Thursday, August 23, 2007

Considerable Sounds: Man From Utopia - FRANK ZAPPA


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By DC Music Editor Benjamin New


Q. How many content industry lobbyists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A. Some to argue that the bulb is a mechanical, others to argue that the screwing is a performance, others to argue that the socket-maker should pay a royalty per socket, others to join forces with socket-makers to draft interoperability guidelines, others to lobby for statutory protection from falling bulb prices, others to educate legislators on the harm to American business interests from unfair foreign bulb policies, and . . . oh, wait, no one's using light bulbs anymore….

If we can't be free, at least we can be cheap…


Frank Zappa was a bandleader, inventive guitarist, prolific composer, social satirist, producer, humorist. entrepreneur, political activist, and an iconoclast the likes which we’ll sadly never see again. Frank was certainly one of the most gifted, innovative and irreverent musicians of the 20th century. He worked in almost every musical genre and wrote music for rock bands, jazz ensembles, synthesizers and symphony orchestra, as well as Musique concrète works constructed from pre-recorded, synthesized or sampled sources. In addition to his music recordings, he created feature-length and short films, music videos, and album covers.

He was an outspoken and passionate advocate for freedom of speech and the abolition of censorship. His life’s work embodied his skeptical view of established political processes and structures. He was highly critical of all conventions, social hierarchies, and buncombe of all kinds.




Of mainstream education, on his first album you will find this statement “"Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom, go to the library and educate yourself if you've got any guts." He also claimed “schools are worthless because the books are worthless. They still are on the level of George Washington and the cherry tree and "I cannot tell a lie." The books have all been bowdlerized by committees responding to pressure from right-wing groups to make every aspect of the history books consistent with the cryptofascist view-point. When you send your kids to school, that's what they're dealing with. Your children are being presented with these documents, part of a multibillion-dollar industry, which are absolutely fraudulent. Kids' heads are crammed with so many nonfacts that when they get out of school they're totally unprepared to do anything. They can't read, they can't write, they can't think. Talk about child abuse.”

“The more boring a child is, the more the parents, when showing off the child, receive adulation for being good parents-- because they have a tame child-creature in their house.”


Father O'Blivion

Of organized religion Frank said “The only difference between a cult and a religion is the amount of real estate they own” . “The essence of Christianity is told to us in the Garden of Eden history. The fruit that was forbidden was on the Tree of Knowledge. The subtext is, all the suffering you have is because you wanted to find out what was going on. You could be in the Garden of Eden if you had just kept your fucking mouth shut and hadn't asked any questions.”

“Scientology, how about that? You hold on to the tin cans and then this guy asks you a bunch of questions, and if you pay enough money you get to join the master race. How's that for a religion?” In his autobiography The Real Frank Zappa Book he says "If you want to get together in any exclusive situation and have people love you, fine — but to hang all this desperate sociology on the idea of The Cloud-Guy who has The Big Book, who knows if you've been bad or good — and cares about any of it — to hang it all on that, folks, is the chimpanzee part of the brain working."



Mayor of the 21st Century

Frank often had “Don’t forget to vote” emblazoned somewhere on his album covers and voter registration booths at his concerts. Yet he endorsed no one. On politics, Frank said, “Politics is the entertainment branch of industry.”

“The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way, and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theatre.” “I hate to see the bad guys win. I really believe that any efforts to change this country into a police state is something that ought to be resisted”


Frank said "If you give hippies enough drugs they turn into yuppies."

"There is nothing creative about a right-wing administration." Left-wingers, he believed, "are no better, using artists and creative people as propaganda to further their goals." His solution? "I think common sense is the way to go." When he learned of his prostate cancer in 1990 he said "What can you do? People get sick. Sometimes they can fix it, and sometimes they can’t." He shelved his plans to enter the 1992 presidential race, but with his satirical irreverence, and willingness to point out nonsense, what a campaign it would have been! And although it’s pointless to ponder what an artist might be doing if they were still alive, I suggest that Mr. Zappa would be quite busy today. The current state of affairs probably would have inspired at least another 40 albums. And I for one sorely miss his piercing intellect and astute observations as well as his instrumental prowess and compositions. He is the only artist to have been inducted into both the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame and The Jazz Music Hall Of Fame. If there were a symphonic music hall of fame I have no doubt he would be honored there as well.

Is that a real Asteroid or is that a Sears Asteroid?

In 1994 The International Astronomical Union decided that the Czech discovered Asteroid 3834 will henceforth be known as Zappa- Frank in memoriam. Zappa was a symbol of freedom and democracy in pre-1989 Czechoslovakia. When Zappa was invited to Prague by Vaclav Havel in January 1990, he was reportedly shocked at his instant popularity, as well as by how well people knew his music—in the 1970s and 1980s Czechs listened to Zappa thanks to albums that were smuggled into communist Czechoslovakia via secret networks that transported literature, music, and even musical instruments.

The connection may not seem immediately obvious, but Frank Zappa's popularity in Prague is closely connected to the dark days of the dissident era, when his music and that of the Velvet Underground were blacklisted by the censors. For example, Frank Zappa's second album, Absolutely Free was smuggled into Czechoslovakia within a year of its 1967 release, and critics claim that the music influenced the famous Czech underground rock band, The Plastic People of the Universe. Zappa's tunes thus came to represent freedom and independent thought to dissidents in Czechoslovakia. Reports have it that when young kids in communist Czechoslovakia played heavy rock music, the police would tell them to "turn off that Frank Zappa music."


Then, in January 1990, Vaclav Havel who enjoyed the early Mothers music and also sites the Zappa /Beefheart collaboration
Bongo Fury as a favorite meets with Frank.


Zappa and Havel- Czechoslovakia

Zappa and Václav hit it off immediately. Zappa was appointed as "Special
Ambassador to the West on Trade, Culture and Tourism". Meetings were held with Zappa, Havel, his finance ministers and the Ministry of Culture and Trade. Frank had some ideas about increasing their tourism viability by converting some old castles into hotels and dealing with airlines to get more visitors into the country.

There was also talk about credit cards and television shopping networks, new concepts in Czechoslovakia. The main question was how to get western goods and services into the country. At the meeting Havel mentioned that vice president Dan Quayle was to shortly visit Czechoslovakia. Zappa said that it was unfortunate that anyone with intelligence would have to put up with someone as stupid as Quayle - even for a moment.


Two weeks later, instead of Quayle, US Secretary of State James Baker re-routed a trip through Europe to visit Václav Havel. At the time, Czechoslovakia was applying for badly needed aid from the US Government. Baker's message was short and simple: Havel could either do business with the government of United States of America or
he could do business with Frank Zappa. It would seem Baker had a bit of an axe to grind, since Zappa had insulted his wife, Susan Baker, before a Senate Committee hearing in Washington DC back in 1985 regarding censorship of rock albums and the PMRC. The PMRC, or "Parents Music Resource Center", sought legislation for censorship of rock records. In the Senate hearing, Zappa referred to Susan and the others in the PMRC as "a group of bored Washington housewives", and it would seem James Baker had not forgotten the insult.

Still, Vaclav Havel's friendship with Frank Zappa grew, and Zappa shared his ideas about increasing tourism to Czechoslovakia, and explained the concept of credit cards which were then an unknown quantity in this part of the world. It was Frank Zappa's brief interlude in the world of international trade and diplomatic relations—and the vantage-point was Prague. Vaclav Havel still counts himself amongst Zappa's big fans, and says that "Frank Zappa was one of the gods of the Czech underground." There he'll surely stay in the memories of his Czech friends.



And of course in Vilnius, Lithuania they tore down their statue of Lenin and erected one of Frank Zappa! A symbol of freedom indeed.

Frank Zappa's Banned Music
Was the Soundtrack Of Counter Revolution
(I Imagine that makes him smile)


Although he championed many causes often perceived as liberal, he viewed himself as a practical libertarian. Had he not become fatally ill with prostate cancer he very seriously planned on running for president of the U.S. as a Libertarian Party candidate. ( If you witnessed his testimony before the Senate regarding the labeling of recordings then you know that if anyone could shake up the political system with common sense and pure intellect, it would have been Frank Zappa!)


"Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible..."






Young Frank


Frank Vincent Zappa, born in Baltimore on December the 21st 1940, spent his early years creating various incendiary concoctions from toy caps, ping pong balls and other household materials. His youth indicated he was likely to be a mad scientist rather than one of the 20th century’s most prolific musicians. In fact it was the French avant-garde composer Edgard Varèse’s appearance (“He looked like a mad scientist” according to Frank) that first caught young Frank’s attention. His compositions “ignited” Franks interest in music. Frank’s family moved to California and he began to also enjoy R&B and Doo-wop. Traces of these influences can be found on most any Zappa recording.


While in the high desert town of Lancaster, California, Zappa formed his first band: an integrated R&B outfit called The Black-Outs. The still fundamentally racist social structure of the 50s excluded the band from performing at school functions, so they were forced to organize their own events -- much to the displeasure of local law enforcement. During this period his listening broadened to include international folk musics, sea shanties, modern jazz and a the entire range of 20th century classical composers. It was also here in Lancaster that he befriended Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart).


I Think This Is Going To Be A Really Good Show Barry...

Frank studied music theory briefly at Chaffey Junior College before taking a job as a greeting card designer and playing in various music projects. These included a film score for the western Run Home Slow, occasional performances as a folk duo with future co-founder of “The Association” Terry Kirkman, gigs with his R&B quartet The Boogie Men, a new version of The Black-Outs, and the lounge act Joe Perrino and the Mellow Tones. A second film score, commissioned by actor Timothy Carey for his film The World's Greatest Sinner, was undertaken in 1961.
In the early 60s Zappa worked for Paul Buff, an innovative recording engineer who had built his own five-track recording studio in Cucamonga, California. Paul was something of an electronics genius, building most of the multitrack gear from scratch. (In fact the amazing sonic quality of the album “Uncle Meat” can be attributed to the 64 channel recording board and multitrack recording machine built by Paul Buff in an age when there were only a few 8 track recorders anywhere the Beatles at Abbey Road for instance built their albums by bouncing back and forth between two 4 track machines). For a year the pair attempted to churn out hit records for various labels, before paul ran into financial troubles. Zappa assumed ownership of the studio with some of the money earned from Run Home Slow; he subsequently changed it's name to "Studio Z" and immersed himself in multi-tracking as a full-time lifestyle. began routinely working 12 hours or more per day. This set a pattern that would endure for the rest of his life.

A low-budget film project (Captain Beefheart vs. the Grunt People, featuring Van Vliet) was also being organized at the time, but both film and studio were lost after a San Bernardino County vice squad detective commissioned Zappa to create a "pornographic" audio tape, and then arrested him for making it. After completing the required ten days of his six-month sentence in county lock-up, the disillusioned musician emerged to find his life in a shambles. It was only a few days later, however, that he was contacted by vocalist Ray Collins (who had been a regular participant in the Zappa/Buff sessions) and invited to assume guitar duties for The Soul Giants -a bar band founded by drummer Jimmy Carl Black and bassist Roy Estrada .


The Crux Of The Biscuit
Although a cover act at the time, Zappa soon convinced most of the other musicians that, in order to get anywhere in the music business, they should start performing his original material; they named themselves The Mothers on Mother's Day, 1965. The first year of The Mothers was certainly not a comfortable one, and all of its members had become well-acquainted with poverty and hunger by the end of it. But by the end of the year with help from music promoter Herb Cohen, they landed a prestigious gig at L.A.‘s hip spot “The Whiskey A Go Go” and a contract with MGM that resulted in Rock’s first double-album Freak Out. (Yes, I know Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde came out a few weeks earlier, but it was more folk oriented than rock and the Mothers began their project earlier.)

The album blended all the styles Zappa enjoyed from doo-wop and R&B to modern classical and avant garde. The lyrics were often tongue in cheek and touched on social commentary, satirical heartbreaks, and Dadaistic absurdity. MGM refused to allow the album to be credited under a name as outrageous as "The Mothers" ( Zappa said “Yeah, like the NAME was going to be the problem”), so the group was forced to lengthen it to “The Mothers of Invention”.


The Original Mothers

Jimmy Carl Black, Don Preston, Bunk Gardner,
Jim Sherwood, Ian Underwood,
Billi Mundi, Roy Estrada, Frank Zappa, Ray Collins -
The Original Mothers Of Invention


Mr. Green Genes


Frank met a secretary at the Whisky named Gail Sloatman; the two were married the following year, and Gail's role in supporting Frank's music (and, eventually, managing his business concerns) remained an essential one throughout his career.

The Mothers recorded their 2nd album, “
Absolutely Free” in November of 1966.
By the time of it’s release, the Mothers were in New York with a steady Gig at the Garrick Theatre.

The shows at the Garrick entered the lofty realm of legend, featuring extensive audience participation, an ever-changing array of props floating down a wire from the projection booth, vegetables, and the public administration of enormous quantities of whipped cream via a stuffed giraffe's rectum. Zappa took his recorded work a step further at this time, integrating tape manipulation and extensive editing techniques into the already frothy musical stew. Two albums showcasing this painstaking approach materialized in '68: the first being the scathing social critique
We're Only In It For The Money.





It’s cover was a parody of the Beatle’s Sgt. Pepper artwork . It featured some of the most radical audio editing and production yet heard in pop music. The lyrics ruthlessly satirized the hippie and flower power phenomena popular at the time. (Have a look at this curious bit of 60’s television Frank Zappa as a guest on the Monkees T.V. show.)





The second being the elaborate sonic collage Lumpy Gravy. 1968 also saw the Mothers' audience expand overseas as a result of their first shows in Europe and the UK, including a performance at London's Royal Albert Hall that featured an 8 piece band line-up accompanied by ten members of the London Philharmonic. Never one to rest upon laurels or any other shrubs for that matter, upon his return to New York Zappa initiated two more projects before moving back to California in May: a tribute/parody of his doo-wop roots called Cruising With Ruben And The Jets which was a collision of high and low art, as Stravinsky- like chord changes and unusual tempos were applied to purposely trite and banal teenage pop love songs.

Some radio stations Played selections from Ruben and the Jets
until they found out it was really Zappa & the Mothers.


And the homemade film and accompanying album Uncle Meat (the album was released in 1969, but the film remained unfinished until 1987). Although I enjoy everything Frank has done, Uncle Meat remains one of my absolute favorite albums from the 60s.

Uncle Meat



After the MGM contract expired in 1967, Zappa set up his own label, Bizarre Records. In addition to albums by the Mothers, the label also provided an outlet for offbeat performers such as Lenny Bruce, Wild Man Fischer, the GTOs, Tim Buckley, Tom Waits, and Alice Cooper. ( He signed Alice Cooper to the label after seeing the entire audience walk out on them in disgust, he thought anyone who could do that was doing something right!)

On occasion, Frank also served as a producer for these other artist's records -- the most notable example being Trout Mask Replica, arguably the most outlandish album in history. Despite their growing popularity (or, perhaps because of it), Zappa was becoming increasingly disenchanted with his own band -- having developed an adversarial, employer/employee relationship with the other musicians, many of whom took a dim view of his refusal to ingest "recreational substances" ( Zappa always disapproved of drug use by band members and fired the musicians if they were buzzed on “his“ time. The amazing Little Feat guitarist Lowell George was one who was let go for this reason, as was Dr. John. Zappa said he was annoyed with people advising him to “go to Big Sur and drop acid with someone who believed in God”. )

Frank says in his autobiography-



"A drug is neither moral nor immoral—it’s a chemical compound. The compound itself is not a menace to society until a human being treats it as if consumption bestowed a temporary license to act like an asshole."


A lifelong teetotaler and abstainer from drugs
Zappa, however, smoked cigarettes and drank coffee incessantly


Although they were lauded by critics and their peers and had a rabid cult following, mainstream audiences often found much of Zappa and the Mothers' music, appearance and attitude impossible to comprehend.

Following a tour in the summer of 1969 he made the decision to disband the Mothers. Albums featuring live performances by the group
(Weasels Ripped My Flesh, Burnt Weeny Sandwich, both 1970) continued to be released after its dissolution, however, and material from this line-up would continue to surface more than two decades later (such as Ahead of Their Time, a recording of a 1968 performance at The Royal Festival Hall in London that was made available in 1993 and numerous others).





1969’s Zappa album Hot Rats remains one of his most popular and accessible recordings. It’s influence on the development of the jazz-rock fusion genre is inestimable. It was also the first commercial recording done on a 16 track machine. ( The incredible “Big Band” sound was really Ian Underwood overdubbing all the wind parts!)



Hot Rats

  • Frank Zappa – Guitar, percussion, octave bass

  • Ian Underwood – organ, clarinet, flute, piano, saxophones

  • Max Bennett – bass on all tracks except "Peaches en Regalia"

  • Captain Beefheart – harmonica, vocals on "Willie the Pimp"

  • John Guerin – drums on "Willie the Pimp", "Little Umbrellas" and "It Must Be A Camel"

  • Don "Sugarcane" Harris – violin on "Willie the Pimp" and "The Gumbo Variations"

  • Paul Humphrey – drums on "Son of Mr. Green Genes" and "The Gumbo Variations"

  • Shuggie Otis – bass on "Peaches en Regalia"

  • Jean-Luc Ponty – violin on "It Must Be A Camel"

  • Ron Selico – drums on "Peaches en Regalia"

  • Lowell George - guitar (uncredited)

  • Harvey Shantz – Snorks


Son Of Mr Green Genes
Around 1970, Zappa put together a new version of The Mothers that included British drummer Aynsley Dunbar ( who also provided percussion for John Mayall, Lou Reed, Jefferson Starship, Jeff Beck, David Bowie, Whitesnake, Sammy Hagar, UFO, and Journey), jazz keyboardist George Duke ( Jean-Luc Ponty, Stanley Clarke, Billy Cobham, Dianne Reeves, Cannonball Adderly, George Clinton, Anita Baker, Steps Ahead, Miles Davis, and Brazilian musicians Milton Nascimento, Airto Moreira and Flora Purim.), previous Mothers of Invention member Ian Underwood, Jeff Simmons , and no fewer than three members of the pop group “The Turtles“: bass player Jim Pons, who after leaving the Zappa fold become the Film and Video Director for the New York Jets football club. He held this position until his retirement in 2000. Pons moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 2005, where he does game day video for the Jacksonville Jaguars and plays upright bass in a bluegrass gospel band called Deep Creek.

Singers Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, who due to persisting legal/contractual problems (after the Turtles folded, discovered that the terms of their contract forbade them to use not only the name The Turtles, but also their own names! Only winning their rights back after a 25 year legal battle.) adopted the stage-monikers "The Phlorescent Leech and Eddie," or "Flo & Eddie"for short. Volman operates a great website to help young musicians called
Ask Professor Flo. Volman has taught Communications and Fine Arts at Loyola Marymount University. He has also taught Commercial Music courses at Los Angeles Valley College and he is currently an adjunct professor at Belmont University. (And occasionally the Turtles do a tour).



The new lineup debuted on Zappa's next solo LP Chunga's Revenge, which was followed by the soundtrack and film 200 Motels, featuring both The Mothers and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in vignettes about "life on the road" spiced up with thematic references to Mephisto, Kafka, Kubrick's 2001, sexual behaviors, and work re-education/concentration camps. The film features Theodore Bikel as a Beelzebub type, Ringo Starr as Larry the Dwarf/Frank Zappa, and drummer extraordinaire, Keith Moon, in drag as a nun.




Don Preston from the original Mothers, also joined the band. And Jimmy Carl Black and Jim (Motorhead) Sherwood of the original Mothers make appearances in the film.

An Excerpt from 200 Motels.....( the music is avant garde, the animated portion is hilarious).





This double album was followed by two live sets, Fillmore East - June 1971 and Just Another Band From L.A., which included the 20-minute “Rock Opera” track Billy The Mountain.

Live at the Filmore
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Just Another Band From L.A.

In December of 1971 the band encountered two serious setbacks. While performing in Montreux, Switzerland, the Mothers' equipment was destroyed when a flare set off by an audience member started a fire that burned down the casino where they were playing —an event immortalized in Deep Purple's song "Smoke on the Water." Then Zappa was attacked at the Rainbow Theatre in London. An audience member, jealous that his girlfriend was “making eyes” at Frank, pushed him off the stage and into the orchestra pit.

He suffered serious fractures, head trauma and injuries to his back, leg, and neck, as well as a crushed larynx (which caused his voice to drop a third after healing). This left him wheelchair bound for a time, forcing him off the road for over a year. (He was wearing a leg brace for a period thereafter, played some gigs from a wheelchair, had a noticeable limp and couldn't stand for very long while on stage.) He said one leg healed "shorter than the other" (a reference found in the lyrics of "Zomby Woof" and "Dancin' Fool"). Meanwhile, the Mothers were left in limbo, and eventually formed the core of Flo and Eddie's band as they set out on their own with Frank’s blessings.


Waka/Jawaka




The Grand Wazoo

In 1971-72 Zappa released two Jazz solo LPs, Waka/Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo, which were recorded during the forced layoff from concert touring, using floating lineups of session players and Mothers alumni. He began touring again in late 1972, first with a scaled-down version of the big band appearing on The Grand Wazoo - appropriately known as "Petit Wazoo."

Inca Roads







Your Ad Here


He then formed groups that variously included Ian Underwood (reeds, keyboards), Ruth Underwood (vibes, marimba), Sal Marquez (trumpet, vocals), Napoleon Murphy Brock (sax, flute and vocals), Bruce Fowler (trombone), Tom Fowler (bass), Chester Thompson (drums), Ralph Humphrey (drums), George Duke (keyboards, vocals) and Jean-Luc Ponty (violin). For many Zappa fans this was the golden age. With the cutting edge albums Overnite Sensation, Apostrophe, the live album Roxy and Elsewhere, and One Size Fits All.








Now I’ve seen Zappa’s bands perform probably more than any other artist (I think about 20 times) and for me this was the tightest, most sophisticated band I had ever seen. Stunning in a word. Zappa always surrounded himself with excellent players.


Back L-R -- Ralph Humphries, Tom Fowler, Ian Underwood, George Duke, Jean Luc Ponty.
Front L-R -- Bruce Fowler, Frank Zappa, Ruth Underwood


1976 Zappa on Saturday Night Live




In 1975 the mostly live document Bongo Fury was released. A collaboration between Zappa and Beefheart. The resulting tour was the only time Beefheart appeared as a member of the live band. This is the last of the albums featuring most of the classic lineup and the first album Terry Bozzio drums on. As mentioned earlier it's Vaclav Havel's favorite.


Bongo Fury

Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart 1975



Zoot Allures followed in 1976. It featured generally a sparser instrumentation but proved that extremely complex compositions could be played by smaller ensembles. There are 2 major guitar pieces making their first appearance here. The bluesy Black Napkins and the jazzy major9th romp Zoot Allures.



Now Frank released over 70 albums so we can not seriously discuss all of them here today. Here is a quick list. Perhaps there might be one or two missing from your collection.


  • Freak Out! (June 27, 1966),

  • Absolutely Free (May 26, 1967),

  • We're Only in It for the Money (January 1968),

  • Lumpy Gravy (May 1968)

  • Cruising with Ruben & the Jets (December 2, 1968)

  • Uncle Meat (April 1969)

  • Hot Rats (October 1969)

  • Burnt Weeny Sandwich (February 1970)

  • Weasels Ripped My Flesh (August 10, 1970)

  • Chunga's Revenge (October 1970)

  • Fillmore East - June 1971 (August 1971)

  • 200 Motels (October 1971)

  • Just Another Band from L.A. (March 1972)

  • Waka/Jawaka (July 1972)

  • The Grand Wazoo (November 1972)

  • Over-Nite Sensation (September 1973)

  • Apostrophe (') (March 1974)

  • Roxy & Elsewhere (September 1974)

  • One Size Fits All (June 1975)

  • Bongo Fury (October 1975)

  • Zoot Allures (October 1976)

  • Zappa in New York (March 1978)

  • Studio Tan (September 1978)

  • Sleep Dirt (January 1979)

  • Sheik Yerbouti (March 1979)

  • Orchestral Favorites (May 1979)

  • Joe's Garage (September 1979)

  • Tinsel Town Rebellion (May 11, 1981)

  • Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar

  • You Are What You Is (September 1981)

  • Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch (May 1982)

  • The Man from Utopia (March 1983)

  • Baby Snakes (March 1983)

  • London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. 1 (June 1983)

  • Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger (August 1984)

  • Them or Us (October 18, 1984)

  • Thing-Fish (November 1984)

  • Francesco Zappa (November 1984)

  • The Old Masters Box One (April 1985)

  • Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention (November 21, 1985)

  • Does Humor Belong in Music? (January 1986)

  • The Old Masters Box Two (November 1986)

  • Jazz from Hell (November 1986)

  • London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. 2 (September 17, 1987)

  • The Old Masters Box Three (December 1987)

  • Guitar (April 1988)

  • You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 1 (May 1988)

  • You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 2 (October 1988)

  • Broadway the Hard Way (October 14, 1988)

  • You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 3 (November 1989)

  • The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life (April 1991)

  • You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 4 (June 14, 1991)

  • Make a Jazz Noise Here (June 1991)

  • Beat the Boots (July 1991), 8 discs (boxed or separate):

  • As an Am (recorded 1981 – 1982)

  • The Ark (recorded 1969)

  • Freaks & Motherfu*#@%! (recorded 1970)

  • Unmitigated Audacity (recorded 1974)

  • Anyway the Wind Blows (2 discs) (recorded 1979)

  • 'Tis the Season to Be Jelly (recorded 1967)

  • Saarbrucken 1978 (recorded 1978)

  • Piquantique (recorded 1973)

  • Beat the Boots II (June 1992), 8 discs (boxed only):

  • Disconnected Synapses (recorded 1970)

  • Tengo Na Minchia Tanta (recorded 1970)

  • Electric Aunt Jemima (recorded 1968)

  • At the Circus (recorded 1978)

  • Swiss Cheese/Fire! (2 discs) (recorded 1971)

  • Our Man in Nirvana (recorded 1968)

  • Conceptual Continuity (recorded 1976)

  • You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 5 (July 1992)

  • You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 6 (July 1992)

  • Playground Psychotics (October 1992)

  • Ahead of Their Time (March 1993)

  • The Yellow Shark (with Ensemble Modern) (November 1993), US #2 (Classical Crossover Chart)

Posthumous releases

  • Civilization, Phaze III (December 1994)

  • The Lost Episodes (February 1996)

  • Läther (September 1996)

  • Frank Zappa Plays the Music of Frank Zappa: A Memorial Tribute (October 1996)

  • Have I Offended Someone? (April 1997)

  • Mystery Disc (September 1998)

  • Everything Is Healing Nicely (December 1999)

  • FZ:OZ (August 16, 2002)

  • Halloween (February 4, 2003)

  • Joe's Corsage (May 30, 2004)

  • QuAUDIOPHILIAc (September 14, 2004)

  • Joe's Domage (October 1, 2004)

  • Joe's XMASage (December 21, 2005)

  • Imaginary Diseases (January 13, 2006)

  • Trance-Fusion (October 24, 2006)

  • The Making Of Freak Out! Project/Object (December 5, 2006)

  • The Making Of Freak Out! Project/Object (deluxe) (December 12, 2006)

  • The Frank Zappa AAAFNRAA Birthday Bundle (December 15, 2006 (iTunes exclusive)

  • Buffalo (April 1, 2007)

  • The Dub Room Special (August 24, 2007)


Compilations


  • Mothermania: The Best of the Mothers (March 1969)

  • The **** of the Mothers (October 13, 1969)

  • The Mothers of Invention (July 20, 1970)

  • Worst of the Mothers (March 15, 1969)

  • The Guitar World According to Frank Zappa (June 1987)

  • Cucamonga Years (December 10, 1991)

  • Strictly Commercial, the best of Frank Zappa (August 1995)

  • Strictly Genteel, a "classical" introduction to Frank Zappa (May 1997)

  • Cucamonga (February 24, 1998)

  • Cheap Thrills (April 1998)

  • Son of Cheep Thrills (April 1999)

  • The Secret Jewel Box: Archives Vol. 2. FZ Original Recordings (December 2001)

  • Zappa Picks by Jon Fishman of Phish (October 2002)

  • Zappa Picks by Larry LaLonde of Primus (October 2002)

Zappa interview



Zappa on Crossfire, “America is headed for a fascist theocracy.”










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Yes No Hey Dude -- I thought he was the President!



Dweezil takes his Dad's music back to live venues

Now I have seen some great live shows this year. Truly great performances but I must confess my favorite was Dweezil Zappa’s dumbfounding tribute to his father. The band is fantastic! And Mothers alumni Napoleon Murphy Brock, Steve Vai and Terri Bozzio all contributed brilliant performances . If you want to see some profound musicianship and have a great time by all means see this tour. The Tour de Frank! Zappa Plays Zappa. Do yourself a great service.
See this show!


ZPZ Fall Tour: Europe/North America


  • Sep 25, ’07 London, UK Shepherds Bush Empire

  • Sep 26, ’07 Tilburg, Netherlands 013

  • Sep 27, ’07 Amsterdam, Netherlands Melkweg On Sale Now

  • Sep 29, ’07 Fribourg, Switzerland Le Fri-Son On Sale Now

  • Sep 30, ’07 Munich, Germany Circus Krone On Sale Now

  • Oct 01, ’07 Frankfurt, Germany Jahrhunderthalle On Sale Now

  • Oct 02, ’07 Dusseldorf, Germany Phillipshalle On Sale Soon

  • Oct 03, ’07 Stuttgart, Germany KKL Beethovensaal On Sale Now

  • Oct 04, ’07 Erfurt, Germany Messehalle On Sale Now

  • Oct 05, ’07 Paris, France Grand Rex On Sale Now

  • Oct 06, ’07 Antwerp, Belgium Elisabeth Hall On Sale Now

  • Oct 08, ’07 Arhus, Denmark The Music House On Sale Now

  • Oct 09, ’07 Stavanger, Norway Konserthus Hovedsalen On Sale Now

  • Oct 10, ’07 Bergen, Norway Peer Gynt On Sale Now

  • Oct 12, ’07 Oslo, Norway Sentrum Scene On Sale Now

  • Oct 13, ’07 Lund, Sweden Olympen On Sale Now

  • Oct 14, ’07 Stockholm, Sweden Cirkus On Sale Now

  • Oct 31, ’07 New York, NY Beacon Theatre Public On Sale 10 Aug thru Ticketmaster
  • Nov 01, ’07 Wallingford, CT Chevy Theatre Public On Sale 17 Aug thru Ticketmaster

  • Nov 02, ’07 Kingston, NY Broadway Theatre @ UPAC On Sale Now thru Ticketmaster
  • Nov 03, ’07 Atlantic City, NJ House of Blues On Sale 17 Aug thru Ticketmaster

  • Nov 04, ’07 Providence, RI Providence Performing Arts Center On Sale www.ppacri.org

  • Nov 06, ’07 Buffalo, NY Town Ballroom Public On Sale 18 Aug thru Tickets.com

  • Nov 07, ’07 Washington, DC Warner Theatre On Sale 17 Aug thru Ticketmaster

  • Nov 08, ’07 Richmond, VA Toads Place Public On Sale 17 Aug thru www.ToadsPlaceRVA.com

  • Nov 10, ’07 Kansas City, MO Ameristar Casino Public On Sale 20 Aug thru Tickets.com
  • Nov 12, ’07 Houston, TX Verizon Wireless Theatre Public On Sale

  • Nov 13, ’07 Austin, TX Hogg Auditorium Public On thru www.utpac.org

  • Nov 14, ’07 Dallas, TX Palladium Public On Sale 17 Aug thru Ticketmaster

  • Nov 16, ’07 Denver, CO Fillmore Public On Sale 18 Aug thru Ticketmaster

  • Nov 18, ’07 Portland, OR Roseland Public On Sale 17 Aug thru Ticketswest.com

  • Nov 19, ’07 Seattle, WA Paramount Public On Sale 14 Sep thru Ticketmaster

  • Nov 20, ’07 Vancouver, BC Orpheum Public On Sale 14 Sep thru Ticketmaster.ca

  • Nov 22, ’07 Calgary, AB Southern Jubilee Auditorium On Sale thru Ticketmaster.ca
  • Nov 23, ’07 Edmonton, AB Northern Jubilee Auditorium On Sale thru Ticketmaster.ca


ZPZ Australian Tour: ZPZ In OZ

  • Nov 27, ’07 Brisbane, Australia Lyric Theatre Tickets on sale Sept 06

  • Nov 29, ’07 Melbourne, Australia Hamer Hall Tickets on sale Sept 06

  • Dec 02, ’07 Adelaide, Australia Thebarton Theatre Tickets on sale Sept 06

  • Dec 03, ’07 Sydney, Australia Enmore Theatre Tickets on sale Sept 06


Dweezil Zappa does justice to his father's legacy


Zappa Plays Zappa




Another great Zappa project is the Ed Palermo Big Band. Ed has been perfecting arrangements of Zappa’s music for years. Many Zappa alumni sit in from time to time. Zappa fans should check out their website at http://www.palermobigband.com/

Folk singer Arlo Guthrie has said that he pictures the singing of social protest songs as a kind of holding of one's hand out into the future to join with someone reaching back into the past to locate an activist role-model. Zappa clearly serves such a role. His activism went beyond the making of political records: besides heavy involvement in voter registration, he was one of the major voices against calls for artistic censorship in the 1980s. Much like the late Paul Robeson, Zappa the politician was much more respected outside the United States.

"Broadway The Hard Way", and many other Zappa works, deserve a much wider audience. As the "right" gains wider control of America's sociopolitical institutions, Zappa's brand of crap detection is sorely missed.

Zappa Trivia

Zappa was the voice of the Pope in the 1992 Ren and Stimpy episode Powdered Toast Man.


  • Zappa seems to have fans in the science community. As these discoveries have been named in his honor - another asteroid (16745 Zappa), a gene (ZapA gene of Proteus mirabilis, a microbe that causes urinary tract infections [5]), a goby fish (Zappa confluentus ), a jellyfish (Phialella zappa), an extinct mollusc (Amauratoma zappa), and a spider with an abdominal mark supposedly resembling Zappa's mustache (Pachygnatha zappa). In 1995 a series of Intel PC motherboards were named after him.

  • Frank anchored an FNN ( Financial News Network) show about investing in the former Soviet Union.

  • The television cartoon show Duckman featured the voice of Zappa's son Dweezil and Zappa's music.

  • In January 2006, the city of Berlin renamed a Street 13 in the Marzahn district the "Frank-Zappa-Strasse.


“Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is THE BEST…”

---Frank Zappa




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5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great feature, nice that somebody remembers FZ and what a great human being that he was.

Jack Alexander said...

Thanks, a very good read. Not enough is written about this great man and musician.

WVKayaker said...

Completely enjoyed reading this page. Many interesting items I didn't know. Long time fan of Frank's, so it was a treat.
Saw him 3 times, and caught Zappa plays Zappa in 2006 and 2007.
Thanks again.

Robert said...

I discovered Zappa,late? I realized it´s not late...

Rick Prevett said...

Thank you for this. Also a long time FZ fan who tried to bring his music to the masses via my old band. With a 12 piece band, we covered one entire side of 'Just another bank from LA' starting with 'Call any Vegetable'. What fun that was.

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