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You Are What You Is - calling all Zappa fanatics

dan-electro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
272
So I'm like 30 years late to the party... never saw myself as much of a Frank Zappa fan... but for the last month or two I haven't been able to stop pumping "You Are What You Is". Vai on guitar...

I've been checking out his discography... pretty intense... the only two Zappa albums I have are the original "Freak Out" (great, but I'm really digging the complex vibe of YAWYI") and this one.

I know Zappa fans can be quite passionate (for good reason, I'm finding)... so I'm wondering what you all think are the most "indispensible" Zappa recordings? I'm sure I'll mosey through a good deal of it on my own, but I like to start strong. TGPers don't tend to lead me astray :)

Thanks, Zappa gurus!:munch
 

PaulE

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,396
Zoot Allures and Overnite sensation are great albums (does anyone say album anymore?)
 

Hunterdog

Member
Messages
1,128
Start with all the studio albums......then sign up over at zappateers.com and start downloading live shows.....you won't be sorry...........personally, my favorite is "the Grand Wazoo"
 

BrainDamage

Member
Messages
390
Apostrophe ('), Overnite Sensation, One Size Fits All, and Roxy and Elsewhere are all absolutely essential in my opinion.
 

roadfilm

Member
Messages
3,164
I agree with all of the above but would add "We're Only In It For The Money" from the late 60's and "Sheik Yerbouti" from the late 70's. Nothing warms my heart more than new people getting into Frank for the first time.

Enjoy!!
 

franksguitar

Member
Messages
3,683
If you get the chance see Zappa does Zappa. Dweezil makes his late dad proud. I saw the entire show last Sept.
 

Shnook

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,686
Apostrophe ('), Overnite Sensation, One Size Fits All, and Roxy and Elsewhere are all absolutely essential in my opinion.
These are the ones I suggest to anyone who asks me about Zappa's catalog. A great start!

I didn't 'get' Freak Out for many years. Then once I got a good handle on Frank's music, I revisited FO and found it to quickly become one of my favorites.
 
Messages
7,602
They're all great! But he did have different sounds in different eras because of the bands.

I'll second One Size Fits All and Roxy & Elsewhere, and add You Can't Do That Onstage Anymore Vol 2 which is a full concert of the same band but after they'd been on the road for a while and they are smokin'.

My introduction, a long time ago, at about 16 was Zoot Allures & Joe's Garage. I haven't been the same since!
 

BrainDamage

Member
Messages
390
Here's a great site that lists ALL of Zappa's albums, and if you drill down, it has all the lyrics too:

http://www.science.uva.nl/~robbert/zappa/albums/
Good site (I love the quote database), but I've been using this one lately: http://globalia.net/donlope/fz/index.html. There is all kinds of interesting information on that one in addition to lyrics and his discography, like notes on live arrangements of songs, conceptual continuity info, and exact dates of recordings and solos (for example, the basic track for the studio Inca Roads was recorded at the same show in 1974 that is featured on The Dub Room Special DVD, while the guitar solo is a cut up version of the solo from the You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 2 show).

and add You Can't Do That Onstage Anymore Vol 2 which is a full concert of the same band but after they'd been on the road for a while and they are smokin'.
That one's worth it if only for the extended Pygmy Twylyte, hilarious Room Service routine, and Montana (Whipping Floss). "Yes, it's such a ballad at this tempo!"
 

Kappy

Member
Messages
14,033
Good stuff recommended here. I'd second getting Sheik Yerbouti and Joe's Garage if you are really diggin on YAWYI. Oddly enough, the earlier stuff (some of which has been recommended already), is closer to YAWYI in some respects (Absolutely Free and We're Only In It For the Money are essential follow-ups to Freak Out!). But if you like the technical stuff with Vai on stunt guitar, a couple worth checking out are Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch and The Man From Utopia. I will warn you that these aren't really very mainstream records, even among Zappa fans. There's some really dense stuff on them. They're also not as vocally/texturally layered as YAWYI is (YAWYI really stands on its own in his catalog, actually...pretty unique FZ recording if you ask me). But there are some absolute gems on those discs. I'd check them out after Sheik and Joe's (if you don't already have/know them) though. YMMV.

Good luck discovering more Zappa. I miss the days when each new FZ record I bought was a new musical discovery. Those days are long gone and I'm so jaded anymore there isn't much that surprises/thrills me that much anymore.

Dave
 

Spider-Man

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,768
Apostrophe ('), Overnite Sensation, One Size Fits All, and Roxy and Elsewhere are all absolutely essential in my opinion.
Yes, definitely. I'd include the Grand Wazoo with this list.

For guitar playing, add Zoot Allures.

For a complete concert from what many consider Zappa's best band, I'll second the recommendation of You Can't do that on Stage Anymore, vol 2.

I can't listen to much of anything he released in the 80's any more. Too many juvenile lyrics, too political, too cynical, and too anti-religion for me. YMMV.

And I'll second the recommendation to catch a ZpZ show. Dweezil and the band do a great job. I have seen them three times, and for the most part I think they have done a good job of showcasing the best of Frank's rock music catalog without going too deeply into the stuff that I find lyrically offensive.
 
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dan-electro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
272
Good stuff recommended here. I'd second getting Sheik Yerbouti and Joe's Garage if you are really diggin on YAWYI. Oddly enough, the earlier stuff (some of which has been recommended already), is closer to YAWYI in some respects (Absolutely Free and We're Only In It For the Money are essential follow-ups to Freak Out!). But if you like the technical stuff with Vai on stunt guitar, a couple worth checking out are Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch and The Man From Utopia. I will warn you that these aren't really very mainstream records, even among Zappa fans. There's some really dense stuff on them. They're also not as vocally/texturally layered as YAWYI is (YAWYI really stands on its own in his catalog, actually...pretty unique FZ recording if you ask me). But there are some absolute gems on those discs. I'd check them out after Sheik and Joe's (if you don't already have/know them) though. YMMV.

Good luck discovering more Zappa. I miss the days when each new FZ record I bought was a new musical discovery. Those days are long gone and I'm so jaded anymore there isn't much that surprises/thrills me that much anymore.

Dave
First, a quick "Thanks" to all of you guys who pitched in on the suggestions :) Looks like my own budding zappa enthusiasm is in good company here...

The funny thing about YAWYI, I had no idea vai was on the recording intitially... I was really digging the guitar tones... they certainly were not in short supply! I did feel like I was getting some tones outside of what I identified with Frank. Freak Out had some really neat moments that were reminiscent of 1950's doo-wop, and obvious early 60's stuff... and although YAWYI was almost 25 years later, I could still pick out (or I thought I could at least) some identifiable FZ sounds... the SG, the fuzz...

But there was an X factor. Suprising to me, it was Vai... but Frank wrote out all of the music, did he not? I loved the tone (was this green meanie/marshall era?) but it didn't sound like what I knew to be zappa. Was just a cool discovery for me. It's hard not to love Steve Vai, taking into consideration his extreme dedication, etc., but I get tired of his stuff after a while... don't get me wrong, the man is amazing, but I suffer ear fatigue after about 30 minutes of flurried legato whammy dives, etc. This was a cool segue into a different side of SV that I hadn't heard yet.

I guess I'll start out with some more of these: "Apostrophe ('), Overnite Sensation, One Size Fits All, Roxy" as they seem to be highly recommended!

And I'll definitely check out the zappateers / zdz~

Thanks again Zappa fans!:phones
 
Messages
7,602
But there was an X factor. Suprising to me, it was Vai... but Frank wrote out all of the music, did he not? I loved the tone (was this green meanie/marshall era?) but it didn't sound like what I knew to be zappa. Was just a cool discovery for me. It's hard not to love Steve Vai, taking into consideration his extreme dedication, etc., but I get tired of his stuff after a while... don't get me wrong, the man is amazing, but I suffer ear fatigue after about 30 minutes of flurried legato whammy dives, etc. This was a cool segue into a different side of SV that I hadn't heard yet.

I guess I'll start out with some more of these: "Apostrophe ('), Overnite Sensation, One Size Fits All, Roxy" as they seem to be highly recommended!

And I'll definitely check out the zappateers / zdz~

Thanks again Zappa fans!:phones
The thing with Frank was that he wrote to his player's strengths so Vai was playing what Frank wrote (with opportunities to let loose too). And he was only 20-ish when he hooked up with Frank so his own style was just developing.
 

Blanket Jackson

Every day is like Tio's birthday
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
16,299
For musical vision - "We're Only In It For The Money"
For songwriting - "One Size Fits All"
For performance - "Zappa In New York"
For comedic elements - "Just Another Band From L.A."
For single album summary of catalog - "Apostrophe"

special mention to London Symphony Orchestra, Vols. 1 & 2
 

Kappy

Member
Messages
14,033
But there was an X factor. Suprising to me, it was Vai... but Frank wrote out all of the music, did he not? I loved the tone (was this green meanie/marshall era?) but it didn't sound like what I knew to be zappa. Was just a cool discovery for me. It's hard not to love Steve Vai, taking into consideration his extreme dedication, etc., but I get tired of his stuff after a while... don't get me wrong, the man is amazing, but I suffer ear fatigue after about 30 minutes of flurried legato whammy dives, etc. This was a cool segue into a different side of SV that I hadn't heard yet.
95% of what you hear Vai play on those records is written by FZ. There are a couple of Vai solos on some of the live DVDs/CDs. I'm not sure exactly what gear Vai used on these recordings. I imagine there was a lot of tweakage/input from FZ on guitar tone. I do recall Vai telling a story about Frank criticizing Vai's tone at one point and giving advice for getting a fuller tone, so maybe for live stuff Frank let Vai do what he wanted. Not sure. The info's out there though, on fan sites.

You know that on the Sinister Footwear guitar solo on YAWYI it's Frank's guitar solo that Vai is dubbed in playing exactly note-for-note, right? That's how Vai started with Zappa, he was transcribing Zappa's guitar solos. Frank was so impressed with Vai's transcriptions that he eventually started writing parts for him.

Dave

P.S. I forgot to recommend "Them or Us" as another one with some Steve Vai stunt guitar (and another record with some real gems on it).
 




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