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Thread: Frank Zappa

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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Default Frank Zappa

    I got into Zappa and a few years ago and bought Hot Rats and Roxy and Elsewhere and really dug them. After not listening to him for a while and getting deeper into jazz and classical I thought my tastes might have changed and I wouldn't be able to get back into his stuff. I was surprised then that Hot Rats sounds just as good now as when I first listened to it. I like more of his instrumental or serious work as opposed to his funny/novelty records like 'Bobby Brown goes down' but overall, it's good he was eclectic and most supremely prolific. What do people think of his classical side? I've read his biography and know he was really influenced by Varese, but is it apparent in his work.

    Not only was he a good composer but I think he was a great guitarist. People always say he could only improvise over a couple of chord changes or he wrote parts too difficult for him to play live but he had a really unique voice in his solos and wasn't afraid to take chances and sound bad occasionally. Any musician who's played any of his songs will know how hard they are with constant time changes and fast unison runs between instruments.

    So is anyone else on here fans of the Zappa? What records of his should I get next?

    I am thinking of maybe the Grand Wazoo or Apostrophe or maybe one of the compilation CD's like You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore. His Shut Up N' Play Yer Guitar box set looks good but I can't find it anywhere. Also' why are most of his CD's so expensive. I'd buy more, but if every CD is over £10 it seems like a rip off. Same with Brian Eno.

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    Senior Member Mark Harwood's Avatar
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    Apostrophe' is entertaining, and I think it's available c/w the terrific Overnite Sensation.
    If you desire a challenge, try to get your head round Jazz From Hell.
    As for Eno, I downloaded the Neroli album for the price of one track from Amazon.
    Last edited by Mark Harwood; Dec-27-2009 at 21:08. Reason: Afterthought.
    "Music is a social act of communication among people, a gesture of friendship, the strongest there is."
    - Malcolm Arnold.

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    ive never really gotten into zappa, but when i do listen to his stuff i dig it.

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    I didn't even know this thread was here.

    Argus - check out his earlier stuff too. Uncle Meat is a double album (when it was vinyl) and contained an earlier slower version of "Son of Mr. Green Genes" that features beautiful, if quirky, vocals. It's really hard to find though.

    My favorite Zappa album is One Size fits All. It's loaded with a lot of the silliness you expect from Zappa - but in all seriousness it;s one of the best progressive rock albums I've ever heard. (He would probably have hated me calling it that.) There are two versions of a piece called "Sofa" that features one of the more lyrical melodies anyone has ever written. "Sofa No.2" is the same melody with comic German vocals done in unbelievably epic harmonies. The rest of the album is chock full of impossible rhythms and amazing musical acrobatics.

    I do not recommend Shut Up N' Play Yer Guitar. It is guitar solos only. To me they don't work as well out of context. For the completist only.

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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Well I finally found some Zappa on offer, so I picked up these:





    I've been listening to them for about a week now and can say that I like them both.

    I bought Weasels Ripped My Flesh based purely on the album cover and some of the track names. The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue, Prelude to The Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask and Dwarf Nebula Processional March are just great titles. The music is just as weird and eclectic as the names. I'd only heard My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama so it was a bit of a gamble, but it was a good one. I particularly like The Orange County Lumber Truck and the title track.

    One Size Fits All sounds more like Roxy and Elsewhere but more cohesive. Inca Roads, Po-Jama People, San Berdino and Andy are my favourite songs at the minute, but the whole album works well. Lots of nice guitar work and funky instrumental passages to contrast the crazy vocals. I like Sofa No.1 can't see the point of Sofa No.2 though, except as a joke to finish the album.

    I think I still prefer Hot Rats to the two as I'm not a fan of zany lyrics and vocals but they definetely have enough good stuff in them to warrant repeat listenings in the future.

    Also, I would've liked to have bought Uncle Meat but it wasn't in stock anywhere.

    I do not recommend Shut Up N' Play Yer Guitar. It is guitar solos only. To me they don't work as well out of context. For the completist only.
    True for most listeners but as guitarist I'll probably enjoy three CD's of fretwankery more than the average Zappa fan. But at £25 it's a bit steep for me anyway.

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    Dweezil Zappa has been trotting around the globe performing his dad's stuff for a few years now giving us all a chance to hear this incredible muzic live. I caught one of the shows at the Roxy in LA on the anniversary of FZ's legendary concerts there. It was pretty amazing being in such an intimate venue with a virtuoso performance lasting nearly three hours! DZ has put together an excellent group and IMO is an even better guitarist than FZ, believe it or not. (I heard once that FZ had mandated that DZ be the only one to play lead on a few of his songs. Can't confirm that however.) Check out the DVD of "Zappa Plays Zappa" and click here for the current tour schedule.

    Some of my favorite compositions by FZ are on the ZPZ release including Inca Roads, Florentine Pogen, Black Napkins, The Torture Never Stops, Echidna''s Arf (of You), and of course, Peaches en Regalia.
    Last edited by qualityaudio; May-10-2010 at 16:45.

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    Senior Member jhar26's Avatar
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    His best album (of those I've heard anyway) is "Hot Rats."




    The others I've heard are quite uneven in quality as far as I'm concerned. My number two would be "Uncle Meat" which besides the usual nonsense (just my opinion) has a lot of stuff on it that I like.




    I also like "Zappa in New York", but I could easily live without "Freak Out" or "We're Only in it For the Money", even though those two are considered classics by most Zappa fans. So, I love Zappa at his best, but he seldom is at his best for an entire album. He is on "Hot Rats" though.
    Martha doesn't signal when the orchestra comes in, she's just pursing her lips..

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    Here's a wonderful posthumous release. Recored live in Boston 1972.
    Features a 20 piece ensemble of woodwinds, brass, and percussion.
    All instrumental, for you serious listeners. A very classy package too!



    Thumbs up for Uncle Meat, and Weasels. Orchestral Favorites is another great
    instrumental album for contemporary music fans.

    I don't agree with the comments on Shut Up N Play Yer Guitar. IMO, it's absolutely
    brilliant! A must have for rock guitar improv junkies. Spontaneous musical architecture
    at its best!
    Last edited by starthrower; Oct-12-2011 at 07:04.

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    Senior Member Lunasong's Avatar
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    About a month ago I was working the phones at our classical radio station's pledge drive when a caller made the comment that we "play too much opera; play some Zappa!" At the time I thought he was being facetious, but after some research and after hearing about clavichorder's recent concert attendance program at SSO, I now know that Zappa was quite an eclectic composer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lunasong View Post
    I now know that Zappa was quite an eclectic composer.
    . . . to put it mildly. Don't try this at home, folks.

    Or even this.

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    Senior Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=303H4YSj0-U

    "Put a Motor in Yourself" by FZ, performed by The Ensemble Modern

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lunasong View Post
    About a month ago I was working the phones at our classical radio station's pledge drive when a caller made the comment that we "play too much opera; play some Zappa!" At the time I thought he was being facetious, but after some research and after hearing about clavichorder's recent concert attendance program at SSO, I now know that Zappa was quite an eclectic composer.
    I've never heard any Zappa played on a classical station. I hosted a radio show for several years at a university jazz station where I featured quite a few Zappa instrumentals. I never got any complaints, just some positive phone calls. Listeners also loved Ed Palermo's big band Zappa albums.

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    Senior Member Tero's Avatar
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    This is the longest Zappa thread here?

    200 Motels was interesting, as it is where Zapap first had the use of a full orchestra. The entire film is here. See eg 39 minutes or 1:26 ...sound is really bad.
    http://youtu.be/lyViqlFEKUI

    Zappa did not improve much with the later orchestras. He had a pretty good collection with:
    http://www.amazon.com/Boulez-Conduct...ref=pd_sim_m_8

    not sure where you can hear samples of that.

    I have all the rock stuff too. Saw Zappa just once, mid 70s.
    Last edited by Tero; Jun-03-2012 at 02:09.

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    Senior Member Iforgotmypassword's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by somerandomdude View Post
    ive never really gotten into zappa, but when i do listen to his stuff i dig it.
    Wow, my grammar was terrible two years ago.

    It's ridiculous how much you can grow up in such a short period of time.


    Anyways... I've always found Zappa's music to be too overtly goofy to take seriously, and I must take music seriously in order to really enjoy it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Iforgotmypassword View Post
    Anyways...
    Anyway* ...

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