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[*] posted on 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I knew Night School off SOCT, and the Yellow Shark G-Spot (which I also knew off ZPBLLL), Jazz From Hell sounds sadly out of date indeed.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.




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[*] posted on 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?




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[*] posted on 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...




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[*] posted on 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.




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[*] posted on 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.




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[*] posted on 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]




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[*] posted on 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.




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[*] posted on 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]




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[*] posted on 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.




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[*] posted on 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.




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[*] posted on 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.




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[*] posted on 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]




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