Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Frank Vincent Zappa

(December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993)

Entertainer, entrepreneur, innovator, teetotaler, provocateur, free speech activist, composer, arranger, guitarist, and bandleader; Frank Zappa recorded more than eighty albums over more than thirty years. He was influenced by everything from rhythm and blues to classical and combined all of those divergent streams into his own brand of music that defies description but flows through rock, jazz, electronic, and orchestral elements.
Frank in 1963 on The Steve Allen Show performing his 'Bicycle Concerto'. It doesn't get going until about twelve minutes into the clip.

This is the version of 'Who Are the Brain Police?' from his first album with the Mothers of Invention (formally the Soul Giants) Freak Out! in 1966. It uses sound collage to satirize the paranoia it embodies.

'King Kong' was an extended jazz improvisation from 'Uncle Meat (Most of the Music from the Mother's [sic] Movie of the Same Name Which We Haven't Got Enough Money to Finish Yet)' that took up the entire fourth side of the album. This performance is from the same timeframe that that album was recorded.

'Peaches In Regalia' from his 'Hot Rats' album in 1969. 

Dont Eat The Yellow Snow / Nanook Rubs It / St Alfonso / Father O'blivion  suite from 'Apostrophe (')' in 1974.  

In 1985, Zappa spoke against the Parents Music Resource Center and their attempts to address sexual and violent content in music and videos with an imposed rating system.

"The PMRC proposal is an ill-conceived piece of nonsense which fails to deliver any real benefits to children, infringes the civil liberties of people who are not children, and promises to keep the courts busy for years dealing with the interpretational and enforcemental problems inherent in the proposal's design. It is my understanding that, in law, First Amendment issues are decided with a preference for the least restrictive alternative. In this context, the PMRC's demands are the equivalent of treating dandruff by decapitation ... The establishment of a rating system, voluntary or otherwise, opens the door to an endless parade of moral quality control programs based on things certain Christians do not like. What if the next bunch of Washington wives demands a large yellow "J" on all material written or performed by Jews, in order to save helpless children from exposure to concealed Zionist doctrine?"

'Sexual Harassment in the Workplace' is from the 'Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar' series that took guitar solos from live shows and featured them on a series of albums. This one is excerpted from a live version of 'Stinkfoot'.

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