Sunday, May 6, 2007

Frank Zappa - Fillmore East June 1971 - 320 CBR

That's right, you heard right, the secret word for tonight is "Mud Shark." But for this bawdy tale from the not-so-briny shoals of Seattle, Washington alone, this is required listening. Of course, instrumental fans who hunger for something more filling from Fillmore will find it in tracks like "Lonesome Electric Turkey" and the evergreen "Peaches En Regalia." This live record (one of the last from the Fillmore East if memory serves) is one of my favorites from the Flo & Eddie experiment, showcasing their unique stage presence on the dialogue- driven "Do You Like My New Car?" and cascading into a delirious version of The Turtles' "Happy Together." Unlike some of ZAPPA's live releases, Fillmore East retains the atmosphere of a live show from beginning to end, with a minimum of post-doctoring and a maximum of spontaneous energy (or as spontaneous as a band playing a tortuous track like "Little House I Used To Live In" can get). Among the other ZAPPA/Mothers albums out there, Fillmore East reminds me most of the 200 Motels soundtrack, where a similar mix of complicated instrumentals and transcendently strange songs co-existed happily (although I understand that Uncle Meat tasted about the same too). As an oral history of rock stars and the groupies who love them, Fillmore East puts Professors Flo & Eddie at the podium, overshadowing the rest of the band much of the time. Ordinarily, their monkeyshines steal the spotlight from the erstwhile top banana (FRANK) and his phenomenal fretwork. But Fillmore East finds a better balance than Just Another Band From L.A., for example, alternating between the profane and the musically profound in a way that satisfies both camps.
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Frank Zappa - Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar - 320 CBR

100% pure and sure guitar solos from the ZAPPA man!. 3 CD's full of tantalizingly exquisite improvised compositions, mostly culled from live performances during 1979-80. Backed by a host of different bands and musicians, ZAPPA makes his instrument express stuff more blasphemous than any mere words could ever convey. "Five-Five-Five" and "Hog Heaven" draw his most brutal and metallic tones; "Ship Ahoy" puts ZAPPA's distorto-funk shuffle over a cooking rhythm section. "Canarsie" lays ZAPPA's sinuous SG against bizarre rhythm passages featuring Warren Cucurullo's sitar. "Treacherous Cretins" finds him soloing over a reggae riff; "Variations on the Carlos Santana Secret Chord Progression" lives up to its title with the band aping a Latin percussive groove; "Beat It With Your Fist" is two minutes of maximum-velocity metal. But there's also some prettier moments here, like the reflective "Pink Napkins" and "Canard du Jour," an improvised duet with FZ on bouzouki and Jean-Luc Ponty on violin. Well known guest musicians include Steve Vai, Peter Wolf, Eddie Jobson and Terry Bozzio. These albums were originally released only by mail-order and now have been all put together in one lovely CD package. Essential from the ZAPPA vaults!
Well, it´s the best place to listen to the Shut Up... Zappa solos. A great collection of songs from these albums with nice sound quality and performances. I simply cannot understand why people try to argue that albums like this one are only like a "Zappa masturbation", what is not true. Zappa normally released two or three very heterogeneous albums in sequence and them released a more oriented album, or an experimental one. We can easily check it o his discography. In the beggining of the eighties, altough famous as a guitar hero and as a magnific composer. he decided to put some astonishing guitar solos in an album. It worked. Many musicians used the first Shut Up... album as a reference for guitar technic or for guitar sounding in the beggining of the decade. The band may sound too much 80´s sometimes, especially the drums, altough still very complex and not too common in the tracks. The rest of the musicians, altough only making a "support" troughout the album, are very skilled and make this box set an essential recording for fans of Zappa or for guitar affictionates. Off course the album is not recommended for Zappa begginers, because the two discs are lenghty and quite repetitive, and the money you may use to get it can be used to get other Zappa albums that may show another (and more complete) side of this genious. Like the box set Läther, some guys say it´s another way to get money. This time it can be true, because Läther is a "never-released" release, and Shut Up... box set is a compilation. The real thing is that the two box sets get Zappa in a unique peak of creativity in two different decades, what is often rare for many rock artists. Well, anyway, Shut Up... is a good effort to teach how to play a real guitar, to show Zappa´s rhythm complexity and band envolvement, and to reveal some inspiring instrumental interludes from a rock´n roll genius in the plastic 80´s.
Get it.
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Saturday, May 5, 2007

Frank Zappa - Buffalo - 320CBR

This is the second Vaulternative live concert recording. Recorded on 25th October 1980, this CD features a pretty good line-up of Zappa back up musicians, most notably the superb Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, and the excellent, if somewhat underused Bob Harris on vocals. Indeed, the vocals are a highlight on this album, with Ray White and Ike Willis on top form throughout. The sound quality is top notch, as one has come to expect from Zappa live concerts.There are many highlights to be found across these two discs. The first is a storming version of 'Keep It Greasy' which sounds amazingly fast in comparison to the studio version. Great vocals and musicianship all round. 'Honey, Don't You Want A Man Like Me' features a very different arrangement, and apart from Zappa forgetting the words a number of times, is a really enjoyable song. Another highlight for me is 'Pick Me, I'm Clean'. Fantastic vocals and a trademark Zappa guitar solo. Great stuff.Disc two opens with 'Easy Meat'. Always a showcase for Tommy Mars' brilliant keyboard skills and Zappa's guitar prowess; this track features both in abundance. The next highlight is a twenty-three minute 'Torture Never Stops'. Amazing guitar solo, followed by keyboard and drum solos. This may be heavy going for some, but I could listen to music like this all day. The wonderful 'Andy' is another classic track. This must be one of the most underrated gems in the Zappa back catalogue. This is another majestic example. Excellent.This really is a nice document of the 1980 band in all its 'Warts And All' glory. It's nice to hear whole concerts because I'm sure Zappa himself would not have released some of this material. The fluffed vocal lines (and there are a few) would never have made an official release, but to me this is more favourable than multiple edits between different shows.

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