Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa, Hot Rats

Frank Zappa, Hot Rats

In many ways, Frank Zappa was an enigma. Somewhat clown-like in his personal presentation, this persona masked a kind of creative genius that—to the detriment of Zappa’s fame and, probably, financial success—refused to bend to the strictures of popularity. He just wasn’t a middle-of-the-road kind of guy…his music was usually challenging, not surprising from the man who, as a boy, chose the avant-garde classical composer Edgard Varèse as his favorite.

Entitling albums Hot Rats and Weasels Ripped My Flesh (among others) was not a move calculated to ensnare the masses. Nor was naming songs “Willie the Pimp” or “I Am the Slime”. (At least you can’t accuse Zappa of inconsistency: Naming your kids Dweezil, Moon Unit and so on evidenced a certain follow-through.) It is perhaps Zappa’s unwillingness to compromise (he might call it “refusal to self-censor) that led to Hot Rats only charting at 173 in the US, but at 9 in the UK, following its October 1969 release on the Barking Pumpkin Records label. read more…

Phil Ramone – Surround Professional 2003 Keynote Speech

Phil Ramone – Surround Professional 2003 Keynote Speech

Al Schmitt introduced Surround Professional 2003’s keynote speaker, Phil Ramone, saying that usually he was irreverent when he spoke of Phil but this time he wanted to be serious. Al said that he and Phil are great friends and that it was a great pleasure and an honour to introduce Phil – in fact they are such good friends that they even went on a cruise together. After some laughter from the audience, Al added that Phil wore the high heels – so much for keeping it serious! read more…

Frank Zappa – ‘Halloween – Live in NYC 1978’ A DVD-Audio review by Buzz Goddard

It is a fitting Frank Zappa irony that I am reviewing his latest posthumous release, ‘Halloween’. My first experience with Zappa’s music was the discovery that ‘Freak Out!’ made a perfect soundtrack for the Halloween haunted house I created in my suburban basement in 1967. read more…

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