Archive for September 2012

Frank Zappa – Chunga’s Revenge   Leave a comment

Mr. Frank continued his Hot Rats sessions clean out (tracks showed up on Burnt Weeny Sandwich & Weasels Ripped My Flesh) with Chunga’s Revenge. At the same time, he moved forward both with new music and band members. It is a different kind of weird when ex-Turtles Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman (Flo & Eddie) show up.

The mix is dense, the playing is greasy, and the guitar tone is nasty. Nice girls do not date people who repeatedly listen to this record.

Oh Well.

While the title cut is really good, the earlier take (Chunga Basement) included on the DVD-A release, Quaudiophiliac, is a stone groove. It wouldn’t have worked on Chunga’s Revenge, but it is a better pass.

The rest of Chunga’s Revenge is more great guitar work, sprinkled with tales of life on tour that range from groupie stuff to dealing with musicians’ union weasels. The last track, Sharleena, is a great piece of do-wop influenced, pop-ish something or other.

The analog master does a great job of letting all the crunchy sleaze come across. I remember once when talking to Gail, she asked what my favorite Zappa records were. I mentioned that in chronological order, We’re Only In It For The Money would be the first stop, followed by Chunga’s Revenge.

She started laughing, and then asked me why. I jabbered on for a while, going on about the sound and the music. She kept asking more questions about my take on the record. Finally, I asked her why she was so interested in what I thought about Chunga’s. She said, “It was one of Frank’s favorite records. Most people don’t say much about it.”

Chunga’s Revenge on SACD, please.

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Posted 2012/09/12 by MG Nagy in Uncategorized

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Frank Zappa – Hot Rats   Leave a comment

Not having heard a lot of these records in 15 or so years, it’s interesting to see how a record hits me now, and how much of that syncs up with what I think I remember.

Hot Rats has always been considered one of the corner stones when building a Zappa collection. The bright, sunny open “Peaches En Regalia” continues to not offend.

My biggest reason for coming back to the record on a regular basis was for the Capt. Beefheart track, Willie The Pimp. Sugarcane Harris plays plenty fine.

I had forgotten how good “Son Of Mr. Green Genes” is, along with the angular and somewhat jazzy “Little Umbrellas.”

Sad to say the last two tracks, “The Gumbo Variations” and “It Must Be A Camel,” still sound like filler.

Sonically? Another analog master that does not disappoint.

Posted 2012/09/12 by MG Nagy in Uncategorized

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Frank Zappa – Bongo Fury   Leave a comment

…sitting there face-to-face with a 75-cent glass of orange juice about as big as my finger, and a bowl of horribly foreshortened cornflakes, and I said to my self, “This is the life.”

And so it goes, in the midst of a Bongo Fury.  There is plenty of the raunchy, greasy playing one would expect at a live gig with Capt. Beefheart.  The analog master does a great job of letting it all hang out. The spoken word pieces are great examples of Beefheart at his most pithy, while Advance Romance gives him some running room. Plenty of great slide from Denny Walley and his aluminum finger.

Stand outs of the studio-ish persuasion are the grafted-on intro to Muffin Man (a glimpse of what really goes on in the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen), and 200 Years Old (a very, er, Frank take on the upcoming Bicentennial).

My hope is that after the catalog is back in print, this is one of the records that gets revisited, and given The Treatment. At a minimum, release the whole show, bomb threat and all.

Posted 2012/09/12 by MG Nagy in Uncategorized

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Frank Zappa – Sleep Dirt   Leave a comment

One of the Warner Bros. lawsuit records, Mr. Frank was not happy when the label released it without his O.K. Which is kind of funny, since Sleep Dirt is one of his best records.

Those who are used to the Ryko release may be disappointed with this re-issue. Since the original analog master is being used, this release does not have the Suzannah Harris vocals for the tracks originally slated for the never-realized Hunchentoot (Frank’s stage play, not the computer software). Aside from a little studio chatter, Sleep Dirt is an excellent dose of Frank shutting up and playing his guitar. While the band is typically awesome, the bass work really stands out for me.

The sound quality of this re-issue is excellent, and has me wanting to curl up inside my speaker cabinets with the music. If any of the catalog gets the SACD treatment, this title is a must.

Posted 2012/09/05 by MG Nagy in Uncategorized

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Frank Zappa – Zoot Allures   Leave a comment

Every version of this record I have heard has been consistent in its murkiness on the studio tracks. This time around, there is still a bit dimness to the proceedings, but far from a deal-breaker. This CD is easily the best version I have heard, on any format (as if the Cassette and 8-Track are hard to beat).

Sourced off the 1976 analog master, with this CD release we get two of Frank’s signature guitar tracks (Black Napkins and Zoot Allures), the first half of his examination of disco culture (Disco Boy), and one of what I’ll refer to as a shut-up-and-play-my-guitar track, The Torture Never Stops. That, and Wonderful Wino has a pretty good thump to it.

The brilliant half of the record is indispensable, and makes a lot of the rest seem like filler. That said, the filler is about gas stations, blow-up dolls, and the pursuit of that special lady friend. In other words, just another day in Zappaville, USA.

Posted 2012/09/03 by MG Nagy in Uncategorized

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Frank Zappa – Sheik Yerbouti   Leave a comment

The good news: The Zappa catalog has (apparently) come back home. I will leave my response at a simple “Yay!” I simply can’t muster both the piss and time needed for the discourse on all the ways Ryko f*cked things up.

And no, I am not going to give some sort of play-by-play on every one of the reissues. I have actually owned most of the catalog. Ah, youth. There was much then I simply don’t have time for now…

It does indeed sound like the 1978 analog master is being used for Sheik Yerbouti. So, if you want it loud, you need to give your volume knob a spin. That’s how it should be. The noise floor is great, no hiss, etc. This is a great sounding CD, easily besting the two previous CD releases I am familiar with.

Here are a few paragraphs for those of you that may be new to the Zappa universe. Sheik has a couple of what are considered essential tracks: Dancin’ Fool and Jewish Princess. For all you lucky types that missed disco the first time around, Dancin’ Fool takes less than four minutes to get through, you can tap your toes to it, and you don’t have to wear bad clothes.

On the other hand, Jewish Princess comes off as a snotty bit of misogyny. Frank has been (sometimes) tagged as a misogynist, racist, and just plain mean spirited. His approach to lampooning societal ills is much in line with All In The Family. However, it is an approach that requires a much greater degree of precision on the throw. Sometimes, Frank is low and outside.

There is a lot on Sheik to recommend. Flakes is a direct hit on the people that don’t work like they outta should. Rat Tomago is (if my ear remembers correctly) an excerpt from a live pass at The Torture Never Stops on 15 Feb. 1978. The gig was one of the Dick Barber tapes that got into circulation. If you dig around enough on the Interwebs, you’ll find it. Just don’t get sent to Gitmo over it…

Which reminds me, that is a damn good gig (The show from ’78, not Gitmo. The burgers were good, and the beer was nasty. In Gitmo.). Definitely proper-release worthy. The vault peeps should get cracking on that.

Rubber Shirt is a wonderful track that didn’t quite happen the way we hear it.

The track that still gets me movin’ as much as the first time I heard it is City Of Tiny Lights. Belew’s vocal is raging, and the band flat out rocks.

Sheik closes with Yo Mama, which includes a big dose of Frank shutting up and playing his guitar.

So, go get this disc. You get a track that includes SMPTE (which stands for Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) as part of the lyric. One more thing: Welcome back, Mr. Frank. We missed you.

Posted 2012/09/03 by MG Nagy in Uncategorized

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