May 20, 2007

Short Shameful Confession

I always thought (and still think) that Frank Zappa was a smug old bastard; his music always seemed too contrived, too hectoring, too knowing, too... 1970's Californian. Very much a music of its time and place, I think.

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At 5/25/2007 11:57 pm, Blogger Phil said...

have tried to enjoy zappa throughout the years with minimal success. my late teen years were scarred by "over-nite sensation" with it's titilating subject matter and off putting musicianship. still like it a bit, though. and i love "hot rats". the man himself seemed like a complete misanthrope and nothing else. philT

At 5/27/2007 10:03 am, Blogger Jimmy Little said...

Phil — thanks. I think the worst part of the whole Zappa Thing for me has always been the smugness and knowingness of so many Zappa fans. Urgh — I know it's unfair to judge someone by their fans, but in this case he seems to have been quite the role model…

At 5/28/2007 1:02 am, Blogger Phil said...

i met a lot of zappa fanatics in the late 70s and many of them were obsessive and denigrated anything that "didn't match his standards". i had a few vociferous arguments about bowie, for example, whose records at that time were, i felt, vastly superior to zappas output at the same time. there was no meeting of the minds.

ps - the word verification for this entry is sublimely similar to "erk ga" - the lengthy henry cow track that was abandoned when they tried to record their last album but which finally appeared on tim hodginson's solo album under a dirrerent name.

At 6/01/2007 9:56 pm, Blogger Jimmy Little said...

Something about that old phrase the "herd of independent minds" comes to mind when I think of the worst of the Zappa fans. A more knowing, hipper version of the Rush Fan phenomenon, perhaps...

At 6/21/2007 5:10 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dunno why I should bother, because he doesn't play a big part in my life,

I dug the stuff he did when he was young and working out what to do and how to do it, esp. with the r'n'b musos he hung around. The fantastic & restrained playing on a lot american 'pop' & r'n'b in the 50s and 60s greatly informed his compositons with a sweaty reality - even when they 'freaked out' occasionally. It sounded like unselfconscious fun - it was still relatively close to doo-wop, and all the other early pop/rock strains .
The original 'We're only in it…' has some fantastic playing on it that gets (overlooked &) overwhelmed by his smug 'social commentary' lyric. I'm not sure what's after that, but after (the 4 short pieces on) Hot Rats, I left him alone.

The fusion 'jazzrock' bandwagon was grotesque - nearly every band (not just his), with their ego-solos, self-conscious showy 'virtuosity' (read: speed), and complexity as 'its own reward' kinda shit.

Of course he'd tell us how much Varese and Stravinsky 'influenced' him, but really we'd've spotted that anyway, certainly after he started his 'seriously real' orchestral music… What a joke - it really was just a scribbled line drawn between those two, all mixed up with that god-awful serialist mediocrity. Gharaidh.


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