Monday, October 22, 2007

Hobnoblin' wit de Goblin

Ah, Halloween. A special night for Frank, and all who revel in Zappatude. Why? Because that's when dangerous magic is afoot.

Halloween 1981. I remember it well, Eric Rowland and I were trying to manage an embarrassment of pre-digital riches that night, what with Frank appearing live on MTV while his embittered former employees did what they could in a bar in Hayward, Calif. (see above). While Eric taped the show on his BetaMax down in Fremont, I zoomed up to Hayward and partook of Jimmy Carl, Don Preston and the rest. Just to say I did, really – the real musical event was Frank, always energized by this particular holiday.

For the Oct. 26 Zappa's Grubby Chamber, we'll unleash hordes of barking pumpkins and maybe a giant poodle or two your way, because it's Halloween!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Anything Anytime Anyplace For No Reason At All

Frank talked about time a lot. I think it fascinated him. Think about it.

First, there's all those references to wasting time (in "Flakes," "Greggery Peccary," "Cosmick Debris," "The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing," The Jazz Discharge Party Hats" and so on).

Not to mention "infinity and fractional divisions thereof." And what to make of this?

"Folks, as you can see for yourself, the way this clock over here is behaving, TIME IS OF AFFLICTION! Now this might be cause for alarm among a portion of you, as, from a certain experience, I TEND TO PROCLAIM: 'THE EONS ARE CLOSING'!"

And then there's the elephant in the room: Frank's freewheeling use of insane time signatures. No one has even woven together so many nonstandard timings so effortlessly and so... bouncily.

But wait – there's more! What about Frank's ethic of "AAAFNRAA" – "Anything Anytime Anyplace For No Reason At All?" Which brings us to Xenochrony.

Get the picture?

So, take all of the above, roll it on up and top it with a little green rosetta, and you have ample grist for me to botch Friday night's show with.

By the way

I've had a lot of participation and feedback during the last few shows. Listener suggestions tend to take the show in unintended directions, which Frank would've liked. So keep it coming, by whatever means you deem appropriate.

(707) 786-5486,

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Two Hours To Midnight

The photo above is from Society Pages No. 4, the pre-Interwebtubes periodical for the Zappa community by Rob Samler and Den Simms. It was taken by Larry Hulst. Those guys put a lot of work into that mag. That edition even had a letter to the editor from Mike Keneally!

The last song on this week's The South Side, preceding Zappa's Grubby Chamber, will be Johnny Guitar Watson's "Three Hours Past Midnight." (Thanks, Chas. With that kind of lead-in, I better continue the continuity!)

Frank really liked that song. No, he really liked it. You can fully hear Johnny's influence in Frank's guitar playing – the attack, articulation and other things that I, a non-guitar player, am surely not even aware of.

As I was writing that last bit, my friend Jay Davis sent me a link to a new (to me) streaming Zappa channel called Zappateers, and danged if they weren't playing just the kind of thing I was getting at – a 1979 bootleg of "Five-Five-FIVE" being played live in Manchester, UK., and another 1979 live version of "Treacherous Cretins," with extra-special Vinnie Colaiuta awesomeness, full-blown. Wow, this station is great – what an aroma!

So for the Oct. 19 Zappa's Grubby Chamber from 10 p.m. to midnight, let's follow Frank's guitaristics from his early, Johnny "Guitar" Watson-oriented underpinnings to his latter days as a full-on shredder. I don't intend for this to be another guitar show (which we've done before and will do again), but more about the rock. The rock and roll.

Update: Kill Ugly Radio has a post discussing Frank's rockitude. This could be grist for the show as well.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Contrast & Compare

Photo by Mizuno from the "Playboy Interview," April, 1993

Frank's musical temperament was mercurial. Musically, he did what interested him, the result being the stunningly eclectic repertoire we now have to tap into, which makes possible a seemingly inexhaustible variety of conceptual continuities.

He had moods, too. Compare Frank's jovial mischief-making on the live Baby Snakes album with his more formalistic affect on Does Humor Belong in Music?

But it's musically that Frank's all over the map. So for the Oct. 5 Zappa's Grubby Chamber, let's contrast and compare various tokens of Frank's extreme. There's his complex, tightly arranged pieces, like the "Black Page," and his guttural rock, like say, "Rat Tomago." Wholesome-esque pop ditties like "Let Me Take You To The Beach," and naughty, naughty exercises like "Dinah-Moe Humm." Vocal-intensive pieces like the whole medley comprised of "Society Pages," "I'm A Beautiful Guy,"Beauty Knows No Pain," "Charlie's Enormous Mouth," "Any Downers?" and "Conehead" vs. purely instrumental bits like... well, there's so many. And how about Frank's R&B/doo-wop predilections, say Ruben & the Jets, vs. his classical tendencies, as with Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger.

So, it's Contrast and Compare night on the next Zappa's Grubby Chamber. And in that spirit, let's consider that April '93 edition of Playboy.

Frank's interview started on page 55. Turn the page and what do you see? Chuck Norris for new Right Guard® Sport Stick.

Chuck believed that "The best defense is not to offend." It seems safe to say that Frank was not an adherent of that particular strategy.

And by the way,
what the fuck is up
with Chuck's left hand?