Mothers of Invention on Vinyl

An audio treat for those Zappa and Mothers of Invention freaks who have only heard this music via digital CDs, and a bit of nostalgia for freaks like myself, who first got turned onto the incredibly warm analogue sound of the MOI that you will never get with remastered CDs. Take a listen to the following examples – “Nine Types of Industrial Pollution” and “The Dog Breath Variations” from 1969’s ‘Uncle Meat’, and “Who Are the Brain Police (1966 MONO)” from ‘Freak Out’ – and be your own judge:

Tracks from ‘Uncle Meat’ and ‘Freak Out’ were played on:

Sony PS-X5 Turntable

Ortofon 2M Blue

Musical Fidelity V-LPS w/ Radio Shack PSU

Harmon Kardon 330c stereo receiver



Recorded at 24/96 (24-bit, 96kHz) on Audacity

Thanks to gamesDAMNED for recording and posting these archival tracks (And I hope he posts more in the future – it’s been quite a while since I’ve heard Mother’s music in it’s original, prestine form).

56 Responses to “Mothers of Invention on Vinyl”

  1. Thinman says:

    Quote: “… the incredibly warm analogue sound of the MOI that you will never get with remastered CDs. …”

    Once again and again and again … : This has nothing to do with the medium. It’s a problem of the TREATMENT.

    The impression that the vinyl sounds better is because the right people did the right things during recording, production, mastering and manufacturing if you are lucky.

    The impression that some CD remasters sound not as good is because the wrong people did wrong things to the material during remix, mastering and so on.

    You are giving the proof yourself, because what you present here is digital audio anyway.

    Digital audio technology has several advantages over analogue audio. But people in the business hardly make use of these advantages.

    Don’t blame the technology, blame the people who (mis)use it.

    Thanks for reading this.

    Thinman

  2. urbangraffito says:

    Of course, Thinman, there is no way to adequately reproduce the vinyl experience in this digital medium.

    I would have to say, though, albums like ‘Uncle Meat’ and ‘Freak Out’ (and no doubt most, if not all, of Zappa’s catalogue) was recorded, mixed, and meant to be heard via a particular medium: vinyl. The compact disc came late to the party, and we can’t really say than FZ recorded and mixed those albums with digital technology in mind.

    If this post encourages just one fan to buy a vinyl copy and compare the two, then it’s been worthwhile. Album after album, from ‘Freak Out’ to ‘Uncle Meat’ to ‘Roxy & Elsewhere” to ‘Zappa in New York’ will always sound warmer and richer on vinyl (to my ears, at least) than their digital counterparts.

    Was this due to remixing? Perhaps. Then that begs the question: how could FZ have fucked up so damn much? Or wasn’t he aware of what was going on?

  3. Thinman says:

    [quote comment=”11519″]… Then that begs the question: how could FZ have fucked up so damn much? Or wasn’t he aware of what was going on?[/quote]
    It’s common sense that FZ had lost much of his high frequency hearing ability in earlier years. So this plus the fact that he began to run his own studio and everything was being done inhouse (including remastering of old titles) didn’t always guarantee the best results. Plus a common tendency in those days to rework things that had already been good before to create a bonus for the consumers to make them buy the albums one more time on CD. In my opinion the lack of quality doesn’t come from the technology but from bad marketing decisions. And before FZ had his own studio he had to involve more specialists from the world outside, with well-known results (Kerry McNabb is my hero when it comes to engineers. The albums from Waka/Jawaka up to Bongo Fury are the best sounding in FZ’s canon IMO.)

    It would have been possible even in the early days of digital audio to make transfers from the original master tapes that would just sound identical to the beloved vinyl records (and I have them all, too). And that is not necessarily a question of Bits and kHz.

    BTW, did you compare your Freak-Out vinyl to the MOFO-version, which hopefully is FZ’s plain ’87 digital-transfer?

    Th.

  4. urbangraffito says:

    [quote comment=”11520″]
    It would have been possible even in the early days of digital audio to make transfers from the original master tapes that would just sound identical to the beloved vinyl records (and I have them all, too). And that is not necessarily a question of Bits and kHz.

    BTW, did you compare your Freak-Out vinyl to the MOFO-version, which hopefully is FZ’s plain ’87 digital-transfer?

    Th.[/quote]

    I find myself in total agreement with you, Thinman.

    The problem seems to lie with the UMRK and FZ’s need to micromanage every aspect of the process in house.

    I agree, in the early days of digital audio, it should have been possible “to make transfers from the original master tapes that would just sound identical to the beloved vinyl records”.

    Album transfer after album transfer, music that was crisp and distinct on vinyl records becomes muddled after CD transfer. Those of us who own both vinyl records and CD know what it is of which I speak (i.e. “Cheepnis”).

    While the 4 disc MOFO audio documentary is an excellent release in it’s own right, Thinman, if I had to choose a quintessential version for a group listening session, I’d chose my original vinyl ‘Freak Out’ (even with it’s occasional clicks and pops). To me, it’s how the album was meant to be heard.

    Can we really say that any of FZ’s digital transfer’s were plain?

  5. Thinman says:

    [quote comment=”11528″]… The problem seems to lie with the UMRK and FZ’s need to micromanage every aspect of the process in house. …[/quote]
    I like the expression “to micromanage” which describes the control-freak-dilemma rather good.

    [quote comment=”11528″]… Can we really say that any of FZ’s digital transfer’s were plain?[/quote]
    To find out I would have to study the Zappa Patio once again. But out of memory and my own listening experiences there are a few candidates that didn’t suffer from too much treatment: One Size Fits All, Joe’s Garage … come to my mind.

    Th.

  6. steev says:

    It’s really fucking simple. The music is analogue. Your ears and brain are analogue. Stick a digital step inbetween and it’s an approximation (sometimes even quite a good one). And introduces all sorts of opportunities (both intentional and unintentional) to mangle the original sound. Even in the analogue domain there are huge differences between the same album mastered/pressed in different countries.

  7. Thinman says:

    [quote comment=”11536″]It’s really fucking simple. The music is analogue. Your ears and brain are analogue. Stick a digital step inbetween and it’s an approximation …[/quote]
    Do you think that a crinkled groove in a wobbling piece of plastic in which a pointed stone jumps around is closer to reality?

    😉

    Th.

  8. Rob says:

    Since each individual’s perception of reality is based on their own pre-conceived notions, no standards for comparison exist. Reality is only one’s opinion. Like Paul Simon said, One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.

  9. urbangraffito says:

    [quote comment=”11536″]It’s really fucking simple. The music is analogue. Your ears and brain are analogue. Stick a digital step inbetween and it’s an approximation (sometimes even quite a good one). And introduces all sorts of opportunities (both intentional and unintentional) to mangle the original sound. Even in the analogue domain there are huge differences between the same album mastered/pressed in different countries.[/quote]

    You certainly have a point, steev. Recall all those incomplete mixes of ‘Sleep Dirt’ and ‘Orchestral Favorites’ that Warner Brothers released? And how upset some FZ fans were when suddenly a mix of Sleep Dirt appeared later with vocals?

    I think that the main difficulty with Zappa and his colossal body of work, is that a quintessential audio treatment has yet to be done – so, as it stands, a myriad of mixes and conflicting standards remain.

    [quote comment=”11543″]Since each individual’s perception of reality is based on their own pre-conceived notions, no standards for comparison exist. Reality is only one’s opinion. Like Paul Simon said, One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.[/quote]

    If that were true, Rob, particularly with Zappa and his recordings,
    it wouldn’t matter how FZ mixed and produced his albums because we’d all be playing them on our kerosene record players. Indeed, not a very efficient device. You know the kind of which I speak, don’t you? You place the record on your head, say, Uncle Meat or Burnt Weeny Sandwich, swallow a glass or two from the sudsy yellow nozzle of the foaming nocturnal parametric digital whole-wheat inter-faith geo-thermal terpsichorean ejectamenta, then crank the handle you’ve stuck in your ear like a mother…

  10. Dark Clothes says:

    I don’t think SD and OF were incomplete mixes, but it’s been said that the equalization is all wrong, because Frank didn’t hand over the Dolby line-up tones to Warner Bros. And yet I still prefer the title cut of Sleep Dirt on the corporate bootleg LP, and find Zappa’s later CD mix and master too trebly and shrill. (While I do appreciate the Hunchentoot songs with lyrics and Thana Harris’ vocals.)

    Generally I prefer Zappa’s vinyl mixes, but there are some exceptions. With Hot Rats you really have two different albums on LP and CD, and I enjoy both.

    On the other hand, I just listened to the Sheik Yerbouti LP, and that is clearly superior in every way to the CD. Vinyl reached a quality peak at that time, and to my ears the LP’s from that era sound much better from a pure sound reproduction point of view than the early Verve LP’s.

    To my ears, the mono Money on Lumpy Money and the Mofo Freak Out! are the best available versions of those, while I do prefer the vinyl of many later albums.

  11. Thinman says:

    It is a good thing to have all those EMI-transfers on CD. Those are the only titles in the catalogue that come as close to the original vinyl releases as possible. From the mid-eighties on the same digital masters had been used for both vinyl and CD-releases likely.

    Where Ryko/Zappa Records/Barking Pumpkin editions are identical in content to those titles, probably the EMI-transfers have been used, as in the case of Joe’s Garage (list may be incomplete or wrong):

    Sheik Yerbouti
    Joe’s Garage
    Tinseltown Rebellion
    Shut Up & Play Yer Guitar (2-CD set)
    You Are What You Is
    Ship Arriving Too Late to Save A Drowning Witch
    The Man From Utopia (SATLTSADW and MFU happened to be a twofer, EMI only.)
    Them Or Us
    Thing Fish
    Meets The Mothers Of Prevention
    Jazz From Hell (MTMOP and JFH came as a twofer, too. EMI only.)

    I don’t know who was involved in the transfers (Frank or not). Later vinyl issues also did say: Digitally remastered.

  12. Fabienne Shine says:

    I have all the EMI CDs. I love them. I much prefer the vinyl/EMI CD mix of Man From Utopia. Zappa may not have liked the EMI transfers but they have a “No-Frills” freshness about them that i really like.

  13. Jeroen says:

    I still can’t believe people on the one hand searching for all these details to be offended by them, and on the other hand listening to bootlegs (I can’t listen to the mixtapes for too long).

    Why these immens double standards?

    I like my cd’s, I’m glad the vinyl-hiss-era is over.

    Jeroen

  14. Thinman says:

    “Bit of nostalgia for the old folks!”
    (Spider, Lumpy Gravy)

  15. Dark Clothes says:

    [quote comment=”11565″]Why these immens double standards?[/quote]
    Official releases and field recordings are different kettles of fish, so double standards are absolutely necessary 🙂

  16. urbangraffito says:

    [quote comment=”11565″]I still can’t believe people on the one hand searching for all these details to be offended by them, and on the other hand listening to bootlegs (I can’t listen to the mixtapes for too long).

    Why these immens double standards?

    I like my cd’s, I’m glad the vinyl-hiss-era is over.

    Jeroen[/quote]

    Interesting comment, Jeroen. Dark Clothes is correct, “Official releases and field recordings are different kettles of fish, so double standards are absolutely necessary.” Firstly, the former was recorded and larged mixed, and later transfered by Zappa, himself, while the latter was not. Secondly, field recordings and mixtapes aren’t meant to replace official recordings, rather supplement them for education purposes.

    Indeed, most who have followed Zappa and the Mothers throughout their career – through not only the vinyl and CD era technologies, but all kinds of and sorts of audio recording mediums in between (I own Zappa and the Mothers in a myriad of formats, some immensely superior to both vinyl and CD but entirely too cumbersome to be worthwhile [reel-to-reel]).

    Still, while CD’s are the most convenient, the “vinyl-hiss-era” of which you speak has more to do with the stereo you played your Zappa and Mothers records on. If you used a crappy stereo (like many of us did initially) not only did we damage the vinyl, but each successive playing was consequently distorted. I remember the first time I actually heard Zappa and the Mothers on vinyl on a state of the art stereo system – it was as though I were hearing the band altogether the the first time once again. I was fucking giddy. I suggest you get yourself a pristine vinyl copy of your favorite FZ/Mothers album and play it on a state of the art stereo, then talk about the “vinyl-hiss-era”. My guess is you’ll be a vinyl convert.

  17. Deepinder says:

    The Vinyl format lasted a longer time when it was still the dominant format than CD or other digital has done to date. In that period it was continuously developed by large electric corporations and smaller (like Nimbus in Monmouth UK) for listening pleasure. That is my case for paying respect to the vinyl format.

  18. urbangraffito says:

    [quote comment=”11549″]
    I don’t know who was involved in the transfers (Frank or not). Later vinyl issues also did say: Digitally remastered.[/quote]

    I have learned that the term “Digitally Remastered” is no guarantee of audio quality, like the term “Fat Free” has nothing to do with the actually amount of fat in a product. It’s a marketing term that says very little while promising a lot.

  19. Thinman says:

    “Later vinyl issues also did say: Digitally remastered.” I meant, that the same masters have likely been used for the CD editions and the vinyl editions with this hint.

    In many cases “remastered” means: “treated for the worst/destroyed original music”. And it doesn’t matter if this mistreatment was done digitally or analogue.

    Generally care must be taken about all those remastered editions of any artist. Today they usually compress the shit out of everything to compete in today’s loudness war. I wonder how long we will have to wait until somebody comes up with a remastered version of Ravel’s Bolero where the level of the beginning is brought up to the same level as the big ending.

    I’m sure there will be enough stupid people saying: “Great remaster! Now finally I can hear all the details that got burried in the too soft beginning in the old version. Now I can have this music side by side with the latest Metallica on my iPod. And everything is normalized and compressed to the same level.”

    This again reminds me of that Dweezil Zappa interview where he talks about finding the latest mastering studio that is able to squeeze the last possible bit of loudness out of any mix to make it as loud as possible. Having read this (I can’t remember the source) and listening to the latest ZFT releases makes me think that these people are most likely the wrong people to care for FZ’s legacy.

    Th.

  20. metafunj says:

    I never noticed how “stucco homes” sounds like “9 types of industrial pollution.” I think the lick at 5:46 might have been used in “stucco homes.” I’ll have to listen and see if its just my mind playing tricks on me.

  21. urbangraffito says:

    [quote comment=”11588″]I never noticed how “stucco homes” sounds like “9 types of industrial pollution.” I think the lick at 5:46 might have been used in “stucco homes.” I’ll have to listen and see if its just my mind playing tricks on me.[/quote]

    As a writer/editor, metafunj, I was quite excited to find post-modernist examples of musical recycling in Zappa’s music (much akin to literary recycling in literature – take Burroughs, for example). I’m sure many musicians did this, yet FZ was the most consistent (and creative) recycler I knew of (i.e. Lumpy Gravy). That Zappa fans think they hear licks they might have heard before, well, don’t be too surprised…I received that very same feeling when I first heard Uncle Meat…

  22. Dark Clothes says:

    Stucco Homes… Loose, melancholy, inspired improvisation – very far from anything as theoretical as post-modernism, I think… If it’s a little similar to Nine Types of Industrial Pollution, it’s more because purely musical elements and personality than anything else. Nine Types id more of an artifact, but both solos are wonderful examples of Zappa’s ability to dive deep into the music, oblivious of anything else, which is another aspect of his creativity than the obvious cultural borrowings.

  23. urbangraffito says:

    [quote comment=”11597″]Stucco Homes… Loose, melancholy, inspired improvisation – very far from anything as theoretical as post-modernism, I think… If it’s a little similar to Nine Types of Industrial Pollution, it’s more because purely musical elements and personality than anything else. Nine Types id more of an artifact, but both solos are wonderful examples of Zappa’s ability to dive deep into the music, oblivious of anything else, which is another aspect of his creativity than the obvious cultural borrowings.[/quote]

    Interesting Dark Clothes, I offer specific examples of Zappa’s post-modernist recycling of his own work – for instance, the elements which make up Lumpy Gravy, as well as recurrent themes and melodies in Uncle Meat (often at various tempos and rhythms) – yet still you refuse to bite.

    Too big a fish?

  24. Thinman says:

    Just two randomly found interesting different opinions on the “glorious age of vinyl” to be added to the discussion:

    … some Gary Horowitz: “One of the reasons Zappa so fondly welcomed and embraced the digital medium was because of its promise of a broad dynamic range, which extended to +96 db. So now his albums, freed from the constrictions of vinyl, no longer needed to have the life squeezed out of them by compression.
    Compression was used heavily to squash dynamic range on LPs, especially in 1966. Stereo was relatively new and the mastering engineers simply did (not) know how, or did not want to deal with rock and roll, so they just set the disk cutters on “auto-pilot” and walk away until the album side was finished. All bass frequencies below 100 Hz were channeled into the center becuase it would otherwise make the stylus (phonograph needle) jump out of the groove. Ask anyone who has put months of hard work into perfecting the sound of an album, only to be horrified when they hear how the final pressing had butchered and mangled the glorious sounds they had recorded into a thin, lifeless and muddy sounding piece of garbage!
    I guess that the record companies didn’t mind either because they figured the records would be heavily compressed anyway when played over the air for radio broadcast. This was done to prevent over-modulation in the transmitters. But go figure how often Zappa’s records would be played on the radio in the first place! [Ed: Ironically, Zappa seemed all too fond of compression during the later stages of his reissue programmes…] …” (Source: http://www.lukpac.org/~handmade/patio/vinylvscds/freakout.html)

    “I know when you’re standing in the studio and you’ve got a whole bunch of mixes on analog and you’ve got a whole bunch of mixes on digital which one are you going to use? Digital. So analog’s become a sort of safety backup which is not what it was intended to. But it’s just such a tiresome question, tiresome in the sense in that it’s been argued ever since CDs came out, and I don’t really want to say much more about it because you got to either take or leave CDs. That goes for the other end; in a way what’s the point of recording in analog if it’s going to go on a CD? One could argue the other way around you see, so it’s quite arguable, that what’s the point of going to all the trouble recording it on analog, thinking that somehow that in itself is enough when in fact it’s going to a digital medium anyway? I wax and wane on it; sometimes, yeah, I once played somebody in my studio the tape of THE YES ALBUM and they couldn’t believe it was the thing they’d been listening to on a record, it had a much more hi-fi sound about it. So I regret records destroying the tape sound; the records, in my book, wrecked the sound that we made in the studio. So along comes CD, and I’m in seventh heaven, there’s no hiss anymore, I can multitrack guitars with out all that schroosh going on, so I like digital. I miss a little softness, a little mellowness, but you can get the better dynamics. When you play quietly in digital there’s no increase of noise.”
    (Steve Howe about THE YES ALBUM, source: http://stevehowe.com/archives/archives4.html

  25. Thinman says:

    Also read this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonograph_record#Shortcomings

    and this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analog_recording_vs._digital_recording

    And always remember: The best available technology can be used to ruin anything.

    Th.

  26. Dark Clothes says:

    Postmodernism and Zappa? Yes. Stucco Homes? Something else, a spontaneous and pure musical expression, I feel.

  27. jonnybutter says:

    [quote post=”3752″]I was quite excited to find post-modernist examples of musical recycling in Zappa’s music (much akin to literary recycling in literature – take Burroughs, for example). [/quote]

    I wouldn’t call Burroughs ‘postmodern’, nor Zappa. Granted, ‘postmodern’ is not a perfectly exact term, but still. That Zappa wrote music he described as ‘ridiculously non-modern’ (or whatever adjective it was) doesn’t make him – or the music – ‘postmodern’. Postmodernism, including the ‘left’ versions of it, is, at it’s core, reactionary, and that absolutely includes politics. Zappa flirted with postmodern ideas and techniques (e.g. recycling, which isn’t necessarily postmodern, btw), but I would never call him a ‘postmodern’. He was about as hostile to the idea of postmodernism as can be – one reason I like him so much.

  28. Dark Clothes says:

    [quote comment=”11606″][quote post=”3752″]I was quite excited to find post-modernist examples of musical recycling in Zappa’s music (much akin to literary recycling in literature – take Burroughs, for example). [/quote]

    I wouldn’t call Burroughs ‘postmodern’, nor Zappa. Granted, ‘postmodern’ is not a perfectly exact term, but still. That Zappa wrote music he described as ‘ridiculously non-modern’ (or whatever adjective it was) doesn’t make him – or the music – ‘postmodern’. Postmodernism, including the ‘left’ versions of it, is, at it’s core, reactionary, and that absolutely includes politics. Zappa flirted with postmodern ideas and techniques (e.g. recycling, which isn’t necessarily postmodern, btw), but I would never call him a ‘postmodern’. He was about as hostile to the idea of postmodernism as can be – one reason I like him so much.[/quote]

    I think you’re right, Johnny. But he was (impure and) after the moderns, and postmodern in that sense.

  29. urbangraffito says:

    In the absence of critical academic study of Zappa and the Mothers, one often reaches into other art forms for comparable analogies and allegories through which to discuss the unique creativity and sheer inventiveness of Frank Zappa. I’ve been doing this most of my adult life and have yet to adequately explain all the nuances I have uncovered in FZ’s music. Postmodernism is just a guide post, not a destination, especially when speaking about Zappa. In fact, Zappa tended to create his own lexicon as he went in an attempt to explain himself and his music to others, which is why he and his music were always so intriguing – layers upon layers surrounding Zappa’s essential core.

    Still, I would stand by my assumption that Zappa was post-modern culture’s first post-modern musician (yes, he may have despised the term) because he actively and consciously incorporated his myriad influences not just as elements of his style, but into his creations as well (quotes by Stravinsky, Bolero, traditional sea chanties, etc.) while his contemporaries were far more concerned with pop stardom.

  30. jonnybutter says:

    [quote post=”3752″][Zappa] was (impure and) after the moderns, and postmodern in that sense.[/quote]

    Well…yes, if you put it like that! I think we skate on very thin ice calling Zappa ‘postmodern’, no matter what we ‘really’ mean. I’d also point out that Frank admired (and laughed at) modernism very very much. I mean, Edgard Varese was his boyhood hero; he liked Webern, he used serial techniques…all extremely ‘modern’. Maybe he was a post-postmodern.

    Lest we forget, postmodernism, both left and right, is essentially about longing for authoritarianism (e.g. people who ‘wish they were statues’; music that’s ‘boring and ugly’). People think that the left version is somehow exempt from that, but read Battaile, and Foucault, too. It’s one thing to rebel against a corrupted social system, but quite another to fall in love with that relationship as a value in and of itself….that’s just reaction, and not really a humane philosophy – not much of a philosophy at all, actually. You end up *needing* and fetishing what you’re rebelling against. Read Foucault on sex, for example. He thinks sex is nothing without taboos – he *needs* those taboos and churchly restrictions. Hardly Zappaesque.

    The right wing version of postmodernism is a lot more obvious, of course. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Berlusconi. But it’s just the other side of the coin.

    I frothing on about this because I hate postmodernism – hate it hate it hate it. Some of the smarter exponents – like John Adams – have moved into a more post-post posture. But regular postmodernism is alive and well, and I just find it appalling.

  31. urbangraffito says:

    [quote comment=”11614″] I think we skate on very thin ice calling Zappa ‘postmodern’, no matter what we ‘really’ mean. I’d also point out that Frank admired (and laughed at) modernism very very much. I mean, Edgard Varese was his boyhood hero; he liked Webern, he used serial techniques…all extremely ‘modern’.

    Maybe he was a post-postmodern.[/quote]

    Yes, the ice is very thin, particularly beneath me when I refer to Zappa being postmodern “no matter what we ‘really’ mean.”

    That I find elements of post-modernism, perhaps even post-postmodernism, in Zappa’s music does not necessarily mean that he can be defined by it.

    That’s always been the problem with postmodernism – it’s too reductionist. It endlessly tries to fit every size shape into the same size hole (i.e. people who ‘wish they were statues’; music that’s ‘boring and ugly’). In terms of discussions of Zappa, though, do we simply disregard these post-modernist elements in Zappa’s music as non-relevant to the overall discussion?

  32. Dark Clothes says:

    Well, you might call him a postmodern tramp
    But it goes a little deeper than that
    He’s a myriadminded chile!

    (Pace Jimi!)

  33. jonnybutter says:

    [quote post=”3752″]In terms of discussions of Zappa, though, do we simply disregard these post-modernist elements in Zappa’s music as non-relevant to the overall discussion?[/quote]

    No, sorry. I don’t mean to be an ‘ism policeman’. Zappa tends to make every ‘ism’ kind of his own (as you said above, UG). But, as he himself might tell you, ‘isms’ do have real features and consequences which can’t be just skated-over. I think postmodernist politics and art do flow from the same ideas, and they’re ideas which seem antithetical to most of Frank’s work.

    You could also make the case that there really are more postmodern elements in Zappa than someone like me cares to acknowledge, at least in a less-musical, more-political, sense (assuming there’s a clear distinction). If that’s correct, then I could only hope that he would’ve changed his mind (again). He did that a lot.

    We have the advantage of having lived many more years than Frank did, and so see more ‘fruits’ of PoMo…

  34. Michael Pierry says:

    [quote post=”3752″]Lest we forget, postmodernism, both left and right, is essentially about longing for authoritarianism (e.g. people who ‘wish they were statues’; music that’s ‘boring and ugly’).[/quote]

    Postmodern art and postmodernism as a philosophy are very different things. Philosophers like Foucault and Jacques Derrida really have very little to do with postmodern music and art. You may find Philip Glass boring and repetitive but it doesn’t mean he longs for authoritarianism. In fact, minimalism was in part a reaction against the strictness of the total serialism of the 50’s and early 60’s (in that sense it is “reactionary,” but no more than any other artistic movement is a reaction to what came before it).

    It is much easier to show a link between late Romanticism and Modernism and authoritarianism. Wagner, Bruckner, Carl Orff, Shostakovich (ambiguous figure though he was), and plenty of other composers served as inspiration for, and/or servants of, dictators in Germany, Russia and elsewhere. (Anton Webern was a big fan of Hitler as well.)

  35. jonnybutter says:

    [quote post=”3752″]It is much easier to show a link between late Romanticism and Modernism and authoritarianism. Wagner, Bruckner, Carl Orff, Shostakovich (ambiguous figure though he was), and plenty of other composers served as inspiration for, and/or servants of, dictators in Germany, Russia and elsewhere. (Anton Webern was a big fan of Hitler as well.)[/quote]

    Webern was a ‘big fan’ of the Nazis? REALLY? Where did you get that idea? I want to be polite, so I won’t speculate. The Nazis certainly weren’t ‘big fans’ of his. Don’t spread this trash, please. It’s mindless slander.

    I notice that among the ‘modern’ composers you mention, none of them is particularly Modernist, except for Webern. Shostakovich doesn’t count either way, because he had little choice. I would agree with your linkage of late romanticism and a kind of authoritarianism, but that’s off the subject, isn’t it?

    Do you really think that postmodern philosophy and postmodern art have nothing to do with each other? I specifically mentioned Battaile, who was a writer of fiction. Does his work not have anything to do with philosophy? Please.

    I’d also note that there is a difference between reaction and being reactionary. You can react and create something new. Or you can be reactionary, in which case it is the thing you’re reacting against which defines you, rather than an innovation. That’s what I think is the case with pomo.

    I think the modernists – with exceptions of course – were about spiritual and intellectual freedom. I think PoMo, certainly political and often artistic, is about fetishing our limits.

  36. jonnybutter says:

    I’d also want to say that I’m not in the habit of sneering at sincere artists trying to do something good. I may not like their work very much, but I do agree with you that there is a distinction between the art and the philosophy. But I don’t think they’re really quite separate, either.

    I think Glass writes great soundtrack music. I don’t have a very high tolerance for it to just listen to, but it’s great for soundtracks and commercials.

    I also think that there are composers who reject the dogmatism of some of the ‘total serialists’ of the 50s and 60s, who are nonetheless not really ‘postmodernists’. Zappa would be one.

  37. Michael Pierry says:

    [quote post=”3752″]Webern was a ‘big fan’ of the Nazis? REALLY? Where did you get that idea? I want to be polite, so I won’t speculate. The Nazis certainly weren’t ‘big fans’ of his. Don’t spread this trash, please. It’s mindless slander.[/quote]

    Please see Hans & Rosaleen Moldenhauer’s “Anton von Webern: A Chronicle of His Life and Work” for some relevant quotes. He was excited and enthusiastic about the National Socialist state in which he lived. Believe me, I’m not pleased that he felt that way.

    Anyway, you’re right that the Nazis weren’t big supporters of Webern or of atonal music in general, although it was tolerated as long as the composer was considered ideologically in line. But that wasn’t my point. My point was, a composer’s political or philosophical beliefs don’t correlate very well with the quality of music he or she produces.

  38. urbangraffito says:

    Excerpts from two essays on Zappa and postmodernism I think might add some colour and flavour to the discussion:

    “Anyone who’s spent time listening to Zappa’s music can tell you it’s the result of the collapse of the high culture/popular culture distinction — a collapse typical of what we think of as postmodernism. But what’s interesting here is how Zappa starts on the road to being a postmodern musician: it has everything to do with the dominance of commodity logic in American culture. Firstly, there’s the article in Look, which presents us with what, in historical terms, is a very strange kind of heroism: Sam Goody is no knight in shining armor, nor is he a holy man or a martyr. He’s a hero because he can, Midas-like, convert anything he touches into a commodity to be sold (even something so resolutely non-commodifiable as Varèse’s experimental music). It is only because the tale of the triumph of the Knight of Commodification over the Dragon of Aesthetic Innovation was being sung in the pages of Look that Zappa heard of Varèse in the first place. Secondly, there’s the actual triumph of markets and commodities in midcentury America: the country was well on its way to being the everything-all-the-time-if-you-can-pay-for-it nation it is today, and you could even find a Varèse album in a shitkicker county if you traveled a town or two over. Also, there’s the sense that the only value is the market or commodity value. What’s the value of Varèse? Only what the market will bear, by the logic of commodities. And, since the market in La Mesa wouldn’t bear $5.95, Zappa was actually able to afford the album.



    Moreover, since young Zappa wasn’t exposed to any system of cultural hierarchy other than the commodity, he encountered all music as equal (all commodities are in some sense exchangeable — lead, feathers, fighter jets, bassoons, church windows, first folios of Shakespeare, truck tires, Van Gogh paintings, whatever: pile them up high enough and you can trade one for another). In another time and place he’d probably have learned one or another kind of snobbery.”

    -from “Frank Zappa, Commodity Logic, and the Dawn of Postmodernism” by Robert Archambeau

    http://samizdatblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/frank-zappa-commodity-logic-and-dawn-of.html

    “Zappologist Jonathan Jones has written of Zappa’s music creating a paranoid listener. I want to talk about it creating an annoyed listener. Rock critics such as Greil Marcus and Lester Bangs dislike his cynical take on rock and suspect his treacherous classical aspirations; bourgeois moralists condemn his documentation of contemporary mores as sexist and racist; admirers of jazz and classical music are irked by the knob gags and art purists recoil from the ostentatious opulence of his production. These are not just issues for occasional listeners. Indeed, they structure the long term responses of the hardcore fan. Even after such individuals have learned to thrill at the merest glimpse of a poodle, the initial resistance is, in Hegelian fashion, both cancelled and preserved as a moment of apprehension with each listening. Zappa’s music is so irritating, yet so evidently accomplished and original, that the listener’s aesthetic categories are called into question. This might best be clarified by way of a comparison of Zappa’s work with that of Pete Townshend. Both document pop culture and both combine Afro-American music with European music (in Zappa’s case, Varèse and Stravinsky, and in Townshend’s, Gilbert and Sullivan). Townshend was famously a celebrant of the Mod lifestyle, a subject which cultural studies academics have also found particularly congenial. The elaborate consumer choices of inarticulate youth provide rich pickings for semiotically minded sociologist and would be rock statesman alike. That pop is, as Matt Worley writes, ‘the last gasp before the day job grabs you […], an inevitable failure, a second of brilliance and a lifetime of grey […] disappointment in multiple’(10), is, for Townshend and Hebdige, an occasion, not for a rethink of their uncritical valorisation of popular pleasure, but for pathos. It is their very emphasis on culture as a social rather than a cognitive activity which blinds them to the only social effectivity their beloved pop might have.

    With Zappa, pathos is precluded by his never having had any illusions in the first place, but also by his systematically denying the mystical closure sought by Townshend. The latter writes pithy, exciting and climactic songs celebrating, and speaking for, those who, inspired by pithy, exciting and climactic songs, seek, with often tragic consequences, to lead pithy, exciting and climactic lives. Zappa is not a purveyor of quanta of adolescent adrenaline. Modular construction, doo-wop derived polyphony, segues and estranging contexts militate against both identity affirmation and unreflective immediacy. To be sure, the music is frequently visceral, but rarely immediate. ‘My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama’, for example, is destabilised as a rock song by its context, horn arrangement and the knowing dumbness of the lyrics. The listener with more in mind than cheap thrills fares no better. For many, Zappa is, apart from his intrinsic merits, a gateway to “higher things”. However, the seeker of exquisite Webernian interludes is sure to find amplified snorks or chipmunk choruses as well. Zappa’s music may be a sculpture, but it is a sculpture festooned with hairtrigger stinkbombs.

    …Zappa is the most outstanding example of the unity of those opposites, market and independence, in modern culture. Those who succumb to ideology are precisely those who cover up the contradiction instead of taking it into the consciousness of their own production, as Zappa did.”

    – from “Bogus Pomp and Bourdieu’s Paradox: Zappa & Resentment” by Paul Sutton – a paper delivered to the International Conference of Esemplasic Zappology (ICE-Z) at Theatro Technis, 26 Crowndale Road, London NW1 on Friday 16 January 2004.

    http://www.militantesthetix.co.uk/ice-z/paul.htm

  39. Dark Clothes says:

    [quote comment=”11588″]I never noticed how “stucco homes” sounds like “9 types of industrial pollution.” I think the lick at 5:46 might have been used in “stucco homes.” I’ll have to listen and see if its just my mind playing tricks on me.[/quote]
    Don´t you think While You Were Out is even more similar to Nine Types of Industrial Pollution than Stucco Homes? The tunes certainly have a family resemblance, as Wittgenstein would have said…

  40. jonnybutter says:

    [quote post=”3752″]Please see Hans & Rosaleen Moldenhauer’s “Anton von Webern: A Chronicle of His Life and Work” for some relevant quotes. He was excited and enthusiastic about the National Socialist state in which he lived. Believe me, I’m not pleased that he felt that way.

    [/quote]

    It’s a little more complicated than ‘Webern was a big fan of Hitler’, which was your original statement. One day he was enthusiastic, the next day he was bitter and disillusioned. You can find just as many quotes of the second kind as you can of the first. Sorry, but I think it’s cheap to slander someone with a statement which, even if 100% true, would not have supported your point anyway. And it isn’t really true. Webern’s stain is that he didn’t *publicly* denounce the Nazis, and he suffered for his hesitation. Webern was not Albert Speer, or even Shostakovich. His music in no way supported nor glorified the Nazis, who, btw, banned his work as ‘degenerate’.

    I never made the assertion that a composer’s personal philosophy or politics necessarily affect the quality (i.e. goodness or badness) of their work. I wasn’t talking about the personalities of composers at all (that was you). I was suggesting that the ideas which animate a philosophy also animate – at whatever remove – artistic works. I guess the idea that they don’t is rather postmodern, so maybe we’re full circle.

    This will sound ‘reductionist’, but: I’d say that postmodernism is obsessed with Authority (which is why I used the term ‘authoritarian’ rather than totalitarian or something else), and the more Left variety is about a symbiotic, dependent relationship with authority. That sounds like stasis to me. Does the word ‘stasis’ bring to mind the work of any postmodern music..?

    (I’m looking forward to reading the above comments, but have a busy morning, so it will have to wait…)

  41. Michael Pierry says:

    [quote post=”3752″] This will sound ‘reductionist’, but: I’d say that postmodernism is obsessed with Authority (which is why I used the term ‘authoritarian’ rather than totalitarian or something else), and the more Left variety is about a symbiotic, dependent relationship with authority. That sounds like stasis to me. Does the word ‘stasis’ bring to mind the work of any postmodern music..?[/quote]

    I guess I don’t really understand what you’re saying. I probably don’t have a good enough grasp of postmodernism or even of authoritarianism. I’ve only read the tiniest bits of what I think would be considered postmodern philosophy, and not much of that made sense to me. I’m not trying to be like “I am but a simple man, I know not of your isms” but look, maybe I’m just not well-read enough to see the connection between the music and the philosophy. The music sounds pretty good to me, as far as I can tell, although I’m not entirely clear on where the modern/postmodern divide is with music. Which composers count as pomo? I tried looking on Wikipedia but the entry on postmodern music (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodern_music) seems to rely mostly on an article by Jonathan Kramer called “The Nature and Origins of Musical Postmodernism” and the composers listed as “important to postmodern music” are:

    * John Adams (Kramer 2002, 13)
    * Luciano Berio (Kramer 2002, 14)
    * John Cage
    * John Corigliano (Kramer 2002, 14)
    * George Crumb
    * Brian Eno
    * Henryk Górecki (Kramer 2002, 13)
    * Charles Ives (LeBaron 2002, 59)
    * Zygmunt Krauze (Kramer 2002, 13)
    * Bernard Rands (Kramer 2002, 14)
    * Steve Reich (Kramer 2002, 14)
    * George Rochberg (Kramer 2002, 13)
    * Alfred Schnittke (Kramer 2002, 13)

    This bunch doesn’t really cohere in my mind into a nice neat little movement, or even a messy one.

    Anyway, whatever. This has been an interesting discussion but I think I give up as it seems to be largely over my head. And then I get frustrated and end up slandering Webern. At least I didn’t bring up Varèse and Ruggles blaming the Jews and the Negroes for “the consumerism and vulgarity that were ruining American culture” (this according to Alex Ross’s book The Rest Is Noise which I just finished reading). I bring it up now in case you can tell me if this is also unfounded slander – I’d be happy to learn that those guys weren’t racists.

  42. jonnybutter says:

    [quote post=”3752″]* John Adams (Kramer 2002, 13)
    * Luciano Berio (Kramer 2002, 14)
    * John Cage
    * John Corigliano (Kramer 2002, 14)
    * George Crumb
    * Brian Eno
    * Henryk Górecki (Kramer 2002, 13)
    * Charles Ives (LeBaron 2002, 59)
    * Zygmunt Krauze (Kramer 2002, 13)
    * Bernard Rands (Kramer 2002, 14)
    * Steve Reich (Kramer 2002, 14)
    * George Rochberg (Kramer 2002, 13)
    * Alfred Schnittke (Kramer 2002, 13)

    This bunch doesn’t really cohere in my mind into a nice neat little movement, or even a messy one.[/quote]

    No kidding! I don;’t think they cohere at all. Ives? Berio?

    I apologize if I was hectoring, Michael. PoMo *is* often a vague category as far as music and other art is concerned, and I think it’s sometimes more an invention (‘theory’) of critics/academics than a real art movement. I know a lot more about the philosophy/politics of it than I do the art side. And because of the vagueness of the artistic category, I think you’re right that there is a difference between the art and the philosophy. But I don’t think there is an *essential* difference.

    Here’s an example: ever see any of Tarrantino’s movies? I would call him ‘postmodernist’ in the same sense that Batillie is. Tarrantino is much more skilled an artist than was Batillie, but they both seem to think that, for example, the *gratuitous* is the ultimate expression of humanity, to oversimplify a little. They, like their philosophical pomo brothers, think that, not just amorality, but anti-morality, is the ultimate human quality. They’re a vulgarized Nietzsche + many decades of philosophical bullshit. I think it’s an empty, facile way of looking at the world and of making art. When that backseat kid in ‘Pulp Fiction’ gets his head blown off by mistake, we’re supposed to laugh, since we’re so sophisticated and knowing…. Believe me, I don’t object to this stuff on religious or conventional-morality grounds. I just think it’s a lot of ugly nothing.

    By today’s standards, just about everybody eligible said racist things 60+ years ago. Debussy wrote a piece called ‘The Little Nigger’ (not very good, IMO). Not the same thing as suggesting that Webern was a Nazi, which just isn’t fair.

    [quote post=”3752″]I’ve only read the tiniest bits of what I think would be considered postmodern philosophy, and not much of that made sense to me.[/quote]

    There’s a good reason for that, and it’s not a failing on your part.

  43. jonnybutter says:

    Back in the vague direction of the original subject…

    Anybody else find ‘Nine Types..’ to be sort of boring? I don’t hate it or anything, but usually skip it. I feel the same way – more so – about the jam at the end of the first side (!) of ‘Absolutely Free’ (‘Ritual Dance of the Young Pumpkin’?). Zappa’s guitar on ‘Nine Types’ is more interesting than Bunk’s long solo on the latter, but still…

    Actually, despite being a Zappa Love Slave, a lot of the jams on a lot of recordings are boring as hell to me, e.g. ‘Grand Wazoo’, a lot of live recordings – like ‘Let’s Move to Cleveland Solos’ – etc. Mediocre bebop is not very compelling to me, even in an unusual context. OTOH, I LOVE ‘Shut Up and Play Your Guitar’ (well, most of it). Frank tried to create instant compositions when he soloed, whereas some of his players just kind of ‘jazzed-out’. Zappa himself called that stuff ‘gnat notes’ – I believe the quote was ‘billions of gnat notes that don’t amount to shit’. Wonder why he released so much of it?

    Am I missing something?

  44. urbangraffito says:

    Like the album Uncle Meat, itself, “Nine Types of Industrial Pollution” is far from boring (I’m speaking of the original vinyl release, here). Sometimes not quite jazz, not quite fusion, not quite pop, not quite orchestral, and not quite ethnic – more often than not, though, a hybrid of them all as only Zappa could have possibly concocted. Listening to these compositions now, thirty some years after my high school days when Uncle Meat was my antidote for all that was actually dull and boring – I can hear the foundations for the Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar Series, Guitar, and yes, Jazz From Hell. Uncle Meat and “Nine Types of Industrial Pollution” were, indeed, that seminal. Or at least to me.

  45. jonnybutter says:

    [quote post=”3752″]Like the album Uncle Meat, itself, “Nine Types of Industrial Pollution” is far from boring [/quote]

    er..I always loved Uncle Meat as a whole – it’s one of my favorites. And I totally relate to your characterization of it as an antidote. But some of the early electronic jams – e.g. ‘9 types’, the ‘Theme from Burnt Weeny’ – just don’t do it for me. OTOH, I think ‘Friendly Little Finger’ is fantastic; I can listen to that over and over.

    (Knowing, post facto, that something is a ‘foundation’ doesn’t make it sound good to me, however.)

    oh well…tastes vary I guess

  46. Bob says:

    I walked out of Levon Helm show the other night. How I got there in the first place is a whole story of its own – strangely involving Patrick O’Hearn (remember him?).

    I left saying, “This guy’s near death. I never was a fan of The Band anyway. I was listening to other things in those days.” It was shortly after that the WI 1969 encore appeared here. I played it for my concert mates. They said, “Yes, you were listening to other things then.”

    Uncle Meat!!! The Jelly!

  47. urbangraffito says:

    [quote comment=”11684″][quote post=”3752″]Like the album Uncle Meat, itself, “Nine Types of Industrial Pollution” is far from boring [/quote]

    er..I always loved Uncle Meat as a whole – it’s one of my favorites. And I totally relate to your characterization of it as an antidote. But some of the early electronic jams – e.g. ‘9 types’, the ‘Theme from Burnt Weeny’ – just don’t do it for me. OTOH, I think ‘Friendly Little Finger’ is fantastic; I can listen to that over and over.

    (Knowing, post facto, that something is a ‘foundation’ doesn’t make it sound good to me, however.)

    oh well…tastes vary I guess[/quote]

    Yes, tastes do vary, and when it comes to Uncle Meat, I confess I am far from objective. Like ‘Friendly Little Finger’ is for you – listening over and over – Uncle Meat was and is for me. I listened to that album to such a degree that I came to anticipate every chord change, alteration in tempo, pitch, rhythm – even today, I can hear the album in my head and transcribe from memory.

    I suppose we each have that Zappa/Mothers album which we like for sentimental reasons.

    Uncle Meat will always be that album for me. More complex and more finely arranged Zappa albums have been released since, but none as special and as awesomely playful as Uncle Meat was upon it’s release.

    At least to me.

  48. Dark Clothes says:

    Nine Types of Industrial Pollution and Theme From Burnt Weenie Sandwich are among my favourite Zappa tracks, and perhaps one day I’ll be able to tell you why… FWIW, Fred Frith has said that Nine Types was the one piece of music that gave him a direction for what he wanted to achieve as a musician himself. So, no Johnny, I don’t think it’s boring at all. This music is still very fresh when I listen to it again, and that freshness is a big part of its appeal.

  49. jonnybutter says:

    [quote post=”3752″]Nine Types of Industrial Pollution and Theme From Burnt Weenie Sandwich are among my favourite Zappa tracks,[/quote]

    I guess that’s an illustration of why the term ‘Zappa’s Universe’ is appropriate – different people hear really different things, but both like Frank’s work a lot. Didn’t know that about Frith. Interesting.

    UG, Uncle Meat and Burnt Weeny are my sentimental favorites too. I listened to them until the vinyl was almost smooth. I just ended up skipping the tracks I mentioned after a while. See above!

  50. urbangraffito says:

    [quote comment=”11679″]Back in the vague direction of the original subject…

    Anybody else find ‘Nine Types..’ to be sort of boring? I don’t hate it or anything, but usually skip it. I feel the same way – more so – about the jam at the end of the first side (!) of ‘Absolutely Free’ (‘Ritual Dance of the Young Pumpkin’?). Zappa’s guitar on ‘Nine Types’ is more interesting than Bunk’s long solo on the latter, but still…

    Actually, despite being a Zappa Love Slave, a lot of the jams on a lot of recordings are boring as hell to me, e.g. ‘Grand Wazoo’, a lot of live recordings – like ‘Let’s Move to Cleveland Solos’ – etc.

    Mediocre bebop is not very compelling to me, even in an unusual context. OTOH, I LOVE ‘Shut Up and Play Your Guitar’ (well, most of it). Frank tried to create instant compositions when he soloed, whereas some of his players just kind of ‘jazzed-out’. Zappa himself called that stuff ‘gnat notes’ – I believe the quote was ‘billions of gnat notes that don’t amount to shit’. Wonder why he released so much of it?

    Am I missing something?[/quote]

    You certainly do make a point, jonnybutter, regarding some Zappa compositions. While there are some quintessential versions of ‘Let’s Move to Cleveland’ for instance, and ‘What’s New In Baltimore?’ they really haven’t stood the test of time the way some of the older Zappa standards have like ‘King Kong’, ‘Little House I Used To Live In’ and ‘Pound For A Brown (On The Bus)’ as vehicles for improvisational jams and solos.

    However, I differ when it comes to live Zappa recordings. I can’t get enough of it. Some of it is brilliant (Imaginary Diseases, Wazoo, Buffalo), and yes, some is just FZ and band on an average night (FZ:OZ, Philly ’76). Albums like ‘The Grand Wazoo’ and ‘Hot Rats’ will always be early stand outs from the rest of Zappa’s catalogue. Why both albums were so unjustly ignored at the time of their release confounds me still.

    Why did Zappa release so much of it? I figured he should have released even more. The ‘You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore Series’ could have had at least two or three additional volumes, in my opinion. A volume of Palladium show excerpts, a volume of Felt Forum excerpts, and a volume devoted to all those fantastic German shows.

  51. Thinman says:

    Something that I would like to see a release of: Olympia Hall, Munich, Germany, July 3, 1980, full show.

    From the YCDTOSA vol. 1, You Didn’t Try To Call Me, liner notes: “Sony, at this time, was offering bands on tour in Europe the use of their new PCM 1600 2-channel digital recording system. This is from that first digital recording session. It is a live to 2 track original mix, executed from a makeshift “instant studio” set up in the dressing room.”

    I always liked this recording. Never has the 1980 spring/summer band been captured any better. And a direct to 2-track recording in this quality is an exceptional thing in Frank’s catalogue of the later years.

    Th.

  52. Robert says:

    [quote comment=”11703″]
    I suppose we each have that Zappa/Mothers album which we like for sentimental reasons.[/quote]

    I think one big reason why a certain album strikes a chord in you is its time of release. I’m a rather late bird and started listening to FZ in the mid/late eighties, so the albums released in this era are special to me. In particular, Jazz From Hell: This one passes the repeated listening test with ease for more than twenty years now. I remember that my pals from back then (many of which stated the usual “There is no good FZ album after 1979” BS) asked me what JFH was like when we set out to see FZ in ’88. We were *actually* anticipating that he would be alone on stage and would play a bunch of Synclavier tunes to the audience. Can you believe that?

  53. jonnybutter says:

    [quote post=”3752″]We were *actually* anticipating that he would be alone on stage and would play a bunch of Synclavier tunes to the audience. Can you believe that?[/quote]

    HA. Seems like it was only at the end of his career that Zappa’s live bands (sometimes) sounded anything like the Current Album. I was totally enraptured with Burnt Weeny and Uncle Meat when I first heard Zappa live. As we took the train to Chicago en route to the Auditorium Theater, I was drooling with anticipation of maybe hearing something as magnificent at ‘Little House’ (I didn’t know at the time that that track was an edit). It was 1970, the first tour with Flo and Eddie! Very different! Still a good show, however. I remember being amazed at how great Frank sounded on guitar – I had had no idea he could play so well.

  54. urbangraffito says:

    [quote comment=”11714″]I remember that my pals from back then (many of which stated the usual “There is no good FZ album after 1979” BS) asked me what JFH was like when we set out to see FZ in ’88. We were *actually* anticipating that he would be alone on stage and would play a bunch of Synclavier tunes to the audience. Can you believe that?[/quote]

    I cannot believe any real Frank Zappa fan would say such a thing, Robert. It makes no difference when you became a fan of the maestro, either. One of the first things you learn to lose when you’re a fan of Zappa and the Mothers is your preconceptions (they go right out the window). Of course, there will always be those who only enjoy FZ during his “golden 70s years”. And, yes, that era was golden. Still, to suggest “there is no good FZ album after 1979” is, indeed, bullshit.

    Songs such as “No, Not Now”, “I Come From Nowhere”, “Drowning Witch” and “Envelopes” from ‘Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch’ are fantastic. Not to mention “Sinister Footwear II”, “Truck Driver Divorce”, “Stevie’s Spanking”, and “Marqueson’s Chicken” from ‘Them Or Us’. And what about “Easy Meat” and “Peaches III” from ‘Tinsel Town Rebellion’?

    That’s just three 80s albums.

    No good FZ album after 1979? Hokum.

  55. metafunj says:

    I have to say I agree with Johnnybutter. “Hungry Freaks, Daddy” has an very nice melodic solo with a lot of edge. Then its as if Frank’s playing stagnated and there were no really interesting solos for a few albums. Fast forward 3 years and Hot Rats sounds like a totally different player. “Willy the Pimp” is probably one of Frank’s best solos and “The Son of Mr. Green Gene’s” has some tasty solos as well.

    Chunga’s revenge kicks off with “Transylvanian Boogie” which is ok. Nothing exciting from the “Flow and Eddie” period. Waka/Wazoo are filled with gnat notes even from Frank himself just flailing about with those atonal solos. I really don’t know how people can compare Hot Rats to those two albums.

    Its not until Overnite Sensation with “Montana,” “Zomby Woof,” etc that Frank delivers consistently solid solos.

    The 84′ and 88′ bands have a lot of gnat notes and pointless jazz noodling. Thats just my take. Absolutely Free and Uncle Meat were the last two albums I’ve purchased so my ears are tainted by the later solos which really stand on their own as compositions. “9 Types…” just sounds like a prototype of what was to come to my ears.

  56. Dark Clothes says:

    [quote comment=”11738″]Nothing exciting from the “Flow and Eddie” period.[/quote]
    Brixton Still Life from Playground Psychotics is really good, although not exactly a Rat Tomago type of thing…

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