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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 3:58 pm 
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Ed Organus Maximus wrote:
The Forum Killed Arkay wrote:
someday I hope to hear a Can album that I want to hear again. I've heard 3 or 4 of them and every time its harder to give em another chance.


While it seemed that the original Mothers of Invention counted as one of the key influence for early Can, it is safe to say that these Krautrockers' aesthetic was in fact far removed from what Zappa was really after. Zappa was after humanly impossible rhythmic compositional techniques, yet he could not achieve such ideals with players that were more prone to inarticulacy, mantric repetition, grunginess and extraneous noise as were the musicians of Can. No, he had to make do with conservatory trained players, who's normally the only bunch in the USA that could ever hope to be exposed to all sorts of hard rhythmic modulations! So essentially many post-Mothers Zappa groups just sounded a bit polished, even clinical. Even their improvisations were more steeped in standard soloistic jazz, unless Zappa of course conducted them to be a bit more off the wall. This is different from Can's style of improv, which perhaps indicated more of a "nobody solos, everybody improvises" approach. I'm listening to Can's "The Peel Sessions" compilation, containing recordings from 1973-75 and it's unbelievable how these guys could crank off fluid yet edgy "instant compositions" (as Holger Czukay would call them) on the spot. Zappa would have to tell his cats what to do (the one example: the Imaginary Diseases lecture on the Arlington 1973 concert where FZ would give instructions for playing "virus music"). Can could play more telepathically.

Many die-hard Zappaphiles get a little defensive when all other bands than the 60s Mothers of Invention are routinely slagged off. Then again, it was this first group with which Zappa influenced a future generation of musicians to come. Including some of the German kraut-rock scene. Who in turn gave rise to a fair generation of post-punk musicians both rock and electronic. Perhaps many people's musical needs here are being met the best by the highly polished Helsinki period Duke/Brock Mothers. However, in terms of revolutionising the music scene, the first batch of Mothers full of raw, intuitive and somewhat grungy players, was where it was at. After that, the only way Frank Zappa as a musician stood out was that he was arguably the first rock composer who proved to be equally fluent in classical/orchestral/art music.

Ehhhh.... sure?
'nuff said that I agree with some of that. Maybe later I'll listen to some Can and comment more. Maybe that one with the green beans.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 4:39 pm 
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On the topic of improvisation, for me personally, nothing beats a well crafted composition from an inspired composer. Rite of Spring from Stravinsky being a prime example. You just can't get that level of complexity coupled with sustainable interest instantly. I'm not against improvisation per se, as an element in a composition it's fine and I value the challenge when I'm put on the spot to improvise, but it's not a raison d'être for me.

On the topic of polish, I'm familiar with the concept of overly polished in the context of that LA jazz sound, like Tom Scott and the LA Express, but the problem there is over polish on the compositions not the playing, they're just way too formulaic. Playing a piece accurately (a polished performance) includes playing with an appropriate level of eyebrows and there's a big difference between that and struggling to play accurately - the key ingredient is the composition itself and FZ was always going to be frustrated until he was able to command the attention of highly skilled musicians.

There are a lot of early Mothers performances that are just too painful to listen to if you have some kind of discerning ear, Road Tapes #1 contains some examples. It's a valuable CD to have but at the same time it makes it totally clear to me why FZ had to move on from the original Mothers for the same reason that nobody in their right mind wants to hear Rite of Spring played badly.

It's different strokes for different folks. If the early Mothers was like some kind of club for you then no doubt you'd be upset when they split but I believe FZ was a composer above all else and his primary goal was getting his compositions performed accurately.

BTW, given the thread title, my comments above are not examples of why FZ sucked. On the other hand, the way in which he got rid of the original Mothers, as is made clear in Pauline Butcher's book, totally sucked.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 5:04 pm 
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The MOI almost kicked Frank out for being "a straight". I think he knew he had to move on when he joined them. He used rock n' roll and "the scene" to get what he wanted: MONEY to hire performers to play his music, the way he wanted it played. With eyebrows.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:51 am 
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Who started this fucking thread??


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 11:42 am 
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polydigm wrote:
Playing a piece accurately (a polished performance) includes playing with an appropriate level of eyebrows and there's a big difference between that and struggling to play accurately - the key ingredient is the composition itself and FZ was always going to be frustrated until he was able to command the attention of highly skilled musicians.

There are a lot of early Mothers performances that are just too painful to listen to if you have some kind of discerning ear, Road Tapes #1 contains some examples. It's a valuable CD to have but at the same time it makes it totally clear to me why FZ had to move on from the original Mothers for the same reason that nobody in their right mind wants to hear Rite of Spring played badly.


True. Even so, part of me does wish to hear what the 1968 attempt to record "Envelopes" would've sounded like with Ian's RMI piano and Art Tripp's percussive backdrop, instead of the more established and session musicianly musicianship of Tommy Mars, Chad Wackerman et al. I definitely like the late sixties overall musicianship more than anything after 1975. I know this probably sounds like heresy, but to my mind, there's not a single live incarnation of "Peaches En Regalia" that matches the colourful "Hot Rats" take. They all either lack the same tone colours that are lovable about the original (as on Fillmore East) and/or are simply rendered as technical/virtuosic showoffs (like the TTR take), all flash and no feeling.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 10:44 pm 
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Ed Organus Maximus wrote:
there's not a single live incarnation of "Peaches En Regalia" that matches the colourful "Hot Rats" take.


I know. And when he has a keyboard play what was previously a guitar part it always disappoints me. More the tone than anything.

Ed Organus Maximus wrote:
I definitely like the late sixties overall musicianship more than anything after 1975.


Zappa stopped playing with his peers.


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