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Artist: Frank Zappa

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Frank Zappa?

CRAP
81
42%
NOT CRAP
114
58%
 
Total votes : 195

Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby madmanmunt on Thu Mar 22, 2012 1:34 pm

Maybe for the indie rock confessions-

Last night on the radio they played Dirty Love and I really enjoyed it. Guitar solo like a razorblade scraping feces across a glass tabletop. I even (especially!) enjoyed the RHCP bass playing. It didn't seem like joke song for once.
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby Isabelle Gall on Wed May 16, 2012 2:57 am

I've been thinking about Frank Zappa recently. As a proviso, I consider a fair amount of his recorded output to be acrid, lumpy and ugly, and I am far from being a converted Zappaphile or believer in Uncle Frank or somesuch. I don't mind and can put up with the 'Zappa Knows best voice' (as I believe Ian Penman called it) and find many interviews with him to be rewarding and enlightening.

Age twelve/thirteen, this is still someone who hasn't really heard or been exposed to any music which meant anything to him and is a teenage delinquent blowing stuff up in San Diego with homemade explosives. Parents with no interest in music, has to beg them to buy a record player to listen to rhythm and blues 78's. Decides to learn how to write music and be a composer himself after exposure to Varèse's Ionastion, Stravinky's The Rite of Spring and Anton Webern ('a guy who wrote some saintly stuff'). Asks his parents for a long distance phone call for his birthday and gets through to Varese's office in Greenwich Village after making the assumption that's where he would live and asking the operator to put him through.

I recall him saying someplace that the reason's for the extended guitar solos (and specifically the albums of nothing but extended guitar solos) were because he realised people liked it and he thought he would give them what they want. I think this is key to understanding most of his subsequent output after the Mothers of Invention and his attitude to it. His justification of almost any content anywhere in his work is that it's something that actually happened and he will immediately mention specific details regarding it. I do not entirely understand this fascination in wanting to sing about poo poo pee pee details of life on the road, or why in fact it would be interesting to anyone to hear about. But sure, it happened, and here he is telling us all about it for over thirty years. Not one for recreational drug use but enjoyed and celebrated other aspects of permissive 'free love' and rock lore of the time. A bandleader and businessman who did not want to be a starving composer (claiming to prefer an enjoyable life over an 'art life') even if ideally he would have existed in a culture where he could compose music all the day to be performed by an orchestra and he'd be celebrated and rewarded for it. That's not possible, so you get 'Broken Hearts Are For Assholes.' Suffering not so much for your art as through other people in order to get this stuff rehearsed (often for 8 hour days, full working weeks for two months prior to a tour), played all over the world, recorded, distributed. If nothing else, the older I get the more I am blown away by his capacity to git it done.

People I think find Zappa's music intolerable as they perceive it to be almost entirely lacking in empathy or compassion, or passion even. While I could understand this in relation to lyric content, I do not think this is true at all in relation to his instrumental writing and I find there to be some incredible and extremely effective melodic content here and there. Would I appreciate and enjoy Ives and Nancarrow as much as I do today without exposure to Burnt Weeny Sandwich, Weasels Ripped My Flesh etc as a kid? I don't know, but these records still sound fantastic and We're Only In It For The Money remains a masterwork. I am sure Zappa thought that having access to real art and culture had revolutionary potential to change lives, but what would he have made of a current situation where everyone has immediate exposure to everything and people are bombarded with music from every conceivable angle but are unable to tell you what they're currently enjoying listening to when you ask them? Where pop music isn't and there's often nothing at all modern or experimental about modern, experimental music? I always like to ask people where is our present day Charlie Parker, Ornette Coleman, Jimi Hendrix, etc. But I also think it's worthwhile to ask where is our present day Zappa.

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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby Twilight Sparkle on Thu May 17, 2012 5:38 am

People make fun of his silly lyrics, but right after really getting into Zappa, it was hard for me to take any music seriously that didn't have this constant sense of humor running through it. The "music" itself always stirred up Serious Emotions for me, and the fact that at the same time he was talking about poodles and monster movies made his world seem so big. Something about him and the band always laughing at something made it feel very big. Especially with the whole Project/Object thing, all the recurring themes. For a while afterwards, when I listened to other bands, they sounded very small and narrow to me. And I would always make a comparison, too. Basically everything that came into my ears I measured against Zappa.

So in that way I like "joke bands" like Ween (but not Mr. Bungle), because I feel that the humor gave the music a third dimension.

It's not exactly how I feel now, but I still laugh at Billy the Mountain.





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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby enframed on Thu May 17, 2012 10:54 am

P.J. Craven wrote:Image

I never liked Zappa until Nina showed me Zoot Allures last year. Zoot Allures is incredible. I'll NOT CRAP Zappa based purely on this record.

If you're looking for a Frank record that you, the Electrical reader, could get down with, this is probably the place to start.


I agree, and this is the one record of his I kept for a while, though I believe I sold it, too. Them or Us is OK if only for "Ya Hozna."

Added waffles for his children riding his creativity to greater depths.

Missing Persons was made up entirely (almost?) of his backing band, I always found that funny. And I think he taught Adrian Belew how to read music.
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby boilermaker on Fri May 18, 2012 12:26 am

Isabelle Gall wrote:People I think find Zappa's music intolerable as they perceive it to be almost entirely lacking in empathy or compassion, or passion even. While I could understand this in relation to lyric content, I do not think this is true at all in relation to his instrumental writing and I find there to be some incredible and extremely effective melodic content here and there


I appreciated your entire post very much Isabelle. Thanks for taking the time to write in such detail.

The quoted section truck me the most. Many years ago I had almost all Zappa's albums and unsurprisingly lost some interest over time. I sold a great chunk of Zappa albums but the decision to keep the ones I now have was largely based on my love of Zappa as writer of sublime melodies. Admittedly I still enjoy some of the more noisy visceral moments on my favorite album Weasels but it's those melodies that keep me coming back. Outrage at Valdez from The Yellow Shark is full of empathy and compassion and is a perfect example of why Zappa is still worthwhile.

A few examples.
I love the melodies scattered throughout Uncle Meat.
Get a Little, The Orange County Lumber Truck/Oh No and the "Charles Ives" section on the first track from Weasels
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby Nina on Fri May 18, 2012 10:07 pm

Certain qualities of his irritate me, but not even half as much as the people who find those qualities admirable and suitable for use in their own personas.
I like Uncle Meat too. And parts of the Yellow Shark. And the short guitar piece which I think is the third song on side one of the Weasels album. And all of the Burnt Weeny Sandwich album, which has the greatest picture ever of him, smiling and with pony-tail, on the inside flap, and which ends with his definitely sexy wah-wah guitar playing beneath "Valarie."
Aural dipshits who consider Joe's Garage his best stuff because the band is so kick-ass AND Frank's hilarious social critiques mirror their own consider ME the air-head for believing that Cruising with Ruben and the Jets is not satire but no, it is not I who am emotionally stunted.
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby JMoffitt on Sat May 19, 2012 12:17 am

Nina wrote:Certain qualities of his irritate me, but not even half as much as the people who find those qualities admirable and suitable for use in their own personas.
I like Uncle Meat too. And parts of the Yellow Shark. And the short guitar piece which I think is the third song on side one of the Weasels album. And all of the Burnt Weeny Sandwich album, which has the greatest picture ever of him, smiling and with pony-tail, on the inside flap, and which ends with his definitely sexy wah-wah guitar playing beneath "Valarie."
Aural dipshits who consider Joe's Garage his best stuff because the band is so kick-ass AND Frank's hilarious social critiques mirror their own consider ME the air-head for believing that Cruising with Ruben and the Jets is not satire but no, it is not I who am emotionally stunted.
I like "how's yer bird?"


Joe's Garage IS pretty fun to listen to. Let's not discount that. Regardless of what anyone thinks....the first side of that record is fun! But he has YEARS of nooding that IS THE DRIZZLING SHITS!!!!!
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby squarewave on Sat May 19, 2012 1:23 pm

I voted not crap on Zappa as a person and as a musician.
Heavy waffles for a ton of material that was far too ambitious to find an audience (outside of obvious fanbois who appear to belittle anyone who does not share their vigor for the music).

I vote crap on the badgering from the keyboard playing lunatic who trolled the hell out of this thread and attempted to demand that someone engage him.

I don't know if that guy even posts here, but I can wrap up the "Eric Dolphy Memorial BBQ" discussion. It's not a particularly good song. It's overly experimental for experimentations' sake, and it goes off on tangents and takes unnecessary risks that do not help the song.

If Zappa had scaled back some of the tangents, a larger portion of his catalog would not invoke the skip button.
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby squarewave on Sat May 19, 2012 1:32 pm

Isabelle Gall wrote:I also think it's worthwhile to ask where is our present day Zappa.


I think it's fair to say that Mike Patton is definitely trying to win this ribbon at the fair.
rocker654 wrote:(regarding jail) I can't recommend it. The toast is too rubbery, and the bellboys have too much snotty attitude.

steve wrote:I haven't heard your band, and you might not want me to.
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby Anthony Flack on Thu Aug 16, 2012 9:02 pm

A tricky one.

I think his harmonic and melodic sophistication is frequently astonishing. He's written some absolutely superb instrumental passages. And who could help but cheer for him when he spoke before congress in defense of artistic freedom, with such eloquence and intelligence.

I also quite often like his guitar solos. Most long guitar solos are pointless, since they're just the sound of some dude pissing up and down a scale and milking variations on the same half-dozen licks he's been wanking out ever since he learned the pentatonic scale. Zappa's solos were like off-the-cuff melodic compositions from a serious composer. They went all over the map. I think they warrant listening to with different ears than you'd use for regular guitar-wank - there's a fair bit of depth in there.

BUT.

I find it really hard to listen to anything he's done since the early '70s. He was fine when he was shepherding a shambling bunch of weirdo drop-outs. Their chaos provided a necessary foil to his monolithic Zappareyness. But as soon as he demanded that everyone who played with him had to be able to sight-read dotted triplets in 7/13 or whatever, being in his band became like session musician boot camp. The only people who could work with him were the kind of people who play at trade shows. From that point onward it all sounds like the fucking Late Show orchestra.
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby G-man on Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:17 am

Angry_Dragon wrote:CRAP

He put out way too many albums of horrible subpar material. I believe there are 50 or more of these records of the above stated subpar material not including compilations. Over-rated rock dude that jazz guys love for some awful reason. He worked with Steve Vai. That alone should get him a CRAP vote. I heard about him when I was 13 or 14 and decided to pick up a record by him. I thought it was kinda neat and even better it was funny so I picked up a couple more records by him. About 2 years later I had grown up enough to develop the concept that music isn't supposed to be funny and songs aren't supposed to be about fucking Catholic girls. Instead of selling these records, I threw them away. I figured they weren't even worth trying to get $5 a pop for them because I felt like I would be ripping off the local record store assuming that they bought such garbage.

I'm glad this fucker is dead. I also hated the way he played his guitar.


Dude, you got yer head so far up your ass it's unbelievable!
Zappa was one of the few composers that was able to produce fantastic music that combined every
genre of music and put it into a stew that nobody else could! He was a musical genius!
You obviously haven't even listened to a fraction what you "believe" are the 50 or so albums this man
made. You stated that you were 13 or 14 when you picked your first album by him, & "it was kinda neat and even BETTER it was funny." Then 2 whole years later at 16, you had grown up enough to develop the concept that music isn't supposed to be funny? You didn't grow up at all, because there are MILLIONS of funny songs in this world today with excellent music to match!
And songs aren't supposed to be about fucking Catholic girls?--songs can be about anything you want them to be, and Zappa was anti-religion, so he was poking fun at it!
His guitar playing was nothing but virtuoso, anybody who plays guitar and knows Zappa, knows this.
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby Ernest on Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:43 am

G-man wrote:I'll be really glad, FUCKER, when you're dead, you ignorant, immature asshole.


You. are. one. dumb. motherfucker.

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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby G-man on Fri Aug 17, 2012 1:48 am

Anybody who thinks Zappa is crap has his head thoroughly up his ass & doesn't know anything about music and one of the very few absolutely creative, genius composers of this and any other era in the history of time!

Oh, and they can't get past his humour!
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby geiginni on Fri Aug 17, 2012 1:53 am

It's interesting to see how Zappa is such a polarizing figure, even 20 years after his death. This thread seems to bring out those that speak intelligently about music from a background of depth and complete morons. To both those ends, I salute Zappa's ability to speak to both. His realization that "serious" music would not earn him a living is a testament to his pragmatism.

Zappa rekindled my interest in "classical" music and helped steer me in the direction of post-bop jazz, and for that I thank him. He was a remarkably intelligent composer and asshole, and for that I thank him as well.
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby steve on Fri Aug 17, 2012 3:50 am

geiginni wrote:It's interesting to see how Zappa is such a polarizing figure...

What's weird is that post-Mothers, the bulk of his music is neither good enough nor bad enough to warrant all this discussion. It's nerdy and self-conscious but hardly highbrow. He's a competent guitarist who typically had an atrocious sound and didn't play a single memorable lick. His band didn't make mistakes but were similarly insipid in tone and have no moments of genuine power.

It's like rock music devoid of rock, plus a few pages of music school exercises in odd-meter timekeeping. I can't understand how anybody could either like it or dislike it.

I mean, it's not as bad as the Eagles, but also not as good as the Eagles.
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby numberthirty on Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:00 am

steve wrote:He's a competent guitarist who typically had an atrocious sound and didn't play a single memorable lick.


On the other side of this coin, I'm sure people also say this about your sound on some of your band's recordings. In both cases, I get the feeling that both people went after a specific sound even if it might be atrocious to some listeners.

Second, memorable doesn't always happen when someone is improvising. Frank was improvising quite often.
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby Anthony Flack on Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:16 am

The distortion at the end of Mama Gina is certainly quite memorable. Sounds like a speaker cone trying to puke its magnet out. In a good way, possibly. Opinion is probably quite divided about that.

Listening to the sound of Zappa records, especially the post-Mothers stuff (which nobody really has any good cause to want to do), you'd have to conclude that Zappa was not a great producer. And he produced all his own work.

He was a man who could have benefited from a more collaborative approach. Working more closely with other people would have balanced out the worst of his excesses and perhaps supplied some of that which was missing. Everything good that he did was very early in his career. The more insular he became, the worse his music got. Insipid, indeed.

He was certainly some kind of genius but being a genius doesn't necessarily count for much on its own.
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby numberthirty on Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:25 am

Anthony Flack wrote:Listening to the sound of Zappa records, especially the post-Mothers stuff (which nobody really has any good cause to want to do), you'd have to conclude that Zappa was not a great producer.


Trout Mask Replica would like a word with you.
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby Anthony Flack on Fri Aug 17, 2012 8:59 am

Yes, but again: collaboration. Beefheart was forcing him to do stuff he would never have done himself. Beefheart was probably the only person capable of making him do anything.
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby G-man on Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:50 am

steve wrote:
geiginni wrote:It's interesting to see how Zappa is such a polarizing figure...

What's weird is that post-Mothers, the bulk of his music is neither good enough nor bad enough to warrant all this discussion. It's nerdy and self-conscious but hardly highbrow. He's a competent guitarist who typically had an atrocious sound and didn't play a single memorable lick. His band didn't make mistakes but were similarly insipid in tone and have no moments of genuine power.

It's like rock music devoid of rock, plus a few pages of music school exercises in odd-meter timekeeping. I can't understand how anybody could either like it or dislike it.

I mean, it's not as bad as the Eagles, but also not as good as the Eagles.


I do like the way you play both sides of the polarizing, but to say he was only a competent guitarist
who didn't play a single memorable lick, who are you to judge? You have an excellent guitar sound, but
I don't hear any "memorable" licks in there, only brutal power sounds, totally different. And what can you say about a guy that was so world renowned that he had many things named after him, like an asteroid, new genus of molluscs, gobiid fish, spider, and a new bacterium that causes urinary tract
infections? He has busts of him erected in Vilnius, Bad Doberan, & Baltimore, which even has a "Frank Zappa Day" in his honour, for his fight for freedom of speech? His music blended just about all
genres of music, including noise, of which you are a proponent of--Hell, even Merzbow cites him as an influence! And to put the Eagles in there, that deserves a total FUCK YOU, even for the ha-ha of it!
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