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« Moving Sound Around | Main | WFMU Off-Mic DJ Activities for February 2006 »

February 02, 2006


Lizzie Wizzy

Reminds me of that article in The Onion -- "Frank Zappa Fan Thinks You Just Haven't Heard the Right Album."


Beefheart purist/offensensitive
King Kong video is very persuasive


Ha ha ha ha! Fuckin Onion, love those guys! And gals.


OK I will make a good faith effort. Wasn't it the Grateful Dead though that everybody was supposed to secretly like? What next, Clutch?

Vic Perry

Wow, I just found out that Captain Beefheart was actually referencing Steve Reich's "Come Out" at the end of "Moonlight on Vermont," all this time (i.e. 21 years now) I had thought it was some kind of bizarre lysergic convergence (actually I still wonder...doesn't it sound like a line from a gospel song?). Thanks for linking to that article on the great, great, great Captain Beefheart. I promise to listen to Frank Zappa respectfully if I ever accidently encounter his music again.


OK, I've made my good faith effort, and I am sorry about the clutch comment. It just seems like a bunch if ideas that go nowhere. The real tragedy though is that he's just not funny. I mean I get it; people are impressed that Jimmy Carl Black is a Native American and white folks have a funny fixation about that. Write a fucking book.
Try this guy:


i'm sorry. this was a noble and valiant attempt, but i'll never ever like zappa. and trust me, i've tried to like him. maybe had i heard him as an oversexed adolescent, my view would be different. sure, he's a genius, blah blah blah. three cheers for his appearance on Capitol Hill. But this man is funny? reference the time he hosted SNL and made the "hilarious" choice of reading the cards in a monotone voice rather than act. great guitar player, tho. and 200 Motels is one of the weirdest movies yooz ever seen, my friend. watch it once and burn it.


aw c'mon dudes... don't wanna belabor this too much, got over the diarrhea w/ the post; but it's not about comedy. see above, "does comedy belong in music?" i agree, he wasn't funny, he was snarky. i still think "freak out" thru to about the time he got chucked into an orchestra pit by a swiss mook was a pretty thrilling & breathless period of stuff. i made my recommendations. snl? missed it.


Re: the SNL dis. That is pretty painful, agreed, where FZ shows he can't act for shit. Night on Freak Mountain is slightly better, thanks to Aykroyd and Laraine Newman.

But, um, you watched the musical performances too, right? Hmm? Dude makes up his mind about 50+ albums of (for the most part) pure brilliance based on a skit? Okayyyy.

And I also think it's a drag to write off post-Mothers material. Start with One Size Fits All if you're a rocker. Civilization Phase III if you're an intellectual.

Or not. No one cares, and Frank did least of all.


Zappa...probably the ONLY true musical genius in recent memory, unless you count Brian Wilson (maybe) or Eminem (just kidding)

"Make a Jazz Noise Here" is a good place for overall satisfaction...on it Frank and crew turn many early numbers into perky polka tunes.

The ONE album/FZ concept I truly have a problem with is "Thing Fish" - maybe someday someone somewhere will actually put the sucker onstage so some sense can be made of it. And though "Joe's Garage" has some winners on it, overall (as a concept album) it's weak when compared to the simple brilliance of "We're Only In It for the Money" or even the vastness that is "You Are What You Is"

I dare anyone who doubt's Zappa's genius to come up with ONE SONG as perfect and weird as "Peaches En Regalia" - and Zappa wrote at least 100 that were as perfectly weird AND lovely



thank you.

Pete Downs

Great article.
I have been a fan of Frank since I first heard him in 1971 and was lucky enough to see him live in London in 1984.
I even like the records you are obviously not as keen on.
I can understand peoples adversion to his music as he has released records in so many different styles but hopefully your entry point recommendations will persuade some of the sceptics to try again.
As well as any Zappa virgins of course.

Lee Hartsfeld

Listening to these tracks, I find myself wanting to go to the sources--Milhaud, Honegger, Schoenberg. Some of the sections are very interesting, but I prefer my sounds, "modern" or otherwise, organized rather than jumbled. Still, more fun than I thought Zappa would be. Thanks for the tour.



I agree with the above poster. I think what he is saying points out a bigger problem with rock in general and that is 'innovation' very often consists of just borrowing from other genre or from earlier periods of rock rather than something new.
I think the jumbled editing is a cop out. Was he afraid that if I stuck with one theme that someone would criticize him the way he saw fit to be critical of everyone else?
All that said I am still tempted to give Hot Rats a listen.

Clark Gwent

I am "I like,no,love,the original Mothers but he started to suck to a greater or lesser extent after that..." type of guy I have not got a category up there. I have just come up with this FZ theory; avoid all the records where the only drummer is white and American.

chas hendrick iv

I love everything he's done. I think it's funny when people get all worked up not liking him. It's safe to say those who don't think he's funny probably aren't very interesting or funny themselves and they're uptight to boot. It's a joke not everyone is in on. Chances are if your not in on it you're a part of the joke and you don't understand why. I think the responses here show that he's still ahead of his time, over a decade after his death.


wonderful stuff to see and hear! i did a little zappa lesson a while back focusing on some of his mid-70's oeuvre:

i heard nic harcourt play "i am the slime" on KCRW once. i was shocked. FZ is not part of the requisite trendy, alt-pop steez there. then they faded it out before the guitar solo. booty.


I had to listen to Zappa's "Chrome-Plated Megaphone Of Destiny" in high school. (I am not kidding, our music teacher was into Bach, Schoenberg, Coltrane, Varese, and Zappa.) While I thought that it was cool to turn a harrowing Kafka short story into music, I did not really dig noise and audio collage as a teenager. Nowadays I don't like Zappa's fusion stuff and his guitar noodling. Actually, most of his recordings have way too much guitar noodling for my taste.



Suzy C.

Frank needs no apologist for his music.
Love it, or leave it to those that do.

Eric Johnson

Comedy belongs in life. Music is no different.

Neal Burgess

It's 'Does HUMOUR Belong in Music?' and you better believe your ass it does. Zappa thrived on poking fun at all the people and musicians who took themselves too seriously. He wasn't funny all the time, but he (among many other things) a brilliant observer of human behaviour. Check out his own "Greatest Hits" compilation 'Have I Offended Someone?' for a sampling of his humour. And Thing-Fish is one of my favourite albums. You just need to give it time.

Oh, and Beefheart played with Zappa before the Magic Band so that whole Zappa ruining TMR rant is total hogwash. Beefheart wasn't even the brains behind TMR, John French was.


"WFMU is crawling with Zappa Haters, and their hostility is largely justifiable."

Sorry, Scott, but I can't let this one go by. No one who truly "gets" Zappa would ever make a comment like that.

Also, most of this station's current listening audience (and deejays) are too young to have known what it was like in the 60's when Freak Out was released and FMU was the ONLY radio station playing it. Your statement is misleading, and only adds to the misrepresentation of what WFMU is/was.



I think the best introduction to Frank's music would be the '96 Rkyo release of L├Ąther, kind of a middle-period compendium. Yeah, it's three whole discs representing most everything he was into musically. Although it might be really unusual to like it all, anyone should find something.

Listener Bop Monroe of Pocket Monster

Although 200 Motels is a disjointed mess of a film, the soundtrack album was a revelation to my little world back in 1971. It's a rock record! It's an opera! It's an orchestral masterpiece. It's a dessert topping, it's a floor polish. Centerville. A real nice place to raise your kids.
For some reason they used to show the movie itself at the Fort Hamilton Armybase Theatre several times a year up to 1976. I got the double CD to replace my vinyl and still play it at least once a month all the way through.

And who can deny that "Billy The Mountain" & "Gregory Peccary" share the same structures as 'Peter & The Wolf" and are as musically evocative as 'An American In Paris' in their own way? And all are safe enough to play to young kids, really.

But yeah, some of his lyrics don't stand up over time and are truly cringe-inducing now.

You can't go wrong with 'Shut Up & Play Yer Guitar' and 'The Yellow Shark' for almost lyric free bliss. I happen to like his noodling.

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