On Being A Zappa Completist

So you’ve bought the entire “official” catalogue (and in the case of some of us more silver-tinged freaks, more than once, and in many different formats: vinyl, cassette, compact disc), what do you do now? Just sit back and listen and leave it at that? Or do go on to collect every different variation and remix of those albums available to the rabid Zappaphile, comparing each and every CD release to its vinyl era counterpart? Do you collect every available bootleg and field recording (a much easier task now with the advent of the internet than during the era of “tape trading” and snail mail – those Zappa completists are a very tenacious bunch, indeed). Where does one draw the line? Is there a line? At what point did this simple enjoyable pastime become an obsession of epic proportions? When did this freak I see in the mirror suddenly become a completist? Tell me, Doctor Barry, is there any hope for me?

Author: urbangraffito

Writer, editor, publisher, philosopher, foole.

27 thoughts on “On Being A Zappa Completist”

  1. Yes, urbangr:

    It’s now about making the best use of FZ legacy = being post autistic.

    Who enabled us all?


  2. And just in case you might be interested.

    Thomas, our German friend , “Yellow Shark”, is just collecting – while playing FZ music all over the place – money for a brand new organ in Hamburg.

  3. Just another one about human strenght?

    Some people out there might think we’re “FZ religious”.

    Way back in the old days, 60 ties, I’ve learned latin ( language). For 5 years.

    Religare. It just means: putting people together.

  4. Excellent timing on this question. I was just discussing such a point when I allowed myself to be outbid (yet again!) for the original “Shut Up and Play…” series as single LPs. I watched them shoot past my $ limit in one case to $56.00. More than I could spend on the music I already own in the LP and CD box sets.

    I have the entire catalog in CD format, and 95% in LP with a few stragglers. Bootlegs spill over (and most are “ear cancer”), all the movies are there, most of the bios, and a growing set of singles.

    My personal rules are too lengthy and subjective to be listed here. But, my main criteria is: “Will I enjoy it later…or is it a ‘Shelfer’?” A “shelfer” contains new new music, no different recording, no real liner notes. Just put it up there. Great example: getting Baby Snakes CD after having the Picture Disc. Nothing new there, maybe better sound – take it in the car, headphones, etc. – nothing special – just a checkbox.

    So I hold out for items that enhance the collection, rather than fill the “Which Halo # is this” (Nine Inch Nails) -style collecting. Will I buy another single of Valley Girl?

    But I must say, being a completist always forces me to re-examine each release I get. B/c I do not buy sealed items, I know I can always listen to “that new version I got”. Also, contrary to a comment on one of the linked pages from this thread – being a Zappa completist (and I am also a Beatles, Dylan, and Fall collector….lot’s of room those LPs take up!) does not stop my appreciation and collection of many new bands and artists that I am still discovering daily. Zappa and MFDoom share my iPod, my shelves, in in some cases the same samples!

    Long response. Jake stop write now. WGA’s at my door. (‘)

  5. I actually own the Valley Girl Coloring Book!!!
    Does that seem excessive?
    I also own a 45 rpm single entitled Grunion Run, have you heard it?
    Want a pair of SS Lapel Pins? (the only Nazi paraphernalia I own).
    People collect stuff, so do ravens and raccoons, so what, who cares?
    I purchased every zappa release on the day the recording came out except for Gravy and Fillmore. Why? Not because I was a completist but because I was soooo into the music that I needed to follow every new development. The same reason I would go to both the early show and the late show whenever Zappa played NY, because each show was different and i wanted to hear the difference, even the songs which had been repeated in the later show would be different. It was as if they rehearsed the songs from the early show backstage and came up with new arrangements how was it possible? I needed to know. So, to collect every version of everything ever released, (evoeer), is that anal-retentive??? I don’t think so.
    But it might be Nasal-Retentive, and maybe even a little calliope music on the side.

  6. I used to have the librettos for absolutely free.

    I personally enjoy mixing discordant selections that appear to have nothing in common to build the ultimate oregasmic lumber truck.

  7. You have to talk about this to my lovely wife! Ask her what she’s thinking about her huband sitting every evening in front of his PC searching for some bootlegs to complet his collection. Her answer will be: your daughter will be very happy inherting all this FZ stuff

  8. I like this topic. I personally feel that there is DEFINITELY a point of obsessive stupidity on one hand, but I also feel strongly that if a fan falls in love with any particular mix or format of a Zappa release, they should be able to retain and enjoy that release. Collecting 50+ copies of any release just because it is in different colored vinyl is ridiculous….

  9. I gave up to be a completist very early. No chance to get everything anyway. But I bought all albums on vinyl and later being released on CD – again. And I was disaapointed of some CD releases, like “Fillmore East June ´71” with the fade out of vinyl side one and the missing part of “Willie The Pimp” of side two, for example. “Zoot Allures” always sounded better on vinyl. “Sheik Yerbouti” was best on vinyl and very good as an EMI release on CD. And so on and son …

    Bootlegwise it´s always a matter of sound, of course. But I also listened to “A Token Of My Extreme” for years, which I recorded by microphone (!) with my “Saba” tape recorder in mono. It was my listening treasure, this C60 Philips tape. Although it cut out a few seconds of the “Inca Roads” guitar solo, because I had to flip the tape from side A to B.

    Still I´m delighted, when I hear another different version, but after 20 versions of “Tiny Light” or 35 versions of “Dancing Fool” I can live with the fact, that I´m not a completist.

    And I miss the Friday bootsy …

  10. Forgot to write, that I recorded “A Token Of My Extreme” in mono by microphone with my “Saba” cassette tape recorder from German television, so everybody in the room had to be silent for an hour. Can you imagine this? Do you know now, what a fan is made of?

  11. “Roland”, you happen to be my mirror image : you forget to mention one thing or another every now and then. Ahum.

    Saba? Yes I had one as well. I bought the device 3rd hand for – what’s now – 2,5 euros., 3 US dollars. My best friend way back then, modified it, he made it perform much better. And it worked well. That friend is now a very good dentist, mastering all dental technicalities.

    He started implementing his technical knowledge on my Saba. Another good story is that he, as a student, installed a tiny little microphone under the table of the room where the exams at university took place. That allowed him to listen to all exams, for instance biochemistry. Knowing that profs are basically very lazy people, he knew all the questions before he entered the exam room.
    He was then thinking about recording it all on my Saba cassette player. However since there was no time left iin the exam period he didn’ do it.
    And yes, I recorded an awful lot of concerts making use of the modified Saba. And, yes, I still have that Saba.

    And my friend, who also adored FZ ( and The Free) is a very succesful dentist ( now since more than 30 years). He will now stop working as a dentist ( he’s rich enough) and endeavors to play a role ( as a non payed volunteer ) for two other hobbies: thai chi & judo.

  12. My guess is that Barry is smart enough not to allow us too much space. Allowing too much space to “the elderly” happens to be a recipe actually blocking, refraining innovation.

    Youngsters should now take it over. Both youngsters & the elderlly. Both happen to be ” so called”.
    And that’s the way forward. Each in their on thoughts. And , yes, Music is the healing force of the universe, http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=11791 Why should you pay for a doctor? Music, comprehensively speaking, cures it all.

    However. FZ , if still alive, would now be have turned 67. Wise & calm enough to explore new territories. By the way: is there one example of FZ having canceled a concert because he was ill? With the exception of his last period?
    Thus: combine both and you’ll deliver.

  13. I’ve stopped buying Z@@@@ product many times over the last 40 years, or so. Somehow I’ve got quite a bit of it, though. Not a completeist, but folks who look into my closets get kind of a creepy feeling…to think of all the burgers I coulda bought instead. Haven’t bought any new Z@@@@ in several years now and very few burgers, for that matter. Where did all the cash go???

  14. 23.05.1982: I visited a Zappa concert where he announced at the very beginning, that he has a bad stomach because he was food poisened (in a way). But he played. Then there were some assholes who started to throw objects at the band, like balloons and tampons.

    Zappa interrupted at two occasions to announce, that this should be stopped, because “they are here to make music”. These creatures continued throwing objects. Chad Wackermann was the main target. Zappa then stopped the concert, lights went on – that the end of the concert. Some visitors started to burn their tickets, angry vibes.

    I shot a picture of Zappa holding a tampon, asking to stop all this. I´ll have it somewhere – but where?

  15. You might mix it up with the London concert on ” … can’t do that on stage anymore – Vol 1.” where Zappa announced the deseases of the band, jane23.

    This one was in Kiel, Germany and I am a living witness to what happened. I for myself was a bit disappointed, too. But on the other hand, I was very impressed, how straight Zappa reacted to this situation.

    Sometimes I wonder, what he would have said to all the things which happened in the world from the moment he died.

  16. Roland, on can’t do that on stage Vol 5, the last selection on Disc 2 is called Geneva Farewell. A translator interprets:
    “Ne jete pas les objets.”
    Next, Frank says: “House Lights, Concert over.”

  17. jane23, yeah right – but the event in Kiel, Germany is not on the whole YCDTOSA. Well. it seems as if this became a sport at that time.

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