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PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2003 6:55 pm 
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Son of Suzy Creamcheese<br><br>By Robert Shelton<br>The New York Times <br>Sunday, December 25, 1966 <br><br>The most original new group to simmer out of the steaming rock'n'roll underground in the last hour and one-half is an audacious crew from the West Coast called The Mothers of Invention. The eight-member group will be appearing through New Year's Eve at the Balloon Farm, the new haven for young hippies at 23 St. Mark's Place, atop the Dom. The Mothers of Invention are primarily musical satirists. Beyond that, they are perhaps the first pop group to successfully amalgamate rock'n'roll with the serious music of Stravinsky and others. Both in their material and in their looks, they are also furthering some of the more outrageous elements of anti-convention, thus contributing to a new style that might be called "shock rock." Compared to the Mothers of Invention, such earlier big-beat groups as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones emerge as Boy Scouts with electric guitars. The hairier-than-thou personnel of The Mothers, include at this writing ("everyone in the band has quit three times") performers on harmonica, tambourine, percussion and timpani, electric bassoon, soprano saxophone, tenor sax, flute, gongs, electric clavichord and "mouth." There is a lot of alternation of instruments among the band members. No one knows for sure who plays drums. The father (or Dada) of The Mothers of Invention is 26-year-old Frank Zappa, spindly-framed, sharp-nosed gamester whose appearance suggests some of the more sinister aspects of Edgar Allen Poe, John Carradine and Rasputin. In truth, Mr. Zappa is no more sinister than a cultural revolutionary bent on overthrowing every rule in the music book. On arriving here, Mr. Zappa took a moment off from worrying about when the plane carrying the bands 18 boxes of equipment would be found by the airline, loosened his pink-on-pink tie from his Carnaby Street collar and explained to a visitor just what he is up to: "I am trying to use the weapons of a disoriented and unhappy society against itself. The Mothers of Invention are designed to come in the back door and kill you while you're sleeping." A smile crept through the undergrowth of mustache and goatee, and he continued: "One of our main, short-range objectives is to do away with the top-40 broadcasting format because it is basically wrong, unethical and unmusical . . . Sure, we're satirists, and we are out to satirize everything. Most of the guys in the band feel that we're going to do something to help." <br><br>    <br>

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2003 6:56 pm 
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Mr. Zappa was not explicit about how he was going to lead his crusade against the pop and serious music Establishments, other than to get his band's work more widely heard. Audiences at the Balloon Farm have been listening to variations on Mr. Zappa's themes with considerable delight. They have heard such Zappa originals as "Help, I'm a Rock" (". . . dedicated to Elvis Presley. Note the intersting formal structure and the stunning four-part barbershop harmony toward the end. Note the obvious lack of commercial potential. Ho hum"), "Motown Waltz," "Who Are the Brain Police?" "Wowie Zowie" (". . . carefully designed to suck the 12-year-old listener into our camp") and "The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet." Other works are entitled "The Mother's American Pageant," "The Duke of Prunes," "Plastic People," and "Son of Suzy Creamcheese." If all of this sounds even a bit outlandish, Mr. Zappa has apparently hit his mark, for he thinks that "freaking out" is an important method of expression and effecting change. He defines "freaking out" as "a process whereby an individual casts off outmoded and restrictive thinking, dress and social etiquette in order to express creatively his relationship to his immediate environment and the social structure as a whole." Not the least of the fascinations of hearing The Mothers at work are the incidental uses of classical or serious music in rock arrangements. Besides Stravinsky, Mr. Zappa has scored rock adaptations of Mozart's Symphony No. 40, Holst's "The Planets" and a touch or two of Edgar Varese. Mr. Zappa began serious composition at the age of 14. "At 15 I gave it up and decided to become a plumber. How long did I stay in plumbing? I'm still a plumber . . ." The Baltimore-born, West-Coast-reared musician has had a turn at nearly every form of music extant. He has written "serious" works for string quartet, chamber orchestra, scores for the films "World's Greatest Sinner" and "Run Home Slow." He describes the latter as the only known cowboy picture using electronic music, in which the good guys presumably head off the bad guys at the oscillator. Mr. Zappa had almost despaired of "making it" in serious American music, but admits that he might make it through the back door of rock'n'roll. But "rock is not just a stepping-stone," he cautions. "Rock is tha only living music in America today. It's alive. I'm bringin music music [serious or classical concepts] to our rock arrangements. Stravinsky in rock is like a get-acquainted offer, a loss-leader. It's a gradual progression to bring in my own 'serious' music." Listening to The Mothers of Invention is an adventure, in which the auditor is warned to expect veering curves and sudden changes. Some of it is psychedelic sound (without the drugs), some is a marvelous spoof on the late-1950's teen-scene nonsense, some of it is social comment on the hypocrisies of contemporary life, and some of it is just, to use Mr. Zappa's phrase, "music music." Mr. Zappa urges that every lover of pop music run out and buy the Vanguard recording of Varese's futuristic "Ameriques." "It blows my mind. It's my favorite top-40 record."

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2003 6:38 am 
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Quote:
...elements of anti-convention, thus contributing to a new style...
Quote:
"I am trying to use the weapons of a disoriented and unhappy society against itself. The Mothers of Invention are designed to come in the back door and kill you while you're sleeping."
Quote:
"Most of the guys in the band feel that we're going to do something to help."
Quote:
...the auditor is warned to expect veering curves and sudden changes.
<br><br>A fine display of the very basics of an ethical postmodernistic form of ideology criticism. <br><br>Sure, go on, believe that Zappa, "only wanted to entertain", that "he did not wanted to say anything", that "his music has no message", etc... You will be murdered in your sleep someday, and your kids already find you lame.<br><br>Great article!<br><br><br><br>

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2003 7:29 pm 
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fz plays it serious by mark swed, wsj oct-19-92
wrote:
Perhaps it seems far-fetched for someone with some 60 recordings to his credit to consider himself a closet composer. And surely it sounds just a little exaggerated for a composer to complain he lacks respect when he has had his music performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and Pierre Boulez's prestigious Ensemble InterContemporarian, has hobnobbed with Vaclav Havel, has testified before Congress and has even toyed with the idea of running for president

Still, Frank Zappa remains far more famous for his '60s rock band, The Mothers of Invention, for his rancorous and often hilarious anti-establishment satire, and for such unMozartean songs such as 'Let's Make the Water Turn Black' and 'Valley Girl' than for all those orchestral works he claims to have stashed in his closet. Besides nearly all of his attempts to break into the world of classical music have been dismal failures, for which he regularly blames irresponsible musicians, unresponsive conductors and flaky European festival manages

But at the Frankfurt Festival recently, Mr. Zappa recently got his due with the spectacularly performed premiere of 'The Yellow Shark', an evening-long composition commissioned for the Ensemble Modern, an outstanding new-music group resident here, and also featuring the feisty Canadian post-modern dance troupe La La Human Steps. The extensive publicity surrounding the premiere treated Mr. Zappa as an equal with the other notable composers featured at this astonishingly lavish two-month festival. Among them: the high priest of German modernism, Karlheinz Stockhausen (who conducted seven different concerts of his music with the Ensemble Modern), the late John Cage (whose 80th birthday was commemorated with no less than 25 concerts of his music) and Gershwin (whose 'Porgy and Bess' was performed in concert by the Pittsburgh Symphony)

For Zappa fans, it was a particularly moving occasion, simply because their 51-year-old hero actually appeared in person at the Alte Oper, or Old Opera House, elegantly renovated into a concert complex. Mr. Zappa, who suffers from prostate cancer, had cancelled most of his other appearances this year, and rumors about his physical condition were alarming. Although his health worsened, and he returned home during the festival, here he was at the premiere looking grayer and walking more gingerly, than he used to, but still the same old wisecracking Mother of Invention everyone in the audience- from distinguished looking Frankfurt bankers to extravagantly styled avant garde fashion plates to scruffy '60s holdovers- knew and clearly loved

Unfortunately however, Mr. Zappa, despite some moments of real brilliance, seemed uncertain in this musical terrain as he always has. Part of the problem this time may have been his illness, since it is likely he didn't have the energy for a major undertaking. Instead we heard a collection of song from Mr. Zappa's albums arranged for the ensemble by Ali N. Askin, who was otherwise unidentified, and mostly conducted by the Ensemble Modern's very efficient Peter Rundel, with Mr. Zappa only remaining on stage to conduct two short compositions and do a little kibitzing. Even La La Human Steps, promoted as a major component of the production, only appeared for a few minutes at evenings end, but that was enough to make the finale exhilarating

On the whole, the project seamed pretty motley, especially with all the high tech lighting and an overly ambitious German television crew that climbed under pianos, stuck video cameras practically up a harpist's nose and was otherwise entirely distracting. What the yellow shark had to do with the evening was a mystery. A fan had once given to Mr. Zappa a bloody plastic yellow shark, and he simply seems to have chosen it as the it as the mascot and logo of the event

But there was just enough of a glimpse of real originality, particularly when Mr. Zappa himself conducted, to indicate what all the fuss was about. Mr. Zappa, a satirist at heart, has always been at his most inspired when he was at his most outrageous, when he refuses to take himself or anybody or anything else too seriously, thwarting conventions entirely. In his pop work thus has often resulted in sneakily employing compositional complexity at the same time as doing really stupid things on stage. As a classical composer, he is sometimes fairly sophisticated and sometimes just plain silly...


continued next post....too long for one post

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Last edited by slime.oofytv.set on Sat May 13, 2006 10:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2003 7:30 pm 
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....continued from previous post....

fz plays it serious by m.swed, wsj, oct-19-92 wrote:
...Conducting the overture to 'The Yellow Shark', Mr. Zappa was at his most original, pulling goofy but interesting sounds out of the ensemble as it were taffy he could mold in the air. But too often the more formal concert works on the program-which included arrangements from his musical works, 'Uncle Meat' and 'Thing-Fish', as well as pieces he had written for Mr. Boulez and for the Kronos Quartet, and orchestrations of songs from various albums-were tiresomely discursive in their endless chirpy modernist gestures, despite some particularly interesting orchestrations from Mr. Askin and outstanding playing from the Ensemble Modern

Things only really livened up when Mr. Zappa's work became overtly theatrical as in 'Welcome to the United States', a new piece that parodies U.S. immigration forms. And Mr. Zappa would not have been himself if he didn't get the musician to make fools of themselves now and then, whether by having them make gross noises or wear funny hats or shoot toy Tommy guns

For the finish, an explosively virtuosic piece 'G-Spot Tornado' accompanied the dance of La La Human Steps. Here a couple violently threw each other around the stage, particularly exiting the crowd by the way the woman could pick up and drop the man. It was an evening's knockout in more ways than one, proving that, with collaborators like La La Human Steps, Mr. Zappa could create some really striking music theater. Let's hope he regains his strength to make that attempt, now that he has seen just how far a really terrific new-music ensemble can leave The Mothers in the dust

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:28 pm 
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a historical overview, analysis, and wind transcription of fz’s sad jane by v.q.nguyen [2012, u of w]:

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 4:07 pm 
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slime.oofytv.set wrote:
a historical overview, analysis, and wind transcription of fz’s sad jane by v.q.nguyen [2012, u of w]:

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Nice! Thanx slime.o. Something for the older folks! 8)

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