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[*] posted on 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.




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[*] posted on 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]




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[*] posted on 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. :-(




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[*] posted on 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.




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[*] posted on 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...




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[*] posted on 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.




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[*] posted on 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




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[*] posted on 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




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[*] posted on 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]




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[*] posted on 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.




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[*] posted on 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...




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[*] posted on 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.




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[*] posted on 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.




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[*] posted on 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.




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[*] posted on 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.




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[*] posted on 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.




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[*] posted on 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!




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[*] posted on 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.




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[*] posted on 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.




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[*] posted on 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).




Check out my site at:http://bonny.ploeg.ws
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