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Artist: Frank Zappa

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Frank Zappa?

CRAP
67
41%
NOT CRAP
97
59%
 
Total votes : 164

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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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby Twilight Sparkle on Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:10 am

Brutal Power Sound is the genre of my new band.

I can't figure out how to quote on this iPad, so to Anthony and Steve, isn't Hot Rats considered post-Mothers? Peaches en Regalia is the one song I can get all my friends to love. At any moment I can conjure G-Spot Tornado in my head and even most of the solo in the meat of Hot Plate Heaven, I find all that stuff so memorable and exciting! And fuck, Civilization Phase III is one of my favorite albums, I think it's perfect. It's obvious that his politics, and even his facial hair, have played a huge part in people still talking about him today, but if all his work was dropped in my lap and I had no way to access who he was, I'd still be ranting on about it like a madman to whoever was around. It just really does it for me.
Those notes.

Though in defense of Anthony's argument for a sec, Trout Mask was whipped out in something like 3 hours, and Beefheart made certain in-studio decisions that Zappa was reluctant to cooperate with, if I remember correctly. I think Zappa more witnessed it than produced it.
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby Anthony Flack on Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:30 am

Peaches en Regalia features on the 1971 Mothers live album (and I like this version better - Ray Manzarek wishes he could write keyboard lines that good). So without checking, I assume that Hot Rats is firmly within the still-enjoyable Mothers period (late 60s-early 70s). Although I've been burned by later records that were also billed as the Mothers, which turned out to be some of that Letterman band-sounding shit. It's like sometime in the mid-70s Zappa finally had the resources to make the horrible music he always wanted to.

You know, when somebody makes their music all by themselves, writes all the parts and everything... well occasionally it's brilliant but oftentimes it starts to really stink of that person, you know? It becomes like an unwelcome houseguest... oh, it's that guy again. But when you collaborate, that doesn't happen so much, or so quickly, because it's always a collision between different personalities, which creates chaos and, possibly, magic. I think a lot of artists start to come unglued when they attain a certain level of seniority such that nobody argues with them and they don't have to fight for their ideas any more.

This is why bands are so great.
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby P.J. Craven on Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:45 pm

steve wrote:What's weird is that post-Mothers, the bulk of his music is neither good enough nor bad enough to warrant all this discussion.


I might be wrong, but I think your friend DLY counts the post-Mothers Zoot Allures as his favorite Zappa record. I never trust such statements unless I hear them from the horse's mouth, but that's what I heard.
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby madmanmunt on Fri Aug 17, 2012 1:08 pm

steve wrote:It's like rock music devoid of rock


I think this is only half true.

His music was often performed with rock instrumentation but it never once was rock. I think he had zero interest or sensitivity as to what makes music "rock".

Frank Zappa wouldn't know rock if a he was hit on the head by one after ignoring a "falling rocks" sign, while eating a stick of Brighton rock and sporting a rock-hard hard-on.
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby G-man on Fri Aug 17, 2012 1:32 pm

madmanmunt wrote:
steve wrote:It's like rock music devoid of rock


I think this is only half true.

His music was often performed with rock instrumentation but it never once was rock. I think he had zero interest or sensitivity as to what makes music "rock".

Frank Zappa wouldn't know rock if a he was hit on the head by one after ignoring a "falling rocks" sign, while eating a stick of Brighton rock and sporting a rock-hard hard-on.


Another person with his head in his ass--how many of you are out there?
Listen to Cosmic Debris, Zomby Woof, Montana, Black Napkins or Muffin Man & tell me that ain't ROCK!
The guitar solos are some of the finest rock guitar solos ever recorded!
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby Twilight Sparkle on Fri Aug 17, 2012 1:36 pm

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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby Twilight Sparkle on Fri Aug 17, 2012 1:50 pm

But what a musk it is, Anthony!

I dunno, I think there is definitely a lot to be said about band mates keeping each other tethered and/or irregular, but even then it's such a small pool of minds you are pulling art from. There are so many bands that could have used someone to stop pumping out their oder everywhere.
So many people that Frank admired and pulled ideas from ALWAYS worked like that, flying solo, like Varese. I don't really feel the latter's work needed someone there watching over it or to throw their personality into it.

And Zappa was Band Leader Número Uno, it really was him orchestrating everything after a certain point in the Mothers. Even when he wasn't at practice, he trained certain members to take over to keep things taut and how he wanted. He was cracking the whip!
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby Colonel Panic on Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:23 pm

While he definitely cited "highbrow" influences, I don't think Zappa himself ever really considered his own material to be really "highbrow" in the first place, although it is clear that his music was intended to be entertaining for music geeks. I totally get why the "jazz guys" like him. His impressionistic weirdness isn't so very far off from that of somebody like Sun Ra, after all. Instead of pushing a ridiculous premise to absurd proportions, he just took it in a more sarcastic, smug direction. And a lot of of his stuff is musically hilarious, in addition to (or despite) the humor of his absurdist, sophomoric lyrics.

Zappa himself has stated that the main reason he employed lowbrow humor in his song lyrics is that his stuff would never have been commercially viable without that "novelty" appeal. Of course, every few years he was obliged to pinch out a turd on a silver platter (like "Dancin' Fool" or "Valley Girl") to hit the charts and keep the suits off his back, and those minor "successes" basically earned him the capital and artistic free reign to put out all sorts of records he'd never be able to make otherwise. It seems to me that his entire career was sort of an extended practical joke on the music industry. I think he purposefully blended lowbrow humor with this ridiculously overwrought, excessively quirky and technically demanding music in an effort to challenge listeners into just these kinds of debates about value judgments of different aspects of music.

Take as examples the kinds of outsider artists he championed throughout his own career: people like The Shaggs, Captain Beefheart, Larry "Wildman" Fischer. Zappa created and promoted challenging music because he was always trying to game the system from within. He pushed the boundaries of what the industry (and the public) were willing accept as music, to be more receptive to arcane, oddball stuff.

Angry_Dragon wrote: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.

There's your problem right there: too narrow a definition about what music and songs are "supposed" to be. In fact it has nothing at all to do with being "grown up."
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby steve on Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:40 pm

G-man wrote:Another person with his head in his ass--how many of you are out there?
Listen to Cosmic Debris, Zomby Woof, Montana, Black Napkins or Muffin Man & tell me that ain't ROCK!
The guitar solos are some of the finest rock guitar solos ever recorded!

Well I guess we'll have to disagree about that then.
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby G-man on Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:58 pm

steve wrote:
G-man wrote:Another person with his head in his ass--how many of you are out there?
Listen to Cosmic Debris, Zomby Woof, Montana, Black Napkins or Muffin Man & tell me that ain't ROCK!
The guitar solos are some of the finest rock guitar solos ever recorded!

Well I guess we'll have to disagree about that then.


Well, give me an example of what rock is to you, and let's see if we can agree.
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby MrMattDiehl on Fri Aug 17, 2012 3:33 pm

I like "Trouble Every Day":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiVFfOOm_GI

and "Dancin' Fool":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSdkPMc7aEo

Frank Zappa was also admirably straight-edge during a decidedly un-straight-edge moment...
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Re: Artist: Frank Zappa

Postby Christopher on Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:15 pm

Wildly unfunny -- which is fine, except I get the impression that he was, actually, trying to be funny; consistent noodly wank guitar sessions; and Jesus-Christ-you-don't-have-to-record-every-sound-you-make prolific.

Dadaism minus fun plus blewsey guitar odysseys plus Mad Libs = Frank Zappa.

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