Thursday, May 31, 2007

Pick Me, I'm Clean

Whilst rummaging through the mustier recesses of my FZ archive, I came across this tantalizing little morsel of an LP record. Imagine that – Frank censoring himself. We all know how outraged he was, and rightfully so, when Verve took out the innocuous line "feeding all the boys at Ed's CafĂ©" from "Let's Make the Water Turn Black." And of course, he wasn't one to tolerate any constraints on expression. So it's got to be something of a historical oddity that he actually sent a bleeped version of anything out into the world. I believe this came out about thetime Frank was under severe financial stress, so that may have helped compel the decision.

I don't remember ever playing this LP, so I'll do so on Zappa's Grubby Chamber number 9 and we'll hear how FZ implemented self-censorship. I scanned the cover large so that if you click on it you can see all the text clearly. This and other oddments I uncovered will make their way onto the blog in coming weeks.

You may know the new request policy: I'll play anything you want (except Prince, which someone requested last week, or any other totally non-FZ related tunes). But, just to mix it up, if you don't specifically request the original version, I'm gonna go with a more obscure rendition of the song. So if you want the "definitive" version of a song played, just say "baseline" or somesuch.

I realized driving home last week that I hadn't done a very thorough job of back-announcing some of the cuts I played, specifically last week's They Who Would Be Frank. Just so's ya know, that cut I played was Godley & Creme's "Sandwiches of You." And for this week's TWWBF, I have a cut by another artist of - believe it or not – brilliance comparable to that of FZ himself, but with a completely different sensibility. The song I'll play is more homage than imitation, and, as with "Sandwiches," I really think that's the best form of tribute to an innovative artist of Frank's stature.

So, feel free to call or write in your requests, comments, screeching feedback and whatever.

(707) 786-5486,

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fast & Bulbous

That was a fun show last week, with the solemn and religimous theme. As I mentioned, there are innumerable other theme shows to be done. Two I'm really looking forward to are the King of Tinkertoys and Frank the Storyteller shows. In other words, all tinkertoy tunes (The Black Page, Manx Neeeds Women, etc.) and all story-songs (Magdalena, Billy the Mountain, etc.).

But this week, a different sort of theme for the first hour: fast and bulbous. No, not necessarily Beefheartian adventures (though that could be a future theme show), but rather, lots of little songs, one damn thing after the other in rapid succession (bulbous, also tapered).

Then, the second hour, we'll settle in to longer tunes, requests, Keneally Corner and the latest weekly installment of They Who Would Be Frank.

See you on the radio...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Frank Devotional

Well, the Rev. Falwell is in a far better place now, but whether it's prancing in the clouds or hanging out where the guy with the widow's peak and sulfur B.O. does his biznis may be up for debate. Christopher Hitchens pretty much nailed it, as far as I'm concerned.

UPDATE: Hitchens busted up some dishes on FauxNews, too.

In any case, it seems like a worthy occasion to dwell on matters solemn and religimous with Rev. Zappa, which we'll do after the first commercial break on Zappa's Grubby Chamber no. 7. Let's see... "Dumb All Over," "Heavenly Bank Account," "The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing," and...? Yes, there are some other fairly obvious selections, but I'm trying to solicit interaction. (What is this, a quiz? Don't you worry what it is. It is merely just a moment we can treasure.)

I remember when Frank's band performed "Dumb All Over" at the Greek Theatre at UC Berkley in 1984. God descended from the lighting truss in the form of a cheesy disco glitter ball with some frayed tinsel dangling from the bottom. Truly, it was a divine revelation. Anyone else remember that prop?

That was also the show where they played "Don't Be A Lawyer," a reworked version of "Tell Me You Love Me." Frank seemed to like to use that song's bones for other applications, including "Why Don't You Like Me?" from the '88 tour. But I've never heard anyone talk about "Don't Be A Lawyer."

By the way, the illustration above is by Cal Schenkel, from the Fall 1980 Tour Book.

Several people have asked that I play more early Frank. "Play more early Frank," they say. And so I shall... on vinyl! Well, partially. There's only one turntable at KHUM, so I'll hafta alternate 'twixt LP records and the digital versions.

Thanks for calling in and writing, folks. Consider posting to the blog, too. Or not... up to you... arf.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Listener Appreciation Night

Five episodes of Zappa's Grubby Chamber in, and I find that what really animates it is the involvement of Frank fans. You call, you send e-mails, and sometimes you post to the blog.

Above is the lovely and talented Matt Chu, who traveled to Arcata on unrelated biz, but who delivered a huge data dump of FZ goodness to my office. We'll listen to some of the items on ZGC episode 6 on Friday night. And it looks like Frank is smiling down upon Matt for his efforts.

I guess that's why Frank liked audience participation. Sorta livens things up. What I'd like to do is have you, the Frank fan, call in at (707) 786-5486 and tell me what it is about Mr. Z that appeals to you. What's your favorite FZ song? Solo? Did you ever meet Frank? Who first exposed you to his music? I want to know!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Ejectamenta et al

If you heard last week's show, you now know the mystery and enchantment of Zappa's Grubby Chamber. This is thanks to author Charles Ulrich of Vancouver, B.C., who not only had the info, but an audio clip of Frank himself telling what it is.

For those who missed it, here's the transcription:

"Also, at the same concert (11/8/68 Fullerton), I was given another gift. Did you notice that little piece of plaster with a frame around it over on the side of the wall that said "Zappa's Grubby Chamber" on it? Well, at the same show, these two young men, another two young men, came over to me and gave me this chunk of plaster that had been framed. And on the plaster it said "Zappa's Grubby Chamber". Well, those words were painted by me on the interior wall of a stairwell going to the attic of a house that I used to live in at 314 West G Street in Ontario, California. And they had located that house, and had somehow gotten into the house and busted the plaster off the wall and put it in a frame and gave it to me at the concert."
_FZ, interviewed by Jim Ladd, Sunday Special, KLOS-FM, Los Angeles, December 1, 1974

So thanks, Charles. He wins the cheesy prizes – a Zappa buck (see below) and the ticket to the Stanford show (see belower). Charles also operates some highly useful FZ sites: Frank Zappa Gig List and Planet of My Dreams for you and yours.

Charles, like other folks and fans who have written in, is much more of an FZ scholar than I am. (I'd do more, were it not for the fact that I'm rather heavily sedated, plus I have this all-consuming, 24/7 job.) I'm glad to help others fill in any blanks with what I've learned and experienced over the years, though.

Speaking of filling in blanks, we could use more comments on the blog here, biys and girls. Thanks for sending in the e-mails and feel free to do so, but my hope is that you'll add those comments to the blog so everyone can experience their particular majesty.

Now then. Interviewing Mr. Ulrich got last week's show off to a good start, and I stumbled across a fun new toy: playing different versions of FZ songs one after the other for A/B comparison purposes. I did this with "Jazz Discharge Party Hats," playing Frank's version, then Mike Keneally's off "Zappa's Universe." That was fun! (I can't imagine that everyone reading this doesn't know about the utterly amazing Mr. Keneally, who served as Frank's final stunt guitarist, but if you don't, go to Mike's site and gorge yourself silly on Frank-quality musical fulfillment.)

So this week, after some preliminary folderol, I'll try and focus on duplicate versions of FZ songs. Any suggestions? I suppose if I researched it, I'd find that the award for most versions done of any one song would go to "Advance Romance," though "Peaches En Regalia" had three (and the Dregs, Phish and many of the tribute bands have covered it too). My favorite version of Peaches is the one on Tinseltown Rebellion because it's so Tinkertoy (ah, tinkertoy – my favorite strain of Frankness), but it seems that most fans seem to like the Hot Rats version. What the hell, I'll play 'em all.

And the preliminary folderol would be Frank In Space. Yes, Mr. Z, as we know, enjoyed the topic, and, off the top, here's the songs that come to mind: "Cheepnis," "The Radio is Broken" and "Inca Roads." Any others? Does "We Are Not Alone" qualify? Well, I think so! So I'm gonna play those.

OK, gotta get on with that which we euphemistically refer to as my life. Frivolity aside, thanks, folks, for all your support and participation. The show is growing, the blog is building and we're in it for the long haul – infinity and fractional divisions thereof.

See ya on the radio!