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Which are the best books on Zappa and his music?
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funkisit
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Post 2006-09-22 02:46   [Quote] 
Let me know.

Thanks.
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Hasi
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Post 2006-09-22 04:02   [Quote] 
Cosmik Debris by Greg Russo
Electric Don Quixote by Neil Slaven

both of them are a good start, imho.

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camabrillo
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Post 2006-09-22 14:09   [Quote] 
I think "Zappa" from Barry Miles is also very good!

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pbuzby
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Post 2006-09-22 14:24   [Quote] 
camabrillo wrote:
I think "Zappa" from Barry Miles is also very good!


Can't agree on that, sorry. Full of factual errors and whining.
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CrabCake
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Post 2006-09-22 14:50   [Quote] 
"The Real Frank Zappa Book" by Frank Zappa maybe of some use too.
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wildfisherman
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Post 2006-09-22 15:54   [Quote] 
And there's no excuse for missing out on "The Negative Dialectics Of Poodle Play" by Ben Watson.

Maybe sometimes he finds stuff in the lyrics that Frank never quite intended but he does come at it from a very erudite angle and opened my eyes to all sorts of things I would never have otherwise seen.

You'd be missing something quite special if you never saw this book.
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mjp2621
Joined: 2006-06-17
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Post 2006-09-23 17:26   [Quote] 
Viva Zappa &

The Words and Music of Frank Zappa by Kelly Fisher Lowe
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haab
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Post 2006-09-23 19:48   [Quote] 
mjp2621 wrote:
Viva Zappa &

The Words and Music of Frank Zappa by Kelly Fisher Lowe


Funny that. That's a book I would recommend a novice to avoid. It's a confused attempt to academize Zappa from a writer who very probably is dyslectic. The errata pages will be many if it goes to a new round. Read Watson, Miles, Gray, Colbeck and Walley instead, but start with the Real FZ Book.
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stickwolf
Joined: 2006-02-03
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Post 2006-09-23 21:00   [Quote] 
I have not read most books, but the "Frank Zappa Companion" is excellent. It introduces concepts from many authors and sources including Ben Watson. It is a great overview and VERY well put together.
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StatusBaby
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Post 2006-10-28 00:44   [Quote] 
I have read most of the Zappa books and would comment as follows:

Recommended:
The Real FZ Book (Essential)
Russo - Cosmik Debris (Essential)
Slaven - Electric Don Quioxote (Essential)
Watson - Poodle Play (intellectual masturbation not biography)

The Inbetweenies
Walley - No Commercial Potential (although I hate his affected writing style it is accurate)
Courrier - The Dangerous Kitchen
James - Necessity Is....
Gray - Mother! The FZ Story
Kostelanetz - The FZ Companion

Avoid (or at the very least read with a great deal of caution about the 'facts' presented therein):

Miles - FZ
Colbeck - Zappa
Lennon - Being Frank
Chevalier - Viva Zappa

Most of the other books are either picture books (the other Miles), personal anecdotes (Thana Harris, Candy Zappa), album reviews (Watson [again], Brooks), bootleg reviews (Nobby - the legendary Nobby, Norwegian FZ Society, EDIT - forgot to mention the Torchum series here) or yet more intellectual masturbation (Watson again and again and a-fucking-gain).

I'm sure I've missed some out - no doubt some people will disagree with my opinions - but hey WTF - it's a free country Wink

Happy Reading

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Last edited by StatusBaby on 2006-10-29 00:24; edited 1 time in total
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PhydeauxIII
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Post 2006-10-28 00:52   [Quote] 
TRFZB is always a good place to begin. I tried reading Miles, but after 50 pages and tonnes of errors, I put that thing down and never touched it again. Thank God it was a library book.

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rampantbeast
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Post 2006-10-28 21:05   [Quote] 
No offence to anyone who rates it - but I'm amazed so many prize the Slaven book. I found it a bit dull.

I've read most of the stuff listed here and most enjoyed Ben Watson's Poodle Play. Sorry. Watson is described in another thread in this forum as a jizz-soaked anorak wearer who sucks the fun out of Zappa. This may not be a completely accurate quote but I can't be arsed to go and hunt for it. Watson's completely partisan approach and bonkers analysis of tracks is amusing and refreshingly different to the standard biographical presentation of other books. Overly intellectual - probably. But there's still loads of fun to be had from that book. And Zappa liked the Watson stuff he heard.

Now, where's my anorak?
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StatusBaby
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Post 2006-10-29 00:23   [Quote] 
rampantbeast wrote:
No offence to anyone who rates it - but I'm amazed so many prize the Slaven book. I found it a bit dull


Maybe I'm biased because I know Neil Slaven - he's a very nice chap and a genuine fan, but I do think the book is a decent bio.

rampantbeast wrote:
Zappa liked the Watson stuff he heard


I read somewhere - or maybe heard from Watson himself - that Zappa laughed out loud at some of the Watson material. This may qualify as enjoyment - but do not mistake this for agreement - afaik Zappa too thought the Watson synopsis was totally inacurate.

However, I still rate the Watson book - because it is a totally refreshing and alternate interpretation of the body of work.

rampantbeast wrote:
Now, where's my anorak?


hanging up next to mine Wink

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StatusBaby
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Post 2006-10-29 00:37   [Quote] 
wildfisherman wrote:
Maybe [Watson] sometimes he finds stuff in the lyrics that Frank never quite intended


I wanted to just expand on this a bit in Watson's defence (sort of).

There is a school of thought that believes that just because an artist doesn't realise he is referencing something, or is influenced by something, doesn't actually mean that those references or influences aren't there. In other words (without being too Watsonian about it) the very process of creating a a work imbues a life into that work that is in some ways unique and seperate from the experience of the artist.

Zappa may never have intended a particular interpretation or value that Watson may have identified - but that doesn't mean per se that Watson is wrong, and that that interpretation is invalid.

Not sure if that's confused things or clarrified them - but the very fact that Watson has provoked more debate here than any other author says one thing - you have to read Watson. But I'd recommend you save it for later - first off read The Real FZ Book, and one of the other standard bios (Slaven Russo or Walley).

BTW - it should be pointed out that many Zappateers are biased towards Russo's book as the later revised editions mention this site Wink

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mike comisky
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Post 2006-10-29 03:55   [Quote] 
I'm with Status Back Baby - and generally with everyone else....TRFZB and Cosmic Debris IMHO have the most factual representation for the neophyte...then on to Watson et al.

yours in FZ,
mike
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