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Thread: The 80's Zappa re-appraisal thread

  1. #26
    THe only thing I like on You Are What You Is is Dumb All Over. Apart from having a really good guitar solo (at least did in it's LP configuration and when played live, I know ther'es at least one CD edition that has the solo edited out), and the lyrics are spot on and for once don't have that sort of derogatory "I'm better than all the rest of you stupid people" that was common with a lot of his lyrics during the 80's.

  2. #27
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    that sort of derogatory "I'm better than all the rest of you stupid people" that was common with a lot of his lyrics during the 80's.
    I don't agree that Zappa really held himself as superior. I've mentioned this before, but it's worth noting how in performing "Broken Hearts Are for Assholes," as seen in the Baby Snakes movie, Zappa gets into the chant of "You're an asshole! You're an asshole! That's right!" and so on, while pointing at random audience members, until he finally points at himself and concludes "And you're an asshole!"

  3. #28
    Banned Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    I recall an interview where he said something similar to, if not exactly: "Everybody's an asshole until proven otherwise."

  4. #29
    Banned Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    THE DANGEROUS KITCHEN

    Not infrequently referenced around our house.

  5. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Triscuits View Post
    I've mentioned this before, but it's worth noting how in performing "Broken Hearts Are for Assholes," as seen in the Baby Snakes movie, Zappa gets into the chant of "You're an asshole! You're an asshole! That's right!" and so on, while pointing at random audience members, until he finally points at himself and concludes "And you're an asshole!"
    There is a rehearsal tape from the Sheik Yerbouti era where Zappa is angry at the band about various mistakes, then they practice "Dancin' Fool" and he screws up the words and says, "ok, everybody feel free to call me an asshole."

  6. #31
    Progdog ThomasKDye's Avatar
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    The weird thing is the two albums I like the MOST are "You Are What You Is" and "Man From Utopia." I must really be a weirdo even for the weirdos!
    "Arf." -- Frank Zappa, "Beauty Knows No Pain" (live version)

  7. #32
    Member frinspar's Avatar
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    I was exposed to some of his 80s stuff before anything else, so that's what hit first, and it's still sticking. I dig it for the most part.

  8. #33
    I love most of his 80’s stuff up to and not including Does Humor belong in music
    Standouts:
    Thing Fish
    The Man from Utopia
    Ship arriving too late

  9. #34
    Them or Us is one of my favourite, good mix of instrumentals like Sinnister Footwear and "funny" songs like In France, Ship Arriving is good too with the long track on side two. Man From Utopia , great cover and Dangerous Kitchen and the short instrumental with the snork. I like also his synclavier work on Jazz From Hell and of course the two LSO records.
    Last edited by alucard; 3 Weeks Ago at 07:13 AM.
    Dieter Moebius : "Art people like things they don’t understand!"

  10. #35
    The eons are closing
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave (in MA) View Post
    THE DANGEROUS KITCHEN

    Not infrequently referenced around our house.
    :thumbsup
    No one plans to take the path that brings you lower

  11. #36
    Frank's '80s releases are probably underrated, but some of it feels obligatory. His main interests had moved on to orchestral and Synclavier composition, and he toured and released rock albums mostly because that's what kept the money coming in to support what he really wanted to do.

    As several here have noted, his "studio" albums from that period were heavily based on overdubbed live recordings. If I'm not mistaken, YAWYI was his last full studio album until Civilization Phase III (and even that had some material from the "Yellow Shark" concerts, didn't it?).

    The live shows from that period aren't as interesting. He jacked the tempos way up like he was just "rushing through the hits", and then spent lots of time joking around the lyrics with Ike Willis onstage. I believe the grind of touring had gotten to Frank by the '80s, and he was increasingly sick of it.

  12. #37
    Member frinspar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by profusion View Post
    Frank's '80s releases are probably underrated, but some of it feels obligatory. His main interests had moved on to orchestral and Synclavier composition, and he toured and released rock albums mostly because that's what kept the money coming in to support what he really wanted to do.

    As several here have noted, his "studio" albums from that period were heavily based on overdubbed live recordings. If I'm not mistaken, YAWYI was his last full studio album until Civilization Phase III (and even that had some material from the "Yellow Shark" concerts, didn't it?).

    The live shows from that period aren't as interesting. He jacked the tempos way up like he was just "rushing through the hits", and then spent lots of time joking around the lyrics with Ike Willis onstage. I believe the grind of touring had gotten to Frank by the '80s, and he was increasingly sick of it.
    When I bought YCDTOA Vol 2. back then, a friend pointed out that's what he didn't like about it. Songs felt rushed.

  13. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by profusion View Post
    The live shows from that period aren't as interesting. He jacked the tempos way up like he was just "rushing through the hits", and then spent lots of time joking around the lyrics with Ike Willis onstage. I believe the grind of touring had gotten to Frank by the '80s, and he was increasingly sick of it.
    The instrumentals were still pretty cool. And certianly on the 82-84 tours, he was playing fantastic guitar and he had some of his best tones. So I'd say the live shows were still very interesting for those aspects.

  14. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by profusion View Post
    Frank's '80s releases are probably underrated, but some of it feels obligatory. His main interests had moved on to orchestral and Synclavier composition, and he toured and released rock albums mostly because that's what kept the money coming in to support what he really wanted to do.

    As several here have noted, his "studio" albums from that period were heavily based on overdubbed live recordings. If I'm not mistaken, YAWYI was his last full studio album until Civilization Phase III (and even that had some material from the "Yellow Shark" concerts, didn't it?).

    The live shows from that period aren't as interesting. He jacked the tempos way up like he was just "rushing through the hits", and then spent lots of time joking around the lyrics with Ike Willis onstage. I believe the grind of touring had gotten to Frank by the '80s, and he was increasingly sick of it.
    Certainly, some of it feels rushed, but he was into "fastest versions" of things in the 70s too. And Make A Jazz Noise Here doesn't really have much of that at all. The '88 stuff feels particularly polished with a lot of effort put in the arrangements. I think it was a very inspired and passionate tour musically, despite the drama going on.

  15. #40
    Banned Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by profusion View Post
    The live shows from that period aren't as interesting. He jacked the tempos way up like he was just "rushing through the hits", and then spent lots of time joking around the lyrics with Ike Willis onstage..
    I liked the joking around aspect.

  16. #41
    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    I love YAWYI, Utopia, Witch, Guitar, etc.

    My biggest beef with 80's Zappa is Wackerman's electronic kit(s) - I hate the toms especially. The '88 live kit fixed that as he went more acoustic. FZ was killlin' on the guitar in the 80's.
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

  17. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by chalkpie View Post
    I love YAWYI, Utopia, Witch, Guitar, etc.

    My biggest beef with 80's Zappa is Wackerman's electronic kit(s) - I hate the toms especially. The '88 live kit fixed that as he went more acoustic. FZ was killlin' on the guitar in the 80's.
    I think he used the Simmons drums on the 84 tour, on the 81 and 82 tours, I think Chad's kit was mostly acoustic. But yeah, it does get a bit much on some of the 84 shows, particularly when he'd launch into those drum solos, like the one on Does Humor Belong In Music. I wonder if the timbres Chad had programmed into his kit were his own choosing or if it was dictated in any way by Frank (likewise, I'd wonder how much leeway Frank gave the keyboardists on their synth patches).

    By contrast, I thought Bill Bruford's use of the Simmons SDS-7 on the Three Of A Perfect Pair tour was pretty awesome. Course, he had a half acoustic/half electronic kit, with the snare, tom-toms, and bass drum all mirrored in both domains, if you will. That drum solo he does on the Live In Japan at the start of Indiscipline is still one of my favorite drum solos by anyone.

  18. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by profusion View Post

    As several here have noted, his "studio" albums from that period were heavily based on overdubbed live recordings. If I'm not mistaken, YAWYI was his last full studio album until Civilization Phase III (and even that had some material from the "Yellow Shark" concerts, didn't it?).
    YAWYI had a few overdubbed live tracks. He recorded many of his concerts and had the band play new material at the shows, and didn't like to play guitar solos in the studio, so he took a lot of material from the live tapes.

  19. #44
    Banned Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    I thought Bill Bruford's ... drum solo he does on the Live In Japan at the start of Indiscipline is still one of my favorite drum solos by anyone.
    It's great, but does it count as a "drum solo" given the fact that the whole band is playing (including Belew on additional drums)?

  20. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave (in MA) View Post
    It's great, but does it count as a "drum solo" given the fact that the whole band is playing (including Belew on additional drums)?
    Well, ti starts off with him solo, like the first minute or two is him playign solo. But what would you call if not a "drum solo"? If a guitarist takes a solo in the middle of a song, with the rest of the band playing behind him, it's still called a "guitar solo", isn't it? The Indiscipline solo is the same thing, but with drums instead of guitar. See also: Steely Dan's Aja (the song itself, not the entire album)

  21. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    If a guitarist takes a solo in the middle of a song, with the rest of the band playing behind him, it's still called a "guitar solo", isn't it?
    I think technically, it would be called a lead break. It's not solo, but that's what most call it.
    Orange is the new stupid.

  22. #47
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronmac View Post
    I think technically, it would be called a lead break. It's not solo, but that's what most call it.
    True, it's not literally "solo" or alone, but solo is still the correct term. The word has broader meanings than just "unaccompanied." In classical music the featured part in a concerto is called the solo part, even though it is mostly accompanied by the orchestra. The term is also used when only one instrument out of a section plays a part, even though it may be playing together with the rest of the orchestra. So the way "solo" is commonly used in jazz and rock makes perfect sense.

  23. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by ergalthema View Post
    Certainly, some of it feels rushed, but he was into "fastest versions" of things in the 70s too. And Make A Jazz Noise Here doesn't really have much of that at all. The '88 stuff feels particularly polished with a lot of effort put in the arrangements. I think it was a very inspired and passionate tour musically, despite the drama going on.
    I agree with you about '88. Having the "little big band" arrangements seemed to renew Frank's interest in live performance. It's a shame that endeavor didn't last longer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave (in MA) View Post
    I liked the joking around aspect.
    I liked it in small doses. They went way overboard, though.

    I recognize that a lot of what I didn't like about '80s Zappa shows started showing up as early as 1977.

  24. #49
    All-night hippo at diner Tom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    - a massive production of songs which use the current culture and subculture (everything fits: disco, reggae, ska, punk, post punk, heavy metal etc) along with completely obscene and vitriolic lyrics that also draw from the mundane and the current state of affairs
    Fairly or not, this is what defined Zappa in the wider culture. Bad-tempered and vulgar semi-comedic commentary laced with highly eclectic music. If, like me, you were too young to remember Hot Rats and One Size Fits All, then you inevitably grew up thinking of Zappa as a novelty act.

    Anyway, this is to say all my impressions are from 2010-15, not the '80s themselves.

    The synclavier works are formidable. Undeniably impressive, but I fear I seldom listen to them. Zappa's disdain for collaboration shows here -- the pieces are not part of any recognizable canon. They're like lonely icebergs, and it's a real effort to visit them.
    ... “there’s a million ways to learn” (which there are, by the way), but ironically, there’s a million things to eat, I’m just not sure I want to eat them all. -- Jeff Berlin

  25. #50
    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    I listened to YCDOSTA Vol. 4 last night from soup-to-nuts! It's been a WHILE. Loved it - brings back such great memories of first discovering live Zappa, and aside from some of questionable sound choices on the 84 tour, this thing is a gem and so all over the map. Every FZ guitar solo on that set is crazy good. Church Chat - love it!
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

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