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Thread: Zappa Question

  1. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by ronmac View Post
    I always loved it when they called him "Rocker, Frank Zappa..." I just can see Frank's smirk.
    Well, yeah, Frank's music moved across so many genres, you're best off just calling him "musician Frank Zappa". But I guess media types, the likes of Mike Douglas and whomever have to have something more specific to call what a given performer does who appears on their TV shows and newspaper articles and whatever, and a certain amount of Frank's music did fall in the category of "rock music" (what else would you call I Am The Slime, Valley Girl, or Cosmik Debris?). And that's certainly pretty much how both MGM and Warners marketed Frank, and you always say his records in the rock section at the record store.

    I remember back in the 80's, I guess it was around the time that Jazz From Hell drew a lot of attention to Frank (probably because of the Grammy win), the USA Network featured him on an interview show that they had on at the time. I forget the name of the program, but I ended up recording on video, so I probably have it around here some place still (but it might be on Betamax, so I'll probably never see it again).

    Anyway, among the people who ewre interviewed in this program was music professor Nicholas Slonimsky, who I believe was one of Frank's friends. Slonimsky described Frank's music as being "advanced jazz, there's a little bit of rock music in there, but it's closer to jazz", or words to that effect. I think it's Corey Haim (yes, the kid actor who was in The Goonies and I forget what else) who says Frank's genre is simply "Frank Zappa".

    This reminds me of the time a friend of mine told me she was reorganizing her CD collection, and she asked me where I thought she should put her Residents records. I said, "They go in the Residents section", and she looked at me and said "That doesn't help much". But that's what it is, some people's music is so unique and/or diverse, there's not really a section you can slot them into neatly.
    Last edited by GuitarGeek; 01-15-2019 at 11:29 PM.

  2. #27
    re: NARAS and the Grammy Awards

    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleDrummer View Post
    Continually proving they don't know shit.
    Well, they do when it comes to jazz and classical music.

    And I take back what I said about them possibly not giving out awards for worthwhile music, because as I recall, Pat Metheny's won several in recent years, and people like Steve Roach have gotten nominated recently. So it's not as all bad as some people like to pretend it is.

    However, they did phase out the Best Rock Instrumental category a few years ago. I guess the big labels weren't putting out "instrumental rock" records anymore, or not enough for them to pay attention to it.

  3. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER View Post
    I also have a question regarding Frank Zappa's music...

    Could someone tell me which of his 70s albums were 80% or more instrumental?

    I have
    Hot Rats
    Burnt Weenie
    Weasels
    Wazoo
    Waka Jawaka
    Sleep Dirt
    Definitely check out Grand Wazoo, Studio Tan (not completely instrumental, but very few lyrics overall and none of them are offensive), and Orchestral Favorites. Those are some of my faves.

    Oh, and I absolutely love Sleep Dirt.

  4. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER View Post
    I also have a question regarding Frank Zappa's music...

    Could someone tell me which of his 70s albums were 80% or more instrumental?

    I have
    Hot Rats
    Burnt Weenie
    Weasels
    Wazoo
    Waka Jawaka
    Sleep Dirt
    Uncle Meat. Not Seventies (it came out in mid-1969), and not fusion (there wasn't really such a genre yet). But chock-full of characteristically odd FZ chamber-jazz compositions, great if slightly clunky playing, jazz solos, sonic experiments, a few songs, and more. In some ways, it's the blueprint for all of avant-prog, and it came out before prog had coalesced into anything even resembling a single genre. There's nothing like it.

    Oh, and One Size Fits All. Not instrumental (most of the tunes have vocals), but it comes the closest to what could be described as prog. It also has an R&B influence unusual in prog then and now - partly because half his band at the time were black guys: Napoleon Murphy Brock (vocals, sax, flute), Chester Thompson (drums), and the great George Duke (keyboards, vocals), who somehow managed to perfectly integrate his rootsy hard-bop jazz into Frank's music. I don't remember any of the lyrics being offensive, they're mostly just silly.

  5. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Baribrotzer View Post
    Uncle Meat. Not Seventies (it came out in mid-1969), and not fusion (there wasn't really such a genre yet). But chock-full of characteristically odd FZ chamber-jazz compositions, great if slightly clunky playing, jazz solos, sonic experiments, a few songs, and more. In some ways, it's the blueprint for all of avant-prog, and it came out before prog had coalesced into anything even resembling a single genre. There's nothing like it.

    Oh, and One Size Fits All. Not instrumental (most of the tunes have vocals), but it comes the closest to what could be described as prog. It also has an R&B influence unusual in prog then and now - partly because half his band at the time were black guys: Napoleon Murphy Brock (vocals, sax, flute), Chester Thompson (drums), and the great George Duke (keyboards, vocals), who somehow managed to perfectly integrate his rootsy hard-bop jazz into Frank's music. I don't remember any of the lyrics being offensive, they're mostly just silly.
    Yes! I forgot about those. One Size Fits All is possibly my favorite Zappa record actually, containing both "Inca Roads" as well as "Andy".

  6. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baribrotzer View Post
    One Size Fits All. Not instrumental (most of the tunes have vocals), but it comes the closest to what could be described as prog. It also has an R&B influence unusual in prog then and now - partly because half his band at the time were black guys
    I dont know if you were around back then, but I can tell you from being part of that era that "progressive Rock music" was definitely a multi-cultural phenomenon and plenty of black musicians were involved in the scene in the early 70s. No one I knew back then thought of progressive Rock music as being 'oh those white British dudes music'. Santana, Chicago, Mandrill, Tony Williams and even Funkadelic were considered part of the scene back then. In fact, many of the British musicians in the scene wished they could play like the Jazz guys who started playing Rock back then.
    Why is it whenever someone mentions an artist that was clearly progressive (yet not the Symph weenie definition of Prog) do certain people feel compelled to snort "thats not Prog" like a whiny 5th grader?

  7. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by aith01 View Post
    Yes! I forgot about those. One Size Fits All is possibly my favorite Zappa record actually, containing both "Inca Roads" as well as "Andy".
    Same here. I bet "Andy" has a dozen time signature changes.
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  8. #33
    Member Since: 3/27/2002 MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER's Avatar
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    Sounds like I need to sample One Size Fits All
    Why is it whenever someone mentions an artist that was clearly progressive (yet not the Symph weenie definition of Prog) do certain people feel compelled to snort "thats not Prog" like a whiny 5th grader?

  9. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by ronmac View Post
    Same here. I bet "Andy" has a dozen time signature changes.
    At least!

    That was probably my favorite lineup of the Mothers of Invention, with Ruth, Chester, George, and Napoleon together and firing on all cylinders. There weren't many groups making music like that back then.

  10. #35
    ^ Yeah, I agree. Itís my favourite of his Ďbandí albums. That line up was incredible.

  11. #36
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    Here's the whole thing on YouTube:


  12. #37
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    OK, so here's a question that only major Zappa fans would have a serious opinion on...

    which piece do you like better between these two?
    Transylvania Boogie off Chunga's Revenge
    or
    For Calvin... off Grand Wazoo

    one is a jam and one is totally composed
    Why is it whenever someone mentions an artist that was clearly progressive (yet not the Symph weenie definition of Prog) do certain people feel compelled to snort "thats not Prog" like a whiny 5th grader?

  13. #38
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Transylvania Boogie was a piece performed by the MOI in 1969; its structure is loose, but is is hardly completely Ďa jamí.
    It existed in a recognizable form at least a year earlier and with mostly different musicians than the one on Chungaís!
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  14. #39
    Member Since: 3/27/2002 MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER's Avatar
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    nice factoid Steve!

    and I realize that this is one of the most absurd Zappa questions ever BTW... just looking for opinions since I can't have both on the CD I'm making. I'm leaning toward For Calvin... in order to demo Zappa's composition chops
    Why is it whenever someone mentions an artist that was clearly progressive (yet not the Symph weenie definition of Prog) do certain people feel compelled to snort "thats not Prog" like a whiny 5th grader?

  15. #40
    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    Very different pieces, both great. Apples and cheeseburgers.

  16. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER View Post
    nice factoid Steve!

    and I realize that this is one of the most absurd Zappa questions ever BTW... just looking for opinions since I can't have both on the CD I'm making. I'm leaning toward For Calvin... in order to demo Zappa's composition chops
    Yep, I'd keep leaning in that direction too For Calvin is just awesome through and through. TB is a great solo though...but I prefer the Ahead of their Time version as Steve mentions.

    Matt.

  17. #42
    "Apples and Cheeseburgers" - my favourite Zappa bootleg album
    And the code is a play, a play is a song, a song is a film, a film is a dance...

  18. #43
    For Calvin is so much fun, I cannot listen to it without cracking a smile (particularly the dork-like moogs).
    Transylvania Boogie is rough, threatening and dirty. It grabs you from the throat straightaway.

    I love them both.

  19. #44
    It is a classic
    And the code is a play, a play is a song, a song is a film, a film is a dance...

  20. #45
    Member Since: 3/27/2002 MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troopers For Sound View Post
    Yep, I'd keep leaning in that direction too For Calvin is just awesome through and through. TB is a great solo though...but I prefer the Ahead of their Time version as Steve mentions.

    Matt.
    I haven't heard the Ahead of Their Time version (or album FTM)... it's a posthumous collection I take it?
    Why is it whenever someone mentions an artist that was clearly progressive (yet not the Symph weenie definition of Prog) do certain people feel compelled to snort "thats not Prog" like a whiny 5th grader?

  21. #46
    Member Phlakaton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER View Post
    I haven't heard the Ahead of Their Time version (or album FTM)... it's a posthumous collection I take it?
    It was released in April 93 - before Frank's death in December.

  22. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER View Post
    I haven't heard the Ahead of Their Time version (or album FTM)... it's a posthumous collection I take it?
    It's a really excellent concert from late '68 at the Royal Festival Hall. The first half is a quite amusing play that the mothers perform (I like its shambolic amateurishness), and the second half is an excellent mostly instrumental performance by the band. But the major reason to own it for me is that the music for the play section is an early version of Bogus Pomp - thus containing many themes that would end up in 200 Motels.

  23. #48
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    ^^^^Completely agree. Ahead of Their Time is a great live document of that particular band.

    On a side note, I listened again to Burnt Weeny Sandwich this weekend, which is from the same era. This is such an incredible album, one of my favorites from Zappa catalogue.

    Despite all criticism Zappa had to his early mates, and fully respecting his intent as a composer to have all the notes played correctly, there is something in this particular incarnation of the Mothers that is very compelling to me, especially after the arrival of Ian Underwood (great, great musician. He really shines on Burnt Weeny Sandwich).

    Interestingly enough, I could never really connect to the early Mother’s material as played by the super-musicians of the 1988 band, recorded in the Make a Jazz Noise Here album. I mean, I like the album for what it is, but if I want to listen to this particular material I will never go there first.

  24. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by Conti View Post
    ^^^^Completely agree. Ahead of Their Time is a great live document of that particular band.

    On a side note, I listened again to Burnt Weeny Sandwich this weekend, which is from the same era. This is such an incredible album, one of my favorites from Zappa catalogue.
    I have an original vinyl I bought for three bucks, along with a bunch of other original vinyls, nearly 40 years ago from a friend who needed cash. Haven't listened to it for many years. I might just have to "spin" an online version.
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  25. #50
    Member Since: 3/27/2002 MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER's Avatar
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    I've been on a Zappa binge for a coupla weeks now and my opinion has changed on many of his early albums... some for the worse and some for the better. Burnt Weeny Sandwich is indeed one that has left me with a better opinion than the last time I auditioned these albums 20 years ago.

    most notable is the Prog epic The Little House...

    way ahead of its time, predating the Brit Symph scene
    Why is it whenever someone mentions an artist that was clearly progressive (yet not the Symph weenie definition of Prog) do certain people feel compelled to snort "thats not Prog" like a whiny 5th grader?

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