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OT: Frank Zappa music


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I wrote this in response to someone who asked the question, "where should I start with Frank Zappa music?" and felt obligated to share with you fine people as well:

 

If you want to check out Frank, this would probably be the best way to start and likely the order that would be best to buy the albums:

 

 

 

The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life

 

 

 

88 tour band, the last tour he ever did. It was a 12-piece band, which was one of the biggest Frank ever took out on the road. Players were: Frank (guitar/vocals), Ike Willis (vox/guitar), Walt Fowler (trumpet/flugelhorn), Bruce Fowler (trombone), Paul Carmen (saxes), Albert Wing (saxes), Kurt McGettrick (saxes/bass clarinet), Ed Mann (percussion), Chad Wackerman (drums), Mike Keneally (guitar/keys/vocals/stunt guitar), Scott Thunes (bass), and Robert Martin (keys/vocals). There are two other albums from this tour, Make A Jazz Noise Here and Broadway the Hardway. Both are excellent as well, Make A Jazz Noise Here is primarily instrumentals and Broadway the Hardway is very heavy on the political stuff that Frank wrote a lot of it specifically for that tour. Best Band is a really good offering of classic Zappa tunes executed by a scary-good band, and it has their super-fly version of Stairway to Heaven on it. You have not lived until youre heard Jimmy Pages solo from Stairway played in unison by 5 horn players.

 

 

 

You Cant Do That On Stage Anymore vol. 2

 

 

 

This is probably my personal favorite Zappa band line-up. This is the entire concert from Helsinki, Finland sometime in 1973 I want to say it was February, but I cant recall for sure. Yeah, this was recorded a year before I was even born. :D Band consists of: Frank (guitar/vocals), Napoleon Murphy Brock (sax/flute/vocals/exotic dancing), Chester Thompson (drums yes, this is the same cat who played on the early Weather Report albums), George Duke (keys/vocals), Ruth Underwood (percussion), and Tom Fowler (bass). This recording is what happens when you get really, really good musicians together and take them out on the road for a year and a half. There are a number of songs on this that are smokin fast, most notably Echidnas Arf, Village of the Sun, and Cheepnis they are all very much faster than Frank would normally have the songs performed especially Echidnas, jesus, the end of it is absolutely retarded. Only disappointment on this disc is that they didnt play Florentine Pogen or Andy at this show.

 

 

 

Apostrophe & Overnite Sensation

 

 

 

Two albums, but recorded at basically the same time. Studio offerings, the both of them. They are definitely a good look at the silly side of Franks writing lyrically with complex music going on behind it. These were my first two Zappa albums. There were a number of people that played on this album, I doubt I can remember everyone who played on it because there were a number of people who just played on one or two songs. Notable guest appearances are Jack Bruce (bass) on the song Apostrophe and Tina Turner and the other chicks from the Ike & Tina band singing background vocal bits (although they are not credited in the album because Ike didnt want them to do it; so they did it anyways behind his back). The clavinet break down section in Zomby Woof is to die for, but Im a sucker for a good clavinet every time. So funky.

 

 

 

One Size Fits All

 

 

 

Excellent studio album and maybe one should buy this before Apostrophe and/or Overnite Sensation. The original studio versions of several songs that became Zappa concert staples, including Florentine Pogen, Andy, Inca Roads, and Sofa #1. Band that played on this album is essentially the same as the YCDTOSA vol. 2 band. I love the tack-piano in Evelyn A Modified Dog.

 

 

 

That will get you started. Zappa has so much stuff out there, and the different bands/albums can sound radically different. The really early stuff is definitely the most weird of any of his material. Freak Out, Were Only In It For The Money, Absolutely Free, Just Another Band from LA, Weasels Ripped My Flesh, etc.. are all fairly odd in their own way. Weasels especially really experimental improve stuff that most people will find extremely taxing to listen to.

 

 

 

I have something like 45 Zappa CDs and a few vinyl releases that are out of print now. Yes, I have issues. :) I am a fairly enormous Zappa freak to say the least. I have a number of Zappa songs transcribed too, ones that I have done and ones that I have acquired from other people; and sorry kids, no tab, its all in the form of those little black dots on paper.

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yes , yes!! i loved that era in Franks work- Overnite Sesations, Apostrophe ,One size fits all- Roxy and Elsehwere- absolutely magical!!

Chester drumming, The Fowler Brothers- Ruth Underwood, - the incredible tightness between od George Duke and Ruth Underwood ( Inca Roads ) the pure beauty of Uncle Remus, the man was amazing!!

now i gotta go back and listen again!!

Praise ye the LORD.

....praise him with stringed instruments and organs...

Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.

excerpt from- Psalm 150

visit me at:

www.adriangarcia.net

for His glory

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I was in a band with Napoleon Murphy Brock right before he went with Zappa. When he came back from his first road trip with Zappa he said that while the others in the band were out checking out other music or sight seeing he would have to shed in the hotel room on the saxophone parts he had to play. The tune on the album mentioned above that he sang on was "Village of the Sun".

 

I had great times playing with and hanging with Napoleon back then. Haven't heard of or seen him around in a good while now. Anyone know his current whereabouts?

 

Wally

I have basses to play, places to be and good music to make!
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village of the sun!! great tune!!

he has such a soulful voice

everytime i drive thru palmdale i remember "where the turkey farmers grow" or something like that - its been a while!

Praise ye the LORD.

....praise him with stringed instruments and organs...

Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.

excerpt from- Psalm 150

visit me at:

www.adriangarcia.net

for His glory

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Another approach (one that usually works for me when studying any subject) is to "start at the start"; that is, check out his some of his earliest recordings, then middle periods, etc.

 

The advantage is that you can see how an artist evolved...& while Zappa was a quite accomplished musician before he began recording & his general tendencies remained much the same throughout his career, he did go through several distinct phases of musical interest, presentational style & recording approach.

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"Strictly Commercial" is a great FZ-approved 'best of' compilation that's good for getting your feet wet. Speaking of "you haven't lived until," what about George Duke's funky calliope organ(!?!) solo on "Fifty Fifty" from "Overnite Sensation"? Oh, and if you're going to put out a list of must-have FZ albums, you CANNOT leave off "Sheik Yerbouti."

"I had to have something, and it wasn't there. I couldn't go down the street and buy it, so I built it."

 

Les Paul

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"The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life" and "You Cant Do That...vol 2" are sitting in my oft-listened-to-so-never-shelved-properly pile next to my stereo. Incredible stuff on both of 'em. George Duke's improv at the beginning of "Dupree's Paradise" is something else!!! Incredible and hilarious!

 

I still have a long way to go in my Zappa quest. I have "Make A Jazz Noise Here", which is another great live album from the '88 band. Scott Thunes is indeed an unsung hero on the bass, these live records prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt...how many musicians have an encyclopedic knowledge of 20th century classical music coupled with an authentic go-for-broke punk rocker pedigree? Check out his work with Fear on "Have Another Beer with Fear" that he did afterwards...it's really incredible the range he shows between these two groups.

 

The video "Baby Snakes" is another great one. The band includes Tommy Mars, Terry Bozzio, Patrick O' Hearn on bass, and a very young Adrian Belew (with a full head of hair!! :eek: ) There's some serious playing on this one. While I think Terry Bozzio's solo work is great, I've always loved his ensemble playing a great deal, and he's in the zone on this video.

 

"Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch" is great just for "Valley Girl" alone.

 

"Freak Out" is the bible. So much of what Frank is about can be traced back to this album...

 

I'm still jonesin' for "The Yellow Shark"...maybe I'll take a walk to the record store today...

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Originally posted by Wally Malone:

I was in a band with Napoleon Murphy Brock right before he went with Zappa. When he came back from his first road trip with Zappa he said that while the others in the band were out checking out other music or sight seeing he would have to shed in the hotel room on the saxophone parts he had to play. The tune on the album mentioned above that he sang on was "Village of the Sun".

 

I had great times playing with and hanging with Napoleon back then. Haven't heard of or seen him around in a good while now. Anyone know his current whereabouts?

 

Wally

In October of last year I saw Project Object play and both Napoleon Murphy Brock and Ike Willis were touring with them. It was very cool to see Napoleon actually performing all those songs that I've heard him sing a million times on the albums. I spoke with him briefly during the intermission and he was in good form and seemed to really be enjoying the tour with Project Object. Having both Ike and Napoleon singing was really something to see as well, as they were never in a Zappa band together.
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I saw that '88 band with the 5 piece horn section, and it was indeed unbelieveable. The horns playing the "Stairway" guitar solo was perhaps the most unexpected thing I'd ever hear at a Zappa concert.

 

I played a solo piano rendition of "Peaches En Regalia" at my recital when I was 16 (I started piano at 13). All the other students are playing Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, etc., and then I drop some FZ on a room full of moms and dads. My teacher was a big Zappa fan, so he loved it.

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Originally posted by paostby:

So many great players came from Frank:

 

Terry Bozzio

Vinnie Caliouta

Chad Wackerman

Patrick O'hearn

Steve Vai

etc., etc., and I saw them all since 1974.

The list goes on...

Jean-Luc Ponty

George Duke

Tom and Bruce Fowler

Adrian Belew

Warren Cucarullo

Eddie Jobson

 

Playing with Frank was as great a launching pad for a rock career as playing with Miles was for jazz.

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Originally posted by BenLoy:

Everybody should go get "The Yellow Shark", if for nothing else than the piece called "Welcome to the United States". Brilliant!

I take it we went to the crack house... errr... music store yesterday?

 

I totally dig The Yellow Shark. There are some utterly amazing performances on that disc and the recording quality is wonderful. I rather enjoy Frank's intro that he does at the beginning of the show. The versions of Uncle Meat and Dog Breath Variations are also worth several repeated listenings.

 

I'm going away now. I'm going to lock myself in a closet until I can play this insanely-stupid-difficult new song that Yogi gave Chris and I last week. Think lot's of 16th notes, at 160 bpm, and in 13/8 time. :cry:

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I was weened on FZ.

 

I have some strong preferences when it comes to his recordings...

 

Weezils Rip My Flesh

Hot Rats

Overnight Sensations

Apostrophe

Roxy & Elsewhere

Zappa & Beefheart

Zoot Allures

Shiekh Yerbooty

 

"Just me and the pigmy pony, over by the dental floss bush."

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Was FZ the smartest, most articulate, well known musician of the past 30+ years? His opinions earned respect because they were were always well considered and well spoken, whether you agreed or not.

 

On the other hand, when heard Fred Durst say "agreeance", I wanted to hit him with a lead filled showshoe. Better to stay quiet and have people think you're probably an idiot than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

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Well... Durst is strictly commercial, so he deserves the same thing the fur-trapper got. A faceful of the deadly yellow snow, applied with a vigorous circular motion hitherto unknown but destined to take the place of the mudshark in your mythology.. RUB IT!

 

I'd also like to add two great Zappa records:

Just Another Band From LA

Live Zappa circa 1969 at Fillmore West. Three words: "Billy The Mountain."

 

Live At The Fillmore East

Worth is just for "The Groupie Routine" and the great version of "Happy Together" therein. Better than The frickin Turtles.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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Whoa!

 

Bigtime flashback...

 

I had completely forgotten about the saga of Billy the Mountain.

 

Damn funny stuff!

 

And who could forget 'Titties and Beer'? That was a pretty hilarious live track.

 

"I got me three beers and a fist full of downs and I'm gonna get wasted so f_ck this...etc, etc."

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Originally posted by Bumpcity:

Originally posted by Wally Malone:

I was in a band with Napoleon Murphy Brock right before he went with Zappa. When he came back from his first road trip with Zappa he said that while the others in the band were out checking out other music or sight seeing he would have to shed in the hotel room on the saxophone parts he had to play. The tune on the album mentioned above that he sang on was "Village of the Sun".

 

I had great times playing with and hanging with Napoleon back then. Haven't heard of or seen him around in a good while now. Anyone know his current whereabouts?

 

Wally

In October of last year I saw Project Object play and both Napoleon Murphy Brock and Ike Willis were touring with them. It was very cool to see Napoleon actually performing all those songs that I've heard him sing a million times on the albums. I spoke with him briefly during the intermission and he was in good form and seemed to really be enjoying the tour with Project Object. Having both Ike and Napoleon singing was really something to see as well, as they were never in a Zappa band together.
Bumpcity, thanks for the info, I just went to the Project Object web page and bookmarked to take a look later.

 

Wally

I have basses to play, places to be and good music to make!
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well- in retrospect , its all beeee-bop !!!! even though you would think it doesnt sound like that.... youre all too adagio!! :D

Praise ye the LORD.

....praise him with stringed instruments and organs...

Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.

excerpt from- Psalm 150

visit me at:

www.adriangarcia.net

for His glory

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Did I miss it, or has anyone mentioned...

 

"I've got a present for you... it looks just like a Telefunken U-47."

 

"With leather?"

 

"Cath-o-lick gurrrurrrrurrrrrlllllsss.... WARREN CUCURRULLO!"

 

We could jam in Joe's Garage

There was just enough room to get the drums

In the corner over by the Dodge

It was a '54 with a messed-up door

And a cheesy little amp

Had a sign on the front said 'Fender Champ'

And a second hand guitar

It was a Stratocaster with a whammy bar

"I had to have something, and it wasn't there. I couldn't go down the street and buy it, so I built it."

 

Les Paul

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  • 1 year later...
Originally posted by mzeger:

[QB]I saw that '88 band with the 5 piece horn section, and it was indeed unbelieveable. The horns playing the "Stairway" guitar solo was perhaps the most unexpected thing I'd ever hear at a Zappa concert.

 

One night the horns would play the "stairway"guitar solo, the next night Frank would pick up his guitar and wail it. The most unexpected material I ever heard at a Zappa show were Beatle songs...with updated lyrics.

:cool:

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Woah! Talk about diggin' up an old thread with the 'search' feature! :thu: I'd forgotten all about this.

 

I'd like to add Civilization Phase III and Yellow Shark to my original list now. Absolutely brilliant representation of Frank's orchestral work. Yellow Shark performed by a terrifying group of musicians and CPIII a synclavier work of art.

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I too grew up on Zappa. Got to see him at the Palladium every Halloween for years :)

 

An old friend of mine once performed "The Black Page" as part of a drums-xylophone duo to a sold-out Town Hall. Took a lot of nerve to do that; it was a great performance.

 

It was a singles bar

a Tuesday night

the moon was dim

the band was tight....

I used to think I was Libertarian. Until I saw their platform; now I know I'm no more Libertarian than I am RepubliCrat or neoCON or Liberal or Socialist.

 

This ain't no track meet; this is football.

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Originally posted by coyote:

An old friend of mine once performed "The Black Page" as part of a drums-xylophone duo to a sold-out Town Hall. Took a lot of nerve to do that; it was a great performance.

Good gravy, no kidding about the cojones! I'd love to play that song but I can't do the fast elevens toward the end of that piece well enough yet. It does warm my heart to hear Steve Vai struggle with those bars on the live versions I've heard him on... :evil: Of course, that was when he was 19, I imagine he could play that bar with his toes by now.

"Expectations are the enemy of music." - Mike Keneally

Hi! My band is... my band is... HALF ZAFTIG | Half Zaftig on MySpace | The Solo Stuff

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