Author Topic: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #39 - 'The Perfect Stranger'  (Read 40782 times)

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Offline Podaar

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #30 - 'Tinseltown Rebellion'
« Reply #630 on: April 04, 2017, 03:49:46 PM »
 :tup  I'm always down for an Orbert story.

 :corn

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #30 - 'Tinseltown Rebellion'
« Reply #631 on: April 05, 2017, 12:15:50 AM »
Yes to the Orbert story!

I like this album a lot. Maybe not an essential but a good introduction to his later period and actually not a bad one to start out with if you're looking for a more harder edged accessible Zappa. It shows a few different sides to his music and the material spans his entire career.

There are some things that make this album special. First is the songs presented. Unless I'm forgetting something, most of his live albums up until this point were primarily used to showcase new music. Sure there are the obligatory reworkings of old material on pretty much every live album, but I always mostly thought of that as secondary to the new stuff. Here it makes up a pretty big chunk of the album.The variety of the material (combined with the audience participation) makes this feel like a more traditional live album than some of the others. And that's not a bad thing. The way the old songs are reworked is also really cool. The version of Love of My Life on this album is the definitive one. You could make an argument for Brown Shoes Don't Make It, but I still prefer the original. Still, it's an impressive version. Especially considering the original Brown Shoes was assembled in the studio, hearing this band perform it in one take almost perfectly is pretty incredible.
Also I believe two of the guitar solo spots (Now You See It and Pick Me I'm Clean) come from King Kong and Inca Roads.

The new material is really good too. Easy Meat could possibly be the highlight of the album. It's an old tune, as Darkshade said, but I think Frank was smart not to release it until this album. The older versions I've heard show a somewhat unexciting blues rocker that really wasn't album worthy. But by the 80s it became perhaps Frank's proggiest tune. The synth "classical" section is mindblowing. The guitar solo is awesome. The edits are also seamless. The Blue Light is weird but good. One of the oddities of the Zappa catalog that somehow doesn't get the attention it deserves. Tinseltown Rebellion might not be as effective of a parody of punk rock as Broken Hearts Are For Assholes, but I think it is stronger as a song. On that note, I think the quality of the lyrics are a major improvement over Joe's Garage. I guess some of this material predates that, but I'm not sure which song originated when. Either way, it does continue to be more on the cynical side but I don't think the cleverness is totally lost the way some of Joe's Garage was. The humor is also better. Some really funny bits and the audience interaction portions are hilarious.

Then there's the sound. Yes it is a little rough around the edges, but I like that. After his last live album which didn't even sound like a live album (Sheik Yerbouti) it makes sense for him to go in the opposite direction with this. No overdubs (mostly), no frills, just a raw sampling of Frank's new band. I like it. The rhythm section can be a little busy (and I do find that a hinderance on some other recordings), but I'm fine with it here. I like Steve Vai but he seems to take a backseat on this album. What album had him credited for stunt guitar?

I think my only real negative on this album is Fine Girl. It's out of place and it's an annoying song. According to the liner notes, this was included so something from the album could be played on the radio. Not sure if I buy that story, but it is an odd inclusion either way.
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Offline Cyclopssss

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #30 - 'Tinseltown Rebellion'
« Reply #632 on: April 05, 2017, 02:32:19 AM »
Come on, Orbert, don't leave us hangin'!  :D

Tinseltown was something of a surprise for me, as it was way better than I expected it to be. I especially love Easy Meat, Ain't got no heart, Love of my life, Pick me I'm clean (those vocal harmonie) and Brown shoes.

This also might be the best live band Frank ever assembled, technically. It's panty sniffing time! "Zeets!'
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Offline Orbert

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #30 - 'Tinseltown Rebellion'
« Reply #633 on: April 05, 2017, 11:36:36 AM »
I was kinda waiting for Nihil-Morari's "blessing" before posting my story, since it's his thread, but at this point I guess I can claim "popular demand".

----------

1980, my first year in college, and I'd been a Zappa/Mothers fan for a few years, having discovered them earlier but really only starting my journey with Sheik Yerbouti.  By this point, my buddy Chris and I had maybe a dozen albums between us.  In addition to Sheik Yerbouti, I know I had the Joe's Garage trilogy, One Size Fits All (had to get that one because it was my actual intro to The Mothers), and the Flo and Eddie classics Fillmore East - June 1971 and Just Another Band from L.A.  I know Chris had Roxy & Elsewhere, and I'm sure we each had a few others.

Scored tickets to see Frank at The Masonic Theater in Royal Oak, Michigan.  Chris was my best bud at the time (and co-star in other concert stories here on DTF), so we prepared for it the way we usually did, which was by listening to as much of the catalog as we could.

As we all know now, Frank's concerts were not "greatest hits" concerts by any means, and sometimes even consisted of all-new material.  At the time, we didn't understand that, and I was hoping to sing along with at least a couple of familiar songs.  I think the only ones I recognized were "Easy Meat" and "I Don't Wanna Get Drafted", which was both reasonably familiar but not really favorites.  Oh well.  Of course the band was tight; everyone who plays with Frank has to be in the top 0.1% of all living musicians.  But so much of Frank's music takes a while to work on you, and there's often a lot that you don't catch until repeated listens.  When you're sitting there digging it for the first time, you can't help but be impressed by the musicianship, but what the hell are they playing?  Can we get some "Nanook" or maybe "I'm the Slime"?  "Dancing Fool"?  Um, no.

The Masonic Theater is an absolutely stunning venue.  Totally old-school style, red velvet and other fancy stuff on the walls, big chandeliers, just gorgeous.  This was the famous tour when they collected panties.  As the show progressed, you'd see panties getting tossed onto the stage.  Fun.  Not exactly hygienic, but what the fuck.

During a jam, some asshole threw a whiskey bottle onto the stage.  With a wave of his hand, the band stopped cold and Frank called for the house lights, which revealed said asshole being grabbed and pounded on by security, and perhaps a few others as well.  They dragged his ass out of there.

Frank took the opportunity to chastise the audience.  He talked about how this is such a beautiful concert hall, but people can't just appreciate that; they have to get all stoned or drunk or whatever, and then act like assholes.  He'd asked for panties, and someone threw a whiskey bottle.  Oh man, he was pissed, and rightfully so.  Eventually he calmed down, the asshole was gone, and he said "Now, as soon as my drummer gets back out here, we can continue" and Vinnie comes running out from back stage.  He's barely sat down when Frank goes "Three! Four!" and bang! they pick up the song, seemingly from right where they left off.  Seriously, it was like he'd pressed the Pause button, then later released it.  Frank's command and control over his ensembles is legendary, and we got to witness it first-hand, although under less-than-positive circumstances.

Another thing that was kinda weird was the solos.  With most bands, the solos grow organically out of the songs.  Usually you play the solo over the same chords as the verse or chorus.  Sometimes, especially in prog, it's a different section completely, but still fits into the composition.  The solos that night weren't really like that.  The band would be jamming in 11/8 or some other crazy time signature, then the lights would change, the music would change, a spotlight would hit Frank, and he'd take his solo.  Basically "The maestro will now take a solo!"  I remember at least one time it was just a generic blues thing -- don't get me wrong, it was a great solo -- but it had nothing to do with the song it was in.  Then after, everything would change back and the song would continue.  This happened more than once.  Just really odd, how the solos didn't seem to have anything to do with the song.  If the song is in 11/8, solo in 11/8, don't give me some generic blues thing.  Any idiot can do that.

As the last chord of the last song was still bouncing around the room, the house lights came up, and the message was clear: "No encores for you!"  This audience did not get/deserve an encore.  The asshole who threw the whiskey bottle had ruined that for all of us.  A lot of people keep applauding and screaming, because that's what you do, but after a while it was obvious that it was in vain.  I wouldn't be surprised if Frank was halfway back to the motel by then.

So I got to see Frank, my absolute hero at the time, but it was not the amazing experience I'd hoped it would be.  It was certainly unique, and I don't know what I expected, but this was not it.  It's impossible not to be impressed by the incredible musicianship.  But I didn't know most of the songs and had trouble digging them, plus the weird way the solos came about, and the whole thing with the whiskey bottle resulting in no encore, left me with a less-than-positive feeling about the whole thing.  That's what I meant when I said I was somewhat disappointed.  This was "later era Frank" when he just didn't give a fuck (if he ever did) and was just playing concerts to raise money to fund his classical projects to come.

Offline Podaar

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #30 - 'Tinseltown Rebellion'
« Reply #634 on: April 05, 2017, 12:00:54 PM »
^ And that's exactly how Tinseltown Rebellion feels to me. Impressive musicianship that leaves me a bit disappointed.

Offline Nihil-Morari

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #30 - 'Tinseltown Rebellion'
« Reply #635 on: April 05, 2017, 12:23:32 PM »
I love any story that's actually about Frank, his music, or any of his concerts. There's only a couple of people I know that even know his music, so I love to hear from fellow enthousiasts.
And yeah Orbert, I know exactly what you mean. Somehow his nonchalance was going too far on occasion in the 80's. Especially concerning the audience. I mean, I love the 'Stop it, you'll hurt your throat' on Burnt Weeny, and the dance contest on Roxy, but in this period it feels forced. Zappa didn't want to tour this much it seems.
I know I'm getting ahead of myself, but especially on later tours where Scott Thunes would write the arrangements of the songs, and the number of guitar solo's lessened, it's wasn't so much a Zappa show anymore, more a band playing Zappa's latest tunes.
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Offline Orbert

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #30 - 'Tinseltown Rebellion'
« Reply #636 on: April 05, 2017, 12:47:22 PM »
Yeah, Frank was allowing himself to be more of a composer and less of a performing musician as time went on.  Hey, it was totally his call, his life, his career, so I can't blame him for it or anything.  But the result was somewhat unsatisfying for a while, and I happened to catch him during this period.  I think he later learned how to better work within this paradigm.  I'd kinduv moved on by then, but I've seen The Dub Room Special which I know is from a later period, and thought the concert footage looked very entertaining.  The rest of it, not so much, but at least the shows looked fun.  And yeah, we're getting ahead of things, so...

Offline darkshade

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #30 - 'Tinseltown Rebellion'
« Reply #637 on: April 05, 2017, 02:00:25 PM »
I've come to appreciate the 80s output more as time goes on, even the humor has grown on me. Once you've gobbled up all the 60s and 70s stuff and digested them all, the logical next step is diving into the later Zappa works. You begin to realize the drop in quality is merely relative or minimal, depending on the album, or just non-existent. That's not to say Frank didn't make some questionable decisions on a few albums, but the 1980, 82 and 88 bands were phenomenal. The 80s/90s albums seem like a reward for the more seasoned Zappa fans, as the music became more challenging, more crude, more cynical, and weirder; both with his rock/fusion output, and his classical/electronic/'serious' works.

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #30 - 'Tinseltown Rebellion'
« Reply #638 on: April 05, 2017, 03:20:45 PM »
I don't even consider it a drop in quality, merely a change of focus.  Frank has always had a composer in him trying to get out.  In the early days, it had no other vehicle than through a rock ensemble, because nobody was going to offer up an orchestra to an unknown composer, but there were record companies willing to take a chance on a rock band.

Frank did seem to be going through the motions in some ways during this time, and I suppose that that does qualify as a drop in quality.  But taste is always subjective, and while I find most of his 80's output less enjoyable than the 70's stuff, I know that there are people who think it's just as good and possibly better.  Frank had honed his skills more by then, and it showed in many subtle ways, and that is what some people are drawn to.

I agree that digging into more challenging music can be more rewarding.  Unfortunately (for me), this more challenging period just isn't one that I really care for.  It was around this time that my love for Frank and his work started to waver, and I realized that I really did prefer his music in smaller doses.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #30 - 'Tinseltown Rebellion'
« Reply #639 on: April 06, 2017, 12:26:28 AM »
Great story and I think you hit the nail on the head. Having never gotten to see Frank perform live (I missed my opportunity in '88) it must be mindboggling to witness a song being played (and the early '80's songs could go OUT THERE and then hear a solo being played that does not fit the song AT ALL. I mean I remember buying Ship Arriving Too Late (to save a drowning witch) and it took me forever to get into side two, i.e. the title song. I loved Zappa's tight, concise songs, but when he would stretch things, man he would STRETCH!
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #30 - 'Tinseltown Rebellion'
« Reply #640 on: April 07, 2017, 09:13:22 PM »
Cool story, Orbert. Also seems like one of the most typical Zappa stories. From lecturing the audience to not playing "the hits".

I definitely agree that Frank was beginning to move away from Rock music and get more cynical, but I don't think that really shows on this album. There are hints of it going in that direction, but isn't overwhelming. I think this is still one of his most fun and well rounded albums. The "going through the motions" in the 80s was more in his studio work than his live albums anyway IMO.
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Offline darkshade

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #30 - 'Tinseltown Rebellion'
« Reply #641 on: April 08, 2017, 09:47:20 AM »
Cool story, Orbert. Also seems like one of the most typical Zappa stories. From lecturing the audience to not playing "the hits".

I definitely agree that Frank was beginning to move away from Rock music and get more cynical, but I don't think that really shows on this album. There are hints of it going in that direction, but isn't overwhelming. I think this is still one of his most fun and well rounded albums. The "going through the motions" in the 80s was more in his studio work than his live albums anyway IMO.

IMO the only album that is "going through the motions" is Them or Us, and even that album has some great tunes. Thing-Fish could technically be considered that way too, except the whole concept is outrageous, the dialogue is impressive, even if it's absurd and sometimes annoying, and there's even less great tunes. But we'll get to those albums soon enough...

Offline Nihil-Morari

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Official Release #31, #32 & #33 - 'Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar'
(Released 05/1981)



Background Information:
Although originally released as three separate albums in may 1981 (titled ‘Shut up ’n play yer guitar’, ‘Shut up ‘n play yer guitar some more’ and ‘Return to the son of shut up ’n play yer guitar’), the three albums combined will be discussed here. Two tracks intended for release on the shelved ‘Warts and All’ live album found their way on to vinyl on this release.
As the title implies this record has no vocals and features guitar solo’s taken out of live performances of complete songs mostly. The ditty’s in between songs stick out. The short bits are studio outtakes intended for release on Läther.

The Album Itself:
While Zappa had always been viewed as a good guitar player, to the world he was mainly the madman, the satirist, the guy with the dirty lyrics or the man with the incredibly diverse music. This record showed he was not only a great guitar player, but an amazing solist. Not a single phrase was copied between solo’s (listen to all three title tracks, three versions of a solo in Inca Roads) or even nights. And even though there’s things on this album that work wonderful and things that do not work that great, above all you hear a musician playing a solo. Improvising, on the spot, feeling the moment, working his way around the notes, really knowing his instrument. Zappa has never been a virtuoso, he wasn’t about being fast, shredding or sweeping. The thing that stands out after listening to this album is how incredibly creative the man was.

Essential Tracks:
five-five-FIVE
Ship Ahoy
Shut Up ‘n Play Yer Guitar Some More
Pink Napkins
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Offline Nihil-Morari

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Ignore, quote error
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Offline ChuckSteak

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In this amazing interview he speaks a bit about his favorite guitarists and guitar solos, among other things:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eln3J6BxWN0

Offline Cyclopssss

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Sorry, can't comment as I don't own this. And that's a concious decision, as I'm not too fond of guitar-solo-albums.
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Offline Mosh

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In this amazing interview he speaks a bit about his favorite guitarists and guitar solos, among other things:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eln3J6BxWN0
That's one of my favorite interviews of his. He's being a bit difficult with the interviewer but still has some interesting things to say.

I will get to this tomorrow probably.
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Offline Mosh

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By the way, are we going to talk about The Torture Never Stops video? I think all other FZ videos have a CD counterpart, closest for this would be You Are What You Is I think.
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Offline Nihil-Morari

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I've thought about doing extra's, movies, Beat The Boots, other well known albums (like the Jean Luc Ponty album), maybe after we finish the string of official albums.
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Offline Orbert

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My buddy Chris (same guy from the Zappa concert story) bought the three-LP set back when the only way to get it was by mail order.  I think it was a small corner ad in Guitar Player magazine.  I thought it sounded kinda dumb, but probably of interest to guitarists.  Chris is a guitarist, and he thinks it's absolutely amazing.

He played some of it for me.  A guitar solo excised from a song, another guitar solo excised from a song, some random sound bites and/or people making noises, a guitar solo which is likely a composed piece, another guitar solo excised from a song, more random sound bites and/or people making noises, etc.  For three LPs.

In listening, both of our opinions were solidified.  I was right; it sounded kinda dumb.  And he was right; it's absolutely amazing.

For me, the issue is similar to the issue I had when seeing Frank play live.  Solos to me are part of the song.  As such, they typically grow organically out of the song, or if they're a contrasting section, a contrasting section in a way that makes musical sense.  Listening to a compilation of solos to me is close to pointless.  Yes, you can still admire the musicianship and the technique and all that.  But these are not composed solo guitar pieces; these are parts of songs, specifically the guitar solo, cut out of the song and offered without context.

I can see why some would find this fascinating.  For me, it's nearly pointless.

Offline Cyclopssss

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Exactly. He could have released a ton of FANTASTIC live albums of all the material he recorded on the road (as he would later do with YCDTOSA) and STILL highlight his guitarwork within the frame of the recorded songs. I just didn't get this. 
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Offline Mosh

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I'll comment more tomorrow after relistening to this, but I like the guitar albums. I have all of them. But I can see how they wouldn't work for a lot of people. For one thing, Frank was extremely limited technically. He didn't play changes, he never soloed over much more than blues vamps. He also tended to stick with a few of the same modes.

Then there's the more philosophical issue of the purpose of a guitar solo, which is what Orbert has been alluding to. I tend to agree that the solo should service the song, but by now I've realized that some players aren't about that and guitar playing for the sake of guitar playing can be OK too if I'm in the right mood. There are a lot of FZ solos that really complement the song (Yo Mama, Inca Roads on OSFA, and Watermelon In Easter Hay to name a few), but for the most part he wasn't really about that. But you get a lot of that in Jazz too and I love Jazz so it works for me.

All that being said, for what he lacked in technicality he excelled when it came to rhythmic ideas and coming up with a unique solo. He also improved a ton as a player in the late 70s and 80s.

Given the fact that he did tend to solo over simple vamps that were often disconnected from the rest of the song to begin with, the idea of an album like this actually works. Not sure what the source of every solo on this album is, but I know there are at least 3 versions of Inca Roads. Great song but I don't necessarily need 3 different versions of it. 3 different guitar solos from those songs is enticing though. If there isn't anything special about the rest of that particular performance, it makes sense to cut to the chase, so to speak.
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Offline Orbert

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I can see that.  Another one of my favorite guitar players is Terry Kath, the original guitarist for Chicago.  On their live album Chicago at Carnegie Hall, there are plenty of guitar solos of course, but two major showcases are the extended ones in "Sing a Mean Tune, Kid" and "South California Purples".  The solos are a good five or 10 minutes each (I've never timed them, but they're loooong), one growing out of the progression and the other starting from a dead stop, so pretty much the opposite setups.  When they released the Extended version on CD, they included alternate versions of these songs, and the solos are completely different, and I realized that this happened every night.  They played the whole week at Carnegie Hall, but they played nearly 300 shows a year back then, with Terry just pulling amazing solos out of his... head, every night, several times a night.  Suddenly I understood the Deadheads collecting every bootleg that they can get their hands on.  It wasn't just the same songs over and over, they really were different every time, especially the jams.

Anyway, I guess if the songs themselves tend to be more structured, but the solo is different every time and all you want to hear is the solo and what he did differently each time, then that's cool.  Here they are, the guitar solos.  For actual listening, though, I guess I still need the framework of the song.  If I like the song, I'll sit and listen to the whole song each time just to hear a great solo.

Offline Nihil-Morari

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I actually like the fact that it's not really clear of what songs the solo's are. Like Mosh said, if they were over te same changes as the verse or chorus, I would be less interested. Improvs on here are actually improvs, stopping everything, and starting to solo. I actually really like looking for clues as of what songs they were cut from, but mainly just focussing on what Frank was trying to say. Where he was heading, scales and rhythmic figures he was trying to use.
Again if all the solo's were just over the chords of the verse of the song the solo was in (and then one or two rounds) I couldn't care less. These are little compositions in their own right.
I do however understand that this is not for everyone. 
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Offline Mosh

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Well I finally got to listen to this last night, although I fell asleep through some of it. FZ guitar solos are not recommended for napping!  :tdwn

Anyway now I can talk about this album more specifically, rather than just broad comments of his guitar albums. As I mentioned, I have all 3, but this is actually the one I'm least familiar with. Guitar is my favorite of the three, and after listening to SUAPYG I can easily say it's because of the rhythm section, particularly Chad Wackerman instead of Vinnie Colaiuta. I like Vinnie but his playing can be really busy. I'm sure drummers love this album, and I can appreciate what he's doing on a technical level, but I often find myself paying full attention to what he's doing and totally forgetting that there's a guitar solo happening. FZ likes this precise level of interaction, but to me it sounds like the instruments are clashing, not complementing each other. That's not to say it never works. In fact when the guitar bass and drums do lock in, it's one of the coolest things ever and I can see why Vinnie was one of FZ's favorite drummers. But throughout a lot of this album I find it too distracting.

That aside, I still really enjoy SUAPYG. As I mentioned earlier, I think Zappa really started to hit his stride in the late 70s and basically through the 80s. He started to become a good player about halfway into the original Mothers, but I really dig his tone and style later on. Also fun to try and figure out which tunes the solos came from. Sometimes it's obvious (all versions of Inca Roads are pretty obvious), other times it's more ambiguous. I think some of these solos hold up pretty well as tunes on their own. Five Five FIVE, and the trance-like Treacherous Cretins feel like composed songs. Then there's the track length. I think this says a lot about Zappa's artistry. Sometimes his solos could be dragged out too much, but I think this compilation shows that generally he knew when to end a solo. Some of these are very short, some are insanely long, but most feel like they're the right length.

Also want to point out the final tune, Canard Du Jour. A mellower, stripped down piece that is very much unlike the rest of the album. Never really noticed it before but it's worth revisiting IMO.

The current 2 CD format of this album really doesn't do it any favors. It was originally released as 3 separate records and is more palatable that way IMO. I tried listening to Return Of the Son... by itself and was surprised at how much more accessible it was. Usually I'm pretty burnt out by the time I get to those songs, but I guess it wasn't originally meant to be listened to that way. They're also short, all in the 30 minute range. A palatable length for something like this.
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Offline Orbert

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I need to listen to this collection again.  It's been a while, and I do like Frank's guitar playing.

Offline darkshade

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I also try to listen to this as 3 separate releases. They're all around 35 minutes long or so, making them easier to digest, and listening to all 3 in one sitting is just too much (which is why I have trouble listening to "Guitar" because they're both two long discs of solos, and I prefer Trance-Fusion over Guitar because T-R is only one disc (and has more variety in sound.))

Anyway, the first Shut Up... album is the best one, the other two are also very good (and have very long album titles); again, better listened to on their own, otherwise your mind is tired from the first one. If you don't care for mostly improv music, you're probably not going to enjoy any of Zappa's guitar albums, as there is little composed music throughout. Zappa's bands were so tight, however, that he and his band could "compose" right on the spot, and make it sound so.

Five-Five-Five is one of the most bad-ass opening tracks to a Zappa album, by the way... Seriously, the first Shut Up... album alone is worth getting the whole set.

Even though this is a guitar album, drummers and bassists can equally get down on Shut Up... Even some great keys work. Lots of great work from Vinnie and Arthur. I agree, sometimes Vinnie was a little too busy, I wish there was a guitar album with the rhythm section of Bozzio/O'Hearn, that would be awesome.

A few of these tracks became actual tunes played live (Treacherous Cretins, Heavy Duty Judy, for example) and the very last song, Canard Du Jour, features extended violin playing by the great Jean-Luc Ponty, making his first appearance on a Zappa album since 1973's Over-nite Sensation. Overall, there isn't much point in describing each track, there are many different flavors. I like listening to these albums once in a while, when I want instrumental Zappa, but not necessarily his big band jazz-fusion albums. Having the little Lather "interruptions" helps keep track of when one tune ends and another begins, which is missing on the later "Guitar" and "Trance-Fusion" albums, and adds more to Zappa's 'conceptual continuity'. Interestingly enough, not all of those Lather studio ditties are actually on Lather, if I remember correctly.

As I said, the original album is the best one IMO, but it comes in a 2 disc box now (there once was a 3 disc version years back, I believe), with improved sound on the 2012 UMe release. The release splits Shut Up N Play yer Guitar Some More in half, so I agree with whoever said it does the album no favors. Best to split them up in 3 on iTunes or whatever media player you use, as they were originally released.

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With Guitar I just listen to one of the two CDs. I rarely play it all together. Obviously you can do that with SUAPYG too, but having Vol 2 split between the two CDs makes it feel off.

+1 on a guitar album with Bozzio and O'Hearn. Quite possibly my favorite Zappa rhythm section.
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Offline darkshade

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With Guitar I just listen to one of the two CDs. I rarely play it all together. Obviously you can do that with SUAPYG too, but having Vol 2 split between the two CDs makes it feel off.

+1 on a guitar album with Bozzio and O'Hearn. Quite possibly my favorite Zappa rhythm section.

There's a few cuts on SUNPYG with that rhythm section, but it's more focused on Vinnie Colaiuta/Arthur Barrow. The later guitar albums focus mostly on the 80s lineups with Chad Wackerman and Scott Tunes, or Barrow.

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I missed them on SUNPYG, will have to go back and check the liner notes later. Maybe those were some of the cuts I liked more.
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Offline Nihil-Morari

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Ship Ahoy and Pink Napkins are the ones with Bozzio, where Ship Ahoy features Roy Estrada on bass, and Pink Napkins O'Hearn. During the writing of the review I never checked that, it's funny that those two tracks are on my Essential Tracks list.
I never really liked the busy drumming-style of Colaiuta during solo's, as I said regarding Tinseltown. Like Mosh said I too tend to listen to the drums only, and forget there's a guitar solo happening. During songs Vinnie is great, he can play damn near everything, but it seems to get in his way during solo-spots by other band members.
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Offline Nihil-Morari

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You Are What You Is coming today or tomorrow!
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #34 - 'You Are What You Is'
« Reply #662 on: April 25, 2017, 08:26:05 AM »
Official Release #34 - 'You Are What You Is'
(Released 09/1981)



Background Information:
Most of You Are What You Is was material that was intended for release on Warts & All or Crush All Boxes. Apparently the original title for Crush All Boxes was You Are What You Is, which would explain the age of the material. Most of the songs were played on tour in early 1980 (March - July), while the earlier released albums Shut Up… and Tinseltown contained material from the fall tour of 1980. That’s why on You Are What You Is both Steve Vai (on ‘strat abuse’) and Bob Harris’ (on ‘boy soprano and trumpet’) roles are small overdubs: they were only added to the band in the summer of 1980.

The Album Itself:
Twenty tracks of full on satirical, tightly written, accessible rock tunes.
Topics are fat women, drug abuse, the Lord Himself, the draft, beauty etc. etc. If you are easily offended, Zappa would find a way to get you there.
Most of the tracks segue, which is especially nicely done on side 2 (the ‘beauty-suite’, no official title).
The album sounds really good. It’s one of the few (relatively speaking) studio albums that Zappa has recorded. The tracks sound really crisp, the ton of overdubs still doesn’t make it as dense as Tinseltown Rebellion.
In terms of songwriting, this album is stands out as being really about classic song structures. Not that verses and chorusses are hard to find in Zappa’s oeuvre, but it is apparent that these tracks have that thing in common. (The instrumental piece in Jumbo Go Away deserves a mention though)
The only ugly duckling is ‘Theme From The 3rd Movement of Sinister Footwear’. That track is a guitar solo that Frank played in New York at the Palladium, in 1978, doubled by guitar, clarinet and percussion. The guitar solo became a theme, the theme became the main theme of a movement. And the movement became one of three movements of Sinister Footwear. A 26 minute classical piece with a puppet-ballet (dancers inside costumes, think ‘big bird’) which has never been released officially.

Essential Tracks:
Teen-Age Wind
Society Pages
I’m A Beautiful Guy
Beauty Knows No Pain
You Are What You Is
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Offline Cyclopssss

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #34 - 'You Are What You Is'
« Reply #663 on: April 25, 2017, 09:47:29 AM »
Beautiful, beautiful album. From the scathing satire of 'Teenage Wind' to Jimmy Carl Black's Southern drawl in 'Harder then your husband', to the increddibly dense 'Society Pages' through 'Any Downers' medley and 'Dumb All Over', to the lovely gospel pastische of 'Heavenly Bank Account' and 'The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing' and the title song ! What great songwriting, what increddible talented musicianship. From the super corny 'Coneheads' to 'Drafted Again'  and 'Dumbo go away'. This album has it all. The vocal harmonies are out of this world ('Doreen)', the guitar playing and drumming is otherworldly. This is (next to Sheik Yerboutti) THE ultimate Zappa album for me.
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Offline Orbert

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #34 - 'You Are What You Is'
« Reply #664 on: April 25, 2017, 10:16:59 AM »
As with many bands and artists, my relationship with Frank and/or The Mothers has gone through up times and down times.  After Joe's Garage, Frank and I went our separate ways for a while, and the 80's were a particularly crazy time for me anyway.  There are parts of the 80's that I just plain don't remember.

Anyway, one day I turned on MTV and there was the video for "You Are What You Is", the song.  I thought it was fun.  I also specifically remembered an interview with Frank wherein he spoke against music videos because it would lead to music which "looks good" versus music that sounds good, so either he was being a hypocrite or he eventually embraced the medium because he more or less had to to stay relevant.  Or perhaps, like so many other things, he thought it would be interesting to try, and who cares what he'd said before?

Never got the album, though.  My buddy Chris did, and I think I listened to it at his house once, but as I said, I'd kinda moved on by then.  Early 80's I was getting deep, deep into the prog.  U.K., Gentle Giant, Gong, Hatfield and the North.  I remember seeing the video and thinking Frank's still funny, still doing his thing, okay, but that was about it.