Monday, September 24, 2007

Chaos Theory


Our friend Frank really liked to make stuff up. I mean, on the spot. Improvisational segments were built into every concert, and sometimes within songs.

Frank made his bands learn dozens and dozens of songs – some of 'em really hard, too – and jumbled the order around from night to night. On top of that, he introduced sheer chaos into the mix, which few to no other rock or even art rock bands would ever risk. Audience participation, dance contests, quiltmaking... Frank reveled in the danger! And it bore wonderful results.

He made himself improvise, too. Of course there were the guitar solos, so majestic in their architecture. And then there was the all-time masterpiece, "Jazz Discharge Party Hats." In real time, Frank musically related a funny story about his road crew, gilding it with his personal lamentations. Mr. Vai then added his brilliantly executed note-for-note guitar matching of the improv vocal (he scored it, too – see above) , and we have an all-time Zappa classic. Yet another completely original, genius-hilarious FZ piece that's nothing at all like anything he ever did before or since.

Compounding the absurdity was amazing Mike Keneally, who took it upon himself to learn both the vocal and guitar for "Jazz Discharge Party Hats" and play both at once in concerts.

So on the Sept. 28 Zappa's Grubby Chamber, let's find as many examples of this pehenomenon as we can, and play them, and be happy! Songs, that is, which include real-time chaos. "Jazz Discharge Party Hats" (both versions), "Dummy Up," "Be-Bop Tango," "Panty Rap, "Titties & Beer," lots of things in the You Can't Do That On Stage Any More series... what else?

3 comments:

Empire Hancock said...

How about either released version of "Room Service"?

Kevin L. Hoover said...

But of course! What a grand suggestion.

I'll admit that I've misplaced the brain cell that has the info about the song on Baby Snakes where everything dissolves into chaos. Frank even says, "This is chaos, stop, stop!"

Which tune is that? (I could listen, but I want you, a listener, to tell me.)

Empire Hancock said...

I think you're thinking of the bit between "Titties 'N Beer" and "The Black Page" when FZ gets a bunch of people on stage for the Black Page Dance Contest. It's in the film / on the DVD, but not on the album.

Another fun choice might have been (since the show that this post preceded has already passed) the long rap that follows "Dancin' Fool" on the recent Buffalo cd.