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Thread: The posthumous Zappa discussion

  1. #1

    The posthumous Zappa discussion

    And yes, I don't mean the discussion we have after we die on Zappa (we will be too worried then of what happens to our record collection, too busy haunting our heirs for mistreating it), I mean the discussion we can have now on Zappa's posthumous releases. I have to say that, despite being a Zappa freak, I have heard almost nothing of them. It's like I said to myself "you have like 30 Zappa records, that's enough, you have to listen to some other music too." Also the bulk of it was quiet intimidating for me.

    Anyway, I have finally succumbed and I am exploring these days all this previously unreleased music. I have tons of questions and comments to make, so I hope that people in here can help me not to miss the truly essential stuff. By truly essential I mean either Zappa compositions of high quality that weren't issued before his death, or performances of already released music that bring out a different dimension to the known music.

    I would like to start with Make A Jazz Noise Here which to my ears sounds simply stupendous. The band is tight as hell, the rock instruments blend harmonically with the brass onslaught, the recording is perfect. And Scott Thunes is a monster of grooviness on the bass, a defining factor on the final result. My only complaint is the cut down Eat That Question: those 2 minutes sound so much better than the studio version, that surely there had to be more of it.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    And yes, I don't mean the discussion we have after we die on Zappa (we will be too worried then of what happens to our record collection, too busy haunting our heirs for mistreating it),
    Don't forget that we'll all be worrying some asshole will recreate us holographically and do obscene things with that hologram, like take it on tour.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    My only complaint is the cut down Eat That Question: those 2 minutes sound so much better than the studio version, that surely there had to be more of it.
    I don't know this for sure but I believe that they were only playing those 2 minutes, so its not like Frank excerpted it for the release. Why only play 2 minutes of it? My question is why didn't he have this great band doing Waka/Jawaka or Brown Shoes? That band learned something like 120 songs so he had to draw the line somewhere on what they would learn and how long each song would be.

    Anyway, if you haven't delved into the posthumous Zappa releases yet, here are some recommendations for you:
    1. Imaginary Diseases (first ever live release from the Petite Wazoo band that was the follow-up of the Grand Wazoo band - see #2)
    2. Wazoo (first ever live release of the Grand Wazoo band in all its glory)
    3. Little Dots (another Petite Wazoo release, notable for the entire version of Rollo, which would late be tacked on to the end of the Yellow Snow Suite)
    4. Road Tapes volume 2 (same band as the Roxy band, with some of the same material but quite a bit more of it, Road Tapes volume 1 and 3 are good too)
    5. Roxy by Proxy (different versions of songs that appear on Roxy, plus an early version of Inca Roads and other material)
    6. Chicago 78

    What other posthumous releases would everyone else recommend?

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by flowerking View Post
    I don't know this for sure but I believe that they were only playing those 2 minutes, so its not like Frank excerpted it for the release. Why only play 2 minutes of it? My question is why didn't he have this great band doing Waka/Jawaka or Brown Shoes?
    Yes, it surely doesn't sound edited, so my complaint goes to Frankie himself (or his hologram). Why didn't he let the band and himself unleash what was coming? (I am crazy about this tune).

    Anyway, the spirit of Wazoo/Jawaka is clearly present in Make A Jazz Noise - I would dare to say that it is even fulfilled in this record.

    And the whole closing trio of Cruising, Advance Romance, Strictly Genteel is just glorious. The eastern-flavored guitar solo in the middle of Advance Romance is insane.

    Thanks for your suggestion,comments and love for the music!

  4. #4
    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    Jazz Noise is one of my fav FZ live albums, period. The other two '88 band albums are also great in their own way (its funny how each of these albums is "shaped" by the particular repertoire that FZ included). Scott Thunes is a fucking MONSTER on these - he is incredible.
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

  5. #5
    Member Phlakaton's Avatar
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    Happy you're checking them out - its just silly not to in my opinion... some of my favorite music is on those releases... Road Tapes #2 being my favorite and favorite band too.

  6. #6
    Member StarThrower's Avatar
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    Lost Episodes is a wonderful collection of studio tracks FZ produced shortly before his death. Features a great Hot Rats era Sharleena w/ Sugarcane Harris, and some crack instrumentals in RDNZL, and Inca Roads. As well as many other obscurities.

    I've been enjoying Road Tapes #3. The sound is not great, and the band maybe wasn't the tightest at this point, but I love the material and vibe of this show recorded July 1970 in Minneapolis.

    I have several of the other live shows released including Philly '76, Chicago '78, Buffalo, Hammersmith '78, Wazoo Boston, Halloween '77, Imaginary Diseases, Little Dots. I don't find any of them completely satisfying, but there is good music to be found on all of them. If I had to narrow it down I'd go with Wazoo, Imaginary Diseases, and Hammersmith '78 which is unfortunately not currently available.

    The Meat Light, and Crux Of The Biscuit projects are two others I really enjoy.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by flowerking View Post
    4. Road Tapes volume 2 (same band as the Roxy band, with some of the same material but quite a bit more of it, Road Tapes volume 1 and 3 are good too)
    This is NOT the same band as the Roxy band. This was the earlier '73 line-up with Jean-Luc Ponty, Ian Underwood and only one drummer (Ralph Humphrey). The Roxy band had Napoleon Murphy Brock added and a second drummer (Chester Thompson), but you are right that some of the same material was covered.

  8. #8
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    I would like to start with Make A Jazz Noise Here which to my ears sounds simply stupendous.
    Won't argue with the "stupendous" part, but it was not a posthumous release.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Triscuits View Post
    Won't argue with the "stupendous" part, but it was not a posthumous release.
    Well, it's post-cancerous. That doesn't sound nice though (you're right of course).

    Quote Originally Posted by Phlakaton View Post
    Happy you're checking them out - its just silly not to in my opinion...
    Yes, silly, so much I was missing. I think the trauma from Frank's early demise played a role there.
    Actually, a comment you made on Farther Oblivion from Imaginary Diseases spurned me to listen to it for the first time. And what a gem it is...the tango section...the tuba solo...how could such a brilliant piece not find a place in his studio work is a mystery to me.

  10. #10
    Member Phlakaton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    Well, it's post-cancerous. That doesn't sound nice though (you're right of course).



    Yes, silly, so much I was missing. I think the trauma from Frank's early demise played a role there.
    Actually, a comment you made on Farther Oblivion from Imaginary Diseases spurned me to listen to it for the first time. And what a gem it is...the tango section...the tuba solo...how could such a brilliant piece not find a place in his studio work is a mystery to me.
    Oh boy yes... some awesome stuff innit. Gordon's playing is pretty cool too. If you like that one check out the Road Tapes #2 version. Also a great one. Cheers!

  11. #11
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by syncopatico View Post
    This is NOT the same band as the Roxy band. This was the earlier '73 line-up with Jean-Luc Ponty, Ian Underwood and only one drummer (Ralph Humphrey). The Roxy band had Napoleon Murphy Brock added and a second drummer (Chester Thompson), but you are right that some of the same material was covered.
    First rock concert I attended! (not that show, but this band). The were fantabulous.
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  12. #12
    I like Trance Fusion, but I given my screen name, you probably already knew that.

    I don't think I've actually heard the other posthumous releases, really. I'd kinda like to check out the Wazoo era records, and there's one, I guess it's Philly 76, where he had a small band with lots of extended solos, that I gather might be up my alley too.

  13. #13
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    I love Carnegie Hall set, all the Wazoo-era live releaes.

    All the 88 band releases are top notch too.
    However, none of the post 88 tour studio stuff I own does it for me....something was already gone....
    No one plans to take the path that brings you lower

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by flowerking View Post

    Anyway, if you haven't delved into the posthumous Zappa releases yet, here are some recommendations for you:
    1. Imaginary Diseases (first ever live release from the Petite Wazoo band that was the follow-up of the Grand Wazoo band - see #2)
    2. Wazoo (first ever live release of the Grand Wazoo band in all its glory)
    3. Little Dots (another Petite Wazoo release, notable for the entire version of Rollo, which would late be tacked on to the end of the Yellow Snow Suite)
    4. Road Tapes volume 2 (same band as the Roxy band, with some of the same material but quite a bit more of it, Road Tapes volume 1 and 3 are good too)
    5. Roxy by Proxy (different versions of songs that appear on Roxy, plus an early version of Inca Roads and other material)
    6. Chicago 78

    What other posthumous releases would everyone else recommend?
    I'm partial to Buffalo, which has several guitar solos that could have fit on Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar.

    Finer Moments is an album FZ compiled in 1972 mostly of instrumental improvs from between 1969 and 71 (some of which resurfaced on the YCDTOSA series and other archival albums, but a fair amount of which is unique to the release). Although rambling at times, it has some great stuff.

    Although the CD as a whole isn't that exciting, I like the first four tracks of The Crux of the Biscuit which is an unused LP side FZ edited together while working on Apostrophe, with a version of "Apostrophe" nearly twice as long as what he eventually released.

  15. #15
    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    Here's a tasty little morsel from The Lost Episodes that I would surmise has slipped under the radar for the casual FZ fan.
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

  16. #16
    A vote here for Philly '76, which might be my favorite posthumous release (notice that I didn't say "best"). However, it covers much the same ground as Zappa in New York (recorded on same tour) and might not be quite what the OP is looking for. I enjoy the performances on Philly '76 more, though, with the added bonus of having Bianca Odin on vocals (she had quit the band by the time FZ in NY was recorded).

    Wazoo and Imaginary Diseases are essential, since they document a couple of very unique FZ tours and some unreleased material. Finer Moments probably falls into this category, too.

    I love most of the archival releases, actually. Only Little Dots hasn't done that much for me. I feel like Imaginary Diseases is a more enjoyable document from that tour.

  17. #17
    Road Tapes numero 2...wow...what had they been feeding him in Finland, if one considers the equally great You Can't Do That On Stage vol2? First of all, I didn't even know that there was a full concert album with Jean-Luc Ponty on it. It makes for a very different configuration compared to the usual brass-wind domination of most Zappa bands. So yes, that one is definitely essential. Listen to Dupree's Paradise for example: Jean-Luc just kills it, and Frank adds a superb solo on top of it all. The tension reminds me of Hhai, if such a reference is not considered blasphemous...for both artists.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by pb2015 View Post
    I'm partial to Buffalo, which has several guitar solos that could have fit on Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar.
    The guitar solo on Pick Me I'm clean is tremendous.

    Quote Originally Posted by MudShark22 View Post
    I love Carnegie Hall set, all the Wazoo-era live releaes.
    Carnegie would be great if the sound were better. I can barely stand to listen to parts of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by syncopatico View Post
    This is NOT the same band as the Roxy band. This was the earlier '73 line-up with Jean-Luc Ponty, Ian Underwood and only one drummer (Ralph Humphrey). The Roxy band had Napoleon Murphy Brock added and a second drummer (Chester Thompson), but you are right that some of the same material was covered.
    Yeah, my mistake. Its the band preceding the Roxy band. Thanks for catching that.

  19. #19
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    Re: Carnegie
    Given my proclivity for ROIOs, the sound on Carnegie doesn't really bother me. Its my fave era FZ.
    No one plans to take the path that brings you lower

  20. #20
    Member Phlakaton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    Road Tapes numero 2...wow...what had they been feeding him in Finland, if one considers the equally great You Can't Do That On Stage vol2? First of all, I didn't even know that there was a full concert album with Jean-Luc Ponty on it. It makes for a very different configuration compared to the usual brass-wind domination of most Zappa bands. So yes, that one is definitely essential. Listen to Dupree's Paradise for example: Jean-Luc just kills it, and Frank adds a superb solo on top of it all. The tension reminds me of Hhai, if such a reference is not considered blasphemous...for both artists.
    This is my favorite band - I love the looser style - slower approach - just more fun perhaps? Jean Luc is always nice especially controlled more by Frank - except that volcanic solo! lol

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by profusion View Post
    A vote here for Philly '76, which might be my favorite posthumous release (notice that I didn't say "best"). However, it covers much the same ground as Zappa in New York (recorded on same tour) and might not be quite what the OP is looking for. I enjoy the performances on Philly '76 more, though, with the added bonus of having Bianca Odin on vocals (she had quit the band by the time FZ in NY was recorded).

    Wazoo and Imaginary Diseases are essential, since they document a couple of very unique FZ tours and some unreleased material. Finer Moments probably falls into this category, too.

    I love most of the archival releases, actually. Only Little Dots hasn't done that much for me. I feel like Imaginary Diseases is a more enjoyable document from that tour.
    I agree completely with your choice, Philly 76 has become one of my favourite shows, Odin gave the band a soul flavour that continued Duke's and Brook's marks. Otherwise I was disappointed by most of the records. Zappa was the only one who knew what was on the tapes in the vault and I consider the YCDTODA series as his testament. I like the way he combined different tracks put solos that he considered good on other rhythm tracks etc. From the releases I know I prefer the complete concert releases to the compilations unless it was unique material as the Petit Wazoo. Also I don't like most of the artwork.
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  22. #22
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    This isn't the best place to ask this but there are so many old Zappa threads - I thought I'd ask on the newest.

    I know about Zappa's autobiography (read a little of it), and back in the day Expose magazine ran a GREAT article about someones experiences listening to many Zappa albums when he was younger, but is there a book that's sort of a guide to all (or most of) Zappa's albums? Not just a list since that's east to find, but something that describes the albums and maybe gives some background and info for each? Or something online?

    I need that!

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    This isn't the best place to ask this but there are so many old Zappa threads - I thought I'd ask on the newest.

    I know about Zappa's autobiography (read a little of it), and back in the day Expose magazine ran a GREAT article about someones experiences listening to many Zappa albums when he was younger, but is there a book that's sort of a guide to all (or most of) Zappa's albums? Not just a list since that's east to find, but something that describes the albums and maybe gives some background and info for each? Or something online?

    I need that!
    Is there ever!

    http://www.newstarbooks.com/book.php?book_id=1554201462

    800 pages enough for ya??
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  24. #24
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mascodagama View Post
    Is there ever!

    http://www.newstarbooks.com/book.php?book_id=1554201462

    800 pages enough for ya??
    I'm halfway through it now and it is extremely thorough!
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    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  25. #25
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    Hi Folks!

    That book looks to be VERY interesting! I have my share of Zappa cd's in my collection, absolutely enjoy the 15-20 releases that I have, but interestingly, I'm not so sure I feel the NEED to dive further in. Nothing personal Mr. Zappa! Passage of time continues to reshape my interests... though!

    Carry On
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