On the 'tube

Frank Zappa covers

1

A large part of the legacy left by the late FZ are his written compositions, which are numerous. He was a workaholic and incredibly prolific.

Consequently, when covering his material, or doing any tribute, it can fall into a number of camps. Depending on the musicianship it can be a straight-up bar band song (Dancing Fool, Bobby Brown), to an orchestrated ensemble with full arrangements for each instrument.

Being a longtime fan of his music I find some joy in checking out some of the efforts to pay tribute and cover his material.
There's a lot to see on YouTube, and considering he's been gone over 25 years, it's heartwarming to see how much he still inspires and challenges.

Among the better videos out there (IMO) is this cover of Zappa's 'Uncle Meat' theme (1968).

2

I’ve watched this and smiled three times now.

And I don’t “get” Zappa

3

I’ve watched this and smiled three times now.

And I don’t “get” Zappa

4

I’ve watched this and smiled three times now.

And I don’t “get” Zappa

5

Arguably he is not for everyone. Same could be said about his childhood friend and occasional collaborator; Captain Beefheart.

The inroad for me as a teen was his guitar playing, like nothing I had heard at that point. Very atypical of what other players were doing at the time, but I could tell he knew his way around a fretboard. The musicianship and satirical takes drew me in deeper. I liked his wit, very caustic but at other times silly. Always irreverent.

His densely arranged instrumentals and orchestral compositions offered another layer to explore. Something many younger classical musicians and prog enthusiasts still seem to embrace.

In a larger context, Zappa was not unlike a contemporized Spike Jones, or Raymond Scott. He worked with pastiche and created complex music that was still accessible, fun to listen to and play. Primarily a composer and bandleader, but he loved the absurdity of dada and taking the piss out of certain social behavior he considered ridiculous.

There is a lot in his catalog, which is great for the fans but a challenge for those unfamiliar. It's hard to know where to start.

That said, I would not recommend starting with Jazz From Hell (1986). The album was composed and executed by Zappa entirely on a synclavier, new at the time. An impeccable representation of FZs internal world, but lacking the musicianship and humor to balance the sterility of its content.
A good listen, but not the best way to jump into the deep end.

.. Still, it won a Grammy, so what the hell do I know.

From that LP, the piece G-Spot Tornado has endured as a favorite among Zappa fans the world over. Perhaps partly because it's so difficult, but there is an undeniable joy and dervish mischief to its melody.

6

That reading of Uncle Meat is uncommonly good. Super accurate playing, clear and punchy sound with just enough swagger to lend an air of effortless chutzpah. That's the spirit!

7

A large part of the legacy left by the late FZ are his written compositions, which are numerous. He was a workaholic and incredibly prolific.

Consequently, when covering his material, or doing any tribute, it can fall into a number of camps. Depending on the musicianship it can be a straight-up bar band song (Dancing Fool, Bobby Brown), to an orchestrated ensemble with full arrangements for each instrument.

Being a longtime fan of his music I find some joy in checking out some of the efforts to pay tribute and cover his material.
There's a lot to see on YouTube, and considering he's been gone over 25 years, it's heartwarming to see how much he still inspires and challenges.

Among the better videos out there (IMO) is this cover of Zappa's 'Uncle Meat' theme (1968).

– Edison

Brilliant! Thanks for sharing it.

I love the “Yellow Shark” version of this song. Zappa is great

8

Zappa and BeefHeart will always be on my playlist...

Some folks steer clear of the Avant-Garde, the path less worn, the road less traveled, etc.

One of my favorite BeefHeart stories...

When Zappa agreed to produce his first record, they argued heavily that it be done in an actual professional Studio...BeefHeart said he would walk if there was even a hint of it being an "Ethnic Field Recording".

9

Zappa did a brief tour with Captain Beefheart in the mid-70s, resulting in 'Bongo Fury', a strong album. Around that time Don Van Vliet's (Beefheart) finances were plagued with multiple recording contracts, and Zappa did him a solid by inviting him to tour live, to help clean up his business.

One story I heard was; Van Vliet would amuse himself during rehearsals by drawing unflattering caricatures of Zappa conducting his band. Evidently Frank didn't find that equally amusing.

10

.. I like this fellows' take on 'Blessed Relief', from The Grand Wazoo (1972).

The employing of the phase effect had me wondering how this would sound on a Chet super axe.

But it still sounds pretty sweet on a Pro Jet.


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