Creative blender of text and inspired music. Highly memorable material.
The older brothers liked him, the Gregory's the Logan's. Steve Logan gave me the Freak Out album, an object stirring great curiosity, especially regarding the character, Suzie Creamchease. Probably, not until Thick as a Brick was an album as inscrutable. "Absolutely Free" was a thrilling discovery as I conducted my search for a recording I heard on WNEW FM radio while we drove home from Candlewood one weekend. I'm still looking for the piece, it began with laughter and went into a waltz. I believe it ended in laughter as well and featured a very free but talented group of rock energized musicians (Perhaps it's a recording by The Mamas and the Papas. Please help. mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org). "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" was the contender song off Absolutely Free, and it was a worthy substitute. I loved the transition chords, especially toward the end. There was a snideness regarding middle class sex with one's daughter that bordered on obsession. The topic reappears in other songs (Magdalena with Flo & Eddie). Other important issues for Frank Zappa include penis dimension and dental hygiene. I'm trying to remember oral sex references as I attempt to make a connection with the above... Frank Zappa recorded Hot Rats, a mostly beautiful instrumental album with memorable graphics. Memorably hideous and I can't recall any good tracks off it, was Weasels Ripped my Flesh. It was always fun to find a copy at the local country drug store. (I remember also buying there the two psychedelic covered Beatles albums, MMT and SPLHCB, what a world that opened up!) Zappa's Uncle Meat album has many beautiful moments.
He recorded other even more amazing albums, particularly Waka Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo, and then, we discovered his theatrical side with Flo and Eddie. Jeff's older brother was listening to the Live at Fillmore album and to hear the chaos coalesce into the inimitable sounds of the Turtles' "Happy Together" was riveting. I went back and listened to the entire lead-up to the great cover song. It was hilariously musical. These guys were quite funny, and the idea of Zappa presiding with important observations about the mud shark launched it into surrealism (beyond the simple one night stand element associated with bands and their groupies.) That whole touring world was insanely glorified in "200 Motels," a musical film which features many spectacular orchestral moments. It also had unbelievable sight and sound combinations with an animation about the afore mentioned DENTAL HYGIENE! Ringo played Zappa. It had a crispy video to film transfer. Theodore Bikel was also involved? United Artists effected rampant reproduction of the soundtrack album such that it was purchasable for 3 dollars within months after its release, such that I was able to buy one without the cardboard cover edge badly chopped off.
The overabundance of Zappa material in the 60's and 70's was truly commendable.
For Flo and Eddie a high point occurred in We're Only in It for the Money, featuring Billy The Mountain, a 20 minute musical story with an overview of the popular music of the time. The entire album is great fun, (and it does seem incredible that the entire text and music credits go to Frank Zappa.)
Now, Zappa's dead at 50, from prostate cancer, that area behind the penis. His career apparently began with a moderate 50's doowap hit, and I suppose he referred to it in his Ruben and the Jets (pre-Bennie and the Jets.). I don't care about the "genre" of the music as long as it's inventive and the Ruben album lost me. (contrast Billie Joel's Innocent Man album which, although some tracks were overplayed, was tremendously inspired). Ruben was an early album. Zappa's albums were also something collectible. He was on the great Sarah Vaughn Walter Wanderly Jazz Label, Verve.
CD proliferation made a mess of Zappa's Oeuvre. There were so many! Joe's Garage has a beautiful cyber sex segment. Of the later albums the unbelievable one, and it is quite a while ago and was released outside of his control, is called, I believe, Sleep Dirt, sure, easily confused with Orchestral Maneuvers, because Sleep Dirt has the orchestral Gregory Peckery. What was the origin of that 20 minute musical story? Unbelievable work!
I loved his Apostrophe album. That seemed to emphasize an obsession with oral sex along with Overnite Sensation. Oh yes, Zappa released an album either with his name or with the name, Mothers of Invention, aka The Mothers. I suppose there was more collaboration in the Mother's Album, but the Zappa Live in the 70's with Ruth Underwood on Marimba, which has the B Sci-Fi glorification, "Cheepniz" was surely a mothers album.
Zappa had great lyrical ideas but they always seemed to come back to the giant penis, or the great big poodle dog, or grand wazoo, or whatever; it was just more of the same. The women's voices, I believe were just his own sped up. Apparently he was married. He has some children who have careers of their own.
He had a judgmental side that made me feel smoking pot (and wearing brown shoes) was stupid. He seemed to be influential to his fans. (Call any Vegetable is his pot expose'.) Incredibly, his concerts at the Palladium or Felt Forum, which we attended every Halloween, were pot filled events. That's how it was back then (the 1970s).
One thing for sure, He is a PRIME Dizozza influence. I am grateful to Frank Zappa. I feel cheated that he has passed away! Dammit! Stay healthy, folks. Know your bodies.
Zappa was somehow connected with Tom Waits, through his manager Herb Friedman? and with the perhaps overly legendary Captain Beefheart, whose Trout Mask Replica looked like a Zappa Album.
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A Return to the Galaxy:
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