on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2022 1 Mai

Frankie takes the bus.

von: Michael Engelbrecht Filed under: Blog | TB | 1 Comment

Oh, really. When it comes to Zappa, I have no long stories to tell. As someone loving some far-out areas of that thing called Rock Music, you might have had some elevated hours triping with Zappa albums, too. My favourites?  I have to go back to the days of old: surely „Sheik Yerbouti“, and „Zoot Allures“. And the one with the big band and „groovy“ George Duke, „Grand Wazoo“. I could never rank his broad discography, cause i am not familiar with so  much of his works. I preferred to come back to these three albums of passion and ambition and wit and great, great music. At the outer zones of foggy memories, „Overnite Sensation“ cries for being heard again. Is that so? Anyways, I wasn‘t bathing too often in these tons of sarcasm and parody. Zappa, yes, but in well chosen moments. So, years ago, i stumbled upon a fantstically remastered version of the 3-vinyl-edition of „Joe‘s Garage“, a true revelation. And, for me at least, a place to return to every once in a while, it has so much to offer.



And a fantastic sounding remaster it really is! Kudos to Zappa Trust. Careful re-packaging of a master’s work. If you start to be interested you‘ll find out the story. Musically it is „wide-screen“ Zappa, and with all its spoken words, killer tunes, and brilliant breaks,  it is nothing else than multo opulento. Aside from the sarirical groundings (textbook included, the gatefold cover a pure delight (except the lack of contrast between coloured words on black ground), the six sides contains a broad sprectre of moods between partytime and utter loneliness. The fiesta that life is on this album has a dark counterpoint in social realities and broken spirits, and you can hear the low life on rock bottom in  (sharply catched) empty spaces and other hangovers of the soul. Some people have minor quibbles with Zappa‘s long guitar solos, and I‘m definitely not amongs these guys. Au contraire – the guitar work is ace, and a wonderful counterpoint (in regards to space and mood) to the more uplifting tunes and chorusses. This is a very courageous album that offers a quite addictive experience. So think twice if you wanna take this bus! (Funny, that though Zappa cannot be heard on the fine soundtrack of „Licorice Pizza“, it‘s a not too wild a guess, that if you love the movie, you‘ll dig the music.)

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1 Comment

  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Finally, Mark Smotroff gets on the bus, too:

    Bitterness never sounded sounded so beautiful, writes Ron Simasek, and adds, in an eycellent little essay on the work:

    „“Watermelon in Easter Hay” is possibly the most beautiful instrumental that Zappa ever wrote. It’s a guitar melody, in the style of David Gilmore that Joe hears in his head but cannot play since he is still in jail. The expressive guitar line soars over a beat in 9/4 and builds to a climax with gongs, marimbas, chimes and mallets. This haunting emotional odyssey is atypical for Frank since his guitar playing is more commonly in the ‘mangle it, strangle it’ style of the solo section. Even Zappa’s harshest critics confessed that it was one of the most gorgeous pieces of music ever produced.“

    In toto:

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