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The Sea Cat
The Sea Cat
3608 posts

Edited Feb 21, 2010, 12:24
Zappa
Feb 21, 2010, 12:23
Apart from Hot Rats, I've never really bothered with Frank as I've found his Frat Boy humour irritating, and his technical noodling thoroughly boring. Anyway, as a serious Beefheart head, and inspired by the recent wonderful John French book, I'm going to give Frank another go. I've decided to check out his 60s period i.e. Freak Out/We're Only In it For The Money as they are highly esteemed albums of such a great era. I got Weasels Ripped My Flesh from the library yesterday and I like what I've heard. Any suggestions re. where to go from here and what to avoid would be greatly appreciated. Have a lovely day.
IanB
IanB
6762 posts

Edited Feb 21, 2010, 12:34
Re: Zappa
Feb 21, 2010, 12:33
The comedy makes my stomach churn too. I assume you have Bongo Fury already so if you are interested in him as a composer of interesting tunes / arrangements and his whole Psych-Santana guitar style then I would recommend ....

Chunga's Revenge

and

Roxy and Elsewhere

and if you are ok with the the orchestral, no guitars approach then Yellow Shark is absolutely essential

Best you find someone who has all the albums and makes you two or three cdrs worth of highlights. There are fantastic pieces of music buried within otherwise unlistenable albums and unlistenable pieces of music than ruin otherwise brilliant albums. There's the rub with Frank.
The Sea Cat
The Sea Cat
3608 posts

Re: Zappa
Feb 21, 2010, 12:36
Bongo Fury is excellent of course. I have that because of my love of the Captain. I don't know any Zappa heads, so I'll get your suggestions and some of the 'classics' from the library and do a few compilations. Thanks for the idea.
Daminxa
Daminxa
1415 posts

Re: Zappa
Feb 21, 2010, 12:42
All I have is 'We're Only in it for the Money'. I've heard a stack of his stuff though as one of my friends had pretty much everything he's ever done. I rather like him but it's not necessarily what I want to listen to when I'm driving or while I'm getting dinner ready! I think the whole Zappa/Beefheart background is quite interesting though.
Moon Cat
9698 posts

Re: Zappa
Feb 21, 2010, 13:09
I've only got a compilation "Strictly Commercial" which I do like but again he's one of these artists with a massive and bewildering discography that I've never felt compelled to devote that much time too. I might add with Zappa I've always been a bit put off by what seems like a bit of a sneery attitude to pop and rock. Take the Track Dancin' Fool for example. I like the music but the direction of the track - a bloke likes dancin' to disco therefore he's a fuckin' idiot - seems a bit mean spirited to me.

I think I'd like the Hot Rats album judging by the stuff I've heard from it and I seem to recall a mate playing Sheik Yerbouti a lot at one point.

I think the most Zappa I ever heard was in Liverpool in the 80's when he seemed, along with Floyd, to be a cornerstone of parties with lots of local lads getting monumentally stoned.
Fitter Stoke
Fitter Stoke
2146 posts

Edited Feb 21, 2010, 14:46
Re: Zappa
Feb 21, 2010, 14:22
Get 'Waka/Jawaka' for more in the 'Hot Rats' instrumental vein: a fine album.

Of the Mothers period, I'd heartily recommend 'Absolutely Free' and 'Lumpy Gravy' in addition to the obvious 'Freak Out!' and 'Money'. The live album at Fillmore East is excellent too.

'Apostrophe' is my clear fave of the solo albums. And 'Guitar' is the obvious choice for hearing the man's considerable axe skills bereft of his very individual humour.

The 'Cheep Thrills' samplers are great value and give a good cross-section of Zappa's work. Start there, my friend.
Deepinder Cheema
Deepinder Cheema
1968 posts

Edited Feb 21, 2010, 16:03
Re: Zappa
Feb 21, 2010, 15:50
I am the biggest admirer of FZ here, I cannot recommend any album without worrying which ones I've left out, so here goes:

Sheik Yerbouti, Uncle Meat, ('), Zoot Allures, for great non-noodling guitarwork I like the aformentioned. There are great moments also in Joes Garage Pt 1. The Shut up and play your Guitar 3LP box set of guitar solos' is concise and better than 'Guitar' with the exception of the piece 'Sexual harassment in the workplace' as Frank came up with some beautiful on the spot compositions. For a one note guitar solo in the tradition of the R&B fellows he was inspired by in the 1950's (Guitar Slim and Johnny Guitar Watson) please listen to 'Wind up working in a Gas Station' from Zoot Allures. Zoot contains 2 more worthy pieces - Zoot Allures itself and Black Napkins.

You can also listen to Zappa Radio, it's on www.zappa.com and you can fix a feed on Realplayer or some such and get aquainted with lots more material.

You can also get his DVD of a 1974 TV show at KCET which is probably at his best called 'Token of my Extreme'

Here is probably his last guitar outing 18 years ago when he was pretty ill, but I think his lyrical idea's, phrasing and dynamism was still much in evidence

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKCXS9WKzuo&feature=related

I was at his last concert. *sob*
Five
Five
959 posts

Edited Feb 21, 2010, 19:17
Re: Zappa
Feb 21, 2010, 19:16
The Sea Cat wrote:
I got Weasels Ripped My Flesh from the library yesterday and I like what I've heard. Any suggestions re. where to go from here and what to avoid would be greatly appreciated. Have a lovely day.


Go straight from Weasels to "Burnt Weeny Sandwich" ... they are very much sides A & B of a similar record, although Sandwich is less skronkingly dissonant ... but nearly all instrumental and much of it is from live tapes.

My third favorite from that era is "Uncle Meat" though like many double-albums-on-cd I suggest breaking it up into sides for smaller listening portions
redfish365
redfish365
710 posts

Re: Zappa
Feb 21, 2010, 19:31
I've been a Zappa fan for a long time now and I've gotta say that the live "Tinseltown Rebellion" is one I always go back to. Classic stuff!
Dog 3000
Dog 3000
4611 posts

Edited Feb 21, 2010, 22:40
Re: Zappa
Feb 21, 2010, 21:30
With my own star rating system for worthwhileness . . . start with 5's, then on to 4's etc.


Sixties Classic Era (most worth hearing/having)

Freak Out! *** (a bit overrated, but auspicious for 1966)

Absolutely Free ***** (best mostly vocal LP by original Mothers)

We're Only In Money ***** (gotta be the original mix though)

Lumpy Gravy **** (groundbreaking avant-pop)

Uncle Meat ***** (best mostly instrumental LP by original Mothers)

Burnt Weeny **** (underrated gem, mostly instrumental)

Hot Rats ***** (weird "jazz fusion"(?) classic)

Weasel's Ripped **** (actually a collection of leftovers)

Ahead of Their Time **** (best live Mothers, a later CD release)

Ban the Boots live from this era:

Tis The Season To Be Jelly **** (lousy sound, but a neat concert from Sweden 1967 -- Ray Collins & Roy Estrada actually ARE funny!)

Electric Aunt Jemima **** (live Uncle Meat material)

The Ark *** (a more jammy type gig, Boston 1968 I think?)



Seventies Popular Weirdo Era (proceed with more caution)

Chunga's Revenge *** (instrumentals great, Flo & Eddie meh)

Just Another Band ** (OK live, more Flo & Eddie comedy)

200 Motels ** (Flo & Eddie and BBC Orchestra movie soundtrack)

Live at Fillmore East ** (Flo & Eddie again -- their duo albums are much better than this crap actually!)

Grand Wazoo **** (this is more like it -- epic jazzoid instrumental concept album)

Waka/Jawaka *** (Hot Rats part 2, but not as good)

Overnite Sensation ***** (by far his best "comedy rock" album -- sorta funny on a 70's SNL level, and the songs, ensemble playing & recording pretty exquisite.)

Apostrophe **** (his best seller with the "Yellow Snow" bit -- not quite as good as Overnite, and Zappa & his personality are more in front on this one.)

Bongo Fury *** (Captain Beefheart is on the album cause he was unemployable at the time & Zappa took pity -- not much of a collaboration to speak of, Beefheart fans can safely miss this one.)

One Size Fits All **** (underrated mid-70's rocker; not so much comedy songs as just kinda weird.)

Roxy & Elsewhere ** (wanky live album with a couple OK cuts)

You Can't Do That Onstage Anymore Vol 3 (Sic?): The Helsinki Concert **** (3 album complete concert from 1974 -- more jammy than jokey.)

Zoot Allures *** (somewhat underrated, another one that's mostly a Zappa solo album -- not essential though)

Zappa In New York ** (butchered by Warner Bros -- get Lather instead)

Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt, Orchestral Favorites *** (but get Lather instead)

Lather **** (Zappa's major statement of the 70's -- label split it up into a bunch of different LP's after a contract fight, something like the originally intended version came out on CD in the 90's)

Sheik Yerbouti *** (another big seller but not that great)

You Are What You Is *** (best of his 80's poppy albums, but not that great -- definitely NOT for those allergic to "Zappa humour")

Tinseltown Rebellion *** (surprisingly solid live album from the 80's band)


The shit era:

Proceed with extreme caution through the years 1982-1988!!!

Those instrumental "Shut Up & Play Yer Guitar" albums are probably my faves of this period -- maybe worth 3 stars *** (but only if you are really into his guitar solos)


The end:

Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life -- confess I don't have this, but Zappaheads have told me it was the first sign of life after years of stuff even fans couldn't stomach.

The Yellow Shark *** (modern classical stuff -- not really my bag, but I've heard some folks who aren't into Zappa call this one "amazing")

Civilization Phaze III ***** (sequel to Lumpy Gravy was his final major work & just very fuckin' impressive. Not rock or classical, synclavier music that existed only in FZ's imagination.)


Posthumous:

Not really up on what Gail's been releasing these days.


ADDENDUM: forgot to mention "Joe's Garage" -- I think the first LP that originally came out was damn promising, but part 2 & 3 kind of a let down. I think you can only get it as one complete set these days. It was his major work of the 80's, but I can't give it more than ***.

And might as well add:

Thing Fish ??? unclassifiable epic that is either absurdly brilliant or the worstest piece of shyte ever perpetrated on record. Folks who say this is their favorite Zappa album tend to be very weird people!!!! This is probably Frank's version of a "Metal Machine Music", if you make it this far you are beyond hardcore!
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