Author Topic: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #39 - 'The Perfect Stranger'  (Read 21887 times)

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Offline Onno

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #1 Freak Out!
« Reply #70 on: October 05, 2015, 11:22:49 AM »
Just had my first listen to this album. I only really like about half of the album. Musically, the overall style isn't my favourite, and some of the songs had lyrics that I didn't like at all (I Ain't Got No Heart, Go Cry On Somebody Else's Shoulder, Motherly Love, How Could I Be Such A Fool, etc....). I did like everything after I'm Not Satisfied, including Monster Magnet, which I thought was very original.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #1 Freak Out!
« Reply #71 on: October 05, 2015, 06:46:28 PM »
"You cheated me baaaabayyy....and told.....somedirtyliesaboutme.... (dada da dooo)"

I like the lyrics to Go Cry On Someone Else's Shoulder because it seems almost like a parody.   I always thought it was a bit weird that Frank claimed to love Doo-Wop so much.  I haven't heard all his stuff, but none of his Doo-Wop material sounds like straight Doo-Wop to me.  It's always like he's making fun of it.
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Offline Orbert

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #1 Freak Out!
« Reply #72 on: October 05, 2015, 08:59:08 PM »
It seems like it's a bit of both.  To me, it's obvious that he loves the genre.  But he seems well aware that it has an inherent cheesiness to it, and he exploits that to make fun of the genre even as he's honoring it, because he's not going to come right out and be serious about anything.  Still, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.  He couldn't lampoon it so well if he didn't love and understand it.

Offline Mosh

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #1 Freak Out!
« Reply #73 on: October 05, 2015, 09:13:08 PM »
He's likened it to Stravinsky's neoclassical period. His argument is that Stravinsky intended it as parody, exaggerating the tropes of the genre. Someone who doesn't know any better could listen to it and not realize it isn't supposed to be taken seriously.

The closest Zappa gets to this I think is Ruben and the Jets. It has some reworkings of Freak Out songs, but they're a bit less weird on there. He's still making fun of the genre but it's played slightly more "straight" imo.

I think one thing to keep in mind with Zappa, is he made fun of everything. Even things he liked. A good example is the Stairway To Heaven cover, with that ridiculous reggae beat under it. The story behind that cover is that he heard the band jamming Stairway and thought it sounded nice (he had never heard Stairway before), so they ended up covering it. He even made fun of Stravinsky's music, one of his heroes.

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #1 Freak Out!
« Reply #74 on: October 05, 2015, 11:17:52 PM »
Oh yeah.  His cover of "Stairway" by the '88 band is amazing.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #1 Freak Out!
« Reply #75 on: October 05, 2015, 11:34:05 PM »
I honestly like it more than the original. Nothing against Zeppelin, love them too. I always lose it when the horn section plays the guitar solo.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #1 Freak Out!
« Reply #76 on: October 06, 2015, 12:28:30 AM »
All of those old doowop songs he did were more or less, parodies. Especially the cheesy lyrics. Ever heard 'Valory' ? But musically it was done with a love for the genre.
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Offline Orbert

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #1 Freak Out!
« Reply #77 on: October 06, 2015, 07:03:44 AM »
I honestly like it more than the original. Nothing against Zeppelin, love them too. I always lose it when the horn section plays the guitar solo.

That's the best part.  I love the horns there!  ♫♫

Offline Nihil-Morari

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #1 Freak Out!
« Reply #78 on: October 06, 2015, 01:15:22 PM »
Official Release #2 'Absolutely Free'
(Released 04/1967)



Background information:
The difficult follow up. If 'Freak Out!' would've been Zappa's only release, he would've become a massive underground cult hit, as Ben Watson stated. I totally buy that.
For the second album, Zappa wrote a bunch of tracks, musically somewhat more difficult, mostly in terms of instrumentation. He finds a couple new mothers, mostly woodwind players, and they get to record their follow-up on a way too tight schedule, with a way too tight budget.
Zappa states that he couldn't get anything done the way he would've liked it, just because they didn't have the time.
The album itself is built like a two part suite, one side long each. A major difference with Freak Out is the fact that tap- along-songs and high-brow music are more woven into each other, a way of writing that I've always really admired. No more dividing fans in 'I like these songs, and dislike the others', with this album you're going to like all of it. Or not, 'cause it's a bit tricky to get into.
Another major breakthrough with this album is the enormous quantity of humor on it. Not only parodies of musical styles, but literally more jokes. Comedy rock was born.

The album itself:
Side One:

Officially called "Absolutely Free, 1 in a series of underground oratorios”.
Firstly the word Oratorios (the second half of the LP is called Oratories, but I'm guessing that's a typo on my pirated LP reissue). In classical music you speak of an Oratorio when there's secular lyrics in a big vocal-oriented piece. Apart from the secular lyrics, this is a pretty vocal oriented record. It really feels like a musical, in the most positive sense of that word. 
Plastic People is a track that would become a Zappa classic. During his later tours this track would be the representative for the Old Days, albeit in a totally reworked version. Mainly a satire on the fake people of America in those days, when most of the time the actual fake ones would be the ones connecting the most with this song. Later in Zappa's career a comparable movement would occur when the ‘dumb American teenagers’ would be the ones laughing the hardest at the lyrics of Titties and Beer. Remarkable in the opening piece are the words 'I'm sure that love will never be a product of plasticity', a statement that’s too corny to be Zappa.
The Duke of Prunes is a special something too. According to the liner notes of the Mystery Disc, there was on old version in Run Home Slow, one of the movies where Zappa did the score for, back in the Studio Z, Cucamonga days. Add in the multiple Stravinsky references in Amnesia Vivace, the second part of the song, and the considerable lenght of the entire piece, The Duke of Prunes is one of the highlights of the album.
Call Any Vegetable (together with the next two tracks, which are really a solo section, and a closing section) is a great piece of weird lyrics too. Loaded with musical references to Zappa's classical heroes, and a rare guitar solo (rare on this album at least), this song is a great closer to the first side of the album.
The CD version has two tracks shoved in between side one and side two, Big Leg Emma, and Why Don'tcha Do Me Right, both harking back to the old days with the first being a classic R&B track, and the second a straight-on rocker. Two funny little tracks, but a bit out of place on this record.

Side Two: 
"The M.O.I. American Pageant, 2 in a series of underground oratories"
The centerpiece on side two is Brown Shoes Don’t Make It. A strange piece, which is basically a musical of its own in seven-and-a-half minutes. This really set Zappa’s name as someone who wrote extreme lyrics. ‘Only thirteen and she knows how to nasty’ and we’re talking 1967 right here!
The songs on this record all segue, making this really one long piece. There are ups and downs, but mostly I think this is a very interesting piece, it really sounds like Zappa, but it doesn’t sound at all like Freak Out! You get both more extreme music (not counting Monster Magnet) and more funny, light stuff. And album of extremes all woven into each other.


Essential Tracks: (for those of you that don't have all the time in the world)
The Dukes of Prunes (track 2, 3 and 4)
Call Any Vegetable (track 5, 6 and 7)
Brown Shoes Don't Make It
« Last Edit: October 06, 2015, 10:35:26 PM by Nihil-Morari »
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Offline Podaar

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #79 on: October 06, 2015, 01:53:52 PM »
I completely agree with your "Essential Tracks". Especially, "Invocation and Ritual Dance of the Young Pumpkin." Honorable mention for "Big Leg Emma" but that's mostly from my nostalgia for Zappa in New York.

I enjoy this album more than Freak Out!. I think it nicely forecasts the 70's output.

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #80 on: October 06, 2015, 02:30:08 PM »
I like this one more than the debut as well.  Even if the results were not what Frank had intended, what we got was most of the same insanity as the first album, but distilled and more focused into something a bit more accessible, yet still way the hell out there.

"Invocation and Ritual Dance of the Young Pumpkin" is amazing.  One of my favorite instrumentals by anyone, anywhere.

Offline TAC

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #81 on: October 06, 2015, 03:14:06 PM »
Nihil, any chance you could post the year of release for each album?
I'm going to try and check in on this every few days. I'm not a Zappa fan at all, but am mildly interested in the historical element of it, and will check out a song here and there upon recommendation.

I know he was very influential in getting Alice Cooper's first two albums off the ground. I am a huge Alice fan.
would have thought the same thing but seeing the OP was TAC i immediately thought Maiden or DT related
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Offline Podaar

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #82 on: October 06, 2015, 04:46:02 PM »
TAC,

This page may help as we go along. Frank Zappa discography

I case you don't want to (or can't) follow the link. Freak Out! - 1966, Absolutely Free - 1967.

Offline TAC

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #83 on: October 06, 2015, 04:49:18 PM »
Link works fine. Thanks Greg!
would have thought the same thing but seeing the OP was TAC i immediately thought Maiden or DT related
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Offline Mosh

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #84 on: October 06, 2015, 06:43:49 PM »
The first time I heard Absolutely Free, I didn't like it. The production was considerably worse than Freak Out, the music was dense and often dissonant, and nothing about it was particularly accessible. Where Freak Out lured you into the weird by having catchy pop songs to hook you, Absolutely Free isn't quite as newbie friendly.

It grew on me though and I think it has more to offer than Freak Out. I love how each side is its own mini suite and the CD version does a great job dividing these by having the two singles in the middle. Brown Shoes is really the centerpiece of the album I think. I love the way it starts with this basic blues riff before descending into madness. Very vaudevillian stuff. Very much a prototype for the Flo and Eddie era too. The whole pseudo musical thing with the music and lyrics working together to tell a story. The Flo and Eddie period took this style to new heights and those albums are great, but I gotta say nothing they did was ever as effective as Brown Shoes, for me at least.


Does anyone here have a preference for either side over the other? I personally think Side 2 is slightly better. It's funnier, has better songs, and Brown Shoes Don't Make It. I also love America Drinks and Goes Home. Covered that a couple times in high school with a jazz band.

Offline darkshade

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #85 on: October 06, 2015, 08:26:11 PM »
This is a much better album than Freak Out! to me, yet just as wild. However, this is the first album where we hear the more technical side of Zappa's music, more constructed sections, and he did the best he could with the Mothers during this time. Their musical chops were solid but no where technically proficient like Zappa's later bands. Adding horns definitely helped add more color to the music. But the music is definitely more progressive and challenging, but is covered in humor, ridiculous vocals that walk the line between bombastic, medieval sounding, and just plain weird.

This album, IMO, also contains one of the very first fusions of jazz and rock, or as we call it: jazz-rock/fusion. "Ritual Dance..." is a groovy rock track with some jazz soloing from the horns, and Zappa on guitar, bring more bluesy R&B styling. It all works as part of the suite. I recommend the entire album, and not select tracks, as like the great concept albums and suites in progressive rock, this is meant to be listened to as one piece, divided into parts (like SFAM). On the CD, they added 2 B-sides from the same era, which are also great classic 60s Zappa rock n roll.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #86 on: October 06, 2015, 11:11:29 PM »
Love this album!!  Curious if About to Crash ever got the tattoo she was joking about...


(a tramp stamp of the Zappa mustache....but she didn't know what phrase to put with it.   *I* (in a state of distastful humor) suggested: "Why if she were my daughter I'd..."  on the left side and then "What would you do daddy?" on the right.....was that too far?   More importantly, did she ever get the tattoo??)
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Offline darkshade

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #87 on: October 06, 2015, 11:36:43 PM »
Sometimes if I stare at the album art, I feel like I'm staring at Mikael Akerfeldt.

Offline Nihil-Morari

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #88 on: October 07, 2015, 08:17:39 AM »
Love this album!!  Curious if About to Crash ever got the tattoo she was joking about...


(a tramp stamp of the Zappa mustache....but she didn't know what phrase to put with it.   *I* (in a state of distastful humor) suggested: "Why if she were my daughter I'd..."  on the left side and then "What would you do daddy?" on the right.....was that too far?   More importantly, did she ever get the tattoo??)

Haha! I remember that!
I actually think that I too enjoy this album more than Freak Out! And I always thought I liked We're Only In It For The Money even better. Well, we'll see about that in a couple of days.

I love the fact btw that there are both Zappa fans taking part and (relative) newcomers to his output. The more the merrier.
TAC, I'm adding years and months of release to each new album I'm posting, thanks for the tip!
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Offline Cyclopssss

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #89 on: October 07, 2015, 11:19:23 AM »
´Ladies and gentlemen...the President of the United States of America´
´..cough cough....my fellow Americans...´
´He´s been sick....´

 ;D

Great album, made under extremely difficult circumstances. (for refference, read The Real Zappa Book).
Brown Shoes is an instant classic, so Is Call any vegetable.
Duke of Prunes is off course, about none other than John Wayne. Frank had a slight altercation in a bar with Wayne who came up to him, drunk, stating ´Do you know who I am? I´m THE DUKE!´ Hence, duke of Prunes....

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 - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #90 on: October 07, 2015, 01:45:21 PM »
Isn't Lumpy Gravy next? It's #3 on the new official releases.
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Offline Nihil-Morari

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #91 on: October 07, 2015, 02:20:04 PM »
Isn't Lumpy Gravy next? It's #3 on the new official releases.

Yes it is! I mentioned We're Only In It For The Money, cause Lumpy Gravy is technically a FZ solo album, but we'll get to that.
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #92 on: October 07, 2015, 07:05:08 PM »
I should comment that I seriously love this album.  As soon as I put it in, I loved it much more than Freak Out (which I already liked just fine).    I can only repeat what has already been mentioned, but I did think it was an odd move to put the bonus tracks in the middle.   As a newcomer, I was looking for the "original album" experience.   But there have been some good points made about them being a good break between the two suites.   

Looking forward to Lumpy Gravy as that is one that I have done a lot of research on, but I've never actually heard.   For the most part, I tend to be very visceral when it comes to buying CD's.   I do occasionally buy CD's online, but mostly, I like the experience of going to the CD shop and buying things I find on impulse.    Many CD shops keep a decent supply of Zappa, but I've yet to find Lumpy Gravy on the shelf.   I do own In It for the Money, though. 

I should take a quick moment to say that my entire collection consists of:

Freak Out
Absolutely Free
We're Only In It for the Money
Hot Rats
200 Motels Soundtrack
Over-Nite Sensation
Bongo Fury
Sheik Yerbouti (vinyl)
Joe's Garage
and Strictly Commercial...which was my first.

Somewhere, I think I also have Apostrophe and Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch on cassette (somehow, my wife's ex's collection ended up in our house), but I haven't had a cassette player hooked up in forever.  I'll have to see if I can find one.
 
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #93 on: October 07, 2015, 07:27:00 PM »
I should comment that I seriously love this album.  As soon as I put it in, I loved it much more than Freak Out (which I already liked just fine).    I can only repeat what has already been mentioned, but I did think it was an odd move to put the bonus tracks in the middle.   As a newcomer, I was looking for the "original album" experience.   But there have been some good points made about them being a good break between the two suites.   
Yea, it's one of the few times an album is improved by the bonus tracks for me. Usually I skip them, but it's perfect with Absolutely Free.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #94 on: October 08, 2015, 06:20:57 AM »
I should take a quick moment to say that my entire collection consists of:

Freak Out
Absolutely Free
We're Only In It for the Money
Hot Rats
200 Motels Soundtrack
Over-Nite Sensation
Bongo Fury
Sheik Yerbouti (vinyl)
Joe's Garage
and Strictly Commercial...which was my first.


I opened up this reply because I was going to type, "Jammin, you must get Zappa In New York!"

Then I thought, "Maybe he'd like Jazz from Hell too. Oh, and he absolutely needs Just Another Band from L.A.. What about Zoot Alures and One Size Fits All...Studio Tan..."

That's the thing with Frank isn't it? The "essential" list of any one fan is likely to be 30 or more albums.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #95 on: October 08, 2015, 06:30:48 AM »
Well, I wouldnt put 200 Motels in there. That´s probably the worst album to get someone into Zappa´s music.
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 - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #96 on: October 08, 2015, 07:48:55 AM »
Well, I wouldnt put 200 Motels in there. That´s probably the worst album to get someone into Zappa´s music.

The problem with Zappa lists is that every list is extremely long. Cause the Worst album to get someone into zappa would be Feeding The Monkies, or Dance me This, or Civilization Phase III, or Yellow Shark... or... or... or...
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #97 on: October 08, 2015, 09:28:40 AM »
Yeah. Point well made.  ;)

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Got to meet the gurneys and a dozen grey attourneys
TV dinner by the Pool, I´m so glad I finished school.
Life is such a ball, I run the world from City Hall.´

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 - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #98 on: October 09, 2015, 08:12:30 AM »
Any more on Absolutely Free? I'm just reading in Barry Miles' Zappa Biography that the recording of Absolutely Free was done in 4 days. 4 days!
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #99 on: October 10, 2015, 02:06:21 AM »
Love this album!!  Curious if About to Crash ever got the tattoo she was joking about...


(a tramp stamp of the Zappa mustache....but she didn't know what phrase to put with it.   *I* (in a state of distastful humor) suggested: "Why if she were my daughter I'd..."  on the left side and then "What would you do daddy?" on the right.....was that too far?   More importantly, did she ever get the tattoo??)

Not yet, but it's in the cards for sure. Still not certain on the quote though :p

Any more on Absolutely Free? I'm just reading in Barry Miles' Zappa Biography that the recording of Absolutely Free was done in 4 days. 4 days!

Wow...
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #100 on: October 10, 2015, 05:21:00 AM »
I'm typing up my take on Lumpy Gravy, will be posting it tomorrow!
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Offline hefdaddy42

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #101 on: October 10, 2015, 08:28:39 AM »
Finally got to listen to Absolutely Free.

Wow, that was some fucked up shit.

But somehow, I liked it!
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #102 on: October 10, 2015, 02:00:53 PM »
Damn right you did!
Oh Jackie, always jumping to the most homoerotic possibility.

Offline Nihil-Morari

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #2 Absolutely Free
« Reply #103 on: October 11, 2015, 01:23:31 AM »
Finally got to listen to Absolutely Free.

Wow, that was some fucked up shit.

But somehow, I liked it!

That's cool. Well, we're about to take it to the next level in terms of fucked up-ness.
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #1 Freak Out!
« Reply #104 on: October 11, 2015, 01:31:56 AM »
Official Release #3 'Lumpy Gravy'
(Released 08/1967) *see below



Background Information:
Zappa was a ‘classical’ composer before he was a rock guitar player, still people often doubted his serious side. This music was the first of Zappa’s serious music to be released, and a lot more would follow.
Mothers fans in those days wouldn’t be interested in this kind of music, Zappa knew that. He got an offer though from Capitol Records to write and release a classical record. Because of his other record contract with Verve/MGM he couldn’t play on this record, thus trying to release it under a different name (as a solo record), and with him conducting, because conducting wasn’t in the contract with Verve. When Verve/MGM threatened a lawsuit anyway, Zappa reedited the album into its ‘final’ form, a.k.a. the format that has become the standard version of Lumpy Gravy.
That’s why there’s a bit of a discussion whether this is the third album in Zappa’s discography or the fourth. The original version was released in august 1967, the Verve version in may 1968.

The album itself:
Probably the most difficult album in Zappa’s early work. Or at least the most unconventional. It doesn’t really have ‘songs’, no ‘lyrics’, nothing. In the inside sleeve it states:
‘Parts list:
Side One
Side Two’
The sleeve is full of little jokes ‘a curiously inconsistent piece which started out to be a BALLET but probably didn’t make it.’ ‘Listen to side one first, and turn it all the way up!!’ ‘Is this phase 2 of: we’re only in it for the money?’ etc.
Zappa named this record his own favorite, knowing Zappa a bit, we can be sure it won’t be the album that has the most ‘hits’ on it. This album is in fact a 31 minute collage of weird conversations recorded inside a piano (with a sandbag on the sustain pedal), short pieces for band, orchestra, choir or any combination, tape experiments, noise, musique concrete and yes, rock music.
This album, though, is not for everyone. It’s far from background music, it’s a difficult one to listen to, but the reward at the end of it is great.

Anyway, there’s no track-by-track for this release, because it just consists of two tracks.


Essential Tracks:
Part One. That's the most accessible one of the two parts. If you can’t make it through Part One, I don’t think you’ll get through Part Two.
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Nihil-Morari is generally considered the resident Zappa person.