Zappa

bcorig

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I was the third person to own a particular copy of Freak Out. A kid in our high school bought it, hated it and gave it to the brother of a friend. He played for us Wowie Zowie ("I don't even care if you shave your legs") and I thought "this is for me!" The brother then said I could have it.

I basically felt that each subsequent album was a little less electrifying and vital than what came before. Once the Mothers were disbanded, I felt like everything was edited to within an inch of its life. His tonal palette began to evaporate with Apostrophe. I got nothing out of the dental floss in Montana. I hated the obviousness of mocking and sneering. OK, fine. I get it. But gimme some music that moves and kills.
I like Zappa and don’t share your views on Overnight Sensation but agree with you about Apostrophe. You make good points, though.
 

Larry F

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I like Zappa and don’t share your views on Overnight Sensation but agree with you about Apostrophe. You make good points, though.
I totally forgot about Overnight Sensation, which is a great record all around. In fact, my band at the time, Straight Arrow, tried playing songs from it, but I don't recall if any of those went beyond the rehearsal room.
 

eclecticsynergy

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I was hooked as soon as Live At The Fillmore came out, and followed as his material got more musically sophisticated.

My favorite period is Grand Wazoo / Over-Nite Sensation / Apostrophe / One Size Fits All.
 

hepular

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the problem with Mr. Zappa is that ultimately, his 'artistic' vision was inhuman.

judging by his compositions and interviews, he lacked sympathy for fundamental human emotions and problems (& wa generally a d**k to most women & most of the musicians who played for him). his 'music' followed suit: to the point that by the end of his life he was composing pieces for computer, in the belief that the realization of music by mere humans was a somewhat pointless pursuit.

but "he referenced such and such great composers or whatever" or "he was a great satirist" nah, way too often he was punching down at easy targets which just helps his audience feel superior. And, most problematically for me, i don't really care who he references, or how many nested tuplets he can (with ever increasing levels of sloppiness) slam into a bar: it just doesn't sound fun to me.
 

thunderbyrd

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the problem with Mr. Zappa is that ultimately, his 'artistic' vision was inhuman.

judging by his compositions and interviews, he lacked sympathy for fundamental human emotions and problems (& wa generally a d**k to most women & most of the musicians who played for him). his 'music' followed suit: to the point that by the end of his life he was composing pieces for computer, in the belief that the realization of music by mere humans was a somewhat pointless pursuit.

but "he referenced such and such great composers or whatever" or "he was a great satirist" nah, way too often he was punching down at easy targets which just helps his audience feel superior. And, most problematically for me, i don't really care who he references, or how many nested tuplets he can (with ever increasing levels of sloppiness) slam into a bar: it just doesn't sound fun to me.

i get what you are saying and i have thought the same sort of things about zappa. however, i have long thought that "Joe's Garage" was something where he's (at least parts of it) expressing something a bit more sincere, an honest sadness at how the music world chews up and spits out.

but i don't think JG is considered a major work.
 

Boreas

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For people who do not like or appreciate his lyrics, Grand Wazoo and other albums from that period really demonstrate his orchestral genius. He isn't trying to say anything - just crafting music. He wasn't all about satire - he did it for the music. It was VERY expensive to get an orchestra into a studio and he lost money in almost every venture, but he did it to get the music out of his head - whether he had an audience for it or not.
 

Cheap Trills

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I've tried to get into Zappa because I know some people love his music, so I assume there must be something there. Just listened to this, maybe I'll try again next year.
 

tanplastic

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I've tried to get into Zappa because I know some people love his music, so I assume there must be something there. Just listened to this, maybe I'll try again next year.
For his orchestral work, try these: (If you listen to nothing else, go to 4:24 of the first piece and hear the power of unison playing and great riff writing)


Keep in mind, these were composed on the bus, entirely out of his head.
 
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Boreas

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I've tried to get into Zappa because I know some people love his music, so I assume there must be something there. Just listened to this, maybe I'll try again next year.

Don't force yourself to like or appreciate it. Not everyone gets the Grateful Dead, jazz, or some "modern" composers. It will come to you or it won't. The Earth keeps turning.
 

421JAM

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i get what you are saying and i have thought the same sort of things about zappa. however, i have long thought that "Joe's Garage" was something where he's (at least parts of it) expressing something a bit more sincere, an honest sadness at how the music world chews up and spits out.

but i don't think JG is considered a major work.

JG is definitely considered a major work in The Zappa catalog. It encapsulates pretty much everything Zappa had to offer.

I listened to it all the way through recently for the first time in a long time. Much of the lyrical content was cringe inducing, but I suppose that is characteristic of much of his work.
 

Texicaster

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Frank suffered from being the smartest guy in the room...by far...in his mind anyways....

No question his musical talents were once in a generation but his song crafting just sophomoric at best.

I was/am a big fan of most of his work through One Size Fits All but the operas were too much for me. I saw him in 1977 and is was one of the best shows I ever saw. Zoot Allures tour.

Interestingly, in 1984 he shared a bill with Jerry Garcia Band! Woulda been cool to see them play together BUT Garcia's roadies got Zappa's roadies high (a cardinal sin to Zappa) and Frank copped an attitude and they didn't share the stage....who knows how that would have come out!
 

Happy Enchilada

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i get what you are saying and i have thought the same sort of things about zappa. however, i have long thought that "Joe's Garage" was something where he's (at least parts of it) expressing something a bit more sincere, an honest sadness at how the music world chews up and spits out.

but i don't think JG is considered a major work.


"Joe's Garage" was indeed a "major work." It addressed, among other things, a future where music and other forms of artistic expression would be censored and regulated by the state. This is happening in China, North Korea, and most recently in Afghanistan - where ALL music is banned, even religious music. And as musicians, we better watch out for this here in the good ol' US of A as well.

"Joe's Garage" functions on many levels - as entertainment, satire, and as a cautionary tale. That's the thing about genius - it is misunderstood by the masses who are content to eat, sleep, rut, and die. He was more concerned with ideas than making trendy dance tunes to serve as background music for teenage mating rituals. And the last thing on his list was being popular with the in crowd, which kept him objective and fresh and kept an edge on his work that stands the test of time.

In a world where the Beach Boys are topping the charts, it's small wonder Zappa wasn't fully appreciated in his own time.
 

Ron R

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I just watched the Roxy show a couple weeks back. And I'm close to finishing The Real Frank Zappa, which is an excellent read and also offers some insight into Frank's motivations (for example, he explains why he often writes "nonsense" lyrics.
 




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