Sometimes with documentaries, length can be a hinderance. There’s such a thing as too much depth, and they can tip from fascinating to boring. Other documentaries, like From Straight To Bizarre about the other acts on Frank Zappa’s labels in the late 1960s and early 1970s, keep the interest up all the way through — in this case, through almost three hours. In fact, when I saw how long it was, I was a little worried — but I needn’t have. The release from Sexy Intellectual is very highly recommended to any Zappa fans, loaded with original music (and not weirdly lame knockoffs like the otherwise awesome David Bowie: Rare and Unseen) and interviews with the particulars. Continue reading
Back in my college days, I spent more time in bars than could be considered healthy. However, my friends and I weren’t a fan of the bars near campus, and their crowd of drunken people our age or younger. We craved a different environment, and many a night was spent getting sloshed downtown, at a place called Dirty Frank’s. Dirty Frank’s is a dive, home to cheap beer, a great jukebox, Ms. Pac-Man, nuts in twenty-five cent snack dispensers, and a rotating crowd of oddballs and weirdos. On the outside walls of the bar is a mural of famous Franks, ranging from Frank Zappa to former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Frank “Tug” McGraw, to Frankenstein, Aretha Franklin, and a Frankfurter. Inside, a U-shaped bar covered in chipped linoleum, and several battered booths sit for your comfort. Continue reading
Image via Wikipedia
I’ve been waiting 6 years for Derailroaded to come out on DVD, and I’m very happy to report that it finally has. The only way it could be better is if it came out with the Frank Zappa-produced An Evening With Wild Man Fischer, but I don’t think we’ll see a reissue of that in my lifetime. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Derailroaded is the documentary on outsider musician (and, honestly, great songwriter) Larry “Wild Man” Fischer. Continue reading
Image by RevMe via Flickr
This was recorded for the Cover Freak Frank Zappa Tribute, Conceptual Continuity. We chose this one, quite honestly, because it looked like it was one of the few Zappa songs that didn’t necessarily REQUIRE a lot of technical skill. There aren’t a lot of those, actually, part of why FZ’s so cool. I really like this song a lot anyway — on the automation system at my college radio station, which was just a big, 60-CD changer, we had the “Left of the Dial” promo Zappa comp in there, and for whatever reason, the player really liked “Camarillo Brillo”, so if there wasn’t anyone in the booth, you had a pretty good chance of hearing that song. The next year, we went to an mp3 system for the automation, but I think we put “Camarillo Brillo” in there anyway. It’s an awesome song. On this version, I think on the verses I’m channelling David Liebe Hart a bit.
I’m a bit bummed that I only found out about the most recent My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult tour (with Lords of Acid!) via this awesome Popshifter review of their live show… a couple days after they played Seattle. D’oh! At least, though, I’ve got the next best thing — a copy of their new collection Sinister Whisperz: The Wax Trax! Years (1987-1991). This isn’t merely a best-of, though it looks like that from the back cover… though the track selection doesn’t do anything to dissuade that notion. Classics like “Do U Fear (For Your Child?)”, “A Daisy Chain 4 Satan” and “Kooler than Jesus” are all represented. Don’t worry — it’s not one of those lame “Greatest Hits Re-recorded!” things either.
Cover of Mofo Project/Object
Greasy Love Songs was my introduction to the new series of Frank Zappa Audio Documentary projects (that one on Crusin’ With Ruben & The Jets), and having loved it so much, I’ve gone back for the other two — Lumpy Money and the first one, The MOFO Project/Object, looking at the first Mothers Of Invention album, Freak Out! There’re two versions available — a 2-CD edition available at retail, and a 4-CD version available only through Barfko-Swill, the Frank Zappa online store. Of course, I went whole-hog and got the 4-disc version. (As it turns out — c’mon, really? — there are 7 tracks exclusive to the 2-CD edition. That’s… OK, honestly, that’s kinda bullshit, considering that each of the 4 discs is an hour long — leaving about another hour of space on the four CDs, plenty of space to put those 7 cuts on.)
It’s no secret that I’m a huge, obessive Frank Zappa fan (not that, in my experience, there’s any other kind of Zappa fan). Back around ‘98 or ‘99 I discovered Ed Palermo’s album The Ed Palermo Big Band Plays the Music of Frank Zappa at a Tower Records; I looked at the back and not only did it sound interesting besides (interpretations of the master’s music is always fun), but it had a version of “We Are Not Alone” and “Sofa No. 1”, a couple of my all-time favorite Zappa titles. The purchase wasn’t exactly a hard decision; as soon as I got home from the record store I listened to it and was blown away that the CD was even better than I thought it would be. That album is, unfortunately, out of print, but Ed Palermo’s got two other amazing albums of Frank Zappa’s compositions out, 2006’s Take Your Clothes off When You Dance and the brand new Eddy Loves Frank, which, in addition to 7 Zappa songs (including “Night School” and “Dupree’s Paradise”), has a beautiful new arrangement of “America The Beautiful”. As it turns out, Ed Palermo’s not only a phenomenal arranger, player and composer, but a super-nice guy who agreed to an interview.
I might be an anomaly, I don’t know, but Cruising With Ruben & The Jets is one of my favorite Zappa albums. I get the impression that it’s one of those albums that’s kind of an also-ran for a lot of folks, but it’s definitely in my top 5. (The other four? I’m not sure. Absolutely Free is in there I know; You Are What You Is probably is too, even though it’s quite uneven… I mean, really, “Conehead”? One Size Fits All, I’d say, too. Maybe Apostrophe (‘) and Overnite Sensation? Probably Sheik Yerbouti. Wait, that’s six, innit? Ah well, whatever. Man’s made something like 90 albums.) For a long time, though, I’d only had the CD version of Ruben, which was remixed to replace the bass and drums. The new tracks sounded OK, but on some cuts sounded really out of place — I don’t think “slap bass” when I think of “50s Doo-Wop & R&B”. Fans said the original vinyl mix was much, much better, but I mostly had to take their word for it, since Ruben is one of the more expensive Zappa LPs… probably for precisely that reason.
The murder ballad is one of the few really American forms of music. Strange, I suppose, but it’s not one you really see in other cultures. Actually, truthfully, you don’t really see it much in our culture anymore — there’s a few that resurface like “Delia’s Gone” by Johnny Cash — but the version most people are familiar with is from ’94, and it goes back even older than that. There’re other songs about killing the woman you love, too — Frank Zappa‘s “Bamboozled By Love” comes to mind, but that’s less a ballad and more in the blues “woman done me wrong” kind of vein, like “Hey Joe“. Anyway — the murder ballad is one of those kind of forgotten forms of music, and one that is really quite interesting.
The point to all this is that my friend, Earl Brooks, (of The Crop Circles and Ghosts of Wyoming) has written a new murder ballad. And it’s a really good one, too. He’s done his first music video for it, shot on an iPhone. It’s a pretty cool video, too — I like that it’s shot in portrait mode rather than landscape — but the song is really where it’s at. It’s a really cool one, and the first verse is especially creepy and scary and, well, kinda explicit for a murder ballad, which makes it all the better.
Seriously — check it out now. The video’s under the cut.
I’m not really much of a download-only music buyer; I am what Frank Zappa called a record fetishist. I like the music, sure, but I also like the cover art, the liner notes, the credits, the physicality of the whole thing. It typically has to be something special for me to get a download-only release — and even then, if there’s no physical version, in print or not. (I’m pretty handy at rustling up out-of-print CDs when I’m properly motivated.)
Of course, I shouldn’t have to tell you (though I have before) that Robbie Fulks is pretty special. And any release of his is worth picking up immediately — so, of course I had to have his newest. Even discounting the specialness that is Robbie, 50-Vc. Doberman (pronounced “Fifty Voice Doberman”) IS pretty special on its own.