Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Contempt For the Audience -- That's What Killed Dennis Day

Just to clear the air a bit after last week's little Frank Zappa brouhaha -- no, I don't hate the guy or his music.

Actually, and for example, I think that the 1966 "Trouble Every Day," from the Mothers' debut album, is a great rock-and-roll record.




No snark intended here -- that's one genuinely kick-ass piece of apocalyptic blues, and (alas) the lyrics are, if anything, even more to the point than they were when Zappa wrote them.

14 comments:

pete said...

Don't backpedal on me now, Steve. I was so happy to hear you rag on Zappa. Sure, the original band was fun and often interesting, but as soon as he got players to do his stuff "correctly" the music became an exercise in empty technique, featuring the most self-indulgent guitar solos in the history of the instrument. In 100 years Zappa will only be remembered as a footnote to the career of Don Vliet.

dave™© said...

"Trouble Every Day" is definitely a great record. As I mentioned last week, I've never really been that big a fan one way or the other. But the guy definitely has five or six career "highlights" that make him worth a listen. Hey, I know people that will argue Bob Gaudio is the reigning genius of modern music. Like the man said, that's what makes horse racing...

dave™© said...

I could SO see a rap version of this...

steve simels said...

Yes, indeedy.

Faze said...

On one side of the scale, you got "Freak Out" and "Absolutely Free" and parts of "We're Only in it for the Money". On the other side, you have everything else, the mounds and mounds of wasted vinyl, hours and hours of tight, pointless noodling, potty mouth self-indulgence, and the years when you felt you needed to check in on Zappa every so often to see if he'd ever go back to the straightforward honesty of "Trouble Every Day" and being not only disappointed, but appalled by the scale of the empire this mean narcissist had built, and the empty waste of it all. The scale goes haywire.

steve simels said...

Okay, I am definitely posting the interview I did with Zappa back in the day in the next week or two.

Which means I have to transcribe the damn thing manually -- the things I do for you guys.
:-)

Edward said...

Just for further inspiration;>

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/26/AR2010072604949.html?hpid=entnews

Weeklong fete planned for Zappa statue in hometown
The Associated Press
Monday, July 26, 2010; 6:55 PM
BALTIMORE -- The unveiling of a statue honoring Frank Zappa in his hometown of Baltimore will feature a week of events including a concert by his son, Dweezil.

The statue was donated by fans in Lithuania, a country Zappa never visited but one where his music was popular among the avant garde. The statue is a replica of one erected by a fan club in the Lithuanian capital.

Noam Sane said...

In 100 years Zappa will only be remembered as a footnote to the career of Don Vliet.

Stupidity is the basic building block of the universe.

Brooklyn Girl said...

As I said, I bought this record just on the basis of the cover. I was not disappointed. Nothing else he did after that, though, interested me, although I did see The Mothers at the Fillmore a couple of years later and they were funny, or at least I thought so at the time (there was a lot of smoke in the air).

geor3ge said...

and (alas) the lyrics are, if anything, even more to the point than they were when Zappa wrote them.

You can add "Hungry Freaks, Daddy" to that list.

agitpropre said...

If we were to banish from the canon any post-Elvis musician who was a class A jerk, we would have a pretty pitiful list of leftovers; jerkiness is hardwired into many performers. FZ was, no doubt, arrogant and got more so before the cancer did him in. But so much of his music transcended that, IMO. The big bands of Waka Jawaka and the Grand Wazoo, the stuff with Ruth Underwood, Rueben and the Jets, We're Only in it for the Money - those are my favourites and helped inform my attitudes about jazz and classical and, yes , Pachuco doo-wop too.
I don't see the need to slag off FZ. Don't like his stuff? Cover your ears and smile...

dave™© said...

I remember seeing this album advertised in Marvel Comics, btw...

Michael said...

agitpropre,
jerkiness is not the problem. Dylan is a jerk, Van Morrison can be a jerk, I imagine most "rock stars" are jerks. The word I'm thinking of is contempt.

Zappa, especially post 60's Zappa had no love for rock and roll and it shows. He thought he was doing something better, more avant garde, above everyone else.
But what he created was passionless, soulless, heartless and hollow.

That's my take, but the music I love and cherish tends to wallow and all that Zappa hated. It's why a good pop song can move me (Don't Walk away Renee) while something seemingly the opposite (70's punk) makes me want to jump and shout.

TMink said...

Steve, I picked up the magazine formerly known yesterday and sure liked your review! I had not read the mag in a long time for other reasons, but it was great to see your name in print over there.

Trey