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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 9:34 am 
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Well, Zappa was guitar-less for the entire SNL '78 programme! Aside the songs with lead vocals and without any guitar parts, he only had the conductor's baton at hand for the third piece "Rollo". And only minimal guitar from Denny Walley who could play excellent slide guitar, but for "Rollo" he could only replicate the "Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-nook" part, nothing more complicated, he was no Vai, that's for certain.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 11:23 am 
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Ed Organus Maximus wrote:
… he was no Vai, that's for certain.

It is not always helpful to be Vai, that's for certain also.

Th.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 11:52 am 
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Right. I was specifically referring to the lightweight guitar-free sound of the 1978 band, it's remarkable how a song that started out as a Led Zeppelin parody ("Magic Fingers") in 1970 would sound very different with Tommy Mars' synths being more dominant than anything else. You have a large band that features a lot of backup singers, two keyboard players, a vibraphonist, two basses and drums and the most dominant guitar parts are limited to Zappa's incendiary solos.

I think the late 1978 band was in many ways Zappa's least practical band! While there was little guitar on the early 1978 band with Bozzio still on drums, it was still reasonable in its septet configuration, almost harking back to the Flo & Eddie days, yet Ed Mann effectively replacing Ruth Underwood on vibes department. What did Zappa have by Halloween '78? A drummer, two bassists, two keyboardists, a vibraphonist, a slide guitarist and an occasional vocalist that could neither play too complicated guitar parts nor sing as well as Ike Willis, Ike Willis having gone away thus restricting the ensemble's vocal potential and last, but not least, the band-leader, singer and guitarist who plays incendiary solos, sings with a funny voice, but needs other singers, can't strum along with his singing, nor doesn't give a damn about playing rhythm/ensemble guitar parts anymore, only his incendiary solos. Eight whooping members and serious problems in the guitars/vocals departments! Zappa's bands weren't exactly Henry Cow, who only needed five or six members to sound like an electric orchestra.

Vai might be a wankmeister, but in 1980 he was a necessary wankmeister. Because Zappa and co couldn't do the rocking numbers without somebody providing the rhythm/written guitar parts edge to them.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 12:43 pm 
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Mike Keneally was the perfect stunt guitarist/sideman for Zappa. He was/is the embodiement of the best qualities of all of his predecessors who held that slot.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 1:04 pm 
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Keneally's awesome... but I hate perfection! :x :D

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 1:53 pm 
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With all the vault material, maybe Frank has not reached his peak yet... :smoke:


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 10:59 pm 
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The Forum Killed Arkay wrote:
downer... why so much hate for the Jazz Classics? Giant Steps isn't my favorite Coltrane either, but its enjoyable isn't it? I have a hard time imagining anyone NOT enjoying Kind of Blue

No hate. Kind Of Blue is great but it's still overrated. Columbia records paid off a lot of jazz critics to hype it over the years. Giant Steps is amazing but it's not really any kind of fusion breakthrough.

pbuzby wrote:
The first two songs were "Dancin' Fool" and "The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing," songs where FZ sang lead so he did not have guitar parts.

Right. When I watched the dvd I was disappointed that he chose those songs. I like it best when he has his guitar.
Ed Organus Maximus wrote:
Well, Zappa was guitar-less for the entire SNL '78 programme! Aside the songs with lead vocals and without any guitar parts, he only had the conductor's baton at hand for the third piece "Rollo".

I couldn't remember. Did John Belushi play with him on both episodes? I've actually got the dvd's.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 6:26 am 
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I think after Joe's Garage it gets kinda downhill... with two exceptions all the 80's albums are kind of bad :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:53 am 
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I've kind of grown to tolerate some of the 1980s stuff. When the 1982 band wanted, they could play quite well ("RDNZL" is quite good on YCDTOSA5), but it is certainly inescapable that the 80s bands were mostly at their best while playing older material. Even something like "Let's Move to Cleveland" dates back to 1976, let alone "Envelopes" to 1969-1970 (FZ even attempted to record it back then, but eventually, only an excerpt of it was incorporated for the "200 Motels" Contempo '70 concert with Z.Mehta). Chad Wackerman is a pretty good jazz-based drummer (his ride cymbal action on "Easy Meat" swings like a motherfucker on YCDTOSA5), but when he plays any of the rock oriented genres, he sounds like a sterile studio cat, always a bit half-arsed compared to Bozzio's intensity. On the other hand, Thunes has a pretty good bass sound. Keyboards were of course strictly focused on replicating instruments the players of whom FZ judged to have a "weird mentality", that's why you got so much of that ELPowell type of synth sound. By the time the horns were added back in 1988, the keyboards were entirely digital, even the Fender Rhodes (played pretty good by Allan Zavod) was ditched in favour of some Roland digital keyboard.

I think the conflict between the 1969 band and the 1982 band on YCDTOSA5 can indeed be summed up as the opposition between Passion and Precision, both with great Ps. I mostly am drawn to the passion, but I can admire a little precision every now and then. A good thing that the Roxy & Elsewhere lineup had a bit of both: the soul/funk feel-your-brother vibe meshed quite well with dazzling technical skill. Bunk Gardner and Don Preston like to slag off the subsequent bands for not having the same feel of camaraderie as the original band, but if any band came close to matching the same sense of fun that the Sixties Mothers had, then the relaxed atmosphere of the Helsinki band comes the closest.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:10 am 
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Ed Organus Maximus wrote:
… I think the conflict between the 1969 band and the 1982 band on YCDTOSA5 can indeed be summed up as the opposition between Passion and Precision, both with great Ps. I mostly am drawn to the passion, but I can admire a little precision every now and then. …

The pity is, FZ opted for the precision in his later years, on the cost of the passion. The '88 band: unlistenable for me these days.

Didn't he himself say somehere that he was getting tired about his own ensembles in later years? Musicians who did everything for money and reputation, but without real heart for the music? Didn't I read somewhere that somebody like Ed Mann didn't give a shit about FZ's music and was just doing the job? Or am I imagening this?

Th.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:24 am 
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Thinman wrote:
Didn't he himself say somehere that he was getting tired about his own ensembles in later years? Musicians who did everything for money and reputation, but without real heart for the music? Didn't I read somewhere that somebody like Ed Mann didn't give a shit about FZ's music and was just doing the job? Or am I imagening this?


His loss of interest in the "human element" is well-documented. As was his statement that musicians were only in it for the money. Not even someone as dedicated as Ian Underwood was spared of the "everything for money" accusation. But it may slightly explain why Ian Underwood did little for FZ other than the Grand Wazoo tour in 1972 and why he definitively left in 1973. He was probably attempting to find better gigs back then.

He definitely got tired. He was apparently tired of the original MOI as early as 1968. According to Pauline Butcher, back then he made a statement somewhere he would rather have a new band for each tour. This may have precipitated the eventual disbandment of the 60s MOI.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:48 am 
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Ed Organus Maximus wrote:
Not even someone as dedicated as Ian Underwood was spared of the "everything for money" accusation.


There's a remark to that effect in the Howard Kaylan book--something along the lines of "Ian didn't care as long as he got paid."


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 10:45 am 
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Coincidentally, the Flo & Eddie era music was a bit more geared towards mainstream pop compared to the free-jazz improvisations and avant-chamber music experiments of the tail end of early Mothers. So perhaps it seemed like Ian didn't particularly care for playing blues-rock kind of organ and electric piano, but obliged because Zappa paid him well and considered him reliable. Ian certainly wasn't a blues-man at all, he had more of a dual personality of a classical pianist and a jazz saxophonist. Later on of course, he started playing lots of pop sessions and working on film scores, and like Karl Jenkins concurrently in Britain, he eventually stopped playing the reeds. So there you are.

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