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Thread: The 80's Zappa re-appraisal thread

  1. #76
    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    Never listened to Trance-fusion though. Is it from the same era?
    Trance-Fusion is the only guitar release to have solos from the '88 tour, mixed with several '84 solos and a couple of 70's solos.

    FZ edited some of the solos to crossfade into each other, rather than using all hard edits like Guitar or putting dialogue/sound effects between them as on Shut Up..

  2. #77
    Member StarThrower's Avatar
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    Although I don't listen to Trance-Fusion as much, I have to say that the edited Wild Love solo (Bowling On Charen) is one of the coolest things among all three releases. The other solo I like from that album is After Dinner Smoker.

    I'm sorry Udi couldn't get into Guitar, but for me this set includes some phenomenal playing. On the whole it is an awful big chunk of music to absorb, but there are many gems to behold. And for me, the level of intensity on several performances eclipses anything on Shut Up... as much as I love those records. As FZ stated in an interview when he was asked to compare his 70s and 80s approach to playing, "I used to play just on the brink of feedback, now I go all the way."

  3. #78
    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    ^Agreed 100%.

    It's the '84 band and their overall "sound" (keyboards, Simmons drums, etc) that is not the most "organic" sounding band he ever had, but the solos were still wicked as f***.
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

  4. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by chalkpie View Post
    ^Agreed 100%.

    It's the '84 band and their overall "sound" (keyboards, Simmons drums, etc) that is not the most "organic" sounding band he ever had, but the solos were still wicked as f***.
    The way the album kicks off with that good feeling blues and the roar of the crowd puts me in the mood to listen to some full on, balls out guitar playing for the next 65 minutes.

  5. #80
    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    I could talk about FZs guitar playing for multiple pages worth, but one quick thing: even in this improvisation (from Inca Roads), if somebody transcribed this (yes it was done) and had a full brass/wind/etc ensemble play these lines simultaneously, it would become instant "composition". It's really FZ "writing" melodic and rhythmic lines instantaneously, instead of notating this on manuscript paper. That to me is the genius of his playing.
    Last edited by chalkpie; 1 Week Ago at 10:22 AM.
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

  6. #81
    Quote Originally Posted by StarThrower View Post
    Although I don't listen to Trance-Fusion as much, I have to say that the edited Wild Love solo (Bowling On Charen) is one of the coolest things among all three releases. The other solo I like from that album is After Dinner Smoker.
    I like the title piece a lot. FZ included the Charen solo in a King Biscuit show from the Halloween 77 run where I think it works better than on T-F but either way it's a great solo.

  7. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by pb2015 View Post
    I like the title piece a lot. FZ included the Charen solo in a King Biscuit show from the Halloween 77 run where I think it works better than on T-F but either way it's a great solo.
    Is that solo on the Halloween 77 set?
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

  8. #83
    Quote Originally Posted by chalkpie View Post
    Is that solo on the Halloween 77 set?
    Yes, it's the Wild Love solo from the October 28 early show.

  9. #84
    Member nosebone's Avatar
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    Mixo man!
    no tunes, no dynamics, no nosebone

  10. #85
    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    But still, 2 hours of straight guitar soloing...does anyone sit in one go to listen to the whole thing? .
    I did when I first got them in the late 80's/early 90's. I do now occasionally. Yeah, it might be a bit excessive for some listeners, but I'm not one of those listeners. I also like the 25-45 minute versions of Dark Star and The Other One the Grateful Dead regularly played circa 72-74, as well as a lot of the more extreme of 50's-70's contemporary music, e.g. Stockhausen, Ligeti, Penderecki, Subotnick, etc. When I listen to something like Stockhausen's Mikrophonie pieces, I think "Man, why can't each of tehse be like an hour long?!".

    Then there's Sun Ra, where I prefer things like Side one of The Magic City and side two of Atlantis, or Anthony Braxton's duos with Richard Teitelbaum or the 1978 Koln Creative Music Orchestra (featuring Bob Ostertag on Serge synthesizer) recording.

  11. #86
    Member Guitarplyrjvb's Avatar
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    While I think Zappa is a phenomenal guitarist and composer, I find that the soloing gets boring after a while. Most of it occurs over simple one or two chord vamps. Rhythmically, his odd note groupings (5’s, 7’s etc.) are very inventive and unique. I just never warmed to the solo-based records.

  12. #87
    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarplyrjvb View Post
    While I think Zappa is a phenomenal guitarist and composer, I find that the soloing gets boring after a while. Most of it occurs over simple one or two chord vamps. Rhythmically, his odd note groupings (5’s, 7’s etc.) are very inventive and unique. I just never warmed to the solo-based records.
    The single most common and predictable criticism of Frank's guitar work, 'Oh, he solos over one or two chord vamps". OK, for the umpteenth time, Frank liked to keep the harmonic scheme behind his solos simple so that he would have more melodic options. If he had complicated chord changes, like you hear on be-bop records, that would have fenced him in, in terms of what he could play over the chords. By having just one or two chords, he could play whatever he wanted in terms of choosing from whichever scale. All he had to worry about was that he was in the right key.

  13. #88
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    I have just listened through the whole Trance-Fusion album.
    IMO It doesn't stand up to 'Shut Up'. Far from.

    Most of his 80'ties output sounds like he is standing outside his music looking in.
    But I reckon it is also a taste thing. Many grew up with this.

  14. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    The single most common and predictable criticism of Frank's guitar work, 'Oh, he solos over one or two chord vamps". OK, for the umpteenth time, Frank liked to keep the harmonic scheme behind his solos simple so that he would have more melodic options. If he had complicated chord changes, like you hear on be-bop records, that would have fenced him in, in terms of what he could play over the chords. By having just one or two chords, he could play whatever he wanted in terms of choosing from whichever scale. All he had to worry about was that he was in the right key.
    Right. And he usually came up with catchy vamps and ostinato bass figures that weren't boring. He's playing high volume distorted electric guitar. I don't want to hear Giant Steps.

  15. #90
    Quote Originally Posted by StarThrower View Post
    Right. And he usually came up with catchy vamps and ostinato bass figures that weren't boring.
    Yeah, like on The Deathless Horsie, where the rhythm guitar is playing that motif that implies chord changes (well, it implies too, I think Frank said the first is A minor, I forget what the second chord was, D diminished or something like that).

    I've always found it amazing that Frank's bands could back him on some of those solos, where the rhythms are all over the place. Frank even admitted how difficult it was to find a rhythm section that could follow and intuit where he was going. I remember reading he said Vinnie Colauita was best at being to do that, and he said he had to play differently after Vinnie left the band because his successors weren't quite as good on that front.


    He's playing high volume distorted electric guitar. I don't want to hear Giant Steps.
    More to the point, "soloing over changes" (as the jazz guys like to call it) is one approach to improvisation. Modal improvisation, is another, and what Frank would do (which I think is different from modal improv, because the modal guys would just stick to a single mode, I believe) was yet another. It gets boring if we all say "Well, we have to do what those jazz guys did back in the 40's".

  16. #91
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    Chad and Scott were all over FZ's polyrhythmic playing...not just holding down the backdrop but really reading into what FZ was playing, feeding off his ideas and creating their own musical subtext. The Guitar album is full of this, and so are the many YCDOSTA discs, especially the 1982 Europe band (Stage 5, disc 2). Now having said that, imo nobody was better than Vinnie at complimenting FZ's playing - he even admitted this (as mentioned before). I sort of look at that musical relationship in the way Paul Motian played with Bill Evans, Tony with Miles, Elvin with Trane, etc.
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

  17. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by chalkpie View Post
    I sort of look at that musical relationship in the way Paul Motian played with Bill Evans, Tony with Miles, Elvin with Trane, etc.
    Three of my favorite drummers to listen to along with Joey Baron. Honestly, I can't figure out what the hell Tony Williams is doing most of the time. But I listen to FZ playing melody over some really crazy drum kit playing and I don't know how he does it? Especially with the shifting time. There has to be a steady pulse there somewhere to keep it all together.

  18. #93
    Quote Originally Posted by chalkpie View Post
    Chad and Scott were all over FZ's polyrhythmic playing...not just holding down the backdrop but really reading into what FZ was playing, feeding off his ideas and creating their own musical subtext. The Guitar album is full of this, and so are the many YCDOSTA discs, especially the 1982 Europe band (Stage 5, disc 2). Now having said that, imo nobody was better than Vinnie at complimenting FZ's playing - he even admitted this (as mentioned before).
    In this interview Zappa mentioned Vinnie, but also that he was very happy with Chad and Scott.

    https://www.afka.net/Articles/1983-02_Down_Beat.htm

    BM: You've made some comments recently about how proud you are of your current touring group, especially in terms of their rhythmic support.. .

    FZ: Some yes and some no. And that's generally the way it's been for the last eight years. There's always a few who are right in there. I had a real good ESP/musical relationship with Vinnie Colaiuta, so I thought that playing with him was real good. And by the time the European tour was over, I thought the rhythm section in this band had turned out to be real good.

  19. #94
    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    Yeah, like on The Deathless Horsie, where the rhythm guitar is playing that motif that implies chord changes (well, it implies too, I think Frank said the first is A minor, I forget what the second chord was, D diminished or something like that).
    The rhythm guitar plays the same motif all the way through, while the bass part under it changes every few minutes to imply different modes (if I recall right, B Mixolydian, then A Lydian, then C# Dorian).

  20. #95
    Some other comments from Zappa in this late 80's interview about playing with Vinnie, Chad, Chester Thompson and his other drummers:

    https://www.afka.net/Articles/1989-07_Rhythm.htm

  21. #96
    Member Guitarplyrjvb's Avatar
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    ^^ Great interview. I had never seen it before....

  22. #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarplyrjvb View Post
    ^^ Great interview. I had never seen it before....
    Man, the last section of that was really sad. I've never seen him express such despondency. But the good thing is that musical excellence prevails, and outlives all the rubbish. The last 25 years attests to that.

  23. #98
    re: Vinnie,

    I love the bit that Arthur Barrow tells in his book about how they recorded what ended up being Beat It With Your First on Shut Up N Play Yer Guitar. Apparently, Frank was giving Arthur a lot of grief about not playing what Frank wanted him to play during his solos. That's whyt hey did those shows in 78 or 79, where they had both Arthur and Patrick O'hearn, apparently Patrick just played during the solos.

    So this one night, Frank tells Arthur to just play the root on the Torture Never Stops solo. This really pissed Arthur off and he said "Alright, he wants to be just play A, ok" and just went "Bonk! Bonk! Bonk!" on the open A string. Then he starts playing octaves. Then he started messing with the rhythm, turning the beat around and everything, deliberately trying to Frank and Vinnie off. He said that Vinnie never lost the beat, no matter where Arthur started putting accents in.

    And then he said a few months later, Frank called him into the studio and said "I don't know if you were pissed off or what, but I wanted you to hear this track I'm putting on one of the guitar records I'm putting out", and he played Beat It With Your Fist.

  24. #99
    The version of "Torture Never Stops" from Buffalo was five days before the "Beat It With Your Fist" version, and Barrow plays in a more busy way under Zappa's solo (probably before Zappa told him he was playing too much), so it's an interesting comparison.

  25. #100

    The 80's Zappa re-appraisal thread

    The first couple of min here are superb
    Then its downhill
    https://youtu.be/d4uW5ujGUyk

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