Frank Zappa Appreciation Thread


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Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 10, 2011 - 02:34am PT
The lore of Southern California permeated Frank Zappa's music and self-image

A list of local place names that appear in the satirical songs of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention group would be long.

Frank Zappa was raised in Lancaster. <br/>
As a teen, he loved the avant-g...
Frank Zappa was raised in Lancaster.
As a teen, he loved the avant-garde electronic music of Edgard Varese -- as well as 50s doo-wop and R&B.
Credit: (Los Angeles Times / January 9, 2011)

By Anthony Mostrom
January 9, 2011

It was a rare, early Hollywood television appearance for future rock music renegade Frank Zappa. Lean and hungry and unknown, the 22-year-old composer appeared on "The Steve Allen Show" in 1963.

He wore a pressed suit and thin tie, and short, well-greased hair standard for those pre-Beatles, pre-psychedelic days. But Zappa was there to perform sounds on a bicycle with drumsticks and a bow (the bike belonged to his sister Candy).

Allen was no slouch in the world of beatnik-era hipness himself, but he couldn't help cracking one-liners during Zappa's noisy, atonal demonstration, and he kept pronouncing his guest's name "Zoppa." "Well, Mr. Zappa I congratulate you on your farsightedness," Allen said. "As for your music, don't ever do it around here again!"

Frank Zappa was born in Baltimore Dec. 21, 2010, would have been his 70th birthday but his self-image and musical output from 1963 until his death in 1993 were soaked in the lore of Southern California, where he grew up.

A list of local place names that appear in the satirical songs of his avant-garde-meets-novelty-rock group, the Mothers of Invention, would be long.

Burbank, Downey, El Monte, Fullerton, Glendale, Hawthorne, Irwindale, Lomita, Newhall, Pacoima, Palmdale, Rolling Hills, Shadow Hills he loved, hated and sang about all of them. In retrospect, it seems that Zappa and the Mothers played in other cities during their heyday in the late 1960s only because they had to.

Zappa was raised in Lancaster. He showed an early gift for music and started writing orchestral music at age 14. The first love of the culture-hungry teenager in the desert was the percussive, avant-garde electronic music of composer Edgard Varese. His second love was 1950s doo-wop and rhythm and blues, which inspired him to take up the guitar.

After high school he ambitiously pursued both, seemingly unrelated, passions. Only months after appearing on the Allen show, the young composer conducted his discordant orchestral works at Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles, after which an audience member asked, "Do you consider this to be music?" On the surviving tape, Zappa sounds defiant but, frankly, hurt.

Meanwhile, as an aspiring producer of rock 'n' roll records, young Zappa made frequent trips into Hollywood, hustling tapes of local bands he would record at his own Studio Z ("Record Your Band!") in Cucamonga. Some of these were bought by small Hollywood labels (Del-Fi, Donna, Emmy), and released as 45s. Today they're collectors' items. Few sold well, with the notable exception of Zappa's own "Memories of El Monte," recorded by the Penguins of "Earth Angel" fame.

If he had had the stomach to work for other people, he could have been a successful film composer.

On the Allen show he mentioned having recently composed the "score" for a low-budget film, "The World's Greatest Sinner," by cult character actor and director Timothy Carey ("My name is God Hilliard!"), now best remembered for his eccentric performances in early Stanley Kubrick and John Cassavetes films. When "Steverino" asked, "Who's in it?" Zappa stifled a laugh. "Tim Carey and a cast of a thousand people that he found down on Main Street someplace."

This, and the score for an ultra-cheap western called "Run Home Slow" (1965), hinted at Zappa's talent. The multilayered, virtuosic brilliance of his late-'60s masterpieces hybrid rock-jazz-classical albums like "Burnt Weenie Sandwich," "Hot Rats" and "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" were only a few years away.

In retrospect, one can see that as the '60s heated up in Los Angeles, Zappa was one of the artists who started the West Coast hippy scene when he released (or unleashed) the first Mothers album, "Freak Out" (1966), which told of a subculture in Hollywood of self-described "freaks" who wore their hair long and dressed in mismatched clothes from thrift shops.

It was a social revolution, and Zappa helped to create it, which was ironic for two reasons: He himself considered "freaks" (a small group of people who hung around Canter's deli in 1965-66) to be better and smarter than hippies, and he was strongly anti-drug his entire life. "I don't like bumping into furniture or vomiting on people" was his stated position on the issue.

One can't help thinking that the gadfly spirit of rock music's bad conscience the intelligent older brother who sneered at love songs as well as rock-star arrogance will be mocking and poking at youth culture for as long as it lasts.

One assumes he'd also laugh at the idea of his own high school, Antelope Valley High, being renamed after him (once proposed but shot down), or that there would be statues of him erected in town squares: in Baltimore, Germany and Lithuania.

But then, Frank Zappa laughed at a lot of things.

Copyright 2011, Los Angeles Times

can't say

Social climber
Pasadena CA
Jan 10, 2011 - 09:17am PT
check out Dweezil's new compilation tribute album

Trad climber
Nedsterdam CO
Jan 10, 2011 - 10:14am PT
Randisi where are you?

Trad climber
Jan 10, 2011 - 11:28am PT
"Help I'm a rock"

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 10, 2011 - 11:44am PT
"Gwen is a lonely single mother with an unusual passion for knitting and living with her young daughter Lola. When photography student Kirk asks if he can photograph Gwen in her home, Gwen only agrees after Lola's prompting. Kirk has ulterior motives though, and when Gwen finds out, she sets upon taking the upper hand in the situation."

Does that sound Zappaic? It should as it is the synopsis of Moon's 2004 short
film "Ugly" which she wrote and directed. It gets 5.9 out of 10 on IMDb.
That is probably fair although I give it a 7. It was the first and surely
the last premiere I will attend. I felt like such a dweeb being there.

Yeah, they made me model this...
Yeah, they made me model this...
Credit: Reilly

You used to be able to watch it on the American Film Institute site - haven't checked lately.

Trad climber
Old Climbers' Home (Adopted)
Jan 10, 2011 - 12:58pm PT
Muffin Man.....feck yeah!

"....girl you thought he was a man
But he was a muffin
He hung around till you found
That he didn't know nuthin

Girl you thought he was a man
But he only was a-puffin
No cries is heard in the night
As a result of him stuffin."

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 10, 2011 - 08:01pm PT
Oh Debra Algebra Ebneezra Kadabra
Witch goddess, witch goddess of Lankershim
Cover my entire bodice, with Avon Cologna.

And drive me to some relative`s house, in East
L.A. (foogadah! ?)
(Just till my skin clears up)
Turn it to channel thirteen,
and maybe watch the rubber tongue, when it comes
from the puffed, and flatulent Mexican
rubbergoods mask.

Damn, now they are both gone!

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 10, 2011 - 08:13pm PT
Here's a freaking YouTube of the Steve Allen show the article upthread talks about!

Part 1:

"we shot it in El Monte..."

Part 2 in which Frank 'plays' a bicycle:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Trad climber
Jan 11, 2011 - 03:56pm PT

May 20, 2011 - 03:44pm PT
Return to Forever Plays with Zappa Plays Zappa, The Warfield, Sept. 22, 2011

Trad climber
1.5 hours from Yosemite!!!
May 20, 2011 - 03:48pm PT
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
USA Carson city Nev.
May 20, 2011 - 03:48pm PT
Zappa was totally out-done by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant in a seattle motel room once- Zappa called them HARDCORE! and hence,,,,the "mudshark song"..;-D

Trad climber
Joshua Tree
May 20, 2011 - 05:06pm PT
This is awesome...

Has anyone been to Vilnius to see this?

Social climber
San Luis Obispo, Ca.
May 20, 2011 - 05:57pm PT
Billy was a mountain, Ethel was a tree growing off of his shoulder!

Evil too!

I'm gross and perverted, obsessed and derainged
I have exsisted for years but very little has changed
I'm the tool of the government and industry too
I'm destined to rule and regulate you
your mind is totally controlled
it has been stuffed into my mold
and you will do as you are told
until the rightd to you are sold
I'm the best you can get
have you guessed me yet?
I'm the slime oozin out of your tv set!

Trad climber
Ridgway, CO
May 20, 2011 - 07:06pm PT
"What is your conceptual continuity?"

Thanks for everything Frank, we love you.

Mar 4, 2012 - 01:54am PT
Words cannot describe this moment of discovery. Wow!

The Beatles your parents REALLY wouldn't let you listen to.
can't say

Social climber
Pasadena CA
Mar 4, 2012 - 09:49am PT
I'm not sure if this cover of Stairway to Heaven was posted on this thread or not but it's a great version of the song.

Nov 15, 2012 - 11:52pm PT
No, I don't work for Dweezil's promotion crew...

This tour will shirley be another great one. Around $50 and very small venues. He's playing Flag! Definitely spreading the love around. Do yourself a favor and hear this band whether you loved his Pop or knot.

Here's the UK/Continent set list. He's added a lot of old songs to the already solid repertoire.

Social climber
Right outside of Delacroix
Nov 16, 2012 - 01:17am PT
The apex:

The NW edge of The Hudson Bay
Dec 23, 2012 - 06:56pm PT
I'm not much for tribute bands but after watching the Zappa Plays Zappa documentary decided Dweezil had the chops, character and pedigree to cover his dad's music.
Took in Dweezil's show at The Commodore last night with Jim Brennan and friends.
They opened with Zombie Woof and did awesome covers of Cosmic Debris and Penguins in Bondage along with many more.
Peaches en Regalia and a weird one called Moggio were real highlights.
Scheila Gonzales is a MONSTER and her 10 minute solo reminded me of the late Michael Brecker.

Highly recommended for any Zappa fans.

Peaches en Regalia
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