Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Least-Loved Frank

Isn't that the most craptastic Zappa illustration you ever saw? Frank and various forms of aquatic life – what a concept. It's from an old Guitar World magazine that Digital Dan stuck up on the wall at KHUM. The other side is a Limp Bizkit poster. (I'm standing by for the take-down notice from GW.)

That poster symbolizes a show concept I've had in the back of my mind since starting Zappa's Grubby Chamber – the FZ music I don't really like very much.

My enthusiasm for FZ music is not unalloyed. There are iterations of Frank that are singularly unappealing – songs of his that are dull and annoying, at least to my ears. That doesn't mean they may not be as great as the stuff I do like. Since he didn't waste his time, I'm sure Frank had his reasons. Apparently my brain just isn't wired to appreciate these particular tunes. I don't get 'em. And I've tried.

One of the FZ songs I've never cared for is one you probably adore – "Dinah-Moe Humm." There are some cute turns of phrase, and the playing is of course impeccable. But it's like a Cheech & Chong record. Once you've heard it a few times, the returns diminish below the interest threshold. For me. And that's unlike most of Frank's work, which is so enduringly amusing.

Last week someone requested "The Mammy Nuns" from Thing-Fish, and I kind of hoped I'd find something to like about it, playing it again after years. Alas, it was the same as I'd remembered it: good Frank music talked over by Ike doing his Amos 'n' Andy schtik. And the point is...?

"200 Years Old," "Bamboozled By Love," "The Dangerous Kitchen" and "I Don't Even Care" are all on my least-loved list, as are, shockingly, "Advance Romance" and "The Torture Never Stops." The latter two are one-joke affairs with uninteresting melodies, and interminable. It stands to reason that these would be songs Frank would put out multiple versions of.

And yet, he never even officially put out some of his best nuggets. I wish he'd done a YCDTOSA based on that wonderful Knebworth Festival show I have a bootleg of. And here's one: on some bootlegs, in that great middle section of "Wet T-Shirt Nite," there's a part where the melody is sort of parsed out and punctuated by wonderful Vinnie drum statements. It's brilliant, and yet Frank cut it for some reason. Seems like we could have heard that rather than yet another version of "Advance Romance."

Further, a lot of the stuff on his later albums seems sloppy and limned with excessive kibbitzing between band members, blowing lines and repeating inside jokes. I'm sure it was a lot of fun for the band, but that stuff doesn't wear well.

So, are there any FZ songs you don't like/get/ever listen to? Let me know, and we'll play them on Least-Loved Frank this week. Hell, maybe I'll have an epiphany and finally see the light of FZ genius in these songs after all these years.

Oh, and there's also a request left over from last week: Alice called asking for "Billy The Mountain." I'll play the full, half-hour Playground Psychotics version after the commercial break in the second hour.


Kevin L. Hoover said...

Oh yeah, two more things.

My friend Eric, who I used to have FZ adventures with (where are you, Eric?) really hated "Cocaine Decisions."

And I seem to recall that Mr. Vai isn't a fan of "We're Turning Again."

So of course I'll have to play those, too.

Kevin L. Hoover said...

More sacrilege!

"Crew Slut" is another one that bores me, as does "Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up."

Jukebox Monkey said...

There are some snoozers on '200 Motels'- with some great stuff mixed in. But I will try to keep this to songs that made it into the live catalog.

"Jazz Discharge Party Hats" - in fact much of the 'Utopia' album cuts.

Most of 'Meets the Mothers of Prevention', except "Baltimore", of course.

Sheik Yerbouti - love it all, except for "Wild Love", don't know why.

Random ones that I just don't care for: "Pick Me, I'm Clean" , "Honey, Don't You Want a Man Like Me", "Rhymin' Man", "Jumbo Go Away" and "Conehead" (from an otherwise great album). Alright, enough! (There are others...)

carloszerpa said...


Dominick said...

All of "The Man From Utopia" except "Moggio"

Carnelian said...

Hey nice blog! came over from KUR. I'm not a great fan of Fillmore East's "What kind of girl do you think we are" and "do you like my new car". Also most of Tinseltown rebellion is boring and poorly mixed