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ZAPPADAN

BBP - 4-12-2009 at 18:19

This was an idea that I came up with last year, but a little too late:
During Zappadan (Dec 4 to Dec 21), I'll aim to listen to every Zappa album in my collection in chronological order, and review every single one of them!
One other reason I've decided to do this, is because Frank doesn't get as much listening time as I want to, with my rounds making me very tired and with my Curry-addiction that is even causing me to read fanfics (shivers).

For these reviews I will use abbreviations.

Starting today, Dec 4, I've listened to Freak Out! and Absolutely Free. I also plan to listen to WOIIFTM later this evening.

Freak Out! (1966, Ryko 1995 CD)
While listening to this album, I can't help but feel that I should have the original vinyl versions. Both Freak Out! and Absolutely Free sound muffled.

Even though FO is a relatively early addition to my collection, I never played it as thoroughly as most albums in that phase of my fandom. The muffled sound may be one of the reasons. I also noticed that on several tracks the percussion sounds too sharp, causing them to over-ride the rest of the music.
Before I bought any of the early Mothers albums, I bought a compilation album in the series El Major Musico. It had a handful of tracks from the three early Mothers albums. The tracks I knew before FO, were: Hungry Freaks, Daddy; Who Are The Brain Police?; You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here; and It Can't Happen Here. The compilers were slightly careful with upsetting newbies and therefore cut some of the harsher music sections out, such as the "I Think I'm Gonna Die" in WATBP.

Brain Police does indeed sound like a bad dream... a creepy voice repeating a phrase monotously over and over... very eerie. Just how I like it.

I always rather liked ICHH, but after reading it was dedicated to Elvis Presley, I just stopped listening to it. Hearing it again was amazing; especially since I still knew all the lines and could sing along.

One of the album highlights for me is "How Could I Be Such A Fool?" Back in the day I made at least five differently orchestrated MIDI files of it, usually adding a cheeky marimba.
Interestingly, the verse is a sequence: a compositional effect that classical composers use, often at a point where they try to reach a climax in a piece. Hearing a descending sequence used as the main theme is very strange, but very beautiful.
Showstopper in this song is the sorrowful trumpet in the last verse, adding that sad, simple descending melody... :crying:

Another major highlight is Monster Magnet. I like to see these pieces more as a landscape than anything, all things happening at the same time, built upon a structure. The monkey screams really set off well, but the fake orgasm... well...

HIAR is a song which always gets me to think: Hey, Primus! Today was no exception. I checked upon the liner notes to see what Frank was thinking. There is nothing on this song in the liner notes.

Speaking of the linar notes, the tone FZ uses in his song descriptions seem to be more patronizing than funny to me.

BBP - 4-12-2009 at 18:40

Absolutely Free (1967, Ryko 1995 CD)
I played this over the living room speakers rather than over headphones, something I don't plan to do again.

Like with FO, I already knew several tracks: Plastic People, Duke of Prunes (all tracks in one), Call Any Vegetable, Brown Shoes Don't Make It, and America Drinks & Goes Home.

DoP has to be one of my favourite Zappa melodies. It's so beautiful and sweet! Fortunately I did not understand the words at all, it might have affected my appreciation of the sweet sixths.

I noticed that the Holst Jupiter quote comes at the start of Invocation, rather than at the end of CAV.

Batchain - 5-12-2009 at 00:21

Quote:
Originally posted by BBP
Absolutely Free (1967, Ryko 1995 CD)
I played this over the living room speakers rather than over headphones, something I don't plan to do again.

Like with FO, I already knew several tracks: Plastic People, Duke of Prunes (all tracks in one), Call Any Vegetable, Brown Shoes Don't Make It, and America Drinks & Goes Home.

DoP has to be one of my favourite Zappa melodies. It's so beautiful and sweet! Fortunately I did not understand the words at all, it might have affected my appreciation of the sweet sixths.

I noticed that the Holst Jupiter quote comes at the start of Invocation, rather than at the end of CAV.
First, Hi Bonnie! It's been too, too long! :umm:Hell, Bonnie! "DoP" was one of the highlights of Absolutely Free for me because the lyrics had me howling with laughter because of their Absurdist nature despite the fact that I was only 13! (And I knew how to nasty! LOL!) But I never associated it with Holst's "Jupiter" (Holst was of just such minor interest to me that whatever one of the three "Planets" albums I had I gave away to my (late) uncle Terry so that it didn't go to waste on me. Somehow I'd never heard the Holst connection at all, but obviously the blatant connection to Stravinsky's "L'Histoire Du Soldat" couldn't be missed -- it was as obvious as "Petruschka" in "Status Back Baby"!)
I remember way, way back on the now-devastated FZ Forum that several people couldn't bear to listen to "Brown Shoes" because of the pedophilic nature of some of the social commentary. Yes, times have changed and the Media does controls our minds, like it or not. Well, that was and is another hot-button issue that no one was obsessed with in 1967. Not that there were any fewer or more pedophiles in 1967 or 2009 it's just that our perceptions have been changed.
(I can't remember who it was that said that but there was a number of people who agreed and I wondered, "Why hasn't anybody mentioned 'Magdalena' ["Just Another Band From LA"]?")

--Batchain/Sjors/Joris/George :D

MTF - 5-12-2009 at 02:04

Magdalena wasn't just about pedophilia; it was about incest.

And worse: French Canadians... :-*:-*:-*:-*:duh::-*:-*:-*:-*

Batchain - 5-12-2009 at 03:03

Quote:
Originally posted by BBP
This was an idea that I came up with last year, but a little too late:
During Zappadan (Dec 4 to Dec 21), I'll aim to listen to every Zappa album in my collection in chronological order, and review every single one of them!
One other reason I've decided to do this, is because Frank doesn't get as much listening time as I want to, with my rounds making me very tired and with my Curry-addiction that is even causing me to read fanfics (shivers).

For these reviews I will use abbreviations.

Starting today, Dec 4, I've listened to Freak Out! and Absolutely Free. I also plan to listen to WOIIFTM later this evening.

Freak Out! (1966, Ryko 1995 CD)
While listening to this album, I can't help but feel that I should have the original vinyl versions. Both Freak Out! and Absolutely Free sound muffled.

Even though FO is a relatively early addition to my collection, I never played it as thoroughly as most albums in that phase of my fandom. The muffled sound may be one of the reasons. I also noticed that on several tracks the percussion sounds too sharp, causing them to over-ride the rest of the music.
Before I bought any of the early Mothers albums, I bought a compilation album in the series El Major Musico. It had a handful of tracks from the three early Mothers albums. The tracks I knew before FO, were: Hungry Freaks, Daddy; Who Are The Brain Police?; You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here; and It Can't Happen Here. The compilers were slightly careful with upsetting newbies and therefore cut some of the harsher music sections out, such as the "I Think I'm Gonna Die" in WATBP.

Brain Police does indeed sound like a bad dream... a creepy voice repeating a phrase monotously over and over... very eerie. Just how I like it.

I always rather liked ICHH, but after reading it was dedicated to Elvis Presley, I just stopped listening to it. Hearing it again was amazing; especially since I still knew all the lines and could sing along.

One of the album highlights for me is "How Could I Be Such A Fool?" Back in the day I made at least five differently orchestrated MIDI files of it, usually adding a cheeky marimba.
Interestingly, the verse is a sequence: a compositional effect that classical composers use, often at a point where they try to reach a climax in a piece. Hearing a descending sequence used as the main theme is very strange, but very beautiful.
Showstopper in this song is the sorrowful trumpet in the last verse, adding that sad, simple descending melody... :crying:

Another major highlight is Monster Magnet. I like to see these pieces more as a landscape than anything, all things happening at the same time, built upon a structure. The monkey screams really set off well, but the fake orgasm... well...

HIAR is a song which always gets me to think: Hey, Primus! Today was no exception. I checked upon the liner notes to see what Frank was thinking. There is nothing on this song in the liner notes.

Speaking of the linar notes, the tone FZ uses in his song descriptions seem to be more patronizing than funny to me.
Last things first: Frank really does sound condescending in the liner notes of "Freak Out!", at times as if he's sneering at you. I was offended because he wrote that "Wowie Zowie" was intended "...to suck the 12-year-old listener into our camp", and at 13 that was too close not to piss me off from the standpoint that I was a simple-minded "child" -- but I forgave him because I had just turned 13 and that, at least, wasn't 12! Somehow at that age you can still imagine a time chasm between 12 and 13.
Despite feeling I was being talked down to I was sure that if FZ met me in particular he be more impressed by the better brain I was certain I had! (LOL!) Well, the "IQ" and "Aptitude" tests I was given a barrage of always put me up there somehow but my conventional schoolwork consistently showed the output of a mentally challenged child and my general behavior was clearly nothing anyone expected of a reasonably normal kid. So, "therapy time"! (And what a fucking lunatic the "therapist" was!!! It bordered on deranged humor it was so bizarre! But it cleared away a day of school so I wasn't averse to it at all! LOL!)

Well, I'm still trying to get the Primus connection with "Help I'm A Rock" but given the tastes of Les Claypool and Ler LeLonde it wouldn't be any surprise to me if either or both used that as a basis for Primus tunes, maybe some that I missed. (I wanted to see their last tour here but circumstances changed at the last minute and it just wasn't to be. It's doubtful Primus will reconstitute again and I'm of the view that that's all for the better, meaning both performers and listeners. Maybe the same is true for "System Of A Down" and their "sabbatical" which may never end. Maybe they've decided their "Mesmerize" and "Hypnotize" albums were something they never could equal and would rather not just become just another metal band from LA! ;-))
As for "Monster Magnet" I loved the beginning beyond all description even if the farther into it you got the fewer the interesting parts became, but i let it go to the end and had a stereo with a 16 RPM speed on it so I decided that the sped-up part at the end was more fun than the 331/3 normal speed.

It only makes sense now that Zappa noted that it was an "Unfinished Ballet", as indicated in the original liner notes, realizing that, according to him on the four CD "MOFO" ("[the] Making Of Freak Out") all that ever got recorded was the rhythm section and he was out of cash to complete its full recording I don't think he'd have dared to piss off more people at MGM/Verve by including a more detailed explanation than that. I never knew until "MOFO" what, "Unfinished Ballet", actually meant!

As for what sounds like a fucked up compilation release just the idea of cutting out the "I think I'm going to die" mid-section of "Who Are The Brain Police" mangles and castrates it. I'd have felt cheated if I'd bought the album in that compilation release, "El Major Musico", but thinking on it I realize something: The music that sells most today is kept very smooth and free of blunt edges, something that almost equates with what used to be known as "Easy Listening" and it's lyrically stripped-down to what we laughingly call "Emo", but there's a reality to "Emo": It's something whose lyrics were about on a par with High School kids' scribblings on their notebooks of over 15 years ago! These, of course, were not at all like today's electronic kind, these had paper in them and rings holding the paper together and bound by cardboard with some very thin denim-like material tightly bound to the cardboard. Everybody scribbled something going every which way across them and if it was something too personal you might put it on the inside to keep it reasonably private.
The music is humorously like the imaginary music of the future, music you'd hear in sci-fi movies made from about 1960 through 1980 created by electronically filtering noises to give them a "futuristic" weird sound to make it plausibly strange, as if it were music made a century or two beyond the time the movie was made and the time it was imagined that you'd hear it! It's something I find all very funny but still stupid.

Let's hear it for Beyonce, Rihanna, Adam Lambert and Lady Ga-Ga! :pissed:

--Bat/Geo. ;)

P.S. I'd have to say that that trumpet pushed toward the front of the mix during the last verse of "How Could I Be Such A Fool?" will grab anyone on the first listen! Who said FZ never wrote a tear-jerker?! ;-)

Batchain - 5-12-2009 at 03:17

Quote:
Originally posted by MTF
Magdalena wasn't just about pedophilia; it was about incest.

And worse: French Canadians... :-*:-*:-*:-*:duh::-*:-*:-*:-*
Oh no! Pedophilia and incest are objectionable but FRENCH CANADIANS??? Now they're beyond even my point of toleration!!!:devil:

(LOL! Sorry, Frenchies, but I am a New Englander and even though most of you guys are cool even you know about that in-your-face subset of frog-faces! :D )

--Bat (Don't hurt me too bad!:puzzled:)

polydigm - 5-12-2009 at 08:26

Well, Bat, I'm half French so I'm only partly offended. :duh:

BBP - 5-12-2009 at 10:59

Hey! I thought I wrote more in my AF review! I was going on about Frank calling them "oratorios". (Don't trust Wiki on oratorios btw)
An oratorio is a sort of musical and (in a very minor, often non-existent) theatrical setting of church stories, that were being put on in little buildings that were part of the church but not actual church (too progressive, that drama). This genre popped up in the baroque era. Händel is most famous for his.

Either way I listened to WOIIFTM this morning. Wow.
Money is an early Zappa masterpiece, that I fortunately acquired in an early stage of collecting. It was my 5th Zappa album, the first two were compilations. Money got a lot of airtime when I just got it, as a fresh musicology student. It was the most amazing album, from the first time I listened to it, to today.
Money got me into reading Kafka. Of course I had read Metamorphosis and several of his short stories in school, but having to read anything is a good way of destroying passion... I was a good girl and never listened to TCPMOD before I read In The Penal Colony... in German. I missed a lot of the story (such as the ending) but I did get the general idea of the apparatus... eww.

Money is a tantalizing album, encouraging precise listening. I've always listened to it on my headphones, which really gets you into the soundscapes of TCPMOD (my eyes always roll along with the deep sounds at the beginning, that switch from left to right and left channels), and it makes deciphering the Flower Punk conversations a lot easier.
Golly, do I have a lot of soul!

One of my best-loved songs is Mom & Dad. On the whole I don't much like slow songs, but this was a peculiarly nice one. It wasn't until much much later, when I decided to learn to play and sing it, that I realized what the lyrics meant. It sent shivers down my spine. And I get those every time I'm singing it, or when I'm listening to the song.

Several Money songs are also on that compilation I had. These are: Absolutely Free, LMTWTB, TIBS, and Mother People.
Mother People was a strong favourite, even back then, even without the beau-ti-ful orchestra harmony interlude. It has such an interesting build-up, with rapid tempo shifts, and a 7/8 section I simply adored. Playing it on guitar was nearly impossible for me: it's damned hard!

I may tell more later about my experiences, but right now it's time for the groceries!

Batchain - 5-12-2009 at 16:10

Quote:
Originally posted by polydigm
Well, Bat, I'm half French so I'm only partly offended. :duh:
But y'ain't Canadian French! LOL!

(And again I must repeat my disclaimer that went, "Sorry, most of you guys there are cool but...")

--Bat ;-)

BBP - 5-12-2009 at 19:03

We do have one French Canadian here: The_Acadian AKA Badchild.

Earlier I listened to Lumpy Gravy, which is definitely in my top 3 of Zappa records! Every time I've played it, I just manage to stay focused on the work for the entire duration!

I knew Take Your Clothes Off for a long time. Gruppo Sportivo used it as an intro to their song Superman. Gruppo was possibly the first band I saw live as a wee little muppet. I vividly recall hopping through the living room while listening to Superman. Well... you know... kids and sugar... I was 7 or 8, something like that.

Another thing that makes this album extra personal for me:
As a history student, I was involved in a funny play consisting of movie monologues. I had 3 monologues, TWO HUSBANDS and a BED SCENE. Dun dun dun...
Anyway, the guy who I had a bedscene with (I was having a menopause talk while he was snoring) and who I had to propose to later on in the play... HIs name is Chris. He's not tall, a little shorter than me, but I'd never noticed until I stood next to him in my costume (high heels). He had long blonde hair that he was very proud of, a ruggid, cool guy. He had the weirdest laugh that was so incredibly loud that it hurt my ears. Although I did have a bit of a crush on him, I tried never to make him laugh: it pierced your ears!

Anyway, when half a year after I last saw him, I first heard Lumpy Gravy... My god man! Chris had made a time warp and named himself Louie The Turkey! That was HIS laugh on there!

Batchain - 5-12-2009 at 19:37

Quote:
Originally posted by BBP
Hey! I thought I wrote more in my AF review! I was going on about Frank calling them "oratorios". (Don't trust Wiki on oratorios btw)
An oratorio is a sort of musical and (in a very minor, often non-existent) theatrical setting of church stories, that were being put on in little buildings that were part of the church but not actual church (too progressive, that drama). This genre popped up in the baroque era. Händel is most famous for his.

Either way I listened to WOIIFTM this morning. Wow.
Money is an early Zappa masterpiece, that I fortunately acquired in an early stage of collecting. It was my 5th Zappa album, the first two were compilations. Money got a lot of airtime when I just got it, as a fresh musicology student. It was the most amazing album, from the first time I listened to it, to today.
Money got me into reading Kafka. Of course I had read Metamorphosis and several of his short stories in school, but having to read anything is a good way of destroying passion... I was a good girl and never listened to TCPMOD before I read In The Penal Colony... in German. I missed a lot of the story (such as the ending) but I did get the general idea of the apparatus... eww.

Money is a tantalizing album, encouraging precise listening. I've always listened to it on my headphones, which really gets you into the soundscapes of TCPMOD (my eyes always roll along with the deep sounds at the beginning, that switch from left to right and left channels), and it makes deciphering the Flower Punk conversations a lot easier.
Golly, do I have a lot of soul!

One of my best-loved songs is Mom & Dad. On the whole I don't much like slow songs, but this was a peculiarly nice one. It wasn't until much much later, when I decided to learn to play and sing it, that I realized what the lyrics meant. It sent shivers down my spine. And I get those every time I'm singing it, or when I'm listening to the song.

Several Money songs are also on that compilation I had. These are: Absolutely Free, LMTWTB, TIBS, and Mother People.
Mother People was a strong favourite, even back then, even without the beau-ti-ful orchestra harmony interlude. It has such an interesting build-up, with rapid tempo shifts, and a 7/8 section I simply adored. Playing it on guitar was nearly impossible for me: it's damned hard!

I may tell more later about my experiences, but right now it's time for the groceries!
BBP:"Hey! I thought I wrote more in my AF review! I was going on about Frank calling them "oratorios". (Don't trust Wiki on oratorios btw)" Bonny, just don't trust "Wiki" for anything! When they fuck up they seriously fuck up and include "facts" that are just dead-wrong! Just wrong! I absolutely detest the stature that thing's been given! :pissed:
BBP: "Money got a lot of airtime when I just got it, as a fresh musicology student." Thinking, "WOIIFTM" and "airtime" here in the US sounds ridiculous. Only a few college stations would be allowed to play it and only rarely up until the early 1980s when all of those stations had been regimented by the schools to teach proper formatting which meant, "Don't bring any of your own stuff in and don't feel free just to pick through the libraries already here, we have Recording Industry Executives who will take you to lunch in an instructive capacity for the betterment of your learning and, if you prove yourself worthy, likely will have positions to offer you when you graduate. Besides, they have become patrons of this school."(That is, they kicked in money to the colleges with specific expectations regarding what went out over the airwaves given that the fact that the schools were in a highly populated area.) That's why "Only Money" and "airtime" sound incompatible with each other over here!

Of course I was a "bad boy" and listened through "Chrome Plated Megaphone" without having read any Franz Kafka at all until two years later when some slapped-together anthology turned up in one of those bunches of paperback books my dad was always bringing home. I had no idea when I got "Only Money" that I'd ever see, "In The Penal Colony", ever, anywhere but there it was, two years later and I shut myself off in the back room to read it.
Yeah! The idea of that "punishment machine" as described by Kafka creeped me out more than FZ's mention of how "your crime" would be "carved on your back" sounded uniquely horrifying at the end of the "instructions" for listening to "Chrome Plated Megaphone".
Now, add to this the local news story that appeared approximately a year, possibly later, about someone who had been found murdered [After I'd heard FZ's "Only Money", after I'd read Kafka's "Penal Colony".] near Harvard Square, Cambridge and the words "nigger lover" were carved on his back! Small wonder I remember that news story so clearly!!!

It's been said repeatedly that the names "FRANK ZAPPA" and "FRANZ KAFKA" seemed to share a strange kinship in that they both had the same number of letters and syllables in them did have a strange starkness about them and I wondered at age 13 if they had some undefinable tie-in with each other. They didn't but anyone's imagination would immediately to try to connect them!

--Bat-Geo.

BBP - 6-12-2009 at 15:05

Earlier today I played the Ryko CD of Cruisin' With Ruben and the Jets.
This CD represents one of the biggest mistakes Zappa made musically: re-recording the drums.
But was it the re-recording of the drums that made me switch it off with two tracks to go?

I think some elements of the records make this one difficult to listen to: the sound of it, with the overly loud vocals and the soft background music, the off-key singing, but primarily a bad mix and possibly bad equalizing (high tones too loud). Not to mention the fact that it's all doo-wop. Enough already!

I was particularly offended at How Could I Be Such A Fool?, to which horrible melisms (more notes on one syllable) were added. Melisms are only nice if the person outing them is actually able to sing. It really destroyed the pretty woefulness of the Freak Out! rendition.

MTF - 7-12-2009 at 08:45

I pretty much agree with your assessment of Ruben. The re-recorded drums destroyed any chance that people would think it was an album of genuine 50s doo wop. The guitar solo on "Stuff Up The Cracks" was supposed to do that (they didn't have Wah-Wah pedals in the 50s).

The only re-recorded part that I really like is the double bass on "Cheap Thrills." I've never found out who did it, but i suspect it was Patrick O'Hearn. Anybody know?

BBP - 7-12-2009 at 13:11

Sorry, I don't.

As it was St Nicholas on the 5th and my friend dropped by on the 6th, I have some serious catching up to do: which was easy enough this morning! I played two of Zappa's finest!

Hot Rats (Ryko 1995 CD)
One of my later acquisitions, that consequently (and totally undeserved) gets way too little play-time. I did know Little Umbrellas thanks to the Larry LaLonde Zappa Picks.
Starting off with one of the sweetest Zappa melodies: Peaches. Adorable anywhere! My favourite version is that of the Ensemble Modern, which is very friendly to the ears and has a nice quick tempo.
I only knew Willie through YCDTOSA vol 4 (which is a fantastic rendition in its own right), but that violin from Sugarcane Harris just gets to me every time. And that rocking theme... oh baby...

Somehow I never cared much for the main theme of Son Of Mr Green Genes. But as the song progresses and the solos start, and the music becomes this odd mix of jazz, blues and rock... that's when I understand why so many people rate this as one of the best Zappa albums. Maybe it is, but I have too many favourites.

BBP - 7-12-2009 at 13:22

Burnt Weenie Sandwich (Ryko 1995 CD)

One of my first Zappa albums (I believe my order was Son Of Cheep Thrills, Have I Offended Someone, Ship, Apostrophe, Francesco, Burnt Weenie). I gave this one a LOT of play-time! Surely it was very short compared to the price I paid, but as I sat behind my desk drawing, listening to that gorgeous violin solo... I knew Zappa was to stay.
Before BWS I already knew WPLJ, as it's the first track on Son Of Cheep Thrills. I had that for a few months before my second purchase, and it kicks off with the same song. It's very odd if you're so used to one compilation... you just expect to hear 20 Small Cigars afterwards.
I adore WPLJ! It's a very cheerful 12-bar blues that is encouraging to sing along.
The album continues with the gentle notes in Igor's Boogie and Holiday In Berlin, right up to the beautiful Aybe Sea (oh did it take me long to get that joke!)

Little House is one of my favourite Zappa tracks ever. Before Zappa I never really could listen to anything longer than five minutes. But often I'd just pull out Weenie and play Little House... sometimes even in the middle of the night if somehow I had another Britney Spears medley playing in my head (that's why I really hate her: when you finally get one song of hers out of your head, another one rolls in, thus robbing me of my sleep. The only solution was to crawl out of bed and play some music)
After the strange, unnerving piano intro by Ian, the album progresses with another cheerful little tune... and then... the glorious Sugarcane Harris solo...

All closed with the wonderful arm-link song Valarie, with Zappa at the end, professionally dealing with the drunk concert asshole, when he says almost sweetly: "You'll hurt your throat, stop it!"

polydigm - 7-12-2009 at 21:06

That "strange, unnerving piano intro by Ian" is my favourite piano piece of all time.

BBP - 7-12-2009 at 21:49

Just discovered that Weasels Ripped My Flesh (1995 Ryko) is not the best thing to listen to when you have a headache.
Although it may seem chaotic at times (first and last track), Weasels has quite a few BB faves: the violin intro in DFMHTY, TotSF, tEDMB, DNPM&DN, MGWTKYM, ON, and TOCLT. On this albut the sound also seemed a little harsh to me, particularly on the first track, but hearing Toads just put a smile on my face. It's one frequently overlooked, but mighty sweet Zappa theme. And the alto gets to clear his bronchies.

Memorial Barbecue also managed to slip by my attention many times, but when I heard the ominous melody with the manical laughter a few minutes in... wow.

Off to bed now... maybe with some aspirin.

Calvin - 8-12-2009 at 00:09

I didn't have an appreciation for EDMB until TBBYNHIYL.

BBP - 8-12-2009 at 08:58

Chunga's Revenge (1970, Zappa Records 1990 CD)
The first Flo & Eddie album, and according to some the best. I definitely enjoyed listening to this one: a late addition in my collection, but Twenty Small Cigars was on Son Of Cheep Thrills. I also knew (and totally adored) Tell Me You Love Me off TTR, and Sharleena of YCDTOSA vol 4.

Chunga has quite a few great moments: the drums, piano and vocal drums (Wow, George!) on N&MM, the let-down-your-hair at TMYLM, the amazing solo off Chunga... Chunga is another theme I don't really appreciate, it's too... whiney, kinda like the vocals of the Beatles. But the bass line is beautiful and the soloing is cream.

I very much appreciate the sound quality of the CD, it's the best I've encountered in Zappadan so far.

BBP - 8-12-2009 at 11:27

It's occurred to me I skipped 200 Motels AND Uncle Meat: they're double albums and therefore I put them in a different section of my music collection.

Either way:
MOTHERS - Fillmore East, June 1971 (vinyl)
I didn't know you were so obviously pregnant...
I often played my three favourite tracks (HT, PER and TBTF) on my CD.
Recently I bought the vinyl version, just because of Willie the Pimp pt 1.

Why was it dropped? It sounds so wonderfully laid back.

FE brings an encore presentation of a large number of tracks for such an early Zappa album: Little House, Willie the Pimp, and Peaches are all songs that were published before (and Happy Together of course).
Happy Together might be my favourite track on it. It's fun, cheerful, and hearing Flo (or Eddie) repeatedly enticing the audience to sing along without success is very entertaining.
The album has much of a live spirit: this means that listening to it very often is not something many people would do. It's a real concert registration with much entertaining dialog about the mud shark and about the selective groupie. But those jokes just will not remain funny forever, skipping it may be the best way of dealing with them.

Little House, Willie The Pimp (both) and Peaches all sound worse than the earlier publications. Little House has a nasty sounding organ intro and really misses the Sugar Cane solo. Willie is chaotic and Peaches is slow and very badly sung, making it my least favourite recording of the song.

All this doesn't mean that Fillmore isn't a bad album. It's very enjoyable... just not too often.

BBP - 8-12-2009 at 18:27

Uncle Meat CD:
His mother said he was a serious boy. He liked to pull down the blinds when he helped with the dishes.

Played through all of Uncle Meat today, another relative late addition that due to length never really got that much play-time.

Especially the first disk has much great material: Golden Arches, Industrial Pollution, Dog Breath, Louie Louie on the Royal Albert Hall Organ, Pound for a Brown... In comparison, CD2 has half an hour of Uncle Meat excerpts, which can be a bit much to listen to. It also has Tengo Na Minchia Tanta, which I believe is a much later recording. At least sonically it doesn't tie in with the rest, although it does link to the Italian language course at the end of the first chunk of the excerpts.

A fresh discovery that I have often missed is Project X, a gorgeous little soundscape that sounds so delightfully Zappa...

BBP - 8-12-2009 at 21:23

Just Another Band From LA (1972, Zappa Records CD)
Ethel... we're going... on... va...ca...tion....

One of the cheapest Zappa-records in my collection, and on top of that one that got a lot of play! Before I got it, I knew and adored the rocky Dog Breath thanks to Larry LaLonde's Zappa picks and I played the song many times. I also love Magdalena, but after a while the tempo of it really starts to unnerve me and I end the track.
This time I just played it in full, and... oh baby! It may be live, so tracks like Billy the Mountain and Call Any Vegetable will not have the same repetitive appeal as Dog Breath, but it's still a great listen! With a top sound quality, every note on the album has been enjoyed by yours truly... although the references are occasionally a little obscure for me.

polydigm - 8-12-2009 at 22:05

I have a completely different perspective on the Fillmore album Bonny, because it was the first Zappa album I ever heard all the way through and I'd already heard it many times before I eventually became a full on FZ fan. So it's the Zappa album that's the most deeply embedded in my memory. Hence my dismay when I first got the CD and there was no Willie The Pimp Part 2. I love the Little House on there, that's the arrangement I've transcribed to play, and the Willie The Pimp on there has always been one of my favourite solos.

Batchain - 9-12-2009 at 04:54

Quote:
Originally posted by BBP
Burnt Weenie Sandwich (Ryko 1995 CD)

One of my first Zappa albums (I believe my order was Son Of Cheep Thrills, Have I Offended Someone, Ship, Apostrophe, Francesco, Burnt Weenie). I gave this one a LOT of play-time! Surely it was very short compared to the price I paid, but as I sat behind my desk drawing, listening to that gorgeous violin solo... I knew Zappa was to stay.
Before BWS I already knew WPLJ, as it's the first track on Son Of Cheep Thrills. I had that for a few months before my second purchase, and it kicks off with the same song. It's very odd if you're so used to one compilation... you just expect to hear 20 Small Cigars afterwards.
I adore WPLJ! It's a very cheerful 12-bar blues that is encouraging to sing along.
The album continues with the gentle notes in Igor's Boogie and Holiday In Berlin, right up to the beautiful Aybe Sea (oh did it take me long to get that joke!)

Little House is one of my favourite Zappa tracks ever. Before Zappa I never really could listen to anything longer than five minutes. But often I'd just pull out Weenie and play Little House... sometimes even in the middle of the night if somehow I had another Britney Spears medley playing in my head (that's why I really hate her: when you finally get one song of hers out of your head, another one rolls in, thus robbing me of my sleep. The only solution was to crawl out of bed and play some music)
After the strange, unnerving piano intro by Ian, the album progresses with another cheerful little tune... and then... the glorious Sugarcane Harris solo...

All closed with the wonderful arm-link song Valarie, with Zappa at the end, professionally dealing with the drunk concert asshole, when he says almost sweetly: "You'll hurt your throat, stop it!"
One thing every devout FZ listener deserves to hear is the original vinyl LP version of "Little Umbrellas" because it entirely lacks that "chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp" overdubbed keyboard found on every other version of it. My crappy vinyl is still just within the still listenable zone of recordings and that fucking keyboard goes a long way to distracting your away from the instrumental subtleties of the original. I really hate hearing that thing "chomping" its way through "Little Umbrellas" and wonder to this day why it was ever put there, but I'm left to assume it was Frank and wonder why the hell he ever did it.

--Bat

BBP - 9-12-2009 at 10:24

200 Motels (1971, Ryko 2cd)

Kevin Courrier described this release as a gem, with its thorough and well-illustrated 56-page booklet, a poster, 4 radio promo spots and enhanced trailer. And, as it came reasonable early in my collection, I gave it much airtime. That is, only the second CD. I only rarely played the first.
Before I got this copy from my dad, I already knew Daddy, Daddy, Daddy. It was used in a very cheesy Volkswagen Golf commercial.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uw42AcLNL-o

Many people at Zappa.com don't really like 200 Motels, but it's one of my favourite Zappa albums. It's surprising I don't listen to the first CD more: Zappa appeared to have really... like he had what he wanted in a massive orchestra and a fantastic choreographer (Gillian Lynne worked for the Muppet Show and Cats) and famous cast members and a great lead soprano (Phyllis Bryn-Julson, I knew her beforehand because she sang on my first Varèse-album).

With such hard-to-grab music, it's hard to differentiate the songs while listening focused on the music. For instance, I tend to see tracks 9 to 14 on disk two as one continuous track, even if there are words to hang on to. It's a little like Lumpy Gravy.

Highlights for me are the Seduction of a Bored Violinist (creepy), the What Will This Evening canon, of course Magic Fingers and Strictly Genteel, but one particular favourite is A Nun Suit Painted On Some Old Boxes. Just TRY to clap along, I dare you!

BBP - 9-12-2009 at 16:39

Waka/Jawaka (1972, Ryko 1995 CD)
One of Zappa's wheelchair outputs, and a nice cheerful jazz/rock/country one at that! It's surprising to hear Frank turn to the Country spectrum of music without being sarcastic.

One Shot Deal is on Son Of Cheep Thrills and thus was one of the first songs I knew, and particularly because I was a fresh little music listener with little ear for instrumental rock, it was one of the few songs I could really catch.

Interestingly the first track is entitled Big Swifty. It was created around the same time as Greggery Peccary (who works at Big Swifty and Associates, trendmongers), but musically the two have little musical common ground.

Otherwise, nothing genuinely jumps out of Waka/Jawaka. It's a very nice album that is easy to listen to, it has great music, but that's pretty much it: no solos or themes that jump out and yell at you.

BBP - 9-12-2009 at 19:01

The Grand Wazoo (1972, Zappa Records 1990 CD)

The Grand Wazoo is one album I could listen to with completely fresh ears, not knowing any of the songs on it. And I loved it from the start! From the jazzrock of The Grand Wazoo through the link-arm harmony of For Calvin to the funny vocal work on Cleetus.

And then came the most amazing thing. One of the sexiest riffs Zappa ever made, one I hurt my neck on when headbanging to it at the ZPZ VIP concert, one I desperately try to play and fail (did I mention what a great job you did Poly?). Eat That Question is one of those tunes you'd drop everything out of your hands for, proceed to turn to the record player and turn it extra loud, getting carried away by the jerking of the theme. ETQ ROCKS!

Blessed Relief is indeed a nice laid-back jazzy tune, adorable.

Grand Wazoo is one of the albums I'd most likely play to newbies. It's easy to listen to and strong enough to remember well!

polydigm - 9-12-2009 at 21:37

Quote:
Originally posted by BBP: ... did I mention what a great job you did Poly? [on] Eat That Question
You're too kind, it's still a bit rough. What I'm aiming at doing is taking the odd snapshot as I go along hoping to notice that I'm making progress. I've been playing it every day since I got it and it's coming up to the end of the fourth week now and I aim to keep that up.

BBP - 10-12-2009 at 11:08

Well Poly, on ETQ I just have problems squeezing in all the notes at the nasty little triplets (I'd look up the proper name, I'll get back on it). You do play them all.

Yesterday evening it was time for:
Over-nite Sensation
Yes, that delightful album of which I always fold the cover booklet in such a way that the section of the volume knob is showing. I love that. It's so abstract!

Before I got this album, I already knew Montana off YCDTOSA vol 4, which I prefer (the Yippie-Ya-Yo-Ta-Yay sounds so much better!), and Dinah-Moe Humm off YCDTOSA vol 6, but primarily off Have I Offended Someone? I prefer this last version overall. The Ikettes sound so much better at the Gotta Get Into It section!
I also knew Camarillo Brillo thanks to Zappa Picks by Larry LaLonde.

The album is indeed a little classic!
Starting off with the relaxed Camarillo... I love the trumpet lines on it. Some of them sound very similar to the ones on Our House by Madness.
I'm The Slime is a cute little favourite, thanks to the ever-truthfulness of the lyrics and its beautiful deep sound. On this album (and several others from this era, check (') and Zoot), Zappa takes a turn for the low sonority. To me that's a delightful deepness, very moving and sexy. On OS, it's not as clear as on (') though.
Dirty Love is always very fun to listen to! I'll never forget the time they played it on a talkshow to accompany someone who told us all about flirting.
Lancelotti's vocals are definitely not for everyone. I took a lot of time to learn to stomach it, but on Fifty-Fifty it's very much rewarded; with the gorgeous violin solo by Ponty.
Interestingly I have a game with a MIDI-background music that sounds a lot like the low keyboards on the Lancelotti verse of Zomby Woof. I'll see if I can upload it. It's on this PC, so it should be easy.

Dinah-Moe is a great song! It's so nice and cheerful, and it's got the great Ikette section that I'll never tire of. It's a shame it's been played to death by Zappa, simply because the audience loved it. I definitely prefer the HIOS? version of it. Not much difference, but it sounds a little better.

And then there's Montana... I did hear it too much on the first ZPZ concert (three times: at the VIP concert, the intro Roxy vid, and the concert itself), but I'm over that now. I like this type of rock: laid-back, but not a ballad. Not cheesy, but fun. There should be much more like it.
And there is, but that is for the next post!

BBP - 10-12-2009 at 11:20

Apostrophe (') (1974, 1995 Ryko CD)

Ahh, Apostrophe. It was only the second non-comp Zappa album I acquired. I bought it while I was travelling to Utrecht for the rehearsals of the play I was in (with Christian the Louie The Turkey Reincarnation). I had an unfathomable delay the day before (three hours) and back in those days I'd give myself a little present whenever that happened.
I chose ' based on the article on FZ in the Dutch pop music encyclopedia, which said it was an often overlooked, but extremely good album. I also had TRFZB by then and had read that Frank recorded it while little baby Ahmet was in the hospital. And I also had Automatic. I guess I knew where I was heading.

And what an album! Previously, Ship had been nestling itself firmly into my record player, but now... While my other Zappa albums had all taken time to get used to in some respect, I loved Apostrophe instantly. The deepness, the sonority... the great songs...

Cosmik Debris was my favourite song back then. And it still is! The delightful blues/jazz/rock that is so fun and so relaxing, to shouting "Take THAT asshole!" when the tempo picks up.
But I also adored the Snow/Nanook and Alfonzo/Father tandems, and of course StinkFoot which taught me a word I intend to use more often in everyday conversation.
And of course Forz, Remus and the title track... This album is one tingling sensation to listen to!

Apostrophe got a little snowed under as my collection grew, but whenever I listen to it, I just know it: it's one of the best!

BBP - 10-12-2009 at 11:37

Roxy & Elsewhere
God is that a cheap bubble machine
While we're still waiting for the Roxy-DVD to see Brenda (clutching FZ on the cover) in full glory, we still have one of the finest, and probably the best-sounding, live albums. With the classics Penguin, Pygmy, Village, Echidna, That Thing, Cheepnis and Son Of Orange County, there's so much to enjoy!
Not to give Be-bop Tango no credit. It's a hilarious performance of which I'd love to know what it looks like, with terrific music that's delightfully hard to catch, and some of the most quotable Zappa lines. It's one of those tracks of which I'm careful not to over-play them because I don't want it to lose its magic. (much like, say, Private Eye on Dog Fashion Disco's Adultery).

That's not likely to happen to one of my fave Zappa instrumentals: Echidna. I've often played that when in need of a quick Zappa fix before I had to leave.

BBP - 10-12-2009 at 17:17

One Size Fits All (1995 Ryko)
Although OSFA was a relative early addition to my collection, it took me a very long time to get into it. Sure, I loved Inca Roads and Andy was instantly my favourite track, but the other songs were hard on me.

I didn't get into Sofa until I heard ZPZ play it at the Amsterdam concert, when Dweezil was crying. It was so sad, and so sweet. When he wept again at the Brussels show, I just wanted to rush up stage and give him a big hug.

On listening it again, I really got into the album! The great soloing on Inca and Pojama People, the bluesjazzrock of San Berdino and Shoes... and the sweetness of Sofa.
Inca appears like an intricate mosaic of beautiful little melodies, carefully pasted together to build this classic. It's so rich and full of detail...

Apostrophe, Roxy, OSFA, Zoot coming up... today is a great day for Zappadan!

BBP - 10-12-2009 at 19:07

Zoot Allures (1995 Ryko)
A relatively early album in my collection. Prior to hearing it, I knew Gas Station through Zappa Picks By Larry LaLonde.

And I knew Disco Boy. I knew Disco Boy very well.
When I first got Son Of Cheep Thrills, I played it over the headphones while I was solving a jigsaw. After it ended, I thought: "Hey, is it over already?" and played it again. It ended, and I played it for the third time.
I went to bed a few hours later. I tried to recall what I had just been listening to...
I really couldn't. It was all a bit of a blur. So I tried really hard, and suddenly I remembered the yelp "DISCO BOOOO-HOOOY!" I played the record again, this time straight to track 7. And then I played the song again. And a little Zappa fan slowly emerged.

It was the Baby Snakes version of the song, which is nice and up-tempo. The song was also on my second Zappa-album Have I Offended Someone? But I didn't like that version as much as the one on SOCT.

Hearing Disco Boy in context of this album, all the pieces seemed to fit into place. The relaxed tempo and the low sonority is exactly why I have loved this record for so long.

Nothing could prepare me though for the incredible experience when I first heard the album. After Wind Up and another track I didn't pay much attention to back then, came this gorrrgeous bassy tune I didn't yet know. Aside from the screams (prude & bashful BB, thinking they were screams of torture. "Cor, how badly acted," I thought) it was a pure gem, simple, the occasional guitar statement, but above all the laid-back drums, the beautiful simple bass patterns, the piano to fill in just a little void in the darkness, and that deep slow Zappa voice...
I've heard all the other Torture versions, with the extra little high flute melodies after each line. But I think, like writing, music can be the art of leaving out. Torture doesn't need the added tunes, or the Evil Prince jive.
Listening to it today, I think that at some point he used that hideous sound that your fingers make when you rub them against a snare, as actual part of the music. Interesting! Works well too!

Bonny the Prude comes in on more places. It took me months to realize what FZ meant by the lyrics of Ms Pinky. "I've got a girl with a little rubber head"... hmmm...
And after that I spent weeks wondering what position 95 could be. :rolleyes:

Find Her Finer has minorly offensive lyrics to women. I guess FZ was perhaps mildly upset about being ditched by a girl for his intellect when he wrote this... all I have to do is look at my bf to know it's not true. Remember that kids!

Possibly the finest and funkiest intro in the Zappa collection is that of Friendly Little Finger. And it has great soloing too!

Wino Man is another fun track. I like how Frank hums.

And then... the Two, out of the three tracks FZ only wanted Dweezil to play after his (FZ's) demise, two are on Zoot Allures. And I never really noticed either one until this was pointed out, with Black Napkins so cutely and tightly between Gas Station and Torture, and with Zoot right before Disco Boy...
But both have very beautiful lyrical themes, and intricate solo patterns...

Did anyone discover what that one ugly chord in bar 10 was, the one the guy from Guitar World couldn't transcribe?

BBP - 11-12-2009 at 10:30

Bongo Fury (Ryko 1995)
The music was thud-like...

To be honest I don't care much for Beefheart's solo work, but this album is always a lot of fun to listen to!
Another late addition that got way too little air-time. I usually have trouble spotting Advance Romance or Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy: I can sing along but until the verse comes I don't know what it's called.
Both songs are terrific chanters, though. Just like Muffin Man, the beautiful theme and the gorgeous solo, and the intro that always cracks me up. ("Some people like cupcakes better... I, for one, care less for them.") Zappa is quite the actor!

BBP - 11-12-2009 at 14:40

Zappa in New York (1995 Ryko)

Unfortunately my copy of this has suffered much light damage: the cover is discoloured, except for two narrow bars where you'd normally find the CD rack. Shame, because I love the artwork. I like how you can see a cheeky Gail popping up in the mirror with Terry Bozzio and the Punky photo.

NY is another late album, so I already knew Titties & Beer (off HIOS, the same version but the section of the pickle is cut out), Honey Don't You etc (off YCDTOSA 3, which I prefer), Slime, Pound For A Brown, Big Leg Emma, Sofa and Torture.

With all the gold in Titties and Beer (one of the first Zappa-tracks I got hooked to), the sex in Punky's Whips and Illinois Enema Bandit, it's easy to overlook the two instrumental gems Cruisin' For Burgers and I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth. Both are totally gorgeous.

Don Pardo is an amazing addition. I'd never heard of him, but he does a wonderful job on narrating IEB with his delightfully dramatic voice.
More great work comes from Terry Bozzio, whose voice work I always adored on Titties and whose drumming is hair-raising as always. I need to watch his work on Baby Snakes again.

BBP - 11-12-2009 at 16:42

Studio Tan (1991 Zappa Records CD)

As a purchase this one comes somewhere in the middle of my collection. I already had the CD by Ensemble Modern with GP and RMFGALBO on it. I don't recall hearing latter before I first heard Studio Tan. But I do remember how much I loved the EM version of Greggery. Nowadays I think the acting's way too overdone.
Absolutely no Zappa-work at all IMO could possibly top the complicated structure, the humour, the great instrumentals of Greggery Peccary. It's Frank's masterpiece. A thrill to listen to for more than 20 minutes, it is one of the stranger works. It is outstanding in the fact that no other studio recording by Zappa matches this one in length: Little House, Billy The Mountain etc are all at least partly live. Nor does Greggery have any solos. There does not seem to be much improvisation either.

Revised Music is another firm favourite. Although it starts off not too fantastically, the 6/8 section that drops in at around 5 minutes makes me grab my arm with tension. It's so beautiful!

Let Me Take You To The Beach may not be a classic, but it's a very fun song that breaks the longer instrumentals around it.

RDNZL, like Revised Music, may not start off too fantastically. But I love the quirky theme and the piano solo at around 5 minutes.

While ZINY made me a little tired, Studio Tan put me full of energy! I needed that because I had to move all my other Zappa vinyls (Them or Us, Guitar, Sleep Dirt and Sheik Yerbouti) from their dreadful storage places: the spare bedroom which is now filled with DED's tape decks and speaker boxes. Grrr...

polydigm - 11-12-2009 at 16:55

Quote:
Originally posted by BBP: Well Poly, on ETQ I just have problems squeezing in all the notes at the nasty little triplets (I'd look up the proper name, I'll get back on it). You do play them all.
There aren't any triplets, the first fast figure is just four semiquavers on a beat and the second one is four semiquavers followed by 2 semiquavers and a quaver across two beats.

Would you like me to post the melody here?

[Edited on 11-12-09 by polydigm]

BBP - 11-12-2009 at 18:26

No you don't have to... I can hear the notes but my fingers can't keep up with them. Maybe I could play it on keyboard, but not on guitar. Because I can't play with pick, I can't get the speed on that little figure right.

Sleep Dirt (1979 DiscReet vinyl)
I bought the vinyl at the legendary Deventer bookmarket, the largest in Europe. I only went there once; Dad and I spent a full 6 hours there. We were both collectors, but at the end of the day we were just too spiritually tired from browsing all those books.
Fortunately I found Sleep Dirt on the very first stall. It was the only Zappa-related item I found that day. I paid 7 euros.

This vinyl represents two interesting themes.
One is the CD-release of the album, with added vocals. A lot of people disapprove of the new vocals. I, however, don't have the CD, so I can't elaborate on that.
The other is that it's one of the three albums Warner released without Zappa's authorization. This has lead to the not-so-attractive artwork by Gary Panter (I believe Frank only re-used them because of recognizability), to a lack of information on the album cover (only track titles and copyright info).

I've never played Sleep Dirt much either, because of the format. Dad recorded it onto CD for me, but I didn't like the sound of it, so I played that once and gave it away to another Zappa-nut.

I very much enjoyed playing it, it was like listening to a new Zappa album! Highlights for me were the last half of Filthy Habits, the piano intro of Flambay, the beautiful melody of Regyprion Strut, the lovely guitar in Sleep Dirt, and the great guitar solo in Ocean.

BBP - 12-12-2009 at 22:25

Orchestral Favourites (CD-R Poly made me, see below)

I bought OF at a CD fair. It was the only thing I bought there, it was quite a long travel that turned out not to be worth it: my CD was too damaged to play properly. :(

For this reason I never played it until Polydigm was so sweet to burn me a working copy. Thanks Poly!

Orchestral Favourites is a very pleasant listen! Strictly Genteel is magnificent as always. I vow I'll never mix up Pedro's Dowry with Dupree's Paradise again. Bogus Pomp is gorgeous!

My favourite melody Duke of Prunes however, did not turn out that nice. Partly because the 4th note of the melody lasts longer (making the 5th one short) than on the AF version, but also because with this instrumentation it just really doesn't work too well. I much prefer the orchestral version on Mystery Disk, which moved me to tears.

BBP - 13-12-2009 at 18:11

Well, with the Efteling still in my legs, Zappadan will be a bit slow right now...

Sheik Yerbouti (1979 CBS vinyl)
Everybody twist!

Sheik was one of my earlier purchases. I bought it in the summer of 2002 for 10 euros at a record fair. At that, it was also my first Zappa vinyl.
I gave Sheik a lot of playtime! At least I often played the cassette I recorded it on. Side A has the LP sides 1 and 4 (since they're on the same disc), and side B has sides 2 and 3. Because the tape wasn't long enough and I wasn't always quick with flipping the record, the tracks Yo Mama and Dancin' Fool were cut off early. Jewish Princess wasn't on it.

I was OK with missing Jewish Princess: it's on HIOS, so I knew it well. I loved it too!
I also knew Bobby Brown. It was the third track on my sister's Cheep Thrills, that we listened to together on the bus to my mother when she just got it, even before I got SOCT. We had loved the first two tracks (I Could Have Been A Star Now and Catholic Girls), but we didn't like Bobby.
Bobby is also on HIOS. I didn't like that one either, but after months of listening, I was pretty OK with that track. It's also the first track I learnt to play on piano, more or less.

Today may well have been the first time I listened to Sheik properly: that is, start to finish in the right order.
And it was brilliant! I love Sheik to bits, it has a great balance between catchy songs and gorgeous instrumentals. It has re-synchronization, and it has the first 2 of Zappa's Grammy nomination tracks (for Dancin' Fool and Rat Tomago).
Special songs to me will always be Chin and Tiny Lights.
Chin was the first track of the album I really got into. I loved Bozzio's vocals, but also and especially the 7 cute little descending notes you can hear the keyboards play softly in the background (eg after "and I wish I was dead").

At the summer 2002 funfair of Eindhoven, Park Hilaria, there was this magnificent ride named Booster. A type of Ferris wheel, but a simple one. A 50m high pole that turns at 12 RPM. The booths would twist in the same way as on a Ferris wheel, IF the machine would spin slowly. I'd been saving up all my courage for it (and quite some money too!). I really wanted to have Chin in my head while spinning, so that I'd think of the Booster every time I heard it. But somehow, as the arm lifted and I had the most magnificent fiew imaginable - the sky was dark purple, no moon or stars, ahead of me were the grey silhouettes of the Eindhoven office buildings, and below me was a festivity of little lights - all I could think was "City of Tiny Lights..."
Ever since, whenever I hear City, I can just picture being spun around at great speed, feeling my blood rush to my feet, feeling heavy, and watching the ground come at me time after time.
(Afterwards, things didn't go too well for the Booster. In 2007, in Saint-Germain-En-Laie (France), one of the booths broke off in the middle of the ride, killing 2 and injuring 2, and letting the people in the other booth stuck in mid-air for six hours.)

Hearing Yo Mama in full while focused was quite an amazing experience as well. The solo is amazing!
I also very much love the bass solo from Rubber Shirt, Jones Crusher and Broken Hearts Are For Assholes.

[Edited on 13-12-09 by BBP]

BBP - 13-12-2009 at 22:14

Joe's Garage (Ryko 1995 CD)
This girl is praketing richcraft...

Joe's Garage comes early on in the middle of my purchase list. It has a bad aftertaste: the day I bought it, while I was playing it for the first time, my sister phoned me to tell my aunt had passed away.

In spite of that, I played the first CD a lot, particularly Joe's Garage, Catholic Girls, Crew Slut, Fembot, WDIHWIP and Stick It Out. The second, not so much. Although I often played Rosetta on those days when stupid pop music got stuck in my head.

Joe's is a guitar solo lovers heaven, with a lot of beautiful xenochrony. But for one evening it may be a little much. In spite of that, I really enjoyed listening through it again, but I am exhausted.

BBP - 14-12-2009 at 12:33

You Are What You Is (Ryko 1998 CD)
Fish Skin!
The first album to be made in the UMRK. It's the album of which the 1995 CD issue was sounding so badly (and part of the Dumb All Over solo was cut) that there was a 1998 reissue. I initially thought that, because my CD sounded miserably, I had the 1995 version, so I bought a new copy. They're both the same, except that the second one I bought has much more pixellated artwork (and the Ryko CD didn't look too snazzy either).

YAWYI has several songs I could really like. I loved Goblin Girl, which sounds great on HIOS. I like the Oh Lady lines in Society Pages. I knew Dumb All Over from HIOS, it was one of the first Zappa songs I really hooked to. In spite of the 12-bar-blues, which Zappa mastered, I like Suicide Chump a lot. The Conehead vocals really make me laugh. If Only She Woulda and Drafted Again still carry. I loved ThingFish's version of Mudd Club.

Why, Frank? WHY?? I can just imagine a very ill Zappa, nearly on his deathbed, listening with pain as this bad studio version survives the quality check-up, as if he wants to alter it, but is too sick to move a muscle.

One of my problems is that the vocals often drown out the rest of the music. In many songs it's nearly impossible to hear the bass. The cymbals are also overly loud.
The vocals sound overly compressed, they tend to sound too thin, as if the high frequences play much too loud.

Listening to YAWYI hurt my head the first time, and pretty much any subsequent time. At the halfway point I switched to the pixellated CD, hoping it'd be better, after that listening became more bearable. But that might be because the nicest songs are in the second half.

I couldn't help but notice how much Any Downers? sounds like Dirty Love.

[Edited on 14-12-09 by BBP]

BBP - 14-12-2009 at 12:50

Tinsel Town Rebellion (1995 Ryko CD)
Introducing Stevie Vai, with light blue hair!

One of my mid albums. TTR appears to be very unpopular on the Zappa.com forum. This may be understandable, because a third of the tracks was released earlier. It is one that I can always listen to, though. I knew Fine Girl off the Larry comp (not too sure) and this Love Of My Life version is the one that graces SOCT. I also knew the original Brown Shoes, Peaches and I Ain't Got No Heart.

Easy Meat, with the trippy theme and the rocking reprise after the solo, is one of my favourite tracks. Brown Shoes may not be as stellar as the AF version, the "What Would You Do Frankie?" really doesn't work, but it's still a nice listen, a great song, and it has this cute little figure at the end. I also really like Peaches III, it's so weird! I also like the quicker pacing.

Tell Me You Love Me was a track I instantly adored and played many times over. It rawks!!

With Blue Light we have some early Sprechgesang here. It works great in moderate doses!

Unfortunately I have these horrible stackable racks. You could stack them as high as you want, but the problem is that the CD's will get stuck in the frames. On one occasion, four of my Zappa-albums fell out and became scratched. TTR has suffered some real bad damage, particularly Pick Me I'm Clean and Bamboozled By Love. :-(

BBP - 14-12-2009 at 21:20

Shut Up 'N Play Your Guitar (1995 Ryko CD)
-It's gone!
-What, your talent for sucking? Never!


Late addition to my collection, and because of its length and its nearly sole focus of guitar solos, I had a break between the second and third disk.
At the first disk, on Heavy Duty Judy, I was fearing fatigue because of the repetitive rhythm guitar figure, but CD 2 is still better, and CD3 is totally fantastic!
Favourite tracks are: Hog Heaven, Gee I Like Your Pants, Ship Ahoy, Return of the Son of Shut Up & Play Your Guitar, Pinocchio's Furniture, and of course the unique Canard du Jour. The haunting, unusual sounds of the bouzouki and electric guitar, packed in attractive little chocolates by Ponti and Zappa, this track is mesmerizing, tasty and leaves hungry for more.

BBP - 15-12-2009 at 10:11

Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch (1995 Ryko CD)
Sardines in her eyebrows...
This was my first non-compilation Zappa album. It remains one of my favourite 80s albums and has one of my favourite album covers. For over a month I listened to little else besides this album, so it had all the chance in the world to grow into it. Listening to it again feels like a warm bath, or like wearing very comfortable shoes.

Thanks to HIOS, I became a fan of Valley Girl. At the time, I suffered plenty of vals at school: my class had 25 ladies and 5 guys, and most of the guys were assholes. A hen group is not just anoying for the men: it's also disturbing to most ladies. Gosh.
Anyway, being an outcast yet again, I came to develop disgust to the fashionadoes, twerps and tarts that had invaded my classroom. Valley Girl came at the time I needed it the most!
I still love VG. But it's definitely a song you shouldn't listen to too often; the comic value will eventually disappear, and all you have left then is the bass line.
My least favourite track on Ship is I Come From Nowhere. I don't like the vocals.
The rest is pure gem to me... No Not Now did take some time to get used to, but I came to love its silliness. Plus it provides a useful mnemonic for me.
Envelopes 3/4 section always captured be whenever I played it. The same goes for the fetching riff of Teen-age Prostitute.
And then... the title track! It's the shiniest gem of all, Zappa's sprechgesang works very well. The lyrics are entertaining... and that guitar, mimicking the witch laugh so perfectly...

BBP - 15-12-2009 at 10:44

The Man From Utopia (1995 Ryko CD)
Who wants to ride on an ironing board?

One of my last aqcuisitions because of its ill-fame, and also my least-played Zappa-album: today was only the second time I listened to it in full, and on top of that I only played We Are Not Alone maybe two times or so.
Prior to buying, I already knew Cocaine Decisions (YCDTOSA), SEX (HIOS), We Are Not Alone (Selling Hoovers in Mojave by the Rosa Ensemble, Dutch covers of Beefheart songs, has 2 Zappa instrumentals too), Stick Together (YCDTOSA), and Moggio (Ensemble Modern).

What is it about this album that makes it so hard to listen to?
A lot of it is a repeated exercise for Frank:
-Stick Together is not the first union bashing. He did that with considerably more humour in, say, Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink.
-SEX conveys much of the messages from WOIIFTM's Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance. Latter is funnier, but I'll admit I love the sleazy guitar riff of SEX, and it definitely was heartening. I also knew this before the WOIIFTM version of the song.
-The Radio Is Broken is gripping on the B-horror again. Cheepniz was both compositorily and sonically a much better effort. The falsetto vocals are ear piercing.
-Man from Utopia/Mary Lou, another 12-bar blues scheme cover. Most of FZ's efforts in this field sound considerably better.
-Jazz Discharge Party Hats The Meltdown style of singing really gets me nervous, and again Zappa has much more interesting lyrics in the Groupie field.
-Luigi & the Wise Guys, some more doo-wop without satire. I am still busy digesting the equally badly-sounding Ruben CD.

My favourite tracks on it are Sex, Dangerous Kitchen with the jazzy background, and the instrumentals, particularly We Are Not Alone. But they all sound rather bad: the EM Moggio and the Rosa Ensemble's Wij Zijn Niet Alleen are much more polished.

In short, TMFU has literally no attraction, there is no reason why I would ever want to grab it from its little corner in the CD rack. I have a feeling that it will stay back there for a long time now.

Batchain - 15-12-2009 at 14:07

Quote:
Originally posted by polydigm
That "strange, unnerving piano intro by Ian" is my favourite piano piece of all time.
And the attribution, ".....by Ian Underwood", does mean Ian wrote it, not Zappa.

--Bat

Batchain - 15-12-2009 at 14:16

Quote:
Originally posted by BBP
You Are What You Is (Ryko 1998 CD)
Fish Skin!
The first album to be made in the UMRK. It's the album of which the 1995 CD issue was sounding so badly (and part of the Dumb All Over solo was cut) that there was a 1998 reissue. I initially thought that, because my CD sounded miserably, I had the 1995 version, so I bought a new copy. They're both the same, except that the second one I bought has much more pixellated artwork (and the Ryko CD didn't look too snazzy either).

YAWYI has several songs I could really like. I loved Goblin Girl, which sounds great on HIOS. I like the Oh Lady lines in Society Pages. I knew Dumb All Over from HIOS, it was one of the first Zappa songs I really hooked to. In spite of the 12-bar-blues, which Zappa mastered, I like Suicide Chump a lot. The Conehead vocals really make me laugh. If Only She Woulda and Drafted Again still carry. I loved ThingFish's version of Mudd Club.

Why, Frank? WHY?? I can just imagine a very ill Zappa, nearly on his deathbed, listening with pain as this bad studio version survives the quality check-up, as if he wants to alter it, but is too sick to move a muscle.

One of my problems is that the vocals often drown out the rest of the music. In many songs it's nearly impossible to hear the bass. The cymbals are also overly loud.
The vocals sound overly compressed, they tend to sound too thin, as if the high frequences play much too loud.

Listening to YAWYI hurt my head the first time, and pretty much any subsequent time. At the halfway point I switched to the pixellated CD, hoping it'd be better, after that listening became more bearable. But that might be because the nicest songs are in the second half.

I couldn't help but notice how much Any Downers? sounds like Dirty Love.

[Edited on 14-12-09 by BBP]
Bonny, I thought you'd really have a lot to say about, "Theme From The 3rd Movement Of Sinister Footwear."

--Bat

BBP - 15-12-2009 at 17:52

I have a hard time listening to that as soon as the higher instruments come in Bat... Maybe I should get the vinyl someday.
Besides, if anyone is interested in the tracks the Rosa Ensemble made of Lumpy Gravy and We Are Not Alone, let me know, I'll see what I can do!


Baby Snakes (1988 Zappa Records CD)
My utter last true Zappa album: I just couldn't find it. Former Goose member (he's still a member but I haven't heard from him for ages) Vivien_o_Blivion had sent me the album on MP3 about a year earlier, but I never listened to that. I was over the moon when I found it!

Nevertheless I didn't play it much. Although I was very pleased that I could listen to "my" Disco Boy again, Baby Snakes is about the most surplus album Frank made. There is a reason Ben Watson describes it as a "sign of life rather than a full-fletched album". It was released on the same day as TMFU. Aside from audience banter, the quirp at Warner Brothers and a different Disco Boy, there just isn't anything you didn't get elsewhere and in better wrapping.
Nevertheless Baby Snakes is a great listen, compiling only great songs in fine executions.

[Edited on 15-12-09 by BBP]

BBP - 15-12-2009 at 21:24

London Symphony Orchestra vols 1 & 2 (1995 Ryko CD)

This is one of those Zappa releases that convinces me that FZ was possibly the best composer of the late 20th century, with themes and orchestration that definitely remind of Stravinsky and Varèse, but that really has a character of its own. Like Varèse, it is with most compositions (eg the entire first disk) that they're not easy to grab, to hold on to. On the second disk, where Bogus Pomp, Strictly Genteel and Envelopes show up, this is much easier.
Zappa managed to get a true rich and detailed sound using the multitrack recording; the bulk of pre-1990 classical orchestra recordings I have show some dullened, unsharp sound.

BBP - 16-12-2009 at 10:29

The Perfect Stranger (1995 Ryko CD)

Another Zappa orchestral product, containing another Zappa Grammy nomination. The record unfortunately has a striking contrast between the orchestra work and the synclavier work: the sound of the instrument is not always top. This is noticeable on Outside Now, again.

The CD highlights are the Boulez songs, which sound beautifully rich, occasionally abstract but still possessing a body. The Dupree's Paradise recording is amazing!

Not until years after I bought Perfect Stranger (one of my first albums), I learnt about what happened in Guyana, at Jonestown. It was... I'd never felt so awful... sick... The Zappa composition of that name would make a perfect soundtrack to a documentary on the People's Temple... gloomy, cold, distant, awful...

BBP - 16-12-2009 at 10:58

Them Or Us (1984 vinyl)

One of the last articles in my Zappa collection. Consequently I already knew: In France (HIOS), Ya Hozna (SOCT), Sharleena (YCDTOSA vol 3), Sinister Footwear II (SOCT), Stevie's Spanking (YCDTOSA), and Whippin' Post (DHBIM?).
Unfortunately my vinyl has been used frequently by the previous owner, so sometimes a groove is skipped and it crackles a little. Dad circumlocuted this by recording it onto the PC, de-noisify it with our Magix Music Lab, building track separations and burning it onto CD.
I liked to play my CD with sides 3 & 4 of the vinyl, particularly Planet of my Dreams (fan-tas-tic vocals by Bob Harris, very humouristic in a way), Be In My Video, and Whippin' Post.

Frank does a lot more things he already did before. The Closer You Are, for instance, not the best remake of a classic record. But that is soon swept away by In France. Don't get me wrong, I love France. I was even made there. It's a beautiful country with a rich history and culture and a great climate, but you just cannot enough diss the Turkish Toilets. They ought to be outlawed, particularly in the ladies'.
Interestingly, In France is another 12-bar-blues song (12-bar-blues is when you use the first chord in your key in bars 1, 2, 3, 4, then the fourth chord in bars 5 and 6, then back to first in bars 7 and 8, then the fifth in bar 9, fourth in bar 10, and first in 11 and 12. It's a frequently used chord scheme allegedly invented by W.C. Handy. Songs with it include The Man From Utopia, Dong Work For Yuda, Bebop-a-Lula, the Columbia-verse in the Time Warp, Deep Purple's Demon's Eye, and The Doors' Riders on the Storm). It's amazing how Zappa can make it sound interesting with the vocal harmony, fun lyrics and the great guitars.

A fresh discovery and new Zappa highlight for me is Marqueson's Chicken. Why I love it, I'm not sure. But one thing that may have to do with it, is that large sections of it are in the magical time signature 6/8, many songs in that time sound beautiful.

I'll never forget my father's face when he first heard Ya Hozna... giggle. It's definitely an acquired taste, and you have to admire Ryko's balls to put a song like that on an indoctrination sampler like SOCT.

Dweezil's solo in Sharleena and Ahmet's song are the evidence that Frank was as human as Les Claypool and Steve Vai (and possibly countless other greats). Vai let his squiggling son ruin Alien Water Kiss, and Les probably couldn't judge past his daddy's love when he let his little ones draw the rear cover art of Of Whales And Woe, or let them play on the first track on the album. There's a difference between cute and earsore. Let's hope no musician will EVER make that mistake again.

Zappa also showed some lowlights himself, in Truck Driver Divorce (although I could appreciate the nods to No Not Now and Montana) and Baby Take Your Teeth Out (great title though). But tracks like In France, Them or Us, Sinister Footwear, Planet Of My Dreams, Marqueson's Chicken, and Whippin' Post make all my sores disappear.

BBP - 16-12-2009 at 18:15

Thing-Fish (1995 Ryko CD)

One of the later releases in my collection: consequently, I was familiar with almost all the songs. It may have the worst Zappa song in my opinion (He's So Gay), the material may be offensive towards homosexuals and women, it may be hard to listen to, but here's why this album does appear in my favourite list:
-it's great to hear a PROPER version of the YAWYI songs
-interesting that Ike Willis gives a less good version of Torture than Frank did... I guess Frank has the warmer voice.
-Evil Prince, Brown Moses, Crab-Grass Baby and Wistful are brilliant songs

Whether it is fortunate or not, I have trouble understanding the patois. I also have problems listening to Dale's voice.
TF may be a harsh listen - in fact, today I listened it from start to finish for the first time, but it's not a bad album by any means.

BBP - 17-12-2009 at 10:24

As the reviews progress (and I'm beginning to assure myself that nobody really reads these), I find that I have to hurry up by now. I got a slow start on Dec 4th, then Dec 5th was St Nicholas, and my Efteling visit, and yesterday's National Dictation are eating a little time. So I'm mixing with the orders a little, so I don't have to listen to 4 YCDTOSAs in a few days.

Frank Zappa meets the Mothers Of Prevention (1995 Ryko CD)
Late acquisition, I knew We're Turning Again (HIOS), Alien Orifice (Larry), Yo Cats (HIOS) and What's New In Baltimore? (SOCT, DHBIM, YCDTOSA vol 5).

Of the "less popular" Zappa albums, this one ranks high, in spite of its slightly annoying start (I don't Even Care). Many of the synclavier compositions are chuffingly beautiful, sounding sadly outdated, particularly the computerized hand clap.
WTA is a song that took long to get to me. It was the last song on HIOS? that I really got into, the fourteenth. By now I can really appreciate the fake cheese from it.

What's New In Baltimore? is a firm favourite. One beautiful E-minor melody, simple chord notes moving up then down then up to the sky... it's a very sweet tune! I prefer the Humour version because I like the tempo and the sound of the instruments better, but I prefer an "instrumental" chorus over some off-key singing "Heeeeeeey... what's new in Baltimore?"

Yo Cats is an amazing tune, with some fine Ike Willis singing! (Initially I thought that voice belonged to Frank, btw.) It deserves a better execution of the instruments than this.

And then... Porn Wars... a Zappa master collage, confusing and fun! I particularly like how he breaks the comments from the senate with the Thing-Fish section and with Civilization voices, as if they respond to the senators. Not to mention it has Dweezil, and Al Gore must've been elated with his inclusion on the album.

BBP - 17-12-2009 at 11:27

You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore vol 1 (1995 Ryko CD)
I Want A Garden...
My last one in this series, consequently the most expensive one.
YCDTOSA represents a lot of recordings from a lot of different eras. A lot of them will make me think "Oooooh I wish I was there..."

Some of the more noticeable recordings are: the sections from 1979 concert with a diseased band (I Want A Garden), the opening number of the Palermo riot concert, and some fragments of the 1971 Rainbow show. It also has one of the better (as in: it contains that cute figure at a nice volume) Trying To Grow A Chins.

Listening to any of the YCDTOSA from start to finish is not an easy task, it's very tiring. I put a half hour break between the first CD and the second. I'm beginning to wish I thought ahead and split these a little.

BBP - 17-12-2009 at 13:45

Francesco Zappa (1995 Ryko CD)

One of my earliest Zappa albums. And a very cute one. It's been described as a Christmas album, and playing this in the right season while watching delicate early snowflakes floating down carefully onto the unmowed lawn, I can't help but think that said description is accurate.
I still have different visions from it. I can just picture me playing Lemmings, with one of those silly MIDI-files running in the background as you desperately try to save your little green-haired friends from a fiendish trap that will slice them in half.

The music is definitely not complex. As some qualify the Classical era (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven) as "late Baroque", I wonder if this music was perhaps only a vague outline of what the combo was supposed to sound like; quite a few scholars think that scores should have been embellished by the performers as much as possible. As Francesco sounds very simple (I even detect an ascending C-scale in the first piece), it seems that this music was probably not very earnest, maybe used as accompaniment of the earl's steamed pigeon in rosemary sauce.

BBP - 17-12-2009 at 17:13

You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore vol 2 (Ryko 1995 CD)
Send me some fish with the eyes falling out.

One of my earlier acquisitions, though I already knew the Idiot Bastard Son: it's the same version as the one on SOCT. Although it is a great recording, I never listened to it much, but I did have a phase in which I played Satumaa a lot.

The Helsinki concert is a very smooth-to-listen-to record, containing many great songs, the wonderful Satumaa rendition, and stage fun (Ike Willis finger cymbal, Whippin' Post). It's one of the best Frank concerts, with an amazing line-up. I'm amazed at the speed in which Village Of The Sun is performed, and amused at how Montana is started from scratch three times and it sounds fluently every time!

polydigm - 18-12-2009 at 05:31

Don't you mean the George Duke finger cymbal?

I don't like that speeded up Village much. it just isn't meant to be played that fast.

BBP - 18-12-2009 at 11:09

Sorry, you're right... my memory... argh!
I'm, well... not a big fan of Village to be honest, to hear it sped up was a little refreshing!~

Does Humor Belong In Music? (1995 Ryko CD)
I'm about to get sick from watching MTV...

I bought this some time after watching the DVD. It's a late one in my purchase list (I should've kept a list of it, but oh well...), but in spite of that I played it very often. Of course I was also a Dweezil-fangirl at the time. (Yes, that's very embarrassing.) I adored Whippin' Post, Cleveland, Hot Plate Heaven, Cock Sucker's Ball, What's New In Baltimore, and I was glad to hear TTR again.

Several tracks have a guitar solo that doesn't quite fit in, which is a disturbing listen. This happens in Zoot, Penguin, Heaven and Cleveland. I had a tendency of playing Hot Plate Heaven only up to the solo, then skipping to the Cock Sucker's Ball.
The main tracks all sound great though. The band performances on Cleveland and particularly Bobby Martin's singing on Whippin' Post (It's the 6 I tell you! It's in 6/4 with sections in 11/4) are stunning, although the keyboard drums on several tracks are annoying.

BBP - 18-12-2009 at 12:05

You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore vol 3 (1995 Ryko CD)

Along with #2 this was my first in the series. I'd grown fond of Dweezil by then, but his solo is, well... Oh geez. He's 15, I shouldn't be too harsh.

Some favourite moments on this disk are hearing Frank lose his cool and bursting into laughter at Bobby & Greasey. And there's the nice volcano solo in Chana (another 12-bar blues), and the magnificent Hands With A Hammer. The King Kong liner notes are kinda creepy. I'm glad his crash didn't make it to tape, somehow. Other interesting sections are Nig Biz (with choking Ray) and Cocaine Decisions (with riot).

BBP - 18-12-2009 at 13:39

Jazz From Hell

The title track won Frank's only Grammy-by-life award, which he snatched away from under Dweezil's nose.
As I already had the Ensemble Modern execution of a number of these songs, and I knew Night School off SOCT, and the Yellow Shark G-Spot (which I also knew off ZPBLLL), Jazz From Hell sounds sadly out of date indeed. A shame, as many of the tunes, like Beltway Bandits and G-Spot Tornado, are terrific compositions.

BBP - 18-12-2009 at 17:25

You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore vol 4 (1995 Ryko CD)

There are two things that make this record stand out among the rest of the series.
The first is the awesome fivesome My Guitar/Willie/Montana/Brown Moses/Evil Prince. In the case of all these songs, it was the first version I heard, and I loved them all. Guitar rocks, Willie funks, Montana lays back, Brown Moses trips, and the Evil Prince sends shivers down my spine.

The second is the great number of awesome Frank chat moments on disk 2. It has many memorable quotes, like:

"There is no Hell. There's only France."

"And you say to your father: "I'm going to kill you."
And he says: "Not now son, not now.""

""You're fucked?" That's the nicest thing anybody has said to me all day."

"We can tell that he likes pain because he is in this group."

And did I mention the Stevie Vai solo and the original Torture?

BBP - 18-12-2009 at 18:19

My 5th album of the day...

Guitar (1988 vinyl)

The second album made of pretty much exclusively guitar solos. Allof them have snazzy titles.
Unlike SUAPYG, Guitar is a pretty relaxed listen, with possible exception for That Ol' G Minor Thing (irritating rhythm guitar at the end). At least it would have been if my LP wasn't skipping badly on side 3.
The pleasant listen might be because, unlike SUAPYG with quite a few SATLTSADW solos, Guitar varies in its origins.

The skipping is not the only reason why I should really get the CD. The CD has 13 extra tracks.

Top listen of guitar was of course a very beautiful Watermelon. Sniff...

BBP - 19-12-2009 at 15:11

Broadway the Hard Way (1995 Ryko CD)

One of my last, and definitely nowhere near my favourites, this was only the second time I listened to this album in full.
Broadway has a lot of songs in the similar style, with no soloing until Outside Now and only little interesting sections. The first section, up to Bacon Fat (which makes a delightful change), is a little tiring to listen to. Several songs are unusually for Zappa: EARWURMS. "You can take any kind of pain from me..."
Well I can kinda use it right now, as I was exposed to Sheryl Crow at the second-hand store today.
Another reason why I can't get into this album is that many of the songs mock Reagan and the era... I know way too little of this.

After Bacon the music becomes a lot more bearable. Sting is funny, and Outside Now is beautiful as always.

BBP - 19-12-2009 at 17:55

You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore vol 5 (1995 Ryko CD)

This volume has two dedicated disks: one to the early Mothers, comprising of interesting antics like Mozart Ballet and German Lunch. It's also fun to hear Return Of The Hunchback Duke, which was later used in The Little House I Used To Live In.
The second disk is for the 1982 band. It's a nice tight performance they give, the RDNZL and Pound For A Brown are terrific. I can't say I really appreciate the long held sung notes in City Of Tiny Lights. It's one of those performance tricks that works lousy on CD, kinda like listening to Les singing the Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee cat in Tommy The Cat. It gets offkey and is not fun to listen to.

BBP - 19-12-2009 at 22:31

You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore vol 6 (1995 Ryko)

FZ dedicated the first disk of this volume to the sex songs. Could somebody explain to me what is sexy about Muffin Man and wind Up Working In A Gas Station?

The first disk is alas one of those others in my collection that got badly damaged in the fall that I described in my TTR review. It renders 4 songs unlistenable, among them I Have Been In You.

Both disks ave very listenable, picking familiar songs with cheerful pacing, and the odd nicety like Thirteen. Both after each other was a wee bit too much for me though, but I very much enjoyed myself listening back to this. Except for the skipping on the first disk. :umm:

[Edited on 20-12-09 by BBP]

BBP - 20-12-2009 at 15:14

The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life (1995 EU Ryko)

Unfortunately, for copyright reasons, the EU version doesn't have the reggae version of Bolero. Ravel had no wife (he said he was married to music) or children, so he left the rights to his works to his gardener. Except for France (which will come in 2015), his work has only been in public domain since 2008.

In spite of that, there is much to enjoy, although there are no new Zappa compositions on the album. There's a reggae Ring Of Fire, a bizarre Torture Never Stops, fun covers of Purple Haze and Stairway To Heaven, and Cleveland! I could have done without Heavy Duty Judy though, for the same reason as on SUAPYG: the backing is too repetitive.

BBP - 20-12-2009 at 19:04

Ahead Of Their Time (1995 Ryko)
You, you there with the hard-on!

Sonically this is the best Early Mothers Ryko CD. It starts off with the fun-filled play Progress?, which leaves me wishing what on earth the audience was laughing at. It also has the LMTWTB/HYAB/TOCLT/Oh No foursome you can find on the album Make A Jazz Noise Here, which makes sense since they were compiled around the same time. They make a fun comparison between the big band brass of the 1988 band to a recording that was made 20 years earlier, but it's also stunning how these songs from three different albums (with Oh No and Orange County in reverse order on Weasels) combine so well together.

[Edited on 20-12-09 by BBP]

BBP - 20-12-2009 at 20:49

Playground Psychotics (1995 Ryko CD)

This album divides itself into several sections:
-A Day On The Road
-Mothers performances
-Lennon/Oko/Zappa concert
-200 Motels True Story

The Day On The Road gives an interesting insight into the life of a rock-n-roll band.
The Mothers performances give more evidence in Zappa's case (which he also stated in the YCDTOSA series) that the fact that the Mothers line-up made the best music, is a misconception. Most tracks have pretty nasty singing and singers bursting into laughter on stage.

At the Lennon concert, I couldn't help but be happy when the CD ended. Geez! It's been very aptly titled, the release was very welcome by the people who had the Lennon/Ono LP. It takes in a big place in Zappa folklore. But it's an earsore.

A major chunk of disk 2 is a funny performance of Billy The Mountain. I'm not sure what this version adds to the JABFLA Billy.

BBP - 21-12-2009 at 11:41

Make A Jazz Noise Here (1995 Ryko CD)
May you never hear vloerbedekking again...

One of Zappa's 1988 tour albums, well... he had to try and make some money out of that catastrophe... It's the only album on which we can hear him speaking Dutch. It's also an album I played frequently, particularly the LMTWTB to ETQ sequence. The abundance of brass instruments in the band give it a ska-like, cheerful, almost circus-like feel. This works great on the sunnier themes, but on Black Napkins it's a bit of a miss.
Another minor point is one I also complained a lot about on Dweezil's Automatic. The 3rd to 5th note of the Habanera are triplets. The band, and Dweezil, make the 4th note longer than the other two. That way it's easier to play, and it fits the beat, but it takes the sexiness out of the song.

BBP - 21-12-2009 at 16:11

The Yellow Shark (1995 Ryko CD)

An early purchase, I got it at the same time as Freak Out!. Although I don't play it very often, TYS represents some of the most awesome music Frank made. Especially with reading the liner notes, the pictures Frank envisioned with many of these pieces really becomes clear. I also never fail to be chuffed at the top-quality performances, on for instance Ruth Is Sleeping and the Times Beaches. The previously released tracks (such as Dog Breath, Pound For A Brown and G-Spot Tornado) provide a welcoming refresh after some of the album's more melancholical melodies, like Outrage at Valdez. Pieces like Questa Cazzi di Picciona and Welcome To The United States provide a comic relief.

BBP - 21-12-2009 at 21:23

Civilization Phase III (1994 Zappa Records)
Wait a minute! I gotta find a phone booth. Here... ah... now I have it... I change clothes and suddenly I am - GROSS MAN!

It was at the no longer existing CD-store/tattoo shop C2000 that I found this album. Rather expensive at 27 euros, but I knew already it was a rarity, and so I jumped at the opportunity to purchase it.
"Zappa," said the early forties lady behind the counter. "Zappa zappa!" She chuckled.

It took me a week to collect the guts to listen to this album. It was June 5th, 2004, when I finally played the first disk, containing Reagan at Bitburg.
Later that evening, I watched the news and heard Reagan died.

Like Lumpy Gravy, its earlier counterpart with similar structure, it takes a special state of mind to appreciate this album to the fullest. But where Lumpy stretches little over half an hour and plays some nice catchy tunes like Take Your Clothes Off, CP3 offers two hours of complex synclavier constructions, interchanged with strange dialog.
So, how to tackle this listen?

Today I played the album in full for the first time, even though I much appreciated its many merits before. I believe it's Zappa's masterpiece. But it's not ideal for playing in the background as I whip up one of my billed guitarists.

Like with most Zappa albums I played during Zappadan, I spent the full playtime focusing on the music and the accompanying text in the booklet, seated on the floor in front of the stereo, CP3 playing over the headphones, with eyes closed as much as possible. It produced a trance-like state of reading and picturing whatever little dance is put on.

I could picture some better than others. Buffalo Voice, with the female ghost flying around, was easier than Amnerika.

This is not related to my appreciation of the respective compositions. Amnerika is possibly my favourite on this album, with a beautiful melody, and intricate patterns to accompany it. I was also very fond of Dio Fa, the mourning pigs are uncanny! And Beat The Reaper, stretching over 15 minutes, may have a grim aftertaste thinking of Frank's fate, but the yoga, the algae, the aerobics etc are all beautifully acoustic illustrations of said activities.

Civilization Phase 3 is the most magnificent recording I have listened to in the past three weeks of ZAPPADAN. It may have been heavy, but the trance gave it an etheric experience unequalled in any other Zappa album, or in any other album in my record collection.

[Edited on 21-12-09 by BBP]