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A Method in Exploring the Frank Zappa Album’s Catalog
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TPS
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Joined: 2005-02-26
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Post 2016-03-07 11:03   [Quote] 
John Tobacco wrote:
As of 2016, there are officially one hundred Frank Zappa Albums available through Zappa.com or Spotify, iTunes, Amazon etc…(we’re not counting the many bootlegs found on youtube). For starters I will just focus on the ones he completed before his death. This should guide you smoothly through his musical universe. Ideally, one should begin with his first release: “Freak Out” and work your way through chronologically to the present day. Only then can you fully hear and see the dense connect of his entire opus and understand why I think Frank Zappa was the most interesting composer in the later part of the twentieth century of popular music.

Due to the different styles of Frank Zappa Albums, it will probably be easier for the average listener to get into his work with albums that contain a high percentage of pop / rock songs with a recognizable form i.e. verse, pre-chorus, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, outro etc… At least this is what I’ve found when introducing a newbie to Zappa. Since he left us with quite a vast musical puzzle I can guarantee that if you become a fan, you’ll be occupied for many years piecing it altogether. FZ was a master editor and musical synthesist that defied classification. He’d say it was all just entertainment. Part of his “Project/Object” and nothing else. Again, this is not a review or a ratings of what I think are Frank Zappa’s best to worst albums. In fact, many of his more inaccessible works are loaded with treasures for the experienced listener.

For the most part Zappa’s sharp, satirical, sophomoric, observational, bizarre lyrics will probably be the clincher as to whether you want to listen or not. Musically there are plenty of wonderful compositions to marvel over. So here goes.My accessibly rating on a scale of 1 to 10 (based on years of experience trying to recruit listeners) is as follows:

1= Proceed with caution. Listen with an open mind.

10 = A great place to start lyrically and musically for the average listener.

http://www.classicrockhistory.com/a-method-in-exploring-the-frank-zappa-albums-catalog/

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StarThrower
Joined: 2016-08-26
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Post 2016-12-21 13:58   [Quote] 
You mean accessibility rating? Arf!
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Galeans
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Post 2016-12-21 14:05   [Quote] 
I like John. I spoke with him several times and he's a great musician and a good guy. Can't say I agree with most of what he says here, though. There are some albums that are placed in the "low" cathegory which I find very accessible.

Anyway, he knows what he's talking about.

cheers

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ivester
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Post 2016-12-21 17:30   [Quote] 
That's a funny list. At first I thought 1 was supposed to be most accessible and 10 least so, since he starts with SUAPYG, which I consider Frank's most accessible work!
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pbuzby
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Post 2016-12-21 17:51   [Quote] 
ivester wrote:
That's a funny list. At first I thought 1 was supposed to be most accessible and 10 least so, since he starts with SUAPYG, which I consider Frank's most accessible work!


I remember it took time for me to get used to hearing five and six-minute guitar solos and then listening to one of them after another (even though I had heard a few of Coltrane's 15-minute solos already) but it was worth the effort.
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EddieRUKiddingVarese
Joined: 2016-11-17
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Post 2017-01-11 23:39   [Quote] 
Took me a while to appreciated Weasels but I warmed to Burnt Weeny straight off

My introduction to Zappa ( inOz) was a long process as his albums were not available much in the early 80's here. First hear Zappa on a ABC FM Radio series http://www.zappainaustralia.com/radio.htm

"June to July 1981 -ABC Australia FM ‘History of Frank Zappa’. run over 4 weeks containing many LP tracks & segments of interviews 270 min"

Then took me quite awhile to find and buy what ever I could find, years of frustration trying to find the songs I had hear on the Radio show- it played much of his early - mid seventies Catalog you know Village of the Sun, Inca roads, Yellow snow etc

First Zappa I found in record shops was cassette of JABFLA, then Chungas. Year or two later I was lucky enough to buy original Vinyl copies of Freak Out, 200 Motels and Joe's Garage Vol 2 at a 2nd hand record shop for about $20- his stuff was very hard to find- so this gave me a strange intro I guess....

But know many years later I have just about all Zappa releases on Vinyl and/ or CD and some tapes too from my buying what ever/ when ever I could find it................

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StarThrower
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Post 2017-01-13 17:18   [Quote] 
I don't think FZ would appreciate an accessibility rating system for his albums. And why not allow the listener to follow their own path? Do FZ fans need someone to hold their hand?
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TPS
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Post 2017-01-13 17:29   [Quote] 
StarThrower wrote:
And why not allow the listener to follow their own path? Do FZ fans need someone to hold their hand?

John Tobacco wrote:
...when introducing a newbie to Zappa

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Wilt Champion
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Post 2017-01-15 21:36   [Quote] 
hot rats at 5.7 seems a little low. thats usually the album i tell people to start with.

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staaan
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Post 2017-02-10 23:43   [Quote] 
John Tobacco wrote:

Due to the different styles of Frank Zappa Albums, it will probably be easier for the average listener to get into his work with albums that contain a high percentage of pop / rock songs with a recognizable form i.e. verse, pre-chorus, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, outro etc… At least this is what I’ve found when introducing a newbie to Zappa.


I think that is a little short sided, what about a fan of Jazz? or are Jazz fans not considered average listeners.
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yetanother
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Post 2017-02-11 03:49   [Quote] 
staaan wrote:
John Tobacco wrote:

Due to the different styles of Frank Zappa Albums, it will probably be easier for the average listener to get into his work with albums that contain a high percentage of pop / rock songs with a recognizable form i.e. verse, pre-chorus, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, outro etc… At least this is what I’ve found when introducing a newbie to Zappa.


I think that is a little short sided, what about a fan of Jazz? or are Jazz fans not considered average listeners.

Probably not (although Adorno would probably place them below average). I'm not familiar with "average listeners", though - if I want to introduce someone to FZ I usually just ask what kind of music the person likes and choose a starting point based on that. I tend to pick from a handful of albums which I consider to be more "representative" anyway, so it's not like I have to choose from 100+ titles.

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Wips
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Post 2017-02-15 17:33   [Quote] 
I think the best way is start with the You Can't Do On Stage series Vol.1 and go through the volumes. You will find certain songs you like and then you can cross reference the albums they came from and go get those albums and off you go.

The first 'real' Zappa I got into was the sampler cassette for YCDTOSA Vol.1. I remember getting into it that way and remember getting the Volumes one by one in the early nineties.

So much goodness!

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scherbe2003
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Post 2017-02-18 04:08   [Quote] 
A Method in Exploring the Frank Zappa Album’s Catalog?

1. Buy them all.
2. Listen to them one by one.
3. You decide.
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Jim Lahey
Joined: 2006-08-14
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Post 2017-02-22 01:04   [Quote] 
"Start with Freak Out" is what I usually say. Generally I think if one can not find something to like on Freak Out they will not have fun with the rest of the catalog. Also, its the first one, everyone who was there at the time had to start there, why not you?
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McMick
Joined: 2015-06-26
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Post 2018-09-13 00:09   [Quote] 
Hey, just a heads up, if you know anyone interested in collecting Frank's music, tell them to start soon because if they buy 1 album per month, it is going to take them 10 YEARS to have all of them...
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