Frank Zappa - where to start?

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Lukas86
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Frank Zappa - where to start?

Post by Lukas86 » 06 Feb 2009, 23:22

Hey all,
lately if been enjoying discovering 'old' music, which is new to me, rather than getting right into comtemporary music. e.g. the cure, gang of four, mr bungle, melvins. the list goes on.
I'd like to give some of Frank Zappa's music a listen, as based on the critics, the man demands respect. I however, have no idea where would be a good place to start. (and I have asked my friends, parents etc and none of them have any albums).

For a first time listener, what album is a good starting place? I can only recall about two Zappa songs off the top of my head and I don't want to try and become an instant expert by simply buying a 'best of' cd.

On another note, did anyone go to the Zappa plays Zappa concert last time they were here? (I have just noticed they are doing the show again this year)

Thank you
Lukas

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oliver
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Re: Frank Zappa - where to start?

Post by oliver » 07 Feb 2009, 05:29

Well, I have about 40 or 50 of his albums so I consider myself something of an expert on the subject. I guess it all depends on what you are into as his music spans several decades and genres. If you are into Mr Bungle I would probably suggest against starting with some of the real early stuff in the 60s. If you are into REALLY obscure and hard to listen to stuff I might suggest some of his works from the 80s like Joe's Garage.

I started with The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life which is a double CD from live shows in his '88 tour, and the level of musicianship is fantastic. You could also try Roxy & Elsewhere which is awesome prog rock from the 70s. Playground Psychotics is a bit less mainstream but also very enjoyable from an again different lineup of musicians. Between those three albums you get three distinctly different lineups and sounds.

I could talk for ages on the subject, but I'll start with that.

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jezzamac
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Re: Frank Zappa - where to start?

Post by jezzamac » 07 Feb 2009, 10:09

I particularly like "Weasel's Ripped My Flesh" and "Chunga's Revenge". More accessible, though, are "Overnight Sensation" and "One "Size Fits All". The Classic Album vidoeo series has an episode on "Overnight Sensation" so you see interviews etc with the musicians such as Ruth Underwood.
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Petebass
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Re: Frank Zappa - where to start?

Post by Petebass » 07 Feb 2009, 12:22

Basscast has done a couple of podcasts featuring Frank Zappa.

This one has a segment about the "Buffalo" album:-
http://basscast.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=324008

And this one has a segment on Tom Fowler, Frank Zappa's bass player (one of them). You may even hear my sexy co-presenter voice on this one :)
http://basscast.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=16211
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Wwolof
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Re: Frank Zappa - where to start?

Post by Wwolof » 08 Feb 2009, 21:05

Sheik Yerbouti is a pretty great one.

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balzac
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Re: Frank Zappa - where to start?

Post by balzac » 09 Feb 2009, 08:39

Good question man - where do you start when you've got 70+ albums to choose from?!

One Size Fits All is a great recommendation - some wicked grooves on that. Hot Rats is pretty cool too (and mainly instrumental). Another I'd recommend is Make A Jazz Noise Here. Live double album, the first one of Frank's that I listened to, and the one that got me instantly hooked. Huge range of tunes, lots of brass and percussion, and Scott Thunes on bass. Apparently the guy's a bit of a dick, but you can't argue with his playing :) The album's got a fair amount of weirdness, but it's still pretty accessible.

Alternatively, you mentioned Zappa Plays Zappa - that's a very good place to start too - the DVD is fricking amazing. They're playing at East Coast Blues and Roots this year as well, but I doubt I'll have the funds to make it down to Byron :-(

In any case, you'll have fun exploring ... enjoy :)

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Matthew Tucker
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Re: Frank Zappa - where to start?

Post by Matthew Tucker » 09 Feb 2009, 14:24

Cosmic Debris. Watch out where the huskies go!
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reens
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Re: Frank Zappa - where to start?

Post by reens » 09 Feb 2009, 15:48

all the above are great: overnite, weasels etc. I'd also put in a vote for Freak Out, just because it's such a fat sounding album.

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oliver
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Re: Frank Zappa - where to start?

Post by oliver » 09 Feb 2009, 21:01

Just wondering, does anybody here have original releases of any of the first 10-15 albums? I've heard the original mixes of Freak Out, Ruben & The Jets and Hot Rats are VERY different to the versions you can buy on CD now. The other albums around that period I guess are equally likely to be different.

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jamiesdad
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Re: Frank Zappa - where to start?

Post by jamiesdad » 10 Feb 2009, 13:46

I know you don't want to go down the compilation route necessarily ... but Cheap Thrills is a really good start.
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oliver
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Re: Frank Zappa - where to start?

Post by oliver » 10 Feb 2009, 14:59

As long as you are getting compilations, I'd strongly recommend the You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore series. Admittedly you are generally getting the sound of just one band per album but they play a whole bunch of songs from across the years on each, and the quality and musicianship is fantastic.

My favourite is volume 2.

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jamiesdad
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Re: Frank Zappa - where to start?

Post by jamiesdad » 10 Feb 2009, 15:09

Best Band you never heard in your life ... kind of hard to find ... but damn the band rocks.
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