Flo & Eddie interviewing FZ

About the ’88 tour, about 200 Motels, about remixing CDs… you’ll love it.

44 Responses to “Flo & Eddie interviewing FZ”

  1. Birdman! says:

    I can’t remember hearing a boring Zappa interview — what a great conversationalist. Thanks for this.

  2. urbangraffito says:

    A Frank Zappa Road Book. That concept blows my mind, frankly…

  3. Dark Clothes says:

    Great interview – it’s wonderful to hear the camaraderie 20 years after :-)

  4. P-Rip says:

    I remember reading or seeing somewhere Frank’s response (or maybe it was Gail, after his death) to an interviewer’s question about whether he was “friends” with band members. The answer was no, because he functioned as an employer, so he may have to to fire them someday, so better to keep some distance. But it was indicated that he was closest to…or related better to Flo and Eddie. Come to think of it, I think t was an interview with Gail, not Frank.

  5. jimbob says:

    A quote from jimbob:

    The answer was no, because he functioned as an employer,

    Yeah this echoes what Jimmy Carl Black said at a Q&A I attended a few years ago. Responding to a question about life on the road JCB said that FZ rarely hung around with the band, stayed in different hotels and sometimes travelled seperately. JCB’s words ‘Frank was never one of the guys’. Definately seemed an employer/employee relationship.

  6. Dark Clothes says:

    I love Jimmy, but with all due respect he often sounded bitter about something. It’s that “if we’d all been living in California” syndrome. Well, he joked about it on some of his own titles “Where’s the goddamn beer” and “When do we get paid”. Griping is sort of a part of his persona, if not personality. I had the pleasure of shaking hands with him one on occasion, when he was playing the Jimi/Zappa set with Eugene Chadbourne at the Kongsberg Jazz festival. Great show! I told Eugene that his CDR packaging for the JIMI II album was so uncoprporate that I almost got nervous. “Well, don’t be scared,” Eugene said. And of course I shouldn’t, because it’s a wonderful, unpolished album, with raw Jack and Jim (and Pat Thomas) versions of Hendrix + Flower Punk with the music of Hey Joe. The whole affair is interspersed with Jimmy’s stories about the Cheyenne wars, with comparisons to Vietnam and the Gulf War. – But I’m digressing. Of course Jimmy was right about Frank’s distance from the band, and Zappa himself often talked about the employer/employee relationship. But this interview with Flo and Eddie still shows a wonderful camaraderie. I’ve seldom heard Frank laughing that much, and spontaneously, in an interview. In fact, I think this is in some ways the best interview i’ve ever heard with Zappa, because the interviewers are so friendly and knowledgable, and Frank is so relaxed and seems to enjoy himself.

  7. urbangraffito says:

    I loved Jimmy, too, Dark Clothes. In fact, I love all of those original Mothers, and hold a special place in my heart for the lot of them. They were the Mothers of Invention. They made the mystique possible. Otherwise, why didn’t Zappa just grab any lot of musicians off the street and mold them to his liking? As much as I do love Zappa and his music (and believe me, I think the thousands of dollars spent over a lifetime and a massive collection compiled proves it), I think he was ultimately unfair to the original MOI by treating them solely as “employees”. Yes, Frank was the Mother Superior, but he continuously benefitted financially from the mystique they all created together with the original MOI (and his heirs still benefit). Now, wouldn’t you be the slightest bit miffed if you had to work in a doughnut shop during the day to feed your kids while someone who promised to make you rich and famous is still benefitting financially from a band that was essentially your’s to begin with? I’m not painting Zappa in any way the villain, here. He obviously had more business acumen from the get go than anyone else in the band. Still, did that make him right to do what he did? I don’t know. I’m not privy to all the details. Though I can see where some of the bitterness arises. Having spoken to many of the original Mothers on various occasions, though, it amazes me that they are as friendly and lacking in bitterness as they are as they make a living as working musicians pushing (some of them) 70.

    Speaking of this interview, though, it came across as less of an interview and more as three old friends reminiscing over old times and experiences since, by and large, most of the experiences they alluded to they did not elaborate upon (unfortunately), which really would have made for an excellent interview.

  8. Dark Clothes says:

    Have you read Through the Eyes of Magic by John French, UG? One of the themes there is how envious Drumbo was of the Mothers, because they had a reponsible band leader who gave them a regular and (in his view) fairly substantial income. As opposed to van Vliet (rest his soul) who spent band members’ money on expensive italian suits and other personal stuff. It’s really interesting to see how French admires Zappa’s businesslike approach – because of the totally chaotic circumstances he found himself in with The Magic Band. – To keep on subject, yeah a delightful conversation it is, and devoid of any perceptible bitterness from either Flo/Eddie or Frank, in spite of the harsh words between them a few years after the Rainbow theatre accident.

  9. urbangraffito says:

    Yes, I have read Through the Eyes of Magic by John French, DC. Don’t mistake my opinions concerning FZ’s relations with the original MOI with that of his later bands. After the dissolution of the original MOI (I wouldn’t exactly refer to it as a breakup since FZ made that decision for everyone concerned, regardless) every musician that played with Zappa knew what they were getting into – they auditioned. I think it’s this post original Mothers that Drumbo speaks of with envy. “This band is starving, this fucking band is starving…” was much more than just a bit of humor caught on tape, methinks. It wouldn’t surprise me if some members of the original Mothers did exactly what members of the Magic Band did on occasion – hit the food bank to feed the band when gigs in California got scarce. Indeed, being a member of the Magic Band was no doubt infinitely more difficult, facing not just hunger but what seemed like indentured servitude for a time.

  10. Martin says:

    Interesting to hear Frank explain the reason for replacing the bass and drums on WOIIFTM – in other interviews he claims the original bass and drum parts were demaged (which didn’t make sense since original guitar parts were OK). He did it only for his ears.

  11. Jimbob says:

    A quote from Jimbob:

    I love Jimmy, but with all due respect he often sounded bitter about something

    I know what you mean, but just for the record the Q&A session wasn’t one of Jimmy’s moaning nights! He didn’t come across as bitter or griping, it seemed to me he was just telling it as it was and he didn’t appear to be judging it one way or another.

  12. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Jimbob:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    I love Jimmy, but with all due respect he often sounded bitter about something

    I know what you mean, but just for the record the Q&A session wasn’t one of Jimmy’s moaning nights! He didn’t come across as bitter or griping, it seemed to me he was just telling it as it was and he didn’t appear to be judging it one way or another.

    Jimbob, I refer you to the following post for some detailed information as to why Jimmy felt the way that he did. Very, very enlightening:

    http://www.killuglyradio.com/2009/05/31/conversations-with-jimmy-carl-black/

  13. Dark Clothes says:

    I have some sympathy with the “Crank Zapatista” view of Frank as a cynical businessman. And I appreciate the dignity of “the Indian of the Group” when he talks about his Cheyenne background on the Jimi II record. That’s something real, as opposed to Zappa’s comic book Indian. But there’s no denying that Frank was a creative force of a different kind than the other mothers. He absorved everything and molded it into his own design. When the Mothers of Invention was his group, they would naturally become a part of the statement. And they were a group with a very special collective charisma. But Frank’s independent spirit had the urge to move on, and should we blame him, when we see what he achieved? Listen to Motorhead Sherwood or even Roy Estrada for a slightly different perspective on Zappa’s move than the Grandmothers’ – or Flo and Eddie, as in this interview.

  14. Dark Clothes says:

    I just checked my references – it is Zapatalist, not Zapatista. Eugene Chadbourne writes about the song “The Man Who Made Off with the Money” in the sleeve notes for his 1990 album Country Music in the World of Islam: “A group of embittered ex-sidemen for the legendary Saudi-Arabian band leader Crank Zapatalist get together to moan and groan about how things could have worked out differently for them. An example of the ‘fuss’ or ‘bitch’ song popular with the Islamic country and western movement.” (Chadbourne, quoted from Watson 1994, p. 77)

  15. Slap says:

    One of the most heartwarming aspects of FZ’s later years, for me, was seeing the old rift between FZ and Howard and Mark get mended. Which was odd, since that band is without hesitation or contest my least-favorite of all the bands. (To be clear, I still enjoy that particular Mothers line-up, but if I were ranking them, they’d be at the bottom of my list of FZ outfits.) That said, it was clear that this particular unit shared a hell of a lot of laughter, and it made me a little bit sad to know there was such rancor over the years.

    A buddy of mine saw Flo & Eddie at the (late, sorely missed) Cellar Door in DC a few decades back (!), and got to talk with them briefly. He asked about their time in the Mothers, and they both darkly chimed in with “Oh, we don’t talk about The Policeman,” and that was that.

    I suspect that one thing is often missing when we hear stories of FZ’s treatment of band members, and that’s the issue of his well-documented harsh prohibition of drug-related behavior. And I doubt we’ll hear too much detail on that front, ever — “yeah, I was just smoking some weed, and the bastard fired me….”

    FWIW, (and PLEASE correct me if I’ve got the wrong author) I believe it was Miles who speculated that FZ’s hard-line stance was rooted in his indelible memories of his week in jail and a desire to ensure that he was never even close to such an occurrence ever again. That observation made a lot of sense to me….

  16. jonnybutter2 says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    I have some sympathy with the “Crank Zapatista” view of Frank as a cynical businessman.

    I don’t have much. I do feel bad for the original Mothers, and wish they had been able to earn more money eventually. But remember that Zappa didn’t make much money directly from the original Mothers either. I don’t think he really became what you and I would call ‘well off’ until well after the Warners/Herb lawsuits were over. My understanding is that he was taking out bank loans to do the next project/tour into the 70s. And he wasn’t *really* wealthy until he sold the catalog (and then he died). And of course he was never as wealthy as your run of the mill movie star or rock star.

    I think Zappa worked in the system he found. No way do you get to promulgate the intercontinental absurdities he did unless you are a careful and organized business man. He might have been more generous to the original Mothers after he started to make money, but the context must be borne in mind before you judge: the music business. The music business in the US (and probably elsewhere) is shittier than most civilians can imagine. Read the interview with Tom Fowler Balint flagged in the Ponty thread, about working for Ponty and Ray Charles. Read some of the tons of other road stories out there. I could give you a few myself. To quote my dad, ‘The music business isn’t a business; it’s a racket [American slang for gangster business]‘ That is not an exaggeration, but a totally accurate description.

    You didn’t get rich working for Zappa, but you got what you were promised, and treated fairly. Take it from a working musician: when you find a boss like that, you tend to work for them for a while if you can, even if it’s Barry Manilow. And in the case of Zappa, you also got to…play brilliant, milestone music (some of which he wrote to showcase YOU), and gain an enormous amount of prestige, potentially. You could probably dream up – especially today – more equitable ways of running a band than the Duke Ellington (and Zappa, basically) model. But Zappa was certainly much more fair than most in his time.

    I didn’t see any comments in this regard in the Led Zepp. thread. Led Zepp probably generated more money LAST YEAR than Zappa made his entire life, and they just blatantly ripped off whole songs by other people – Stairway to Heaven to name just one of many.

    Sorry, but there’s probably a reason – having nothing to do with Zappa – that Lowell George had a successful career after the Mothers, and JCB didn’t. Perhaps it would’ve been nice for Zappa to spread a little $ later on, but: I think they said all kinds of bad shit about him and sued him, right? I think there was a consensus more than once in more than one Mothers that the problem with the band was ‘that Zappa asshole’. I think the original Mothers got paid a salary, whether they worked or not (that is unheard of, folks; it’s NEVER happened to me in over 30 years).

    It’s just not so black and white. Zappa was a capitalist so that he could make money with which to create outrageous and creative art. If he hadn’t been, there would be a lot less Zappa music for us to listen to now.

    sorry to get on my high horse, but..geez, ask a working musician if he would like to be in a band of the caliber of any Mothers band, for a decent and regular salary + paid rehearsals….

  17. jonnybutter2 says:

    May I also point out that $200/week in 1968 – which is what the Mothers got paid, from my understanding – is over $1200 in 2009 dollars. Not rock star riches, but not exactly starvation wages either. Prince paid some of his musicians $2-250 a week in the *90s*. The original Mothers had a lot of personality and/or talent, but, let’s face it, they just had to show up. They did have to work hard, but they didn’t have to worry about money, booking, PR – any of that shit.

  18. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    jonnybutter2, may I suggest you get on your high horse more often? ;)

  19. jonnybutter2 says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    may I suggest…

    You’ll be glad to know that I’ve let go of my pickle now.

  20. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Barry’s Imaginary Publisher:

    jonnybutter2, may I suggest you get on your high horse more often? ;)

    I second that! :)

  21. Dark Clothes says:

    In the Dutch documentary from 1970, Zappa was asked about about his economy. He looked very satisfied and said something to the effect of “I’m doing all right…” He sure did have house and cars before the Cohen lawsuit.

    Just a little reply from my hobby horse :-) While the gist of your note confirms French’s observation that the Mothers were well off compared to his mates.

  22. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    In the Dutch documentary from 1970, Zappa was asked about about his economy. He looked very satisfied and said something to the effect of “I’m doing all right…” He sure did have house and cars before the Cohen lawsuit.

    Just a little reply from my hobby horse :-) While the gist of your note confirms French’s observation that the Mothers were well off compared to his mates.

    Recent comments give the illusion that Zappa paid the original Mothers a salary from the get go. This might have been true at the latter part of their life as a band, especially during the Garrick Theatre stint, and the latter North American and European Tours, yet I hardly think this can be confirmed during the band’s earlier incarnation in California – particularly after the whole crackdown on the Los Angeles Freak Scene, and the instituting of age restrictions in the bars and venues the Mothers depended on heavily for their early gigs, which led to their move east to New York. Truly, for a long period, the Mothers were a starving band in California, unable to get work. This fact seems often overlooked by those who only think of MOI history post Garrick.

    Having said that, though, I think it was those very tough starving times as a band that led Zappa to become the shrewd businessman that he became, and to constantly tour his bands (even when he had no record to promote).

    In regards to Beefheart, DC, one also must remember that while Don was brilliant, he was also psychologically mired in his own personal demons: fear of crowds and being in public, for instance (on more than one occasion the Magic Band had to play without Don). I think this might also add force to French’s envy of Zappa’s stability in comparison.

  23. jonnybutter2 says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    “I’m doing all right…” He sure did have house and cars before the Cohen lawsuit.

    Hmm…. In 1970? Doing ‘alright’ is not very specific. I’m almost positive that he was living in a rented house, and getting fabulously rich putting out ‘Trout Mask Replica’ and ‘An Evening With Wild Man Fischer’ ; )

    Remember that scene in the Real Zappa Book, in which he visits Paul Simon, who complains about having to pay $200k in taxes, which made Zappa wonder how he could *earn* $200k, much less pay that much tax. Doing ‘alright’ is relative, I think.

    I’m sure you’re right that the band probably wasn’t getting a salary in the early days.

  24. Dark Clothes says:

    In that same documentary he was distancing himself from CB and WMF, because he said they had done him wrong in different ways. I think his economical satisfaction stemmed from a greater income with the “comedy band”. – But some of the MoI records must have shifted quite a few units as well.

  25. jonnybutter2 says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    I think his economical satisfaction stemmed from a greater income with the “comedy band”. – But some of the MoI records must have shifted quite a few units as well.

    It’s my understanding that the MOI records all sold 60k or less in their original releases – a laughable figure today. And imagine what Zappa’s deal was with MGM and with his BMI publishing company: peanuts.

    Really, it’s all relative. Zappa made enough money in the early 70s to keep going, and I’m glad he did. The original assertion was that he was a cynical businessman. I just don’t agree. He was cynical at times, and he was definitely a businessman, but not the two together. I’d say he was relatively ethical. He was even a little utopian about business, which is the opposite of ‘cynical’. For some reason, he was and is the subject of enormous resentment, while much richer, much less interesting, and much more cynical artists get a pass. I think that’s worth confronting.

  26. urbangraffito says:

    I think DC can be forgiven, jb2, for being a little lost in time – especially when it comes to the actually number of units the original MOI albums shifted at the time they were released. As influential as the original MOI were, only Zappa really benefited financially and career-wise, in the long run, from their association, and from the mystique of the original MOI (which all the original MOI can lay claim, and have). Only the record companies, and Zappa himself (and his heirs) eventually benefited from the music made by the original Mothers. There does seem enough cause for resentment to go around – yet the largest chunk belongs to the record companies (of the time) and their management which kept them starving with promises of paychecks (and royalties) to come – which never did materialize. Makes me wonder how much of the Mothers money Herb Cohen took off with over the years while Zappa, as his business partner, took the heat from the band. Whenever I think of the original Mothers and their business acumen, I think the Jeff Simmons song, “I’m In The Music Business“. How can one not be cynical?

  27. jonnybutter2 says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    the largest chunk belongs to the record companies (of the time) and their management which kept them starving with promises of paychecks (and royalties) to come – which never did materialize.

    Oh absolutely. Remember the story about MGM ‘losing’ another 60k units of ‘Freak Out’? It is absolutely one of the shittiest businesses on earth, and was especially bad in those days. I believe Frank wrote a few songs about it (e.g. Nig Biz).

    I’m not bagging on DC. In his/her defense, it is literally difficult to believe just how crappy that business is/was, how rotten. I’m just trying to bring a little perspective.

  28. reldditmot says:

    I have uploaded a re-edit, with better images etc. I had trouble with video editor a the time..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiE7obLOdqs

  29. Dark Clothes says:

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    I have some sympathy with the “Crank Zapatista” view of Frank as a cynical businessman. And I appreciate the dignity of “the Indian of the Group” when he talks about his Cheyenne background on the Jimi II record. That’s something real, as opposed to Zappa’s comic book Indian. But there’s no denying that Frank was a creative force of a different kind than the other mothers. He absorved everything and molded it into his own design. When the Mothers of Invention was his group, they would naturally become a part of the statement. And they were a group with a very special collective charisma. But Frank’s independent spirit had the urge to move on, and should we blame him, when we see what he achieved? Listen to Motorhead Sherwood or even Roy Estrada for a slightly different perspective on Zappa’s move than the Grandmothers’ – or Flo and Eddie, as in this interview.

    Since Johnny Butter has responded so vigorously to the first sentence of this post without considering the context and qualifying remarks, I guess my best reply is to quote myself in full. How much of this do we really disagree about?

    Frank had his turns of starvation in the beginning, but he also had a scheme, and he fulfilled it eventually. Unlike his early band mates, Zappa’s economy was steadily growing, because he was a shrewd businessman, in addition to being a creative genius.

    The bit about sympathy for the Crank Zapatista (sic) view of Zappa as a cynical businessman is my feeling that he did at times allow business concerns to override both relationships with friends and associates and artistic concerns. It’s the ancient “Why, oh why Frank” sentiment again. That’s not so controversial, is it?

    I appreciate your views, Johnny, so if reading me out of context provoked some of those comments, I can live with that. But I won’t be your silent straw man. Please note the generosity principle in civilised debate – you have a reponsibility to try to understand the position of your opponent as fully as possible, even if that dulls the edge of your own rhetoric.

  30. DC Boogie AKA dr Hyde says:

    Mark Volman is one example of a (quasi-)early band mate who was growing steadily and notably…

    Other than that I have nothing further now.

  31. urbangraffito says:

    I can see both of your perspectives – jb2 and DC – and agree with them both. Having read and heard extensive interviews of the original Mothers (and spoken to some), regardless of the economic outcome, they held a definite affection for Frank and the times they shared together as a band. A lot of this, for them, is water long under the bridge. What I sensed is important for them, though, is that the true history of the original Mothers be known (warts and all) and be written down for the sake of future fans. This I can appreciate, especially considering all the conflicting testimony.

  32. jonnybutter2 says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    Please note the generosity principle in civilised debate – you have a reponsibility to try to understand the position of your opponent as fully as possible, even if that dulls the edge of your own rhetoric.

    The only think I take exception to in your comments is the idea that Zappa was a ‘cynical businessman’, and to the Chadbourne ‘Crank Zapitalist’ slur. a.) I don’t think Zappa was a cynical businessman in the usual sense of that term, and have not been persuaded that he was, and, b.) I don’t believe Zappa ever claimed to be a communist or socialist. I do think he was a bit of a crank sometimes, but whatever…

    I don’t believe I have taken you out of context, DC. Of course I agree with much of your latter commentary, but don’t see how it squares with the other. You are sympathetic to the idea that he was a cynical heartless business man and a Rank, Crank Zapitalist, but on the other hand, etc. I guess I just don’t know what you mean. If I have the responsibility to understand your position, you likewise have a responsibility to make your position clear. How should he have behaved in his context? Maybe you’re right, but I don’t see it.

    I don’t think business concerns overrode artistic considerations much. You are probably right that other concerns overrode *personal* relationships, but I think that’s very common with artists, and has nothing to do with business per se. The Work overrides just about everything with many artists.

  33. Dark Clothes says:

    Water under the bridge – that’s exactly what this interview projects, and why I enjoyed listening to it.

    Zappa left a trail of discontent, along with the astonishing work, but in the end he was able to reconcile with some of the disappointed members of his community.

    The late phone communication with Don Van Vliet is another case in point.

  34. Dark Clothes says:

    We agree on much, JB, and I agree that I should state my case more clearly sometimes.

    But when I say I have some sympathy with the critical view of Zappa’s business considerations versus other concerns, I mean just that – some sympathy.

    It doesn’t mean that I see Zappa as a redhorned capitalist devil. He did what

  35. Dark Clothes says:

    he had to do in many ways.

    Personally I would have preferred a different way of issuing the live recordings than the chopped up YCDTOSA series, and I feel that there’s some compromise with what the market was willing to absorb versus purely artistic decisions there. But I’m well aware that many love that same series and think I’m out to lunch if I say I’d rather have much longer sections of more demanding material, for instance the 1978 recordings with L. Shankar – and the fabled History and Collected Improvisations of the MoI.

    By artistic integrity I’m thinking of the integrity of the works as recorded by the different bands, more than the integrity of the composer/director/copyright owner. Zappa was a free agent, and made those choices that I’m discussing.

    I won’t comment here about his personal relationships, because as Urban Graffito says – that’s all water under the bridge now.

  36. jonnybutter2 says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    when I say I have some sympathy with the critical view of Zappa’s business considerations versus other concerns, I mean just that – some sympathy.

    Fair enough.

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    By artistic integrity I’m thinking of the integrity of the works as recorded by the different bands, more than the integrity of the composer/director/copyright owner.

    Interesting. If I understand you correctly, I’d argue that Zappa’s gimlet eyed – even cynical – take on older compositions had less to do with business than with his general crankiness. Unless you’re talking about the endless renditions of Dinah Moe Hum and their ilk: boring exercises which financed orchestral music. I wouldn’t call that exchange ‘cynical’. It’s strange, but not exactly cynical.

    Anyway, not sure what you mean above, but am sure we don’t really disagree on much, as you say, DC. Didn’t mean to start a war here. I rather admire Zappa for taking responsibility for his decisions, when so many rock stars hire someone to be an asshole for them and wash their hands of it all. Then, when the Sensitive Rock Star Entity Company behaves abominably, sensitive rock star himself can blame the business guy.

  37. Dark Clothes says:

    Why did Zappa release Baby Snakes as a 36 minute album of crowd pleasers in 1983, when he was sitting on hours of excellent, challenging music by the 1977 band?

    On the other hand, why did he spend enormous amounts of money to make the extremely bizarre and idiosyncratic movie Baby Snakes?

    Perhaps we can agree that cynicism and endearing idealism go hand in hand in Zappa’s complex personality :-)

  38. jonnybutter2 says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    Perhaps we can agree that cynicism and endearing idealism go hand in hand in Zappa’s complex personality

    That’s a nice way of putting it, actually. I still don’t think that pleasing his crowd was a mark of cynicism – perhaps more practical than cynical. He also didn’t really sneer at the idea of entertainment as such, and I gather he felt a responsibility to make his WHOLE audience happy, not just the complex music freaks. But…whatever. He was definitely complex!

  39. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    a.) I don’t think Zappa was a cynical businessman in the usual sense of that term, and have not been persuaded that he was, and, b.) I don’t believe Zappa ever claimed to be a communist or socialist. I do think he was a bit of a crank sometimes, but whatever…

    Zappa was never, ever a “cynical businessman” in my observation. He was a self professed cynic (on more than one occasion suggesting that cynicism was a positive trait), and was always a capitalist of the first order and a Laissez-faire capitalist in his own economic philosophy. That said, he knew his fanbase better than most artists of his generation did. From this, no doubt sprung much of his cynicism as well as much as his capitalist business choices.

    It was easy for Chadbourne to poke fun at Zappa’s complexities – given he only had Jimmy Carl Black’s versions to work from which obviously colored his views (and it’s always easy to parody Zappa since he did much of that himself already in his lyrics throughout the decades), but I think he crossed the line to call Zappa a “Crank Zapitalist” which was an obvious negative slight on both cynicism and capitalism. As a lifelong anarchist, and a lifelong cynic, I can appreciate Zappa’s cynicism while respecting his capitalist beliefs (indeed, on many many issues, we really weren’t that far apart).

    The inherent “us or them” dichotomy that runs rampant among the thinking below the 49th parallel sometimes – which “Hungry Freaks, Daddy” illustrates so effectively – doesn’t always allow that I can both admire Zappa immensely for his cynicism and his business acumen while at the very same time sympathize for the alumni.

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    he had to do in many ways.

    Personally I would have preferred a different way of issuing the live recordings than the chopped up YCDTOSA series, and I feel that there’s some compromise with what the market was willing to absorb versus purely artistic decisions there. But I’m well aware that many love that same series and think I’m out to lunch if I say I’d rather have much longer sections of more demanding material, for instance the 1978 recordings with L. Shankar – and the fabled History and Collected Improvisations of the MoI.

    Artistically, DC, at the time that Zappa compiled the fabled History & Collected Improvisations of the Mothers of Invention recording quality really wasn’t up to the standards I think any artist would want their material officially released. Was it an artistic choice on Zappa’s part? We’ll never know. Even the ZFT do not release Zappa tracks willy nilly, unless they are of a suitable audio quality. I believe this has little to do with what the market will bear; rather, in keeping with the audio integrity of Zappa’s official releases.

    We can all yearn for what we would have liked to have seen released officially. Indeed, I’ve made my own list on several occasions. Would I love to hear more of L. Shankar from the 1978 tour in crisp audio from the vault (if it, indeed, exists)? Sure I would. Outside of those particular titles that all Zappa fans yearn for, I expect only this from the releases of the ZFT: that the audio be superb and up to Zappa’s exacting standards.

    The rest, as I’ve said time and time again, is gravy.

  40. jonnybutter2 says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    We can all yearn for what we would have liked to have seen released officially.

    Exactly.

    Now that you mention it, DC, I think the Baby Snakes the movie borders on the cynical. A lot of the time Zappa used the word ‘cynical’ in a colloquial American sense, meaning ‘skeptical’, which is why he was almost proud if it. But true cynicism is darker and a weakness: it’s a kind of despair or disassociation. I understand that Baby Snakes was sort of a long commercial for his New York base. I had to struggle to sit through it. I think I saw it twice years apart, and that was definitely enough for me. Loved parts of it (mr bickford), but..eh. So much of the movie is an attempt to glory in weirdness for its own sake; plus the endless ‘rock star’ crap. I found it depressing at times. Of course I had to watch it anyway: Zappa’s whole career was a very elaborate, holographic movie [not a real hologram, but a replica of a real hologram], so you can’t miss any of it. But I definitely wasn’t the audience for it.

    So maybe that was him being a cynical business man? I say the odds are just as good that he was just a somewhat burned out and cynical *man* at that point. He paid some serious dues to get done what he wanted to do. Touring makes you crazy, evidently.

  41. Dark Clothes says:

    I actually think BS the movie is a rather “pure” (if flawed) artistic statement, directly from Zappa’s creative genius, while the flimsy soundtrack is a “cynical” attempt to make some easy cash and promote the goddamn thing. But there you go – one man’s barf bag is another man’s gravy… It’s possible that uneasy, shifting positions come naturally with the territory of Zappa.

    Is it too off topic to wonder if Bat Chain Puller will be released soon? I’d like to hit home with some real music now.

  42. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    Is it too off topic to wonder if Bat Chain Puller will be released soon? I’d like to hit home with some real music now.

    Whenever I get that Bat Chain Puller itch, DC, I listen to the basic tracks recorded at The Automatt in San Francisco, California, June 6 – August 27, 1978. No vocals, but the Magic Band was never better, and until BCP is officially released, the closest to what FZ heard and produced.

  43. jonnybutter2 says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    ne man’s barf bag is another man’s gravy… It’s possible that uneasy, shifting positions come naturally with the territory of Zappa.

    So true, and well put.

  44. Jamez says:

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    I actually think BS the movie is a rather “pure” (if flawed) artistic statement, directly from Zappa’s creative genius, while the flimsy soundtrack is a “cynical” attempt to make some easy cash and promote the goddamn thing. But there you go – one man’s barf bag is another man’s gravy… It’s possible that uneasy, shifting positions come naturally with the territory of Zappa.

    Is it too off topic to wonder if Bat Chain Puller will be released soon? I’d like to hit home with some real music now.

    I get the feeling that the ZFT will probably release it very soon, with help from Denny Walley.

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