 2013 01:32 (five years ago) link

Listening to FZ's work performed by non-Zappa chamber ensembles is a good way in to get a clear sense of the composer, past the mustache and the ego and the dumb comedy music and the baggage. Omnibus Wind Ensemble, Le Concert Impromptu, Ensemble Ambrosius, Ensemble Modern. Inventionis Mater has some really good duo arrangements for clarinet and guitar. I've played a couple of pieces by Le Concert Impromptu for someone who claimed to loathe Zappa's music. "I quite like this!" -- turns out they just hated FZ's rep, not his music.

cops on horse (WilliamC), Sunday, 6 October 2013 01:40 (five years ago) link

i really enjoyed the real frank zappa book, his autobiography, even before i got into the music. it veers between scatology and paranoid defensiveness and self-righteous near-libertarian proselytizing in an oddly pleasant way, like the best of his music. i can't speak to the recording quality as all my zappa shit is budget-ass 90s rykodisc but i agree that the Problem of Zappa, so to speak, is to some degree his greatest appeal.

adam, Sunday, 6 October 2013 01:40 (five years ago) link

William, I can appreciate that perspective, and in fact if I were trying to get some of my friends into Zappa I'd probably play them something like side two of Grand Wazoo, something entirely without his voice/persona. I'll definitely check out some of the chamber arrangements... Although, I do think as Adam states above that his persona is one of the most compelling things about his body of work.

Clarke B., Sunday, 6 October 2013 01:55 (five years ago) link

I don't think anyone has to embrace the entire Zappa catalouge but just focusing on the late 60s-early 70s stuff gave me an apprecition of the man.

I got the glares, the mutterings, the snarls (President Keyes), Sunday, 6 October 2013 02:08 (five years ago) link

when i romanticize "old ilm" i think of this instead of like [insert anything]

otm. hell of an op. makes me almost want to try to like zappa. again. almost.

pervilege as a meme (contenderizer), Sunday, 6 October 2013 02:16 (five years ago) link

yeah I agree, mark s and dave q threads are amazing and awesome

see also "is _____ rock?"

outsider house rules (Drugs A. Money), Sunday, 6 October 2013 02:35 (five years ago) link

i'm watching 200 motels right now! i like the music in 200 motels.

scott seward, Sunday, 6 October 2013 02:43 (five years ago) link

Yes! 200 Motels is amazing. Really love the acid-rock Flo & Eddie-assisted jams on it. The plot is nonsense unless you watch it a dozen times and read about it and then it's still nonsense but at least you sort of understand the point behind the nonsense.

My favorite Zappa stuff I think is the 1st side of "We're Only In It For the Money". "Concentration Moon" is like a mix of '67 Flower Power folk hymns and weird angular Talking Heads-style spoken word pre-punk.

Emperor Cos Dashit (Adam Bruneau), Monday, 7 October 2013 20:54 (five years ago) link

Just found out last night I've got a ticket for 200 Motels

Tommy McTommy (Tom D.), Tuesday, 8 October 2013 12:11 (five years ago) link

Jealous. I may have posted this on some other FZ thread, but if you've never seen it, it's fun.


Low down bad refrigerator (Dan Peterson), Tuesday, 8 October 2013 13:56 (five years ago) link

two weeks pass...

(xp) Having just seen the "200 Motels" film last night, as part of the Rest of Noise festival, I'm debating whether I should just give my ticket for the concert to some poor hapless ticketless Zappaphile, so abysmal was the movie. I'd seen it before but hadn't realised just how dire it was, however I did stay to the end, half the audience didn't!

Thomas K Amphong (Tom D.), Sunday, 27 October 2013 11:33 (five years ago) link

help i'm a rockist
― mark s (mark s)

the late great, Sunday, 27 October 2013 19:40 (five years ago) link

doesn't ringo make an appearance in that movie? what an odd film career he had.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Monday, 28 October 2013 17:21 (five years ago) link

An FZ fan for nearly 35 years and I still haven't seen 200 Motels. I really dislike the Flo & Eddie era.

Victor Immature (WilliamC), Monday, 28 October 2013 17:37 (five years ago) link

Agree on the 200 Motels movie. I haven't seen it since it was on TV years ago (that long ago that I videotaped it, but never ever watched it again). I think it was Danny Baker that judged it "unwatchable", which is just about OTM.

Bloody Snail, Monday, 28 October 2013 21:32 (five years ago) link

I have a VHS copy too, haven't watched in years but certain parts still resonate with me: the "Broth" segment above, the animation sequence ("Dental Hygiene Dilemma") and the finale, "Strictly Genteel." And "Magic Fingers" is a good rocker. It's an incoherent mess, but not without merits imo.

The sweet spot between bad and unpleasant (Dan Peterson), Monday, 28 October 2013 22:07 (five years ago) link

The music's OK, esp. the rock stuff and I like Flo + Eddie's vocals (I prefer the Turtles though)

Thomas K Amphong (Tom D.), Tuesday, 29 October 2013 13:57 (five years ago) link

So saw this last night and (eventually) enjoyed it but, Jesus, there's far too much of it - but that's Zappa for you, I suppose. The, uh, dramatic elements of the production were a bit amateurish (despite Jessica Hynes(!) being one of the pariticpants) but the singing was good and the orchestra fine. There's too much avant garde skweedly-skwonk - stuff I usually like but there didn't appeat to be enough variety in Zappa's skweedly-skwonk writing - but from "Penis Dimension" onwards, when it just becomes sort of bomabstic showtune/ rock opera music, it was great and genuinely stirring.

Thomas K Amphong (Tom D.), Wednesday, 30 October 2013 09:06 (five years ago) link

I love all the sweaty 70s rock tunes from 200 Motels like "Mystery Roach", "Magic Fingers", and "Shove It Right In".

It's true that the movie is overly long, but there are tons of great moments throughout.

Moodles, Wednesday, 30 October 2013 13:49 (five years ago) link

Didn't play any of the rock stuff @ the concert unfortunately.

Thomas K Amphong (Tom D.), Wednesday, 30 October 2013 13:58 (five years ago) link

You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.