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More Zappa to the people!
Here's my suggestions for a four CD compilation to the Zappa listener who wants more than "Strictly Commercial". Myself, I'm right between listening to his most famous albums and digging into the more obscure material. I tried to have the focus of strong melody without too much cheese. Also, these songs are mostly album versions. I have a feeling there are many live versions that would challenge for inclusion, especially from the YCDTOSA-series. I do not have the insight of many initiated Zappa listeners. Their view on this compilation is very welcome! I had to cut many songs from the 77-93 period, which might be a good start for a fifth disc...Please let me know what I have missed! :)
Disc 1 (80 min): 1966-1969
1. Hungry Freaks, Daddy 3:27
2. I Ain't Got No Heart 2:30
3. Who Are The Brain Police 3:22
4. Trouble Every Day 6:16
5. Plastic People 3:42
6. Call Any Vegetable 2:15
7. Big Leg Emma 2:31
8. Brown Shoes Don't Make It 7:30
9. Who Needs The Peace Corps? 2:34
10. Concentration Moon 2:22
11. Mom & Dad 2:16
12. Telephone Conversation 0:48
13. Harry, You’re A Beast 1:21
14. What’s The Ugliest Part Of Your Body? 1:03
15. Absolutely Free 3:24
16. Flower Punk 3:03
17. Let's Make The Water Turn Black 2:01
18. The Idiot Bastard Son 3:18
19. Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance 1:32
20. Duodenum 1:32
21. Jelly Roll Gum Drop 2:24
22. Uncle Meat: Main Title Theme 1:56
23. Dog Breath, In The Year Of The Plague 5:51
24. Electric Aunt Jemina 1:53
25. A Pund For Brown On The Bus 1:29
26. Mr Green Genes 3:14
27. King Kong IV (the Gardner Varieties) 6:17
Disc 2 (82 min): 1969-1972
1. Peaches En Regalia 3:58
2. Willie The Pimp 9:25
3. The Little House I Used To Live In 18:41
4. Directly From My Heart To You 5:17
5. My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama 3:35
6. Oh No 1:45
7. The Orange County Lumber Truck 10:36
8. Twenty Small Cigars 2:17
9. Sharleena 4:04
10. Waka/Jawaka 11:18
11. Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus 2:57
12. Blessed Relief 7:59
Disc 3 (79 min): 1973-1976
1. Camarillo Brillo 4:01
2. I'm The Slime 3:35
3. Montana 6:37
4. Don't Eat The Yellow Snow (single) 3:35
5. Cosmik Debris 4:10
6. Uncle Remus 2:54
7. Echidna's Arf (Of You) 3:54
8. Don't You Ever Wash That Thing? 9:47
9. Sofa No. 2 2:38
10. Inca Roads 8:45
11. San Ber'dino 5:51
12. Muffin Man 5:37
13. Black Napkins 4:18
14. Zoot Allures 4:15
15. Cruisin' For Burgers 9:12 (Zappa In New York)
Disc 4 (81 min): Disc 4: 1977-1993
1. RDNZL 8:13
2. Filthy Habits 7:33
3. Yo' Mama 12:36
4. Watermelon In Easter Hay 10:00
5. Heavenly Bank Account 3:44
6. The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing 3:10
7. Jumbo Go Away 3:43
8. We Are Not Alone 3:31
9. Sinister Footwear II 8:39
10. What's New In Baltimore 5:20
11. Sexual Harassment In The Workplace 3:42
12. Strictly Genteel 6:36 (Make A Jazz Noise Here)
13. Duke Of Orchestral Prunes 4:20
Well, Fred, I’m no expert by any means on Zappa’s output (Jonah is your man for this task) but I missed two of my favourites: “The Torture Never Stops” (1976) and “Joe’s Garage” (1979). Yes, I know, two of the most conventional ones (in Zappa’s terms, of course). Anyway your compilations are great, and Jonah will confirm this for sure.
Thanks for doing that,Fred
I just got my first taste of Zappa with 'Freak Out' a couple of weeks ago and am interested in hearing some more.
First of all, it's a great honor to be a designated Zappa expert of this forum, so thanks Honorio. Although I probably have only 50 of Zappa's 80 or so releases so maybe I don't deserve all the respect.
I'll have lots of thoughts about this to share, but I always thought of Zappa as an album-based artist. A lot of his individual songs, while great, lack the depth and are kind of superficial without putting it into the context of the full-players, which often mix lyrical absurdities and musical parodies with increasingly catchy and odd instrumentals. So right off the bat for Disc #1, I have trouble with all the snippets from We're Only In It For the Money. That album is one of the few that I can sign to myself in its entirety because all the songs flow together so well. Why "Telephone Conversation" but no "Bow Tie Daddy", "Hot Poop", or the Ugliest Part reprise? I also like the tight medley of Money songs, done big-band style on the live record Make a Jazz Noise Here from 1991.
A casual glance through this list has you picking all the good ones though. I really like the version of You Didn't Try to Call Me on YCTDOSA Vol. 1, superior to the Freak Out version, Lonesome Cowboy Burt from 200 Motels, Cheepnis from YCTDOSA Vol. 2, Ain't Got No Heart from Freak Out!, and something from Filmore East - 1971.
But that's just being picky. You got all the great ones. It gets my seal of approval.
While you're at it, Jonah, what would be your two or three top album picks for Zappa beginners? (I have a worn cassette tape copy of 'Apostrophe, and that's it).
Of course "Bow Tie Daddy" should come after "Telephone Conversation". Wanted to keep the flow of "Only in It..." and not break up any part of the first half since I think the richness of ideas is quite fenomenal. I knew "Joe's Garage" would be suggested :) It's just not a Fred song. "Watermelon in Easter Hay" pretty much kills the competition on that album..."Torture Never Stops"...also had "The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution" in mind. I think both are done in better live versions...Jonah?
Now I will check that "Money" medley on "Jazz Noise"!
Jonah, any suggestions for material on a fifth disc? Say from 1983 and forward?
I wish Rhapsody had Frank Zappa but he's one of the few artists they don't have available. I've always wanted to preview his catalog. Even though I don't like most of what I've heard, I feel I need to give it all a shot.
I have Freak Out, Only In It For The Money, and Over-Nite Sensation. Really like the first two, but wouldn't put them in the top 200 probably.
I'm curious about Hot Rats just because it's 203 on AM. Is it the one with I Am The Slime and/or Valley Girl?
"Freak out!" and "Hot rats" are probably the easiest accesses to Zappa for absolute beginners.
"Hot rats" is IMHO the best FZ record and one of my favourite album of all-time.
- This album is absolutely fantastic, with the best musicianship I've ever heard : just talking about the guitar playing, Jimi Hendrix or any pretended guitar hero is ridiculous compared to Zappa (just listen to "Willy the pimp").
- Not like many '60s or '70s records, "Hot rats" sounds very fresh with perfect production.
- This album will make rock fans like jazz and make jazz fans like rock.
- No goddamn' hippies shit with Zappa, he hated hippies, he's the absolute freakin' out MAN !
When you say a fifth disc for 1993 onward, did you mean 1983 onward? Zappa sadly passed away in 1993.
As for the beginner's Zappa question, Apostrophe' is as good as any, because it was my first FZ album! The fact that it was Zappa's only top 10 record and it contained Don't Eat the Yellow Snow convinced that it was the most widely accepted Zappa record. Now that disc almost sounds like an afterthought compared to the other stuff, and probably one of the only Zappa albums where lead vocals are exclusively Frank Zappa's. I was quite surprised when I began to hear all the other singers and realized that Zappa was more of a music composer, arranger, and conductor of incredible talent than a leading rock man himself.
I think the appropriate Zappa for you depends on what musical background your coming from. If, like me, you first heard of Zappa because of his categorization as a "novelty" artist and an iconoclastic personality, then Apostrophe' could be a good start, but the trifecta would be We're Only In It For the Money, One Size Fits All, and Shiek Yerbouti. Each disc is both beautiful and obnoxious, catchy yet technical, sort of the meshing of polar musical opposites that represents what is great about Zappa's music and personality.
Perhaps you come from a more jazz background, and really dig the improvisational aspects of jazz, blues, jam bands, and the like. Well, Zappa has a whole other set of options for you. Hot Rats is of course the gem of the jazz-rock Zappa, but I would also recommend the one-two punch of Wawa/Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo (both performed by the same group of musicians) while taking in the great live album Make a Jazz Noise Here to see how exciting his music still was on his 1988 tour.
And yes, there is a much better version of The Torture Never Stops on YCTDOSA Vol. 1 and a pretty good version from the Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life. I don't think I've found a live version of The Ocean... yet.
You also might not be aware of this, but the Jean-Luc Ponty album King Kong, released around 1970 is considered a Zappa album in all but name. It's produced by Zappa, all but one is a Zappa composition, Zappa plays guitar on the record, and some of the songs are Hot-Rats style covers of Mothers of Invention songs.
I'm glad Dweezel is able to profit off his father's career. He was great in Duckman.
Jonah, what you said about the Jean-Luc Ponty record "King Kong" is very interesting.
"Hot-Rats style covers of Mothers of Invention songs" : I can't wait to listen to this !
83, Jonah. Btw, are there any rare material or "definite" versions on the live YCDTOSA-series you can recommend? I try to cheat on my Zappa listening here :)
I might have a book stored somewhere that dissects the YCDTOSA series. It's called the Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play by Ben Watson, and it's a massive analysis of Zappa music and lyrics. I'm sure there are some websites that catalog an appearance of each Zappa song on every album.
What do you mean by "definitive" version? Whatever I say is definitive would just be my opinion. By the way, the version of King Kong on Jean-Luc Ponty's album is, IMO, the most straightforward standard version of that song.
Hmm..."definite" is just a word i picked up used in Zappa discussions :) I guess it means a version that's better in some respect than an earlier album version and is hard to beat by later ones...maybe Zappa needed some time to let the songs fulfill their potential. Or was he scarily creative?
Yesterday I browsed polls from the official Zappa forum...perfect if you want access to the real candy at once...like the song "N-lite" from "Civilization Phase III" or "Chunga Basement" from "Quaudiophiliac".
Frank Zappa expanded my vocabulary!