Author Topic: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #39 - 'The Perfect Stranger'  (Read 23767 times)

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Offline Mosh

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #25 'Sleep Dirt'
« Reply #560 on: March 13, 2017, 04:03:27 PM »
Alright, finally getting to this. The cover is pretty cheap, but the music is not. Definitely earns the title of Hot Rats III. Similar in musical style but with some progression. There's more of a traditional Jazz sound at times, before exploding in a more modern Zappa flavored fusion. Zappa's solos are fantastic on this.

Also a lot of acoustic instruments on this album. The obvious example is the title track, which is gorgeous. But Zappa plays acoustic guitar on some of the other tracks too. I never really considered him much of an acoustic player, he tends to stick to electric, so it's a nice change of pace. But there's also some stand up bass in lieu of the typical electric bass, which also adds to the flavor.

On that note, can we take a moment to appreciate Patrick O'Hearn on bass? By far one of Zappa's greatest bass players and he tears it up on this album. Awesome double bass solo on The Ocean. Good musicianship all around on this album. While not as legendary as the Roxy band, his late 70s band was almost just as good, for different reasons.

The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution is a really great jam. Frank is shredding, but he also has an amazing rhythm section.

This album kicks ass. Maybe my favorite of the Warner releases. I regret not checking it out sooner. Don't skip it guys.
 
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #25 'Sleep Dirt'
« Reply #561 on: March 14, 2017, 01:47:45 AM »
Both Studio Tan and Sleep Dirt are amongst the few Zappa albums I don't own. But I do own Lather, and having heard the material from these albums it is clear that they are probably amongst his best instrumental work and I totally missed out. I've read somewhere, can't really remember where, that the ugly covers are probably some sort of retaliation by WB, for having to release these records contractually. Zappy had zero influence on that part.
From the ocean comes the notion that the realise lies in rhythm. The rhythm of vision is dancer, and when you dance you´re always on the one. From the looking comes to see, wondrous realise real eyes....

Offline Nihil-Morari

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #25 'Sleep Dirt'
« Reply #562 on: March 14, 2017, 03:18:11 AM »
Both Studio Tan and Sleep Dirt are amongst the few Zappa albums I don't own. But I do own Lather, and having heard the material from these albums it is clear that they are probably amongst his best instrumental work and I totally missed out. I've read somewhere, can't really remember where, that the ugly covers are probably some sort of retaliation by WB, for having to release these records contractually. Zappy had zero influence on that part.

Yeah that's true. Warner hired an artist to quickly make these separate album covers, Zappa had nothing to do with the final product.


This album kicks ass. Maybe my favorite of the Warner releases. I regret not checking it out sooner. Don't skip it guys.

I was listening to it again yesterday and I really enjoy this album. Has such a sound of its own!
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #25 'Sleep Dirt'
« Reply #563 on: March 14, 2017, 07:41:29 AM »
^ Agreed. The first half is my favorite, but really, it's all great.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #25 'Sleep Dirt'
« Reply #564 on: March 14, 2017, 08:15:03 AM »
Interesting.  I'm finally listening to it now, and my version has vocals.  I downloaded this version way back in '07, most likely off of Usenet, and I may or may not have listened to it at the time, but if I did, I probably came away feeling "meh" because of the vocals.  I'm not a big fan of atonal stuff anyway; Frank tends to make it work with instrumentals, but when it's atonal vocals, I just find it annoying.

The instrumental work is great, as always.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #25 'Sleep Dirt'
« Reply #565 on: March 14, 2017, 08:29:01 AM »
Listening now to the 2012 UMe release. Maybe I'll throw on the remix version with the vocals later...Maybe.

A darker album. Jazzier. This album has grown on me, partly because we can listen to the original version over the remixed one, which was the only one available until 2012, unless you had the vinyl, and I didn't. I had to get to know the original versions via Lather, which doesn't have all these tunes, some are slightly different, and The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution is longer here than on Lather. It's also nice to have 'these' songs together in one complete package. Sometimes I don't want to listen to all of Lather, which is its own experience itself, but I want to listen to some of the tunes from this era. Filthy Habits is a dark Zappa tune, nice guitar solo, and Terry Bozzio is a monster drummer. The middle tunes (tracks 2-5) feature great George Duke piano and lots of Ruth's percussion, with Chester Thompson back on drums and Bruce Fowler on brass instruments. It's almost the 74 band again, but there's a bunch of different bassists on this album. James "Bird Legs" Youman on Regyptian Strut, Dave Parlato (from the Wazoo era) on the opening track, and Patrick O'Hearn on tracks 2, 3 and 7.

I've always considered the last track The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution to be one of Zappa's great guitar solos, as well as showcasing how great the trio of Zappa, O'Hearn, and Bozzio was. Powerful rhythm section they were, especially live.

I consider this Hot Rats IV. The Grand Wazoo is musically linked, IMO, with Hot Rats, Waka Jawaka, and Sleep Dirt, for their jazzier excursions.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #25 'Sleep Dirt'
« Reply #566 on: March 14, 2017, 08:33:40 AM »
Interesting.  I'm finally listening to it now, and my version has vocals.  I downloaded this version way back in '07, most likely off of Usenet, and I may or may not have listened to it at the time, but if I did, I probably came away feeling "meh" because of the vocals.  I'm not a big fan of atonal stuff anyway; Frank tends to make it work with instrumentals, but when it's atonal vocals, I just find it annoying.

The instrumental work is great, as always.

You NEED to get the 2012 UMe release, which is the original 1970s analog recording.

Of course, Frank inserted some form of vocals on his instrumental albums. I forgot that the title track starts off with Zappa going, "aarrf!" -- some Conceptual Continuity there, is it related to One Size Fits All? We may never know. Also, the Sleep Dirt solo is one of the best clean guitar solos Zappa ever made. Beautiful.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #25 'Sleep Dirt'
« Reply #567 on: March 14, 2017, 11:55:46 AM »
I might have to check out that vocals version. Some of the choices for the 2012 releases of these albums were bizarre. Sleep Dirt and We're Only In It For the Money restored to original versions, but Uncle Meat and Ruben and the Jets remain as the (largely panned) 80s remixes.

I consider this Hot Rats IV. The Grand Wazoo is musically linked, IMO, with Hot Rats, Waka Jawaka, and Sleep Dirt, for their jazzier excursions.
What keeps Grand Wazoo from being part of the Hot Rats "series" is the size of the group IMO. The big band setup and more tightly composed tunes are a contrast to the small combo jams in Hot Rats, Jawaka, and Sleep Dirt.
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Offline darkshade

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #25 'Sleep Dirt'
« Reply #568 on: March 14, 2017, 01:27:49 PM »
I might have to check out that vocals version. Some of the choices for the 2012 releases of these albums were bizarre. Sleep Dirt and We're Only In It For the Money restored to original versions, but Uncle Meat and Ruben and the Jets remain as the (largely panned) 80s remixes.

Yes, but Uncle Meat's analog mix got finally released last year on "Meat Light" which also includes the original sequence of the album. RatJ analog mix is available on "Greasy Love Songs".

I thought the 2012 releases were much needed. Dozens of Zappa albums were restored to their 'better' mixes. The few that were not were either being obviously saved for future releases (Meat Light), had already been released in analog (MOFO/Freak Out!) or were recorded digitally (late 80s/90s albums.) The exception is Roxy and Elsewhere, but that one might have just been left alone because of all the Roxy releases we got recently, but I'm not sure.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2017, 03:08:57 PM by darkshade »

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #25 'Sleep Dirt'
« Reply #569 on: March 14, 2017, 03:22:29 PM »
What keeps Grand Wazoo from being part of the Hot Rats "series" is the size of the group IMO. The big band setup and more tightly composed tunes are a contrast to the small combo jams in Hot Rats, Jawaka, and Sleep Dirt.

Waka / Jawaka has 15 musicians on it, and The Grand Wazoo has 18 (and the 18th guy (Lee Clement) just hits the gong on Eat That Question during the 'march' section) so there's not a huge difference to me, they're both big band albums. All 4 albums follow a musical ethos, so to speak.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #25 'Sleep Dirt'
« Reply #570 on: March 14, 2017, 03:36:24 PM »
I'm checking out the version with vocals at the moment. Had never heard that one, and eh, yeah. I'll stick to the vinyl or the 2012 mix.
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #25 'Sleep Dirt'
« Reply #571 on: March 14, 2017, 05:47:37 PM »
What keeps Grand Wazoo from being part of the Hot Rats "series" is the size of the group IMO. The big band setup and more tightly composed tunes are a contrast to the small combo jams in Hot Rats, Jawaka, and Sleep Dirt.

Waka / Jawaka has 15 musicians on it, and The Grand Wazoo has 18 (and the 18th guy (Lee Clement) just hits the gong on Eat That Question during the 'march' section) so there's not a huge difference to me, they're both big band albums. All 4 albums follow a musical ethos, so to speak.
I'm thinking of the original tunes here though. Big Swift has 6 musicians on it, a typical Jazz combo set up. Grand Wazoo (the song) has 19, a typical big band set up. Zappa also takes advantage of that larger instrumentation with a more intricate arrangement. It predates stuff he would do later in the 70s and also in 1988.

Granted this isn't a major distinction but I can see how Grand Wazoo is separate from the other three albums.

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Offline Nihil-Morari

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #25 'Sleep Dirt'
« Reply #572 on: March 15, 2017, 01:45:43 PM »
Thanks for the animated discussion guys, but it's time to move on to:
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #26 'Sheik Yerbouti'
« Reply #573 on: March 15, 2017, 01:52:01 PM »
Official Release #26 'Sheik Yerbouti'
(Released 03/1979)



Background Information:
A turning point in Frank’s career. After departing from Warner Bros., this self released record focussed more on lyrics than recent records, and more on poppy songwriting than possibly ever before.
Most of the album is a live recording of a series of gigs at the Hammersmith Odeon, London early ’78. The remaining tracks are a couple of months older. (Apart from the xenochronic track ‘Rubber Shirt’, more on that below)
The album is full of overdubs, and although the original tracks are taken from live shows, it doesn’t feel like a live album. Part of that is that the album only has new titles on it. No live versions of older tracks, just new tracks (and two guitar solo’s taken from older songs (Rat Tomago from The Torture Never Stops, and The Sheik Yerbouti Tango from Little House I Used To Live In).

The Album Itself:
A major turn in Zappa’s sound becomes apparent in the first couple of tracks. Writing pop songs with lyrics was something he had rarely done (does Ruben & The Jets count?), but this album is full of tracks with actual hit potential.
Side one starts of with the hilarious I Have Been in You (the full story is part of the extended version on the Hammersmith Odeon release #89) based on Peter Frampton’s I’m In You. The last two tracks on side one are punk driven songs, which of course mocks the punk movement. Broken Hearts Are For Assholes and I’m So Cute both do the job really well of satirising punk but meanwhile being two rocking tracks in their own right.
Side two starts off with a sound that possibly suited the older Zappa fans more. Jones Crusher is a short rocker but the one-two punch What Ever… and Rat Tomago see Zappa returning to form. A strange Musique Concrete-like piece and a powerful guitar solo might show that Zappa hasn’t started to write pop-songs exclusively. Bobby Brown is Frank’s biggest hit worldwide, apparently a slow-dance favourite in the Scandinavian disco’s of the late ’70’s, but never caught on in the USA because, well, because it’s about golden showers.
Rubber Shirt is a song which uses xenochrony, the bass track and the drum track are from different times, in different tempo’s and different time signatures (the drums are in 11/4). Zappa just bodged them together creating a strange musical world that was otherwise impossible to create, mainly because of the musicians locking in and creating one piece, instead of the intended separate two pieces.
Side three is again a collection of foot-tappers starting off with the title track of the already recorded movie Baby Snakes (which was to be released later in 1979), but this side never slows down. Dancing Fool, a track which mocks the disco scene, is like the punk songs on side one a perfect satire, not lastly because it actually went on to become a disco hit (and a Grammy nominee).
Side four consists of just two tracks. The extremely well produced (it sounds so crisp!) Wild Love and the wonderful long track (well, long guitar solo) that is Yo’ Mama. Although Zappa often played long guitar solo’s live, this is one of the first in this style (as part of a tracks with vocals) to be released. King Kong often had a long solo in it, but it would sound more like a jazz improv than this guitar solo spot within a song. It wouldn’t be the last long live guitar solo to be released.
The album closes off with audience noises, which has a sort of alienating effect. It gets the listener to question himself whether he has been listening to a live album all along.

Essential Tracks:
I Have Been In You
Broken Hearts Are For Assholes
Bobby Brown
City of Tiny Lights
Dancin' Fool
Yo' Mama
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #26 'Sheik Yerbouti'
« Reply #574 on: March 15, 2017, 02:35:08 PM »
Ah, my first Zappa album, and still one of my all-time favorites.

I'd heard One Size Fits All years earlier, when it first came out.  It was the "Midnight Album" on the local AM station, and it always stuck with me.  Years later, I heard "Dancing Fool" on the radio, from Frank Zappa's latest, and I went out and bought it.  My mind was expanded manifold that day.

Frank's liner notes are practically legendary, and this album is a great example why.  Detailed notes on every track, who plays what, whether there are lots of overdubs, or just a few, or none, or whether the track is literally a Frankenstein of other performances ("xenochronic" -- fun word!)  I love the idea of using recorded tracks as raw material, to be sped up, slowed down, pitched-corrected, whatever, then combined to create new "songs".  I was actually just thinking about this last night, since Sheik Yerbouti is the current CD in my car.

Personally, I think it's really cool that it's clearly a studio album, but ends with a "mostly live" track and Frank introducing the band, not unlike on Bongo Fury.  After a double album, you feel like you've just sat through a performance of a masterwork, and of course you have.

"Patrick O'Hearn, Adrian Belew, Tommy Mars, Peter Wolf, Terry Bozzio, Ed Mann.  Thanks for coming to the concert.  Good night!"  I always say it along with him.

Oh yeah, this album was also my introduction to both Adrian Belew and Terry Bozzio.  I think I have a couple dozen albums total now with those two guys on them.  Steve Vai is generally recognized as Frank's first "stunt guitarist" but that seems wrong to me.  I know Steve was the first to actually be credited as such, but Adrian clearly is filling the role at this point, and I think he was the first guitarist other than Frank himself to play in any version of The Mothers or Frank's band.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #26 'Sheik Yerbouti'
« Reply #575 on: March 15, 2017, 02:37:47 PM »
Was it this thread that someone realized it's actually pronounced "Shake Your Booty"? as opposed to "sheek yer booty"

If not, that's how you pronounce it, and I didn't know until recently.

For a second, I was about to say you forgot Orchestral Favorites, but as I said the Lather era is confusing. That album got released after this one I believe. Anyway, this album contains some Lather stuff, but this album is not related to the Warner albums or Lather itself, aside from Conceptual Continuity; and a reference by Terry Ted Bozzio that the Lather era was drawn out, and it was "time for sum new shit". :lol Now that I think about it, almost every album after 1978 references Lather in some form or another.

This album is hilarious every time I listen to it. I did not like it at first, along with Joe's Garage and any of his 'rock' albums from the late 70s-mid 80s. I think the whole concept went way over my head, but this was (is) considered one of Frank's most popular albums, so I kept giving it a try. I did initially enjoy City of Tiny Lights, especially with Adrian Belew on vocals, and I had gotten into Frank not long after getting into King Crimson. Plus, that is a classic Zappa tune (I like the 88 band version even more but I'm jumping ahead again) I also thought Bobby Brown was quite funny.

This album got to me later on, when I went in with fresh ears, not expecting Inca Roads, or RDNZL, or King Kong, and just went in and listened. Well, that changed everything for me, because I "got it" and in fact, I was able to expand my Zappa knowledge because I understood what he was doing at this time period, and I was starting to turn into a Zappa freak where almost every note of his music needed to go through my ear holes. Having context helps, he was pissed about the Lather/Warner Bros. fiasco, and was clearly venting, musically, with this album, he had a new, younger band; but also lyrically, as from here on out his lyrics became more and more cynical, political, and the social commentary became even more controversial.

But seriously this album is a trip, goes through many musical styles, and gives you a taste of what Lather was like, since it has those quick cuts to odd percussion and creepy voices in the back of the studio/basement in between 'real' songs.

And of course, there are differences between the 2012 CDs and older CDs. The 2012 one reverts to the original vinyl mix, which means it includes about two minutes or so of more music than the older CDs, since Zappa himself re-sequenced (is that the right term?) the album so that the end of the vinyl 'sides' jumped right into the first track on the next 'side' without a pause. For some reason the last two minutes of I'm So Cute were cut out, but were restored on the 2012 CD. Also, the older CDs have some sound issues, which are all resolved on the 2012 CDs since it is the analog mix.

Also, Broken Hearts Are For Assholes is total  :metal :metal :metal :metal :metal every time!!!

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #26 'Sheik Yerbouti'
« Reply #576 on: March 15, 2017, 02:54:14 PM »
I think it was in the Zappa thread that I mentioned the pronunciation.  In the U.S., "sheik" is often pronounced "sheek".  But I was watching a news broadcast talking about the oil czars of the Middle East, most of whom hold the title of "sheik" and the guy pronounced it "shake".  And I suddenly realized that if that's the correct pronunciation, then the title of this album is pronounced "Shake Yerbouti".  And I laughed out loud, much to the confusion of my dad and sister who were watching TV with me.

I got the 2012 CD for Christmas.  I specifically requested the 2012 version because it restores all the electronic freaking out at the end of "I'm So Cute" which I love, and in general is the same mix/edit as the original vinyl.




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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #26 'Sheik Yerbouti'
« Reply #577 on: March 15, 2017, 03:18:11 PM »
This album is fantastic. Will listen tomorrow and give a more detailed review. Some general comments though:

Personally, I think it's really cool that it's clearly a studio album, but ends with a "mostly live" track and Frank introducing the band, not unlike on Bongo Fury.  After a double album, you feel like you've just sat through a performance of a masterwork, and of course you have.

This is what blew my mind when I first heard the album. This was an early one for me too and still wasn't totally familiar with Zappa's methods. It sounds like it was all recorded in the studio, but then at the end of Yo Mama the crowd noise fades in and Frank introduces the band. Then looking at the liner notes I realized that the majority of this was recorded live with overdubs. I couldn't believe it. Obviously it's a clean recording and there are overdubs, but the performances that were live recorded are so tight.

This album is a masterclass in overdubbing. It doesn't seem like Frank is overdubbing whatever didn't come out right live (although I'm sure there was some of that), but he's adding layers that couldn't be produced live. But it also isn't overdone. The live recorded foundations are still the main focus in most songs.

Then there's the xenochrony. Sheik Yer Bouti was clearly a test run for Joe's Garage, but I think it actually works better on this album.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #26 'Sheik Yerbouti'
« Reply #578 on: March 15, 2017, 03:46:29 PM »
This is, by far, the Zappa album I've listened to the most. Every single second of it is engraved on my soul. If I really wanted to, I could probably sing my way through the entire album including whistle most of the guitar solos.

When it came out I already had Over-Nite Sensation, Apostrophe ('), One Size Fits All, and Studio Tan: in addition I was quite familiar with JABfLA and Zappa in New York because of a buddy I hung out with played them all the time. But, this album just knocked us all over because it kinda blended all those styles and then added a more modern (at the time) rock sound. The patented hilarious Zappa satire was turned up to 11 yet the musicianship was still there. I love listening to it just as much today as I did way back then.

I don't know, it's hard to describe how much Sheik Yerbouti is weaved into the fabric of my life. Like the first time I met a (truly beautiful) woman named Dagmar...I couldn't help it. I snickered. Then I had to get away as fast as I could so I could go somewhere and cry.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #26 'Sheik Yerbouti'
« Reply #579 on: March 15, 2017, 10:31:08 PM »
This album is incredible. One of his best and most fun albums. I was obsessed with it after discovering it for the first time. It was my go to Zappa album for a very long time.

I Have Been In You - One of Zappa's prettiest songs musically, with one of his most irreverent lyric. Love this tune. Reminds me of a modern take on the early Mothers "pop" songs, but with a heavier late 70s sound.

Flakes - Adrian Belew's Bob Dylan impression is possibly the most memorable moment on this album. But the rest of the song isn't too shabby either. Really nice buildup in the outro. Also some really great synthesizer playing. Love what Tommy Mars added to this band.

There's a lot of really aggressive music on here. Zappa's music can be obtuse, but I wouldn't describe anything he's done prior to this as "heavy". Even songs like Jones Crusher, which is more blues than punk, have a ton of energy. Of course a lot of this has to do with the great Terry Bozzio. Probably the heaviest hitter to play with Zappa and also added a new vocal texture to the group. It helps that these heavier songs are plentiful in clever Zappa twists. Like the big chorus in Trying To Grow a Chin.

"What Ever Happened To..." and the other interlude tracks bring back fond memories of the 60s Zappa, particularly Lumpy Gravy and We're Only In It For the Money.

Love the xenochrony tracks. Especially Rat Tomago is awesome. Again, a test drive for Joe's Garage and even stuff like Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar. Zappa rarely recorded guitar solos in the studio after this and I think that was a genius move. He has some great studio solos, but his playing really took off in the live environment. Love how he throws in tracks of him just jamming. Especially in this context, I didn't need another version of Torture Never Stops, I appreciate him going straight to the good stuff with the album edit. Also Rubber Shirt is bizarrely cool.

Bobby Brown is awesome. I can see how something like this would be catchy. It's one of his catchiest tunes. But it's also hilarious.

City of Tiny Lites is a bit of a throwback to Overnite Sensation/Roxy/etc, but the addition of Belew gives it a new flavor. This is also a tune where the live recording is a major benefit. This song was just built for live jams.

Don't miss the conceptual continuity in Wild Love, it ends with what would eventually become Sinister Footwear 2nd Movement!

Can't think of a better way to end this album than with a blistering guitar solo in Yo Mama.  :metal

I haven't heard all the 80s albums, but from what I've heard so far I would say this is the last Zappa album that perfectly marries humor and mindblowing music. Joe's Garage has both sides as well, but I feel most songs lean a little too far one way or the other without really blending the two sides the way Sheik Yerbouti does. And that is pretty much how I feel about his 80s work.

Sheik Yerbouti is one of those albums that has something for just about every type of Zappa fan. There's lowbrow humor, biting social commentary, catchy tunes, studio experimentation, musical parodies, jazz fusion extravaganzas. . . all in a very accessible package. One of his best albums and probably among the best 5 for a new fan.

Also, despite being a double album, it goes by really fast. Doesn't feel like 80 minutes at all. Not a single dull moment. Maybe I could do without Wild Love, but even that song is worth it for the cool instrumental ending. It also helps that the songs are mostly pretty short and there's a lot of variety. This album hits hard and fast.
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #26 'Sheik Yerbouti'
« Reply #580 on: March 16, 2017, 07:02:44 AM »
I would never want to do with out Wild Love... the snide satire is so thick that it paints a perfect picture of Frank's opinion of main stream life and dating. I think it's hilarious and the music is really interesting.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #26 'Sheik Yerbouti'
« Reply #581 on: March 16, 2017, 07:48:14 AM »
I was in a study group in high school taking A.P. Physics, and I was that oddball who could hang with the smart kids, the popular kids, the burnouts, or the band kids.  We'd meet a couple times a week at one of the houses and study for a few hours, then afterwards we'd treat ourselves to a snack and some music.  We met at Paul's house and he had a great record collection, but after a while we started bringing our own stuff to share with the others.  I brought Sheik Yerbouti one night and played Side Four (Wild Love / Yo Mama).

It was surprisingly well received by the "smart" crowd, even Frank's otherworldly solo in Yo Mama.  Towards the end, as you can feel it coming back for the last verse, Paul predicted "He's gonna sing the last verse like nothing just happened" and of course he was right.  High fives.

I've had the Wild Love / Yo Mama twofer on mix tapes and now iPod playlists as long as I can remember.  Going on 40 years.  I love the "Elvis" breaks in Wild Love (or whoever that's supposed to be).  So bizarre yet hilarious.


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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #26 'Sheik Yerbouti'
« Reply #582 on: March 16, 2017, 08:07:44 AM »
Speaking of the Yo' Mama guitar solo: I've heard some folks (I think it was on the Portnoy forum) mention that they hate it because it just sounds like sloppy noodling. This was coming from someone who claimed to be a guitar player. Now I'm not a musician but it never seemed that way to me. When I tried to point out that, while it may not be conventional, it certainly was a composed guitar feature because the accompaniment by the band is in such lockstep with every note Frank played. I was told I didn't know what I was talking about.

I think I remember reading a comment by Steve Vai defending Frank's playing. He said he could transcribe every note and show that Frank was being very intentional with his choices. That they were precisely conveying what Frank wanted the music to sound like. He also said that Frank's desire for the music may change from concert to concert but that he new what he was doing.

Is that correct, do you think?

[edit] I guess I put my foot in it, eh? I just read that the guitar solo was stitched together in studio from several performances and then overdubbed  :lol [/edit]
« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 08:40:20 AM by Podaar »

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #26 'Sheik Yerbouti'
« Reply #583 on: March 16, 2017, 09:54:24 AM »
Sheik Yerboutti was also my first bought Zappa album after hearing parts of 'Joe's Garage' and this one at a friends house. I bought it, put it on and was instantly sold. The album is pretty much flawless on all levels, although I'm not a real fan of the 'a-tonal' stuff going on. As much as I love all the songs on this album, Frank's a-tonal soloing used to drive me up the WALL after a while. 'Them or Us' being a good example. Reason for me not to buy all the 'Guitar' albums.  Contrary to some statements on here however I feel it DOES feel like a live album, once you know how to search for it. The intro to 'City of Tiny Lights' for instance, you can clearly hear the audience. There is no question that this was some of the greatest live bands Frank has worked with. No wonder it was so productive.

Af for a weird side-note, in 1988, having just gotten 'somewhat' into Zappa, I walked into an open-air disco-bar kind of scene on a biker holliday in Kristiansand, Norway. Imagine my surprise when what was playing on the speaker system was 'The Subliminal Scrutinizer' off of Joe's Garage....
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #26 'Sheik Yerbouti'
« Reply #584 on: March 16, 2017, 12:09:20 PM »
Speaking of the Yo' Mama guitar solo: I've heard some folks (I think it was on the Portnoy forum) mention that they hate it because it just sounds like sloppy noodling. This was coming from someone who claimed to be a guitar player. Now I'm not a musician but it never seemed that way to me. When I tried to point out that, while it may not be conventional, it certainly was a composed guitar feature because the accompaniment by the band is in such lockstep with every note Frank played. I was told I didn't know what I was talking about.

I think I remember reading a comment by Steve Vai defending Frank's playing. He said he could transcribe every note and show that Frank was being very intentional with his choices. That they were precisely conveying what Frank wanted the music to sound like. He also said that Frank's desire for the music may change from concert to concert but that he new what he was doing.

Is that correct, do you think?

[edit] I guess I put my foot in it, eh? I just read that the guitar solo was stitched together in studio from several performances and then overdubbed  :lol [/edit]

The solo was indeed another "Frankenstein", but IMO that doesn't make it any less impressive.  Frank took pieces of other solos and made them work against a completely different backdrop.  There are places where you can tell he intentionally lined things up.  I love the guitar line going into where the keyboards first come in, then again later when the chords start that long build-up to the recapitulation.  The fact that this solo never actually took place in real time doesn't bother me.  It's probably even more impressive, given that it transforms the solo into a true "composition".

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #26 'Sheik Yerbouti'
« Reply #585 on: March 16, 2017, 12:27:55 PM »
I agree. It feels like a complete composition to me as well.

So why do you think there are some who don't see it that way? Is it just that having been exposed to Frank's music for years we just naturally "get" what he was doing? I guess I'm just confused by guitarists telling me that his playing is sloppy and noodly. I've heard the same criticism for Watermelon in Easter Hay.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #26 'Sheik Yerbouti'
« Reply #586 on: March 16, 2017, 12:50:28 PM »
I would say one possible reason is his use of odd tuplets. Stuff like 11 sixteenth notes in the space of one quarter note. He does this a lot. A sloppy player might do something like this on accident, but it's pretty clearly intentional with Zappa. Not only is it really precise in his solos, but he also wrote these into a lot of his compositions (see the end of Wild Love for example). It might seem sloppy to someone who doesn't know better though.
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #26 'Sheik Yerbouti'
« Reply #587 on: March 16, 2017, 12:54:08 PM »
My best guess is that it's the atonality.  They don't hear standard Western scales or arpeggios or anything else that their ears can grab onto, so it just sounds like noodling to them.

Do they have the same reaction when they hear Frank's more obviously blues-influenced stuff?  Frank's closing solo from "The Be-Bop Tango" on Roxy & Elsewhere is great, and is straight R&B.  See what they think of that.


Good call on the odd submetrics though, too.  I can hear him very clearly fitting in exactly the notes he wants to play, regardless of how many there are and how it subdivides, but to untrained ears it's probably just wanky.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #26 'Sheik Yerbouti'
« Reply #588 on: March 16, 2017, 03:05:44 PM »
Good call on the odd submetrics though, too.  I can hear him very clearly fitting in exactly the notes he wants to play, regardless of how many there are and how it subdivides, but to untrained ears it's probably just wanky.

I'm more on your side with that. I don't think Zappa thought a lot while soloing. He always went for it, always starting with a blank sheet. I really admire him for that. Never starting with the same lick in the same song, really pushing the band to follow him dynamically, rhythmically and emotionally. Solo's could go on for ever, and oftentimes they nearly did. (See Guitar, and Shut Up...)

I don't think Zappa intended to play an 11 over 6 tuplet, but it did come out that way. It would fit very well, just because the phrase started and ended where he wanted it to start and end.
I also love the fact that you can actually hear him trying out stuff, new scales or new repeatable blocks or segments that the band could follow. A solo was the moment the stage got 1 square meter big, and he was in his element.

And sure stuff goes wrong, sure some solo's don't go where they 'should go' (generic guitar solo-wise), but every solo is a story, and there's not a lot of guitarists who do that. (Speaking of that kind of guitar players, I read an interview with Roine Stolt in PROG magazine stating that Zappa is his biggest influence, because 'You can't deny his massive output')


Finally: I love seeing all of your enthusiasm on this album! I am still liking this album more and more on each listen. Recently bought the vinyl, that certainly helps. The air and space fits this album.
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #27 'Orchestral Favorites'
« Reply #589 on: March 20, 2017, 04:02:19 PM »
Official Release #27 'Orchestral Favourites'
(Released 05/1979)



Background Information:
The final of the Läther albums. This one consists of a collection of Zappa orchestral pieces. Frank had a lot of trouble with releasing orchestral music. The transition from the notes that he wrote to the sounds the orchestra made was never really what he imagined (partly because orchestra’s wouldn’t rehearse, unless you paid them fully, partly because the music was complicated, but also because of the way orchestra’s looked at Zappa, a ‘pop-musician’ all of a sudden writing scores), and then the cost was the biggest problem. After writing the score, and paying a copyist, and paying the orchestra a great sum of money, stuff like this wouldn’t sell. His entire career, Frank has been writing pop tunes to pay for his orchestral albums and projects.
The group, the Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Orchestra, is the same as on Lumpy Gravy, although only a couple musicians played on both Lumpy Gravy and Orchestral Favorites.

The Album Itself:
First of all, it’s all orchestral music. The album has no vocals, and features Zappa on guitar only once. Apart from that it is a perfect combination of Zappa’s classical works and his pop-tunes (but played by an orchestra). Tracks like Strictly Genteel (off 200 Motels) and Bogus Pomp (which is a medley of 200 Motels themes) are old tracks, which sound different, but since most of the themes in those songs were played by an orchestra all along, it’s like listening to a singled out track of those recordings. Duke of Prunes is even older and this is a really interesting arrangement, featuring a great guitar solo by Zappa. (If you are interested in reading more on the actual arrangement in terms of form, look up the analysis on zappa-analysis.com)
The remaining two tracks would appear later on one of the two London Symphony Orchestra albums, which, sadly make this album pretty abundant. The sound quality on that one is better, and the tracklist mostly the same (with the exception of Duke of Prunes, which in the meantime is one of the highlights of this album).
This album is an overlooked one, but the problem is that it’s overlooked for good reason.

Essential Tracks:
Duke of Prunes
Bogus Pomp
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #27 'Orchestral Favorites'
« Reply #590 on: March 20, 2017, 11:05:38 PM »
I don't think Orchestral Favorites is that bad. The weakest of the Lather albums, sure, but it has its merits. I actually think it is a decent introduction to Frank Zappa's orchestral side. Not quite as dense or long as some of his other orchestral works. There is some really accessible stuff here with Duke of Prunes and Strictly Genteel. The latter is one of my favorite songs of his and I am always open to the various interpretations that exist. Maybe not as good as the 200 Motels version, but it's still enjoyable on here.
I always liked Duke of Prunes, but this version is at the next level. Also a masterful blend of rock band and orchestra. I'm actually a little disappointed he didn't go more in this direction. I suspect he wanted to be seen as a "serious" composer and not seen as relying heavily on rock bands. The guitar solo is also fantastic.

As for everything else, I like Bogus Pomp. There are some really nice melodies and experimental moments throughout. It can be grating if I'm not in the right mood, but in the right mood it's a cool piece. The other two pieces are OK. Kinda reminiscent of Lumpy Gravy but not as exciting. Still interesting.

I also like the orchestra. Didn't realize this was the same group that recorded Lumpy Gravy, it seems they changed since then (not just in personnel). Some interesting use of their instruments, such as violin through a wah pedal. It works with what Frank is doing.
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #27 'Orchestral Favorites'
« Reply #591 on: March 21, 2017, 07:13:00 AM »
I have to be honest, the constant references to Lather, and how it renders the original recordings less relevant or inferior or whatever, is somewhat annoying.  Even just comparing them, rather than simply evaluating the albums on their own merits, seems to devalue the original albums.  I grew up with these older albums and enjoyed them long before anyone other than Frank himself had any idea what Lather was or was to be, and it was decades later, long after I'd stopped "actively collecting" that he finally released it.  I downloaded it in its entirety, and still haven't bothered to listen to it all the way through.  It's just too daunting, too much.  I like Frank, but in smaller doses I guess.  In the big picture, Lather is the grand statement of which we were only given glimpses of before.  But from my perspective, it's a huge repackaging and reworking of mostly material I already had.

I like Orchestral Favorites.  It's orchestral versions of Frank's music.  I couldn't tell you which track is which by just hearing it, as I tend to put on albums and just let them play all the way through, so without any lyrics and without sitting there with the record jacket, I never associate the tracks with their titles.  But it's good stuff to put on and zone out to.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #27 'Orchestral Favorites'
« Reply #592 on: March 21, 2017, 07:36:15 AM »
Ugliest cover EVER. Period.
From the ocean comes the notion that the realise lies in rhythm. The rhythm of vision is dancer, and when you dance you´re always on the one. From the looking comes to see, wondrous realise real eyes....

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #27 'Orchestral Favorites'
« Reply #593 on: March 21, 2017, 07:38:57 AM »
Btw. I don't mean that this album becomes abundant because of Läther, I mean it does so because of the later released LSO I & II, most songs are on there, and sound (way) better. If those album wouldn't have existed this would have been an almost essential Zappa album. The problem is that LSO is more what Zappa had in mind all along. (Although apart from him being able to edit the tape so that most mistakes were omitted, I can't seem to find the quote I had in mind considering the sound of the orchestra on Orchestral Favorites vs. LSO)
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #27 'Orchestral Favorites'
« Reply #594 on: March 21, 2017, 08:22:15 AM »
There's an entire chapter in his 'The Real Frank Zappa Book' about what his experiences with recording the LSO were. Worth checking out!  ;D
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