Need Zappa Info

jatna

Member
Messages
98
Hi. I will be honest, I don't like most of Zappa's music. It is too dissonant for me. Also the synclavier is cheesy. However I realize that he was very creative and a skilled composer/guitar player.

First question: I would like to know what songs he did that really feature his guitar playing.

A long time ago I sat through one of his movies and for the most part it was a bad experience. It featured a lot of gross claymation. However at one point they show him in concert really tearing it up on guitar. He sounded more bluesy than normal. Second question: Is that solo on one of his live albums?
 
Messages
11,608
Hi. I will be honest, I don't like most of Zappa's music. It is too dissonant for me. Also the synclavier is cheesy. However I realize that he was very creative and a skilled composer/guitar player.

First question: I would like to know what songs he did that really feature his guitar playing.

A long time ago I sat through one of his movies and for the most part it was a bad experience. It featured a lot of gross claymation. However at one point they show him in concert really tearing it up on guitar. He sounded more bluesy than normal. Second question: Is that solo on one of his live albums?
the film you saw was titled "Baby Snakes". there is a soundtrack album, but it's not very long. much of the same band was on an album titled "Live in New York", which was recorded the previous year.

albums from the same era include Zoot Allures, Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt, and Shut Up & Play Yer Guitar.
 

snarkle

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,550
For GREAT tunes and very fine guitar playing, I'd start with Hot Rats. It's also one of Zappa's jazzier LPs, but that's the side of his music I like best anyway.

Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar, Waka/Jawaka, and The Grand Wazoo are also instrumentally oriented discs that feature lots of great playing from everyone in Zappa's band, and very little comedic schtick.

I still enjoy the social satire of the first few Mothers of Invention albums, but a lot of the later attempts at humour just make me cringe...
 

anais

Member
Messages
566
Check out the LIVE stuff. I like the 74 stuff the best probably. Zappa was the only guitarist in the group for a few years after his return from the pit accident. 73-76 basically. The Ruth Underwood, Tom Fowler, Napoleon Murphy Brock, George Duke, and Chester Thompson lineup from 74 was always my favorite and I think it showcased Franks playing as a guitarist quite well.

From what some of the players from Zappa bands have told me he would go for a good 6-9 month stretch at times without playing the guitar at all to keep his focus on writing and to reinvent his guitar playing style.. so any 'era' Frank you hear after, say, Hot Rats (1969) is going to be a different approach to the instrument. Quite genius actually...
 
Messages
7,613
It's hard to pick individual songs becaust there are so many so here are some albums to check out for some of his best songs/bands/playing: One Size Fits All, Roxy & Elsewhere, Apostrophy, Overnight Sensation, and Zoot Allures

Of course, if you just want guitar playing - Shut Up and Play Your Guitar.

My favorite song/solo has to be Watermelon in Easter Hay (on Joe's Garage - which is a great album too!)
 

Lution

Member
Messages
8,998
Some incredible gems of his guitar playing can also be found on his You Can't Do That On Stage cd series.

For Example, "The Torture Never Stops" from Vol 1 has imho one of the greatest guitar solos I have ever heard. . . and that was Frank Zappa.
 

Blue Light

Member
Messages
7,401
Didn't Lowell George play in the band for a while?

I saw Zappa in concert a few times and every time was different than the last and every time it was astonishing.
 

Kappy

Member
Messages
14,033
Some of my personal favorites are...

From the album Sheik Yerbouti:
The Sheik Yerbouti Tango
Rat Tomago
Yo' Mama


From Them or Us:
Sinister Footwear II
Whipping Post
Marqueson's Chicken



from One Size Fits All:
Inca Roads

From Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch:
Drowning Witch

From Bongo Fury:
Muffin Man

From Joe's Garage:
Watermelon in Easter Hay
Packard Goose

Outside Now
On the Bus

From Jazz from Hell (Synclavier recording, except for this gem):
St. Etienne

From Overnite Sensation:
Montana
Fifty-Fifty


From Apostrophe:
Stinkfoot

From Zappa in NY:
The Illinois Enema Bandit
The Purple Lagoon
(Great, GREAT Michael Brecker solo here too!)

From Sleep Dirt (the title track)

From Uncle Meat:
Nine Types of Industrial Polution

From FZ Meets the Mother of Prevention:
What's New in Baltimore

That ought to get you started. I've left out easily twice as many great ones as I mentioned. I personally think Shut up 'n Play yer Guitar is an amazing collection of improvised guitar (and drum) music. But I know it's not for everyone.

Good luck!

Dave
 
Last edited:

taez555

Member
Messages
8,086
Zappa always thought of himself as a composer first and foremost with the guitar as a means to an end. There are countless guitar gems hidden in the 80 or so albums he released over the 30 years he recorded music. You just have to remember he wasn't trying to be a guitar god, and if you want to find the good stuff it's gonna take you a lifetime or longer to hear everything he's done.

Go pick up the "shut up and play yer guitar" albums. That's really the best single collection of Zappa guitar tunes. After a few listens you'll start to understand why Steve Vai plays the notes he does. (can someone say whole tone scale)

Beyond that, what everyone else has mentioned. I also really dig his mid to early 70's stuff. YCDTOSA albums are all great. vol 2 is my current favorite. That simple 6 piece '74 band was great.
 

sahhas

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
16,079
i love his "shut up and play guitar" cds-& the followup from a few yrs later: "Guitar" -both of those are great discs, great listening, great guitar playing.
as for his synclavier-have you heard "civilization: phase III"? the last completed work he did before he died? the compositions on there are incredible and great. even my wife likes them when she's heard it!

other's above have mentioned stuff from his huge catalog that have great guitar stuff on them, i personally as i've aged, don't love his "lowest common denominator lyrics" they were funny when i first heard them, 20 yrs ago, but to me they don't age well, he was of his time i suppose. but his guitar playing-whoa-top notch!
good luck,
s---
www.myspace.com/scotthansen
 

Lance

Member
Messages
10,383
BTW, the one solo that you refer to in your OP is Punky's Whips. I do believe G minor was Frank's favorite key to solo in, as he would use a lot of open D & G string licks.
Love me some Baby Snakes! I was sooo happy when they put that out on DVD.

"She's just a little wunky dunky." Roy with the gas mask on the blow-up doll is priceless!
 

Kappy

Member
Messages
14,033
i personally as i've aged, don't love his "lowest common denominator lyrics" they were funny when i first heard them, 20 yrs ago, but to me they don't age well, he was of his time i suppose.
I think the trick is not to mature as you age. I've done a good job avoiding it and I still like his bawdy stuff some 25+ years later. I wish someone was doing something as funny (yet good) as he was. Now his political stuff from the mid-to-late '80s, that's stuff that I can't really listen to anymore. It's not that I disagree with him either, it's just that it gets boring to listen to so much preaching/harping (from anyone, not just FZ). The political stuff (and all his material) from the '60s and '70s is pretty timeless to me.
 

Kappy

Member
Messages
14,033
Some incredible gems of his guitar playing can also be found on his You Can't Do That On Stage cd series.

For Example, "The Torture Never Stops" from Vol 1 has imho one of the greatest guitar solos I have ever heard. . . and that was Frank Zappa.
Thanks for reminding me of this one! I'm re-listening to it now. You're right. It's fantastic! If you like this one, check out Yo' Mama from Sheik Yerbouti (if you can get your hands on a copy). It's very similar. In fact, I'd be willing to wager both those solos were recorded on the same tour.

Frank was pretty amazing for being able to pull off epic guitar solos. I don't know if there's anyone else I can listen to just play a guitar solo for so long, who can maintain my interest. It must be that he approached his solos as "mini compositions" in his own words.

Dave
 

chucke99

Member
Messages
5,125
Go get (or download) these full albums. They are all from the mid-1970s and are his most accessible, music-wise (not that much dissonance). There are also plenty of songs with killer guitar solos on them. The first two I list are must-haves for any Zappophile:

Apostrophe
Overnight Sensation
One Size Fits All
Zoot Allures

Once you get through those, get Sheik Yerbouti, Zappa's masterpiece. By then, you'll be ready to listen to Rat Tomago and truly love it.
 

Kappy

Member
Messages
14,033
Go get (or download) these full albums. They are all from the mid-1970s and are his most accessible, music-wise (not that much dissonance). There are also plenty of songs with killer guitar solos on them. The first two I list are must-haves for any Zappophile:

Apostrophe
Overnight Sensation
One Size Fits All
Zoot Allures
Great list. No Roxy and Elsewhere? I'd tell him to get that before Zoot, but opinions vary, I'm sure.

Once you get through those, get Sheik Yerbouti, Zappa's masterpiece. By then, you'll be ready to listen to Rat Tomago and truly love it.
It's funny, I don't hear a lot of FZ fans speak so highly of this recording (for some reason lots of people have a beef with Tommy Mars, who was brilliant, IMO). But I agree with you, Sheik Yerbouti's a brilliant album. It was my main introduction to FZ (well, it was 200 Motels really, but that's a long story that involved psychedelics); it was the first one I listened to over and over again and memorized everything. I was coming from being a Zep, Yes, Sabbath, Deep Purple listener. I think it's a pretty accessible record overall, including those epic guitar solos.
 




Trending Topics

Top