Cheaper the Better – Lyrically Zappa

While many focus on Frank Zappa, the composer, so very often Zappa, the songwriter, is overlooked. Perhaps due to the nature of Zappa’s lyrics, themselves, which often take direct aim at human sexuality, and sexual mores in 20th Century American culture – satirizing its norms, its values, its purported virtues of family, of home, of church. From the release of Freak Out onward, Zappa took direct aim with his songs, and his lyrics, at the foibles he saw and witnessed about him. No one and no thing was beyond the scope of his sardonic eyebrow.
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KUR’s Vinnie Colaiuta Primer Mix

Back on November 26th, 2010, I suggested the idea of a Vinnie Colaiuta inspired mixtape. Little did I know at that time the actual extent of Colaiuta’s extensive recordings. Although he only played with Zappa from Spring 1978 to Fall 1980 as his principal drummer for studio and live performances, Colaiuta played on some of Zappa’s most successful albums up to that time – Joe’s Garage, Tinseltown Rebellion, and Shut Up ‘n Play Yer Guitar (The Series). After leaving Zappa , Colaiuta went on to play for Sting, Joni Mitchell, and has been a much sought after studio session musician in between his own individual and collaborative projects with Jeff Beck, Karizma, Jing Chi, The Royal Dan, and the Five Peace Band to just name some of the projects with which he’s been involved.
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“New York, New York” Zappa Style – KUR’s Halloween Mix

Christians have Christmas, Jews have Passover, and Muslims have the holy month of Ramadan. For a Zappa/Mothers freak like myself, though, no day in the calendar year is more important than Halloween. Frank Zappa and Halloween in New York City became a tradition onto itself in the 1970s and early 1980s. It’s no surprise that whenever he decided to release live albums and videos and DVDs, New York was the backdrop. If Los Angeles was his home, New York was his home away from home. It was where he seemed to let his hair down most, so to speak, and where he had the most fun with the freaks and denizens which were his fans.

To commemorate this particular Halloween, KUR-Meisters, I joined forces with the great Magic Fingers, and together we have compiled for you a massive Halloween mix entitled: “New York, New York” Zappa Style – KUR’s Halloween Mix.

Click here to listen to the mix.

“Happy Halloween, everybody!”

UG’s Semi-Orchestral Low Budget Memorial Barbecue

This month I have put together a special mixtape for Zappa/Mothers Die-Hards with many of my favorite instrumental, semi-orchestral, and orchestral Zappa works – many of which I’m mixing here for the first time – from some of the best of Zappa‘s individual bands to the Petit Wazoo Band to his Grand Wazoo Orchestra to The Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Orchestra to the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra to the Ensemble Modern to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to The Orchestra of Our Time to Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest & Cappella Amsterdam – punctuated with interviews by and about Zappa from Kent Nagano and David Ocker and Studs Terkel.
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Immaculate Voodoo Butter Mix — Part Two

Part Two will certainly be a treat for both new and old freaks alike. New freaks will get to hear some Zappa standards in entirely unique and often extended versions while old freaks are reminded just how much of a showcase these songs were – not only for Zappa’s virtuoso guitar ability, but for every musician that played in his various ensembles (in this case, 1975 to 1982). Albeit, some of these audience recordings are more raw and raunchy than others (sound drop-outs, cut-ins, cut-outs, tape flips — all of which I have left intact), I have chosen only those that showcase exceptional ability, technical and creative prowess, as well as historical and educational value.

That said, place your headphones to oblivion back on – raise the volume a notch or two – sit back, let Frank transport you into another place, another time…

Click here to listen to the mixtape.

Note: Part Three will be posted on or around May 15th, 2010.

Immaculate Voodoo Butter Mix – Part I

You name it, this KUR mix has it all: keyboard solos, synth solos, drum solos, sax solos, bass solos, trumpet and trombone solos, and, of course, lots of guitar solos – those hypnotically esoteric air sculptures of Frank Zappa‘s which so often levitated his listener into altered states of audio consciousness (albeit all too briefly so) that only a handful of his contemporaries could accomplish to any degree.

Don’t dare skip a single track in Part One of what I call the ‘Immaculate Voodoo Butter Mix‘, 121 various soundboard recordings between the years of 1975 and 1984. Part One will remain posted until April 15, 2010.

Now, let’s put on our headphones-to-oblivion boys and girls and prepare to sniff…

Click here to listen to the mix.

Tweezer Glint: Finale — The Roxy Years 73/74 (Part I) (aka Ruth Is A Sugar Bear — Or, The Continuing Adventures of Marty Perellis)

Between February 1973 and December 1974 Frank Zappa and the Mothers – featuring George Duke, Napoleon Murphy Brock, Ruth Underwood, Ian Underwood, Bruce Fowler, Tom Fowler, Walt Fowler, Jean-Luc Ponty, Don Preston, Ralph Humphrey, Chester Thompson, Jeff Simmons, and Sal Marquez – were almost continuously on the road. During this time, they set the musical foundations for such classic Zappa albums as Overnite Sensation, Apostrophe, Roxy & Elsewhere, One Size Fits All, as well as many of the classic Zappa standards we’ve come to know.

In “Tweezer Glint: Finale — The Roxy Years 73/74 (Part I)“, we hear Zappa songs evolve as his band toured them, some growing from their early proto instrumentals into fully realized versions, while others became more refined with each successive performance; still others act as a showcase for the talents each and every band member. What should be obvious to anyone who listens to these tracks is that Frank and band are having a lot of fun. So are the many and varied audiences. So should you. I know I had a ball putting this one together. A fine way to end the series, methinks.

Click here to listen to the mixtape.

Note: Parts two and three will be posted in two and four weeks, respectively. I wish to thank Charles Ulrich’s analysis of the 1973-1974 bands at Planet of My Dreams for his useful research. This mixtape would be much, much less than it is if not for his efforts.

Happy Festivus, Xmas, Chanukkah, Kwanzaa, whatever, everybody!!!

Captain Beefheart – Hoodoo Hoedown


For as long as I can remember, I’ve been just as big a Captain Beefheart fan as a Mothers of Invention fan. True, his is not exactly the music for your everyday, run-of-the-mill music listener who relies on a steady diet of Top 40. Still, the very same can be said about much of the Mothers music. That’s exactly what drew me to Beefheart’s music – the very same eclectic playfulness and creative adventure seldom found elsewhere. That Beefheart (as well as the many musicians who made up the various incarnations of The Magic Band) was so overlooked for so long is, indeed, criminal. As the tracks in this mixtape certain attest, Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band were far, far ahead of their time.

Genius? Egoist? Madman?

Listen and decide for yourself.

Click here to listen to the mixtape, “Captain Beefheart – Hoodoo Hoedown

Update: Belated thanks and apologies to rik walton – the fantastic photographer of the above photograph of Don Van Vliet – for not asking his permission for the use of said image and for not linking to his site. Both of which I have remedied. Fellow KUR-Meisters, go forth and check out rik’s wonderful photographic images at his website here.

Son of Tweezer Glint – Part 3B Finale

Before I send my own personal, private pair of Zircon Encrusted Tweezers into the shop for some serious re-encrusting — I have one last installment of the Son of Tweezer Glint series, the finale, to present. Among the alternative edits, proto versions, and various live versions are particular titles of note (in my opinion):

“Easy Meat” performed at the Fillmore West in 1970.

“Wonderful Wino” performed at Picnic Piknik, in Uddel, Netherlands in 1970 includes a rare vocal performance by Jeff Simmons.

A rare performance of “Magdalena” in Montreux, Switzerland in 1971 at the Montreux Casino. The Montreux performance (and this mixtape) also includes the complete “Sofa Suite” which includes proto versions of “Sofa #2” and “Stick It Out” in German.

A pre-200 Motels version of “Penis Dimension” performed at the University of Maine at Gorham in 1970. “King Kong Medley” at the same concert, complete with extended solos.

Click here to listen to the mixtape.

Son of Tweezer Glint – Part Two

Just when you thought KUR mixtapes couldn’t get any better. Monster solos. Interviews. Alternate versions. Cover versions. Proto versions. Live versions. Unreleased material. I bring you “Son of Tweezer Glint – Part Two“.

Savour this one slowly, it’ll be up for a month.

Click here to listen to the mixtape.