I Think I’m A Zappa Addict Now

I am so on a Zappa kick.

I remember back in high school, the only album I had heard from Frank was Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention and I really enjoyed it – but it never really got its hooks into me in a big way. I went through a mini-spell back in 2006 after reading Zappa’s book The Real Frank Zappa Book, but back then I stuck to the two albums I had. It was nothing like this.

Since the Vai concert last September I’ve been listening to Zappa almost non-stop. Almost every weekend I’ve gone out and bought two CD’s, and I’ll listen to them the rest of the week. Luckily, Frank had a pretty big catalog, so this could go on for a while.

I think what got me interested more in Frank’s stuff was watching the Vai soundcheck. They did some pretty heavy practicing (it was actually more of a rehearsal than a soundcheck) and I was enthralled watching the detail in which the band practiced. They spent about 20 minutes on one small piece of a song, because the phrasing of a particular lick wasn’t correct for the violins. It reminded me of what I had heard about how particular Zappa was about his music being played correctly and I began to get really curious as to just how much of an influence Frank was on Vai during his “formative years”.

As is typical when I get really interested in stuff like this, I take it to the ultimate extreme. I’ve been looking for any information related to Frank and found a book at Borders called Zappa: A Biography by Barry Miles. I’ve found it a pretty interesting read so far.

I can tell you that musically for me its been an interesting few months. Zappa’s music is hard to get into initially (at least it was for me – and definitely is for Jonna), but once you’re hooked your really hooked.

I love the humor and the “off color” nature of his music and lyrics to be sure, but I think the thing that blows me away about Frank (and Vai for that matter with his latest album Sound Theories, Vols. 1-2) are how well the songs translate to an orchestra. Its interesting to me how music that starts in a “rock” vein can be musically viable enough to be played by an orchestra and in many cases be better than the original. If you didn’t know any better, you would never know that they started out as rock music.

My favorite albums so far are Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention, the first album I heard back in high school, with Strictly Commercial: The Best of Frank Zappa and Apostrophe (‘) a close second and third. Strictly Commercial is a great cross section of Franks more “commercially acceptable” stuff and is a good introduction to his music. The “single versions” of these songs edit out all of the things that some may find offensive.

As I mentioned earlier, Franks music translates well to an orchestra. If you want an introduction to Zappa that even your grandmother wouldn’t find offensive, you might want to check out Strictly Genteel: A Classical Introduction to Frank Zappa.

Whichever path you take, I’m sure you’ll find it rewarding. I certainly am.

Evo Experience on 9/21 – Quick Post and A Few Pictures

Jonna and I attended the Steve Vai Evo Experience at the House of Blues last night. Jonna played photographer and took about 300 or so pictures. We are in a rush this morning, but I have gotten a few up. Throughout the week I will continue to sort through and upload pictures.

Real quick review, too many people at the EVO experience this time. Last time it was about 25 and was really nice. This time it seemed there were close to 40. However, given all that, watching the soundcheck and rehearsal was completely fascinating. This guy gets better every time I see him and the new band is absolutely incredible. Probably the best Vai show I’ve ever seen. Definitely check them out if they come to a town near you.

I hate the House of Blues as a venue, however. We basically stood for 7 or so hours. We were completely dead by the end of the show. All and all though, the music and the band were second to none. Best show I’ve seen so far – ever.

More pictures will be added to the set as we have time to sort through them, and I plan on putting together a more extensive post as I have time.

Steve Vai Nominated for Grammy Award for ‘Lotus Feet’

From Vai.com:

Steve Vai GRAMMY Nomination!

Steve Vai has received a GRAMMY nomination in the category of “Best
Instrumental Rock Performance” (For solo, duo, group or collaborative
performances, without vocals. Includes Rock, Hard Rock and Metal. Singles
or Tracks only.) Following is a list of this years nominees:

“Beat Box Guitar”
Adrian Belew
Track from: Side One[Sanctuary]

“Birds Of Prey”
Stewart Copeland
Track from: Orchestralli [Ponderosa]

“69 Freedom Special”
Les Paul & Friends
Track from: American Made World Played [Capitol Records]

Joe Perry
Track from: Joe Perry [Columbia Records]

“Lotus Feet”
Steve Vai
Track from: Real Illusions: Reflections [Epic/Red Ink]

The 48th Annual GRAMMY Awards will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at Staples Center in Los Angeles and will be broadcast live in high-definition TV and 5.1 surround sound on CBS from 8 – 11:30 p.m. (ET/PT).