Getting into Frank Zappa

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by englishbob, Nov 10, 2017.

  1. bRETT

    bRETT Forum Resident

    Boston MA
    Its been mentioned a few times but seriously, if you have to start with one album, go with Apostrophe. In terms of amazing playing, humor and satire and great writing, it's all there in a very accessible package. Most of the other albums have at least a couple of moments that non-fans might find tough going-- Zoot Allures is close, but you might stumble over "The Torture Never Stops."
    englishbob likes this.
  2. Beatnik_Daddyo'73

    Beatnik_Daddyo'73 Music Addiction Personified

    ...yes! Start with these. :uhhuh::biglaugh:
  3. edenofflowers

    edenofflowers Forum Resident

    There's no getting out. Once you're in you're in.
  4. Beatnik_Daddyo'73

    Beatnik_Daddyo'73 Music Addiction Personified

    i.e.: Sleep Dirt
    costerdock likes this.
  5. mmars982

    mmars982 Forum Resident

    Pittsburgh, PA
    There are plenty of (mostly) instrumental albums. Hot Rats, Waka Jawaka, Grand Wazoo and Sleep Dirt are probably the Zappa I listen to the most.
    Jazzmonkie and costerdock like this.
  6. Beatnik_Daddyo'73

    Beatnik_Daddyo'73 Music Addiction Personified

    ...can you expand on that a bit? I'm a huge Zappa and Parliafunkadelicmentthang nut, but I've never made that connection. I'm intrigued by what you may have heard to come to that conclusion.
  7. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Well-Known Member

    Does getting out of Zappa, mean getting into Zen?

    Just something to think about in your art school canteen.
    edenofflowers likes this.
  8. warewolf95

    warewolf95 Forum Resident

    Greenville, SC
    With no disrespect at all intended towards OP, I swear I literally see this question asked at least once a week - surely a sticky thread can be made of all of these? :D

    OP, what a great artist to search out. :)

    My first 3 were Overnite Sensation, One Size Fits All and Just Another Band From LA.

    For someone new such as yourself, I would probably seek out Overnite Sensation, One Size Fits All, Sheik Yerbouti and You Are What You Is.

    Great, mostly-accessible-but-still-Zappa-unique material on all of them. Good branching off points, imo.

    Have fun diving into Frank!!!
    englishbob and Beatnik_Daddyo'73 like this.
  9. englishbob

    englishbob Its a s*** business Thread Starter

    Kent, England
    I can't recall exactly what Zappa album I was playing today via Spotify, as I was supposed to also be working at the time ;) It could of been either One Size Fits All, Overnite Sensation or Apostrophe

    I think some of the lyrics and themes reminded me of early Parliament and Funkadelic. For some reason I made the connection with song titles like "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" with the intro to Standing on the verge of getting it on. Frank obviously liked having a lot of fun with the lyrics and themes, as did George. Also some of the stuff on the Frank albums are pretty funky in places, with long instrumental jams and guitar solos. Sound familiar?
    warewolf95 and Beatnik_Daddyo'73 like this.
  10. Beatnik_Daddyo'73

    Beatnik_Daddyo'73 Music Addiction Personified

    "Hey lady won't you be my dog and I'll be your tree and you can pee on me." :laugh:
    warewolf95 and englishbob like this.
  11. dlokazip

    dlokazip Forum Transient

    Austin, TX, USA
    I think the Läther story is plausible, but unlikely. I just don't see how he goes from Zoot Allures to a four-disc set without the contractual dispute. I believe that Zappa In New York was the original plan. When that started going south, he assembled the other three just so that he could shove the contract back in their faces. Unfortunately, there isn't a smoking gun that confirms either story.

    I don't believe he constructed it just so that he could play it on the radio. I think that assembling the four albums made him realize that he wanted to release much of that stuff as soon as possible. That, coupled with the stuff that he had been working on was enough for him to reconfigure that material into a single project. It wouldn't be the first or last time that he would change the plan for an album. I don't think he had any intention of broadcasting the album until Warner Bros. prevented its Halloween release. Only then, did he decide to broadcast it. But, I really think he wanted it released as a four-record box set. (Seven years later, Laurie Anderson released a five-record box set on Warner Bros. I just find that amusing.)

    I'm a huge fan of Läther. Despite the fact that I had heard most of that material before, I really love the way it flows. Also, beginning an album with "Re-gyptian Strut" is quite inspired.

    I still go back ZINY, Sleep Dirt (both versions), and Orchestral Favorites. I have no use for Studio Tan, though (side 8 = side 1, side 3 = side 2).
    Octowen likes this.
  12. WonkyWilly

    WonkyWilly Forum Resident

    Paradise, PA
    Actually, there is. On the Halloween box, Frank announces that the song "Lather" used to be titled "I Promise Not To...", which would indicate that Zappa In New York came before Lather. Straight from the horses' mouth!
    dlokazip and ParloFax like this.
  13. Terrapin Station

    Terrapin Station Forum Resident

    NYC Man
    The four albums are cohesive as they were released by Discreet, and they make sense as Zappa albums. They're characteristic of how Frank constructed albums before and after. Lather is not at all cohesive as is, and it doesn't resemble how Zappa approached albums. It comes across like a mixtape where the requirement is to combine those four albums plus some other material that was lying around, merely for the sake of combining those four albums and not making it seem too ridiculous.
    humpf likes this.
  14. I agree with the last part of your comment, and not with the first part. ST and SD in particular stick out from the catalogue as exceptional examples of rather stylistically cohesive Zappa, if such a thing ever existed. Even Hot Rats probably isn't as cohesive as those two other albums since it includes a rock song, sung by Captain Beefheart, in the middle of all the instrumental and complex stuff.

    Zappa most often would throw "monkey wrenches" in the material selected for the albums, I think to shock the various audiences he had.
  15. Sid Hartha

    Sid Hartha Well-Known Member

    The Midwest
    Or just go on Spotify first and see what you like best, or if you like any of it.
    Juan Matus likes this.
  16. O Don Piano

    O Don Piano Forum Resident

    There are many many many many many many “Zappa Starter” threads, and they’re all pretty much in agreement as to where to start and how to continue with Zappa’s vast and idiosyncratic output.
  17. pbuzby

    pbuzby Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL, US
    Studio Tan does have "Lemme Take You To The Beach" on the same side as two long instrumentals.
  18. Yes, good point! However, those two or three albums felt to me like exceptional cases where I could get a "free pass" of complex Zappa music with no (or very little) fooling around with the odd stuff, novelty songs, fake doo-wop, etc. In other words, I could play these with no shame to my prog-rock friends! lol!

    In that aspect, they didn't seem "natural" to me within the catalogue. This is what I meant.
  19. Echoes Myron

    Echoes Myron Forum Resident

    I started with Joe's Garage and worked backwards. Worked out for me!

    No coincidence, the vinyl reissue series is astoundingly good...
  20. dlokazip

    dlokazip Forum Transient

    Austin, TX, USA
    I disagree completely. The way Zappa constructed Läther is consistent with the way he constructed Uncle Meat, Weasels Ripped My Flesh, One Size Fits All, Sheik Yerbouti, and FZ Meets The Mothers Of Prevention, among others. The only differences is that they are spread over four records and that it contains material that many listeners were accustomed to hearing in a different context, but that's it.

    Zappa In New York was made similar to Roxy & Elsewhere while Studio Tan's configuration resembles Just Another Band From L.A. or Waka/Jawaka.

    On the other hand, Zappa had never made an all instrumental album like Sleep Dirt nor had he made an album out of one orchestral concert like Orchestral Favorites. This is likely a function of the fact that Frank was trying to get out of his contract, so he simply grouped like tracks in a way that was somewhat coherent in order to deliver complete albums. Nevertheless, these are the stylistic outliers, not Läther.
    Octowen and Shem the Penman like this.
  21. driverdrummer

    driverdrummer Forum Resident

    Irmo, SC
    I suggest Zoot Allures.
    Siegmund likes this.
  22. Shem the Penman

    Shem the Penman Forum Resident

    Pittsburgh, PA
    I would disagree but I love Lather and as far as the OP question I think it's the best way to get into everything Zappa in one package.

    As a Lather scholar I think the album is wonderfully sequenced. Side one starts with a big theme, then the violin piece, then the commentary "god that was really beautiful" & the response "nah." So then we get a quickie song then "whereupon the door closes violently" and a bunch of jamming, all of it ending with the first rock song "For The Young Sophisticate." Sort of illustrates Zappa's battle with his creativity & his audience. The studio chatter is like a meta commentary on this. The rest of the album isn't quite so detailed sequence-wise but it still makes sense. You get Everything Zappa in one album and you won't need to buy anything else for a while if you really dig into it.
    Octowen and dlokazip like this.
  23. citizensmurf

    citizensmurf Forum Resident

    I see a new thread about The White Album almost weekly as well. So if that topic is okay to repeat, surely encouraging new Zappa fans is too.
  24. citizensmurf

    citizensmurf Forum Resident

    Well, spit it out, son...

    Check out this old link, detailing the Lather story from interviews with Frank. The biggest smoking gun for me is the first quote, where Frank plays an acetate of the Royce Hall show in mid-76. Which means he had compiled a version of Orchestral Favourites before he recorded ZINY.
  25. Ben Adams

    Ben Adams Forum Resident

    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    The line of Zappa vinyl reissues are a benchmark for catalog reissues. Absolutely one of the very top reissue series I've seen for a rock artist.

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