Sunday, February 05, 2006

Confessions Of An Unashamed Frank Zappa Fan

Recently, WFMU's Beware Of The Blog had a post about Frank Zappa. The writer is trying gently to convert the Zappa Hater into appreciating his music. I think that anyone who tries to redeem Zappa in the ears of the skeptic deserves a hand. It's not an easy task. People have too many social hang ups in their lives to let go of before they can accept it. Whenever Zappa comments on the behaviors of humans in his lyrics, there's usually a bunch of people that find it to be objectionable or in bad taste. I find that a lot of these Zappa Haters are guilty of drawing very specific lines around what they like and get to a point in life where they can go no further in exploring their tastes. It's like the kid who hates vegetables and stubbornly refuses to eat them into adulthood. They become stale in their various tastes and end up on a sort of virtual desert island. I am generalizing a bit, but that's the point. Zappa is generalized by almost everybody. Something that is often missing from any music is humor. What's wrong with a laugh in a song? We all could use a laugh, can't we? So you don't think it's funny and you hate it? Would you rather have all humor be safe like Jerry Seinfeld?
Let's start with the music that Zappa Haters love to hate. I've noticed that even so called "hip" minded music fans can appreciate the dedication and skill that Zappa has used to craft his compositions, but cannot get over the "Politically Incorrectness" of his lyrics. People can tolerate musicians who write shitty love lyrics, but a song about an Enema Bandit (which is a true story), noooooo! Kirk Cameron hates Frank Zappa just like you do.
THING FISH is probably the most offensive album in the Zappa catalog. Seems like everybody in the world gets all uncunted when the album is merely mentioned. This is the album that some Zappa lovers are ashamed of. He's So Gay- Frank Zappa (FLAC) Briefcase Boogie - Frank Zappa (FLAC)             While on the subject of the most hated Zappa music, why not try these:Wet T-Shirt Nite [FLAC]
  Broken Hearts Are For Assholes- Frank Zappa (FLAC)
Fine Girl - Frank Zappa (FLAC)
 I Have Been In You- Frank Zappa (FLAC)
 Do You Like My New Car?                   
Now that we've made it through those brutal perverted moments from hell, lets go for the real meat. One of the things not really touched on in the WFMU post are the fans of the jazzier side of Mr. Frank Zappa. He had some really great jams, for people who like that sort of thing. No matter what anybody says, Frank had some of the best musicians in the world. I don't mean that they had the most talent, but they were versatile and had the kind of discipline that even the most creative songwriters lack. A few of them made big names for themselves in life after Zappa. George Duke,Adrian Belew,Lowell George,Terry Bozzio,and Steve Vai come to mind. In Frank's world, the improvisation was very bandleader oriented. That is one of his less talked about talents. He really led his band like a true old school bandleader. Some of the more interesting improvisational material was based on Frank's ability to manipulate his band through hand gestures or other forms of prompting. All this of course within a constructed rehearsed piece, making it more like Mingus than, say The Grateful Dead. Eat That Question- Frank Zappa (FLAC) Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?- Frank Zappa (13.8 MB)    
Another aspect of Frank Zappa which is largely ignored by "Rock/Pop" fans are his classical pieces. Maybe it's because they never bothered to listen to them. Whenever Frank would have his "rock and roll" band play some of those tricky tunes that you have to read sheetmusic for, "Rock/Pop" fans would say "You try too hard." I for one am glad whenever anyone tries at all. I've noticed some classical fans bitch about how much Frank borrows from the earlier 20th Century Classical Composers. So what, music is there to inspire. I'd like to hear what great "original" music they've been writing lately IF THEY HAVE THE GUTS TO WRITE ANY AT ALL. How many classical composers out there today can get THEIR compositions to be heard by the wide audience that Frank had following him? HOW MANY CLASSICAL COMPOSERS TODAY CAN GET ANY AUDIENCE AT ALL? Zappa used so many references to different styles of music which turned guys like me onto music I probably wouldn't have gotten interested in. Let's face it, Frank Zappa inspired many music fans to widen their scope of listening. Now who can complain about that? Isn't that one of the primary goals of the Music Blogging Community? Questi Cazzi Di Piccione- Frank Zappa (4.3 MB) G-Spot Tornado- Frank Zappa (7.7 MB) Nite School- Mike Keneally & The Orchestra Of Our Time (7.4 MB) Selections From "Uncle Meat" (27.5 MB WINRAR File)
Here's a tune that I have sprung on various Zappa Haters, and they usually dig it. Downtown Talent Scout- Frank Zappa (5.8 MB)
I think this next one is one of my personal favorites. It's got a fairly easy to follow story that's cute and funny. I would like to see this made into a movie.
Billy The Mountain- Frank Zappa (FLAC) This is probably one of the best songs about Elvis Presley ever written by anyone. Elvis Has Just Left The Building- Frank Zappa (FLAC)
Here's some good time Zappa tunes that I would usually put on mixtapes for my friends who hadn't heard him. Mr. Green Genes/Florentine Pogen/Andy/Inca Roads- Frank Zappa (35.7 MB WINRAR FILE) Pick Me, I'm Clean- Frank Zappa (7.2 MB) Carolina Hardcore Ecstacy- Frank Zappa (8.5 MB)
How about something to offend Zappa Purists out there. Here's a bunch of tunes from the seemingly universally accepted "We're Only In It For The Money" album. Taken from the infamous 1984 REMIX/RERECORD. The drums and bass were re-recorded over 15 years later by different musicians under Frank's orders. This really pissed off his hardest core fans. They eventually re-issued the original version, which is what is available today. I'm pretty sure this REMIX/RERECORD version is out of print. The Idiot Bastard Son/Lonely Little Girl/Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance- Frank Zappa (8.5 MB) What's The Ugliest Part Of Your Body? (Reprise)/Mother People- Frank Zappa (5 MB)
For all you bootleg fans I have a 1969 live recording of Pink Floyd playing
"Interstellar Overdrive" with Frank Zappa sitting in on guitar. Interstellar Overdrive- Pink Floyd with Frank Zappa (18.7 MB)
How about some random tracks of interest? In France (Live)- Frank Zappa (3.6 MB) Porn Wars- Frank Zappa (12.4 MB) Little House I Used To Live In- Frank Zappa (5.8 MB) Holiday In Berlin- Frank Zappa (6.5 MB) Ride Like The Wind- Frank Zappa (9.3 MB)
And lastly, we have the ultimate treasure for those who don't want to bother to listen to Frank Zappa because they hate his music so much. Here he is back in 1968 on a Pasadena, California radio station spinning records out of his collection. There's no Frank Zappa music to be heard. Lots of great old Doo Wop and R&B. Some truly great (and rare) tunes from the 1950's that he loved. Lots of beauitul stuff with an interesting peek into a "freeform" radio station 37 years ago. KPPC FM Pasadena California 1968 Part 1 (66.5 MB WINRAR File) KPPC FM Pasadena California 1968 Part 2 (90 MB WinRar File) RENEWED!!
Why not visit . Zappateers for all your Zappa Bootleg Torrents. Also visit here for more information than you probably need to know about Frank Zappa.
I just want to add that I had the great fortune of performing in a Frank Zappa cover band and I have never learned so much in such a short period of time. If you play music and you can dig Frank's style, give it a shot. Learn some of his tunes. It gives the absurdity of Frank a new twist. When you break down the music it's even more challenging than you initially thought. You find yourself struggling so hard during rehearsals to get it right. Then you realize through this haze of serious music concentration that the lyrics are beyond fucked, and it just makes a perfect match.

14 Comments:

Anonymous Secretly a Terrific Whistler said...

Now if you REALLY want to piss people off you should post one of my all-time favorite sides (which unfortunately I don't currently have a copy of) The Fillmore jam with Yoko!!!!! ("I dunno if you can tell what the words are to this song---but there's only two of 'em......") Great stuff!!!

2:47 AM  
Blogger weasel said...

Nice case for the defense. I think I'm the opposite to the first kind of hater you describe- I love Frank's way with words (even naughty words like poo poo and bum bum- its like Derek and Clive set to music) but I can feel the onset of a stroke after about 5 minutes of improvised guitar noodling. Nothing against Frank, I hate it when I hear Peter Frampton, Phish, MMW, or anyone else go off on a six string bender with Hammond garnish. It just brings to mind Derek Small's freeform jazz odessey from Spinal Tap.

But that's just me, Captain Poptastic, the man who only plays a song longer than 3 minutes on his show when he's heading out for a cigatette break....

9:48 AM  
Blogger Don K. said...

My introducion to Frank's music came from winning a promo copy of Lumpy Gravy from a local AM station around 1968. Not a likely starting point. To dig Frank you have to enjoy being open and challeneged to different sounds and music. You can't convert those that can't "hear". To paraphrase, "Frank's Music Is the Best."

12:44 AM  
Blogger gypsum gypsy said...

This is a nice place to visit each week: http://killuglyradio.com/features/miscellaneous/gilles_friday_boot.php

3:37 AM  
Anonymous sim said...

thanks for the educational post.shame the yousendit links have all expired

7:02 PM  
Blogger Varjak said...

Hi Charles, great story about FZ and thank you for the FZ/Pink Floyd MP3, I had never heard it before. The KPPC show is very special, but unfortunately the second part of it has expired. Is it possible for you to post it again? Thnx!

8:17 PM  
Blogger Hamhead said...

The Zappa article is great. You should check out the FZ Patio website
http://lukpac.org/~handmade/patio/
Please can you re-host the swecond part to
KPPC FM Pasadena California 1968. All the best. - M.A.

12:20 AM  
Blogger Charles Hendrick IV said...

PART 2 OF THE KPPC FILE HAS BEEN RENEWED!

5:51 PM  
Blogger Varjak said...

Thnx Charles, for the 2nd part. This will be great to listen to in my car: tuned to KPPC-radio, like a timemachine :-)

4:44 AM  
Blogger Hamhead said...

Chas,
Thanks a million for posting the second half of the radio show. - M.A.

5:05 PM  
Blogger Friendlier said...

Ummm, I think this is a crock. I "agree" with almost every word that I've ever heard Zappa sing or say. I've listened to the Mothers (back then), then swung through the Hot Rats era, and on into the '80s. But I can't help but be bored by most of it. I fully appreciate that there are many, MANY, who find it fabulous stuff, but it just doesn't move me the way loads of other off-kilter, noisy, smart music does. For you to say that I'm close-minded is a rather close-minded way for you to not have to consider that maybe this stuff is just BORING to some of us who aren't. Close-minded, that is!

7:42 AM  
Blogger Charles Hendrick IV said...

A crock eh? Well,Friendlier, opinions are funny things. Everyone has one. Usually they are formed by personal experience/taste. When it comes to music, I find people who have a wide range of taste/experience have more interesting things to say. Others who have a lower thresh hold of taste/experience are more boring when they express it. I think it's safe to say I am a bit closed minded when it comes to films. If I don't like a film, I can't stand it and rarely give it another chance. With music I'm more willing to explore the reasons why I may dislike it and often times find myself being won over by whatever it was that I initially disliked. So I stand by my statement of you being closed minded, but that's OK with me. We just differ in opinion, no big deal. I am not sorry if you were offended, but it's unfotunate that you feel it's a crock. Maybe if we could all agree this world could be a little Friendlier (which sounds boring to me)

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi would love to hear the Zappa Floyd Amougies performance but unfortunately the file has expired. Any chance you could please post again? Thanks

3:07 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

I like almost all kinds of music.
FUCK OFF!! I dunno why, but it seems appropriate to swear for no reason. Zappa was great, the musical equivalent of an albino platypus.
Nothing could have evolved to be more unique.

1:05 AM  

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