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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 6:29 pm 
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Dallas Observer Blog wrote:
What do you think about the late Frank Zappa's criticism of your work as simply "operating a guitar like a machine gun?" Do you think that Zappa was right when he said that the whole trend in the music business was that faster is better?
I think he was just jealous! I toured with Frank, and while I've always enjoyed his recordings, on tour he would take very, very long guitar solos, and he just didn't have what it takes to play long guitar solos. That said, he has every right to his opinions, and in earlier days, I'm sure he had some validity in his criticisms of my playing.

Here we have an interviewer who's misquoting FZ and an interviewee who's suckered in to being a bit of a wanker. I really like JM's music but he's a bit of a tool.

We've had this discussion elsewhere about jazz. JM cut his teeth in the jazz world but he gradually absorbed non standard jazz influences, broadened his outlook and his solos did evolve beyond just cut and dried jazz expositions. But he still tends to have this basic jazz type thing running through how he puts them together, which is not a criticism, but his knowledge of the guitar keyboard and how he was able to improvise some pretty interesting stuff seems to be where he's coming from when he says FZ didn't have what it takes.

FZ was influenced in a big way by Stravinsky and his polytonal, polyphonic thing. He tried quite a few multi chord type solos earlier in his career but later got more into having a pedal type background. A lot of people call this modal and find it boring, but what he did was actually polymodal and also embellished with lots of harmonic surprises. It was a lot more involved than just straight out modal. Of course, it's a question of taste, and I think his solos were quite brilliant and ultimately my favourites are the ones where he cherry picked and edited after the event.

So, really, JM is just completely missing the point. And jealous?? What is that??


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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 6:45 pm 
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Nice interview, thanks for the link. I love both JM and FZ, I really do not waste any time with the notion of jealousy, I would love to have heard some sort of collaboration with these to masters.

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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 7:28 pm 
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Here's the correct quote from a 1977 interview:

Steve Rosen: What about the contemporary heavies, like Jeff Beck or John McLaughlin?

Frank Zappa: I like Jeff, yeah. I've listened to "Wired" [Epic], and there are a couple of solos on there that I like. And I like some of his stuff on "Rough and Ready" [Epic]. A person woud be a moron not to appreciate McLaughlin's technique. The guy has certainly found out how to operate a guitar as if it were a machine gun. But I'm not always enthusiastic about the lines I hear or the ways in which they're used. I don't think you can fault him, though, for the amount of time and effort it must have taken to play an instrument that fast. I think anybody who can play that fast is just wonderful. And I'm sure 90% of teenage America would agree, since the whole trend in the business has been "faster is better."

And here's another quote from a 1984 interview:

Interviewer: John McLaughlin?

Frank Zappa: I met John. I think he's a great guitar player and I think that he's probably done a lot to educate American audiences to some aspects of Eastern music that they wouldn't have come into contact with before. We did a tour with McLaughlin and old Mahavishnu, we did 11 concerts with them.


As you can see, FZ isn't really putting John's playing down. He's only criticizing him a little bit but is actually mostly praising him. So apart from the fact FZ was mostly misquoted, I think John's just a little too sensitive and responds with his own criticism of FZ, defensively. That's all. He's a artist, after all. And artists are generally sensitive people...

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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 11:17 pm 
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I remember that interview from '77. It was when FZ was on the cover of Guitar Player magazine. I didn't really know who John McLaughlin was at the time but that always came off to me as a put-down or at the very best a back-handed compliment and it does reek a little bit of jealousy. I think it's obvious from interviews from others that FZ was influenced by Mahavishnu in the early 70's when he was doing alot of fusion-like material with the Roxy band. I just don't think it was in FZ's DNA to give somebody a flat out compliment, like how he barely acknowledged the Beatles ("I only liked three of their songs"). No matter who he was talking about it seemed FZ always had to temper any praise he was giving with some criticism or sarcasm. It is nice to see that he was alot more compimentary of McLaughlin in the '84 interview. I also agree with Disco Boy about the sensitivity of artists and that FZ's '77 criticism probably didn't go unnoticed by McLaughlin.


Last edited by KillUgly on Sun May 15, 2011 9:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 8:28 am 
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polydigm wrote:
FZ was influenced in a big way by Stravinsky and his polytonal, polyphonic thing. He tried quite a few multi chord type solos earlier in his career but later got more into having a pedal type background. A lot of people call this modal and find it boring, but what he did was actually polymodal and also embellished with lots of harmonic surprises. It was a lot more involved than just straight out modal. Of course, it's a question of taste, and I think his solos were quite brilliant and ultimately my favourites are the ones where he cherry picked and edited after the event.


Absolutely right. What I do from time to time for fun: I put on SUAPYG or G, turn down the bass frequencies and play my own bass along while he is doing his solos. I don't stick to the center tonality of the original basspart but instead I would try different changing roots that go along with his melodic ideas and create an improvised new harmonic context for the solos, so to speak. This always gives me surprises about his astonishing rich melodic universe.

What he did rhythmically and melodicaly is totally beyond the static pedal background - and because of this tension, it works. The multichord context is all there - in his melodies. A pity that JM doesn't hear this.

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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 2:52 am 
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One thing to keep in mind is that Zappa didn't fully develop his style of extended soloing until the late '70s. The stuff McLaughlin was hearing on that tour wasn't "Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar", even if it was "Inca Roads".

Zappa's concept of extended soloing took his whole career to perfect. It took years of playing, plus having the right backing musicians (Vinnie, Art...) to fully realize it. In 72-73, he was still finding his way.

Another thing to consider is that he almost never released a guitar solo un-edited. Two of my favourite solos are Inca Roads, and Rat Tomago. One is a comp of two different performances, the other is a heavily edited performance.


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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 3:55 pm 
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RatTomago wrote:
One thing to keep in mind is that Zappa didn't fully develop his style of extended soloing until the late '70s. The stuff McLaughlin was hearing on that tour wasn't "Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar", even if it was "Inca Roads".

Zappa's concept of extended soloing took his whole career to perfect. It took years of playing, plus having the right backing musicians (Vinnie, Art...) to fully realize it. In 72-73, he was still finding his way.

Another thing to consider is that he almost never released a guitar solo un-edited. Two of my favourite solos are Inca Roads, and Rat Tomago. One is a comp of two different performances, the other is a heavily edited performance.


The "Inca Roads" solo on One Size Fits All? It's from Helsinki except for the first two notes, which are from the L.A. performance used for the rest of the song (and which are the same two notes he used to start the solo in Helsinki, but with a different rhythm). A few big edits there though.

FWIW, I agree that yes, some of FZ's live solos in 1973 were too long, and that McLaughlin seemed too intent on "operating a guitar as if it was a machine gun" sometimes then too.


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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 4:50 pm 
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FZ clearly wasn't putting John's playing down, the reporter clearly induced this negative comment by McLaughlin.

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Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read.

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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 5:19 pm 
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polydigm wrote:
Dallas Observer Blog wrote:
What do you think about the late Frank Zappa's criticism of your work as simply "operating a guitar like a machine gun?" Do you think that Zappa was right when he said that the whole trend in the music business was that faster is better?
I think he was just jealous! I toured with Frank, and while I've always enjoyed his recordings, on tour he would take very, very long guitar solos, and he just didn't have what it takes to play long guitar solos. That said, he has every right to his opinions, and in earlier days, I'm sure he had some validity in his criticisms of my playing.

Here we have an interviewer who's misquoting FZ and an interviewee who's suckered in to being a bit of a wanker.

Disco Boy wrote:
Here's the correct quote from a 1977 interview:

Quote:
Steve Rosen: What about the contemporary heavies, like Jeff Beck or John McLaughlin?

Frank Zappa: I like Jeff, yeah. I've listened to "Wired" [Epic], and there are a couple of solos on there that I like. And I like some of his stuff on "Rough and Ready" [Epic]. A person woud be a moron not to appreciate McLaughlin's technique. The guy has certainly found out how to operate a guitar as if it were a machine gun. But I'm not always enthusiastic about the lines I hear or the ways in which they're used. I don't think you can fault him, though, for the amount of time and effort it must have taken to play an instrument that fast. I think anybody who can play that fast is just wonderful. And I'm sure 90% of teenage America would agree, since the whole trend in the business has been "faster is better."

And here's another quote from a 1984 interview:

Quote:
Interviewer: John McLaughlin?

Frank Zappa: I met John. I think he's a great guitar player and I think that he's probably done a lot to educate American audiences to some aspects of Eastern music that they wouldn't have come into contact with before. We did a tour with McLaughlin and old Mahavishnu, we did 11 concerts with them.


As you can see, FZ isn't really putting John's playing down. He's only criticizing him a little bit but is actually mostly praising him. So apart from the fact FZ was mostly misquoted, I think John's just a little too sensitive and responds with his own criticism of FZ, defensively. That's all. He's a artist, after all. And artists are generally sensitive people...

I'm pretty sure that mclaughlin would have answered the question about fz quite differently, if the interviewer had given him the correct fz quotes.

as for myself; I was never a big mclaughlin-fan.
I liked 'birds of fire' (mahavishnu orchestra) and the shakti-albums, but that's pretty much it.

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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 5:35 pm 
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Mr_Green_Genes wrote:
FZ clearly wasn't putting John's playing down, the reporter clearly induced this negative comment by McLaughlin.



IMO FZ's comment about not being enthusiastic about what McLaughlin plays, and adding that it fits the tastes of "teenage America" (usually not a compliment coming from FZ) could certainly be taken as putting his playing down.

But he was more generous in the comment from 1984.


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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 1:42 pm 
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I don't think FZ really enjoyed talking about other musician's he was competetive with in the market during interviews.
the comments are direct and honest, whether we think they're colored by peevishness or competetiveness or not.


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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 11:48 am 
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Hi,

the majority of rock journalism is pointless anyway ... since many of those people have never heard anyone else, or anything else, and sometimes it's cool to ask a stupid question, since so many rockers love to answer them, and makes them feel more important ... people on the same level.

I have to be honest with you ... I'm not sure that the majority of Frank's audience was a whole lot better, since many of them were there for the hits and the star thing, or the guitar thing, and not for the music! And that is not to suggest that folks here fit in that spot, because most of them here obviously don't!

John is an interesting player, and my only problem with his work is his hurry to get on to the solo, and sometimes, an accent, and not a solo would be much nicer and give his band more room to make things better ... that's not to say that it was not good. I guess there is peace in a machine gun somewhere!


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2011 1:11 am 
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Have you seen the Drum Channel DVD, The Drummers of Frank Zappa?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruB1JplOmTw

Ruth and Chester have an interesting story about the tour with the Mahavishnu and how it influenced Frank to play louder.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 9:32 am 
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ZackGlickman wrote:
Have you seen the Drum Channel DVD, The Drummers of Frank Zappa?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruB1JplOmTw

Ruth and Chester have an interesting story about the tour with the Mahavishnu and how it influenced Frank to play louder.



I think Ruth's perception here pins the point down perfectly.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IW7h9CZs ... re=related

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 12:23 pm 
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I saw Mahavishnu on the Birds of Fire tour and they were very good. I do not think that FZ was criticizing Mclaughlin and I am glad he said complimentary things about Jeff Beck, who I really admire more and more each passing year.

Frank was competitive, and he was a tough evaluator of talent. Nothing wrong with that.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 6:33 am 
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It's a shame that John McLaughlin was hoodwinked into criticising FZ by the recent interviewer. FZ as Ruth indicates, was clearly in awe of the spectacle when he first heard Mahavishnu Orchestra.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:52 am 
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Moshkito wrote:
… the majority of rock journalism is pointless anyway ...

I've read many interviews with FZ in magazines before the age of the worldwideweb. Later when one had access to the sources via youtube etc., it became obvious that many times those writers had taken questions and answers out of their original context and "created" new combinations to their own liking. Disgusting!

The same thing had been done by those two Austrians in their FZ video documentaries.

Always be careful with edited interviews in any medium. Be it FZ, or politicians or whatever.

Th.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:43 pm 
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diplomaticpermissiondeepi wrote:
It's a shame that John McLaughlin was hoodwinked into criticising FZ by the recent interviewer.


Not that big of a deal to me and at least one person in FZ's band at the time has made similar criticisms of FZ's solos.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 1:47 pm 
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pbuzby wrote:
diplomaticpermissiondeepi wrote:
It's a shame that John McLaughlin was hoodwinked into criticising FZ by the recent interviewer.


Not that big of a deal to me and at least one person in FZ's band at the time has made similar criticisms of FZ's solos.


Did he criticize during his tenure with FZ or after I wonder. It is good to know that JMac had FZ had his part into the listening habits

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 3:44 pm 
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diplomaticpermissiondeepi wrote:

Did he criticize during his tenure with FZ or after I wonder.


Probably after. I don't suppose FZ critiqued John to his face either, or vice versa.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 7:34 pm 
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I see no record of FZ really critiquing JMac. However JMac's fellow musicians laid into him in a magazine interview whilst on the road with Mahavishnu (over 500 gigs) which hurt him real bad it seems.The band members were not on a spiritual quest like John. Rick Laird talks about this on his Buddha at the Gas Pump interview which is worth checking out. It is particularly interesting to hear him feel such a fraud when he saw Miles sat in the audience. Rick Laird solo LP 'Soft Focus' LP is worth seeking out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzyDMIhHgXA

(here on YT part 2 Rick talks about FZ and the 12 gigs they did together)

http://www.facebook.com/BuddhaAtTheGasPump?sk=wall

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2011 2:52 pm 
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Birds Of Fire epitomizes cheesy sounding 70s fusion. Jan Hammer's sound is dated and annoying. The show offy licks are soulless and boring. The "look how fast we can play" mentality is impressive for about 20 seconds and then I want some inspired melodic ideas. This album does not deliver. It is almost the worst Mahavishnu Orchestra album. The fact that McLaughlin needed a guru tells me something. I doubt Zappa was jealous because he was making much more inspired music in the early 70s. Mahavishnu was all about showing off chops. It's like listening to someone practice scales.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2011 2:59 pm 
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BOF was my introduction to MO so I kind of like it, but can see where you coming from, what is quiet clear under the light of the Inner Mouting Flame (no pun intended). Miles Davis is a great song and there are some inspired themes, or at least performances (One Word, intro cut).

I thought Zappa was complimenting McLaughlin at some time for saying one has to be a moron not to appreciate the technique of a guy who operates his guitar as a machine gun... I read this interview long ago...

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Last edited by Mr_Green_Genes on Mon Sep 05, 2011 2:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2011 5:19 pm 
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downer mydnyte wrote:
Birds Of Fire epitomizes cheesy sounding 70s fusion. Jan Hammer's sound is dated and annoying. The show offy licks are soulless and boring. The "look how fast we can play" mentality is impressive for about 20 seconds and then I want some inspired melodic ideas. This album does not deliver. It is almost the worst Mahavishnu Orchestra album. The fact that McLaughlin needed a guru tells me something. I doubt Zappa was jealous because he was making much more inspired music in the early 70s. Mahavishnu was all about showing off chops. It's like listening to someone practice scales.

Almost the same criticism as 80's metal especially the neo-classical movement of Yngwie Malmsteen, etc. but also potentially including every "shredder" to this day.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2011 7:31 pm 
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KillUgly wrote:
downer mydnyte wrote:
Birds Of Fire epitomizes cheesy sounding 70s fusion. Jan Hammer's sound is dated and annoying. The show offy licks are soulless and boring. The "look how fast we can play" mentality is impressive for about 20 seconds and then I want some inspired melodic ideas. This album does not deliver. It is almost the worst Mahavishnu Orchestra album. The fact that McLaughlin needed a guru tells me something. I doubt Zappa was jealous because he was making much more inspired music in the early 70s. Mahavishnu was all about showing off chops. It's like listening to someone practice scales.

Almost the same criticism as 80's metal especially the neo-classical movement of Yngwie Malmsteen, etc. but also potentially including every "shredder" to this day.



I just can't see what the BOF criticiser is seeing. I think Birds of Fire is still a great listening experience. It is difficult to see John McLaughlin being anything other that sincere, I don't think anyone should judge him to be otherwise if he was using a guru to propel him to where he wanted to go. Mahavishnu 'Go ahead' John was simply following a centuries old tradition that just happened to find rock n' roll during that period 45 years ago. Mahavishnu LP's have been in print continuously since their release unlike probably all of those weedly wee wee wee shredding elpea's of the 1980's.

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