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Zappa "a jack-off of all trades, and master of none"
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IanB
IanB
6762 posts

Edited Aug 24, 2013, 10:56
Zappa "a jack-off of all trades, and master of none"
Aug 24, 2013, 10:52
"Zappa is nothing if not a kind of weird 'n' whacky Wagner for junior Ring-spotters". Ian Penman on Zappa.

I haven't read much Penman since the late 80s and stumbled over this looking for a piece on Mingus' influence on his arrangements.

Speaking as an admirer of many FZ tunes this article is more persuasive than I wanted it to be ....

http://thewire.co.uk/in-writing/essays/frank-zappa_don_t-do-that-on-stage-anymore
Lawrence
9472 posts

Re: Zappa "a jack-off of all trades, and master of none"
Aug 24, 2013, 13:32
Well whatever. I'm not a Zappa diehard, but I think most people don't get his sense of humor.
Citizensmurf
Citizensmurf
1414 posts

Re: Zappa "a jack-off of all trades, and master of none"
Aug 24, 2013, 15:18
This article is from 1995, just about the time I started to get into Zappa (largely due to the reissues from Rykodisc). I was always more interested in the music than any lyrical content (who isn't), and honestly, the percentage of songs that would be classified as "juvenille humor" is quite small. Even Thing Fish, which is probably the least admired album, is more mature lyrically than any Coldplay album.
billding68
billding68
1016 posts

Re: Zappa "a jack-off of all trades, and master of none"
Aug 24, 2013, 16:40
Lawrence wrote:
Well whatever. I'm not a Zappa diehard, but I think most people don't get his sense of humor.


Im not a big fan either to ne honest I own one cd and one single and that's more then enough Zappa for me. As far as his sense of Humor either its so obvious I don't find it funny or it goes over my head not sure what the case is.Best thing I ever saw him do was use a bike as an instrument on some tv show back in the early sixties.Nothing against him just not my cup of tea.
Mr Sals
162 posts

Re: Zappa "a jack-off of all trades, and master of none"
Aug 24, 2013, 17:17
The article is disingenuous in the fact that the perception put across is based on the (admittedly fascistic) fan point of view. I am an admirer and have tons of the stuff but any discerning Zappa fan understands the bullshit/interesting stuff ratio is biased against him once he disbanded the Mothers. I only listen to Mothers stuff now as i think it still has the anarchic feel to it in a historical setting but i wouldn't dismiss the rest. The article comes across as spiteful in a way, as though his friends like Zappa but he doesn't.

Yes, the humour is puerile, and the music is deliberately difficult and he was not a natural musician or composer, but he was interesting and worked fucking hard at what he did, always trying to learn. This is just a bit of a hatchet job with no insight it seems to me. Blatantly ignoring all the musicians he employed who still say he was an inspiration is a bit ignorant.

Anyway, thats my take on it.
zphage
zphage
3376 posts

Edited Aug 24, 2013, 19:01
Re: Zappa "a jack-off of all trades, and master of none"
Aug 24, 2013, 18:32
Zappa like the Dead, (even King Crimson) you either get whole cloth
or in time you enter piece by piece
Waka Jawaka and Grand Wazoo are pretty impressive
regardless of his wankage and baggage



very cool detective piece on a Frank Zappa collage
you can skip ahead to the interesting stuff (7:20 in)
Cal, Gail, and Frank's brother Bob all make appearances
http://video.pbs.org/video/2253617192/
Dog 3000
Dog 3000
4611 posts

Re: Zappa "a jack-off of all trades, and master of none"
Aug 28, 2013, 05:02
Buncha bullshit. Writer writing writerly about music, thus missing the point entirely. Articles like that (which I couldn't read to the end, though I did try) are why I have no time for "the literary art of rock criticism".

Most of my favorite FZ tunes are instrumental, and I tune out almost all lyrics by anybody anyway, so the "smug/smut" element doesn't bother me either.

I found him somewhat funny when I was about 16-18 -- as an "adult" I don't really consider him a comedian or a pop star, but as one of the 20th century's finest bandleader, composer & musicians.

And yes it is probably very much like the Dead or Neil Young or other culty favorites: true fans probably don't care what others think, you get it or you don't . . . the point is not to be part of the biggest fanclub in the world (leave that to the Miley Cyruses of the world).
Maldoror
Maldoror
687 posts

Re: Zappa "a jack-off of all trades, and master of none"
Aug 28, 2013, 07:01
He was one of the masters of fusion, imho.
IanB
IanB
6762 posts

Edited Aug 28, 2013, 10:00
Re: Zappa "a jack-off of all trades, and master of none"
Aug 28, 2013, 09:20
I saw him at Hammersmith in 79 and at the time it was musically mind altering. An amazing band playing music of a complexity that beat the Prog masters hands down at the degrees-of-musical-difficulty game.

At the time I hadn't heard any of the music that influenced him and the only Zappa album I had owned was Zoot Allures which I bought after hearing Black Napkins on Nicky Horne when I was in a major Santana phase.

Now I know the sources it is all a lot less impressive though only in the same way that early Led Zeppelin pales a little when you hear Blind Willie Johnson or Garnet Mimms. I would be sad to be without Yellow Shark, Burnt Weeny Sandwich, the Guitar series, Roxy and Elsewhere and maybe the first two volumes of YCDTOSA though I have to say a lot of that Penman article had me wincing in recognition.

"Zappa early on got saddled with a job description of iconoclast, and there is nothing more wearing than nearly 30 years of neat, tidy, conscientious, sniping iconoclasm"

The best part of half a century later I think that's pretty fair really. Though I would put him and George Clinton in more or less the same pot rather than putting Clinton in the pantheon of true otherness with Miles and Sun Ra, Cage and Feldman. I think that's the difference between true originality and original eclecticism.
caldervalium
caldervalium
496 posts

Re: Zappa "a jack-off of all trades, and master of none"
Aug 28, 2013, 11:13
I'm not a big fan of Wire magazine meself, as I believe I've said before, too often it reads like an 80 page edition of 'Pseuds' Corner'. As for Ian Penman, I can't claim to be too familiar with his scribblings beyond a hatchet job he performed reviewing an Eno album a couple of years back. I presume he was nasty about the Soft Boys at some point too, given the Robyn Hitchcock song 'The Lonesome Death Of Ian Penman'....!
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