January 24, 2009

Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa (el-g,voc):

[Frank Zap­pa: Apos­tro­phe / Over­ni­te Sen­sa­tion]
[Frank Zap­pa: The Best Band You Ne­ver Heard in Your Li­fe]
[Frank Zap­pa: Bon­go Fu­ry]
[Frank Zap­pa: Broad­way the Hard Way]
[Mo­thers of In­ven­tion: Burnt Wee­ny Sand­wich]
[Frank Zap­pa: Chun­ga’s Re­ven­ge]
[Mo­thers of Inven­tion: Fill­mo­re East – Ju­ne 1971]
[Frank Zap­pa: Joe’s Ga­ra­ge]
[Frank Zap­pa: Lum­py Gra­vy]

see also Tibor Zelig (track #2)
see also Jimmy Zito (track #2)

[Frank Zap­pa: Ma­ke a Jazz Noi­se He­re]
[Frank Zap­pa: Play­ground Psy­cho­tics]
[Frank Zap­pa: Sheik Yer­bou­ti]
[Frank Zap­pa: 200 Mo­tels]
[The Mo­thers of Inven­tion: Wea­sels Rip­ped My Flesh]
[The Mo­thers of In­ven­tion: We're On­ly in it for the Mo­ney]
[Frank Zap­pa: The Yel­low Shark]
[Frank Zap­pa: You Can’t Do That on Sta­ge Anymore Vol. 1]

see also Dweezil Zappa (CD1, track #1)
see also Allan Zavod (CD2, tracks #7-9)

[Frank Zap­pa: You Can’t Do That on Sta­ge Anymore Vol. 3]

see also Allan Zavod (CD1, CD2 tracks #8,11)

[Frank Zappa: You Can’t Do That on Sta­ge Anymore Vol. 4]

see also Allan Zavod (CD1 tracks #2-7, 10,13 CD2 tracks #3,6,11,13-16)

[Frank Zappa: You Can’t Do That on Sta­ge Any­mo­re Vol. 5]
[Frank Zap­pa: Zoot Al­lu­res]

I have already had a few chances to make some dismissive remarks on the person of Frank Zappa and his music. In a totally un-encyclopaedic fashion I am going to continue to add some personal words here - Zappa doesn't need to be introduced anyway.
In my early teenage years I was very politicized, i.e. I had naive ideas about how an ideal society should look like and felt attracted by everything that was - or seemed - protesting against the actual society that was surrounding me. Naturally, when it comes to protest, a teenage kid might easily turn towards punk rock; however, after a year or two the nihilistic nature of punk made me feel uncomfortable, because I though that's not the way to constructively build a better society. I kept looking further. I tried a bit of jazz and avantgarde music for the first time, and I tried a bit of Frank Zappa. Certainly, this cynic's utterings are as un-constructive for a better society as were the punkers' shoutings. However, I didn't understand that fast enough. I'm sometimes a very slow thinker and perceiver. And what was attractive to me was the musical crossing of boundaries, as it seemed to me: there were the rocking guitars that I still needed to satisfy my punk rock background, but there was also improvised soloing - as in jazz - and the proclaimed avantgarde composition. Well, you all know what to think of that, and if not, I can only once again recommed the Wire article to you. But, no matter what I think of Zappa's unbearable humour nowadays and no matter how relatively lame his music actually is: I guess without Zappa and his music I wouldn't be prepared for what was waiting for me. I doubt that I would appreciate or even like Henry Cow, if I hadn't listened to "Brown Shoes Don't Make it" for a hundred times before. I guess, my reactions to free jazz would have been different, if I wasn't prepared by Ian Underwood's reeds solos on the "Uncle Meat" album. Would I be able to love the music of Can, if I didn't know the lengthy, percussive pieces towards the end of the Mothers' of Invention "Freak out"?
Musical tastes are always developping and growing, so there have to be certain intermediate levels, where one can rest, look back, look forward, enjoy the presence for a while. To me Zappa's music was such an intermediate level, seemingly necessary to my very personal development of musical taste - and therefore he's got to have his place in this little blog encyclopaedia.


centrifuge said...

well SD, i must say, now that i've read this, i can't really see the point in entering into much of a discussion about FZ with you! but i will at least explain my own position...

you have obviously long since come to the conclusion that his music is of no merit and was *only* worthwhile for you as a stepping stone to other things... while he fulfilled the same role for me at a similar age (like you i first got into him in my late teens), i certainly DON'T agree with you about - well, pretty much about any of it! (except for one thing: as a social commentator he probably was a bit overrated, as you say he was terribly cynical and rather bizarrely convinced that his own worldview was the only sane response to life... even then, he had useful lessons for people - his famous off-the-cuff riposte in london that "everyone in this room is wearing a uniform" is priceless)

so... i definitely don't agree with your dismissive assessment of his music; i also don't have such a problem with his lyrics (presumably you can't bring yourself to watch south park, family guy etc..?), although some of the jokes are indeed pretty cheap. i also know other grown adults who still like him!

Spring Day said...

Zappa's output/recorded work is vast and you're certainly right that it can't be done away with in just an overgeneralized statement. When re-listening Zappa's music nowadays, much of it has an effect on me that I normally get when listening to music that I somehow feel mediocre. That doesn't mean that there aren't any highlights. I absolutely love "Zomby Woof" and "Cosmic Debris" (the whole Apostrophe / Overnite Sensation album is still quite attractive to me), and I also must say that I find the three albums from the 1988 world tour quite appealing. At that point of his career he was probably not in his most innovative or creative period, but the arrangements the band played on this world tour belong to the most effective arrangements in the world of stadium-size rock music, I think. I also like "Keep it Greasy" from "Joe's Garage" and some stuff from "Zoot Allures". Most of the Mothers stuff sounds dated to me; I can somehow intellectually estimate the novelty at that time, but don't find it as touching anymore as other rock music innovators of the late 60s (say for example The Velvet Underground or Can).

I've never seen South Park in my whole life and haven't even heard of Family Guy. I'm living without a TV set for around 10 years now, which doesn't mean anything in the age of Youtube. But on TV you zap around and see what is brought to you, while on the internet you actively seek out things you want to see, and South Park hasn't been on my list so far. What do you think: Should it be?

P.S.: Whatever I say, I can't get rid of Zappa anyway. I caught myself thinking "Don't eat the yellow snow from right there where the huskies go" this morning on my way to work (where I happened to see a bit of yellow snow...) Yes, I have to admit, I find this a funny sentence from Zappa.

centrifuge said...

s'cool man, we're cool - i shd explain perhaps that my brusqueness in both comments i left last night was not "because you hate zappa" (at this stage i'm not offended by that at all). i get irritated when people do something i have often been tempted to do (at least in the past and maybe on occasion in the present...): conflate their own highly personal (... prejudiced!) views with "actual" objective assessments, henceforth and forever after known as "facts" ( = not necessarily anything of the sort...)

i detect touches of this from time to time in your posts - i know what a weird experience it is running a blog and a life (etc etc) over time, of course, and so we have to all cut each other some slack :) but still, it is not a good habit to indulge in each other i don't think. you always "take" it from me very graciously, which in turn leaves me happy that i did it - but also leaves hoping that you will feel able to do the same for me if you ever feel i need it ;-)


yeah, i like all of those tunes too - not maybe so hot on "cosmik/c debris" which was on the setlist for years and years and fuckin years... there were no particularly interesting arrangements of it after about 1947-5... '84 version is funny, of course (ike + ray + bobby + fz = guaranteed wall-to-wall fun - NOT that musicians' choice of band this one though)

anyway - erm... i'm gonna run outta space here aren't i ;-)

centrifuge said...

- that studion version of "keep it greasey" is better than any ten live ones of your choice, imo

anyway - south park - fuck yeah, best tv prog ever. week in week out, while it's on, they give the straight dope on the important stuff that white america really DOESN'T want to talk about. incredible intelligence throughout every frame and line of the scripts, no fat whatsoever, so that an attentive mind can consume what in hollywood movie form would require hours of film - in 20 mins. leave your liberal (educated!) schockability at home for that time as they are on an undeclared (at first... agenda to offend EVERYONE at some point - and perhaps won't stop until they have...

(family guy - ok, forget that one for now, it's razor-sharp comedy but it's not attempting to be philosophical in the same way, not at all - except occasionally, in the odd knowing wink to the fourth wall...)

centrifuge said...

(cosmik debris) - haha, i mean 1974 of course :))

(at times he musta felt like he'd been playing in the forties..!)

Spring Day said...

It's interesting to get this feedback from you, Centrifuge, and it's very valuable to me. It shows me how wrong my own self-perception could be (or is it even self-deception?). Personally I think my articles predominently use "I think", "I feel", etc., not so much because I want to speak about myself in the first place, but because I try to use this as indicators about the limitedness of the views that I present here. I can now, after your comment, see, that there are really quite a lot of sentences in my writing which assume some pseudo-objective, factual point of reflection. For example I singled out the passage "Certainly, this cynic's utterings are as un-constructive for a better society as were the punkers' shoutings. However, I didn't understand that fast enough", which I now regret to have put it that way. I guess sentences like that are causing you to feel I "conflate my own highly personal (... prejudiced!) views with 'actual' objective assessments". Certainly I am prejudiced, there's no doubt about that. Yet I hope you believe me, that I truly try to make my points here on this blog appear as a subjective individual person's voice, and that I try to use linguistic markers to keep people aware of my subjectivity (look for example at the first paragraph of this post, where I said: "I am going to continue to add some personal words here"). So, from your reaction I pointed to the contradictions in my writing and learn that I should work more on my linguistic clumsiness if I don't want to piss people off with pseudo-objective statements.

Spring Day said...

...work more on reducing my linguistic clumsiness, i certainly mean.

centrifuge said...

there is no problem at all with your being prejudiced - we ALL are - some (many) are "in denial" about it; you are not, you are fully aware of your own prejudices most of the time... it's what makes you (for me) a readable writer and why i feel it's worth bringing certain things to your attention once in a while... as i say, i am just as guilty of lapses (from whatever i set out to do or achieve, etc) - i do not intend really to say "i myself never do these things" cos i KNOW i do... but that's just it... like you, i know and accept that i am limited and prejudiced, that's a basic starting point these days...

(as regards zappa, one of the assertions i objected you to in the original post was about fz's music being "relatively lame" - not "i think" but "actually is" - this is of course the very opposite of what you "remembered" your intentions as having been... etc... anyway)

might get to the brotz later, i have stuff to do and cricket highlights coming up on tv - good day to be english :-D

kamagra gel said...

His music is awesome, I think that between my father and I we have the entire discography of Frank's, I have a couple of LP concerts that are amazing, he is the best.

xlpharmacy said...

It is the first time that I heard about it. It sounds like a pretty good band. Thanks for the recommendation. It would be nice if you add some samples.