Author Topic: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)  (Read 2815 times)

Utterdrivel

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Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« on: December 22, 2020, 10:12:52 PM »
The Alex Winters one.

1) it's really good if you like that kind of thing

2) there's a lovely newly filmed bit with Ruth Underwood playing Black Page 2 on piano

3) there's a scene of old footage which is so similar to a well-known Fast Show sketch that I laughed out loud




cheers

Twonty Gostelow

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Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2020, 12:30:06 AM »
there's a scene of old footage which is so similar to a well-known Fast Show sketch that I laughed out loud

"What colour will you paint those napkins, Johnny?"
"Does my Dinah-Moe Humm look big in this?"
"Zoot Allures you, sir."

(I'm guessing it's Jazz (from Hell) Club.)


Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2020, 09:41:02 AM »
Can't wait to see this, backed the Kickstarter years ago. They've gone quite warts and all from what i hear.

the science eel

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Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2020, 10:33:02 AM »
Yeah, you're not going to come away from this thinking he's NOT a wanker

Utterdrivel

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Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2020, 01:19:53 PM »
Can't wait to see this, backed the Kickstarter years ago. They've gone quite warts and all from what i hear.

Not really. There's a bit about his groupie fondling and general aloofness but not much else negative unless I've forgotten.

Petey Pate

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Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2020, 02:25:34 PM »
Is this legally available to watch anywhere in the UK? I would happily pay to watch it if it supports an independent documentary film maker.

Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2020, 02:59:41 PM »
Not really. There's a bit about his groupie fondling and general aloofness but not much else negative unless I've forgotten.

Yeah they skirt around a lot of the grubbier stuff. No mention of the peado elephant in the room where the Mothers are concerned.

Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2020, 05:22:14 PM »
Yeah they skirt around a lot of the grubbier stuff. No mention of the peado elephant in the room where the Mothers are concerned.

Paedo you say? I'm looking for a new stick to hit this cunt with...please fill me in.

Twonty Gostelow

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Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2020, 05:51:53 PM »
Probably refers to Mothers bassist (and founder member of Little Feat) Roy Estrada. https://ultimateclassicrock.com/roy-estrada-longtime-frank-zappa-bassist-sentenced-to-25-years-in-prison-for-child-molestation/  Zappa wouldn't have known anything.

  Cheer up Roy, you're getting out when you're 93.

Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2020, 05:53:56 PM »
Probably refers to Mothers bassist (and founder member of Little Feat) Roy Estrada. https://ultimateclassicrock.com/roy-estrada-longtime-frank-zappa-bassist-sentenced-to-25-years-in-prison-for-child-molestation/  Zappa wouldn't have known anything.

  Cheer up Roy, you're getting out when you're 93.

That's what they all say.

NoSleep

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Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2020, 06:02:21 PM »
That's what they all say.

Just like the years that the Beatles spent on the road with Savile, eh?

Vitalstatistix

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Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2020, 07:07:37 PM »
Decent doc but definitely not 'warts and all'.

Tiny segment about how he liked to sleep around but other than that it's a standard myth-making rock doc hagiography.

Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2020, 08:03:54 PM »
Can't wait to see this, backed the Kickstarter years ago.

So did I, and only realised the other week that the man running it was Bill or Ted, the other one anyway.

Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2020, 08:31:32 PM »
Just like the years that the Beatles spent on the road with Savile, eh?

Ah yes, remembering that they were with Savile for (checks Wikipedia) 6 years in total.

He knew.

Lisa Jesusandmarychain

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Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #14 on: December 23, 2020, 09:38:35 PM »
Probably refers to Mothers bassist (and founder member of Little Feat) Roy Estrada. https://ultimateclassicrock.com/roy-estrada-longtime-frank-zappa-bassist-sentenced-to-25-years-in-prison-for-child-molestation/  Zappa wouldn't have known anything.

  Cheer up Roy, you're getting out when you're 93.

I liked him as Jim in " Taxi".

Frank Zappa was a smug arsehole who made horrible music, cheers.

Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #15 on: December 23, 2020, 10:50:18 PM »
Just watched this - it’s fine enough, but somehow suffers from not containing any new or surprising information for anyone even casually familiar with Zappa, whilst simultaneously not being an especially cohesive introduction to the man for anyone unfamiliar. It was a nice enough compendium of footage, though I wish they’d let some of the rarer bits play out longer without talking heads interrupting them every few seconds. I’m also not sure how much of this footage was actually previously unseen or “from the vaults” - I recognized most of it.

Anyone know why his relationship with Captain Beefheart was given such short shrift? It seemed very odd that we got 5 minutes dedicated to him playing with John and Yoko that one time, but Don is only briefly mentioned once or twice in the whole thing.

the science eel

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Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #16 on: December 23, 2020, 11:00:28 PM »
Frank Zappa was a smug arsehole who made horrible music, cheers.

That's it in a nutshell.

Just watched this - it’s fine enough, but somehow suffers from not containing any new or surprising information for anyone even casually familiar with Zappa, whilst simultaneously not being an especially cohesive introduction to the man for anyone unfamiliar. It was a nice enough compendium of footage, though I wish they’d let some of the rarer bits play out longer without talking heads interrupting them every few seconds. I’m also not sure how much of this footage was actually previously unseen or “from the vaults” - I recognized most of it.

Anyone know why his relationship with Captain Beefheart was given such short shrift? It seemed very odd that we got 5 minutes dedicated to him playing with John and Yoko that one time, but Don is only briefly mentioned once or twice in the whole thing.

I'm what you'd call casually familiar (altho' not a fan) but all the footage from the Garrick residency in 1967 was interesting and completely new to me. Likewise the clip of folk moving about on set preparing for the We're Only In It... cover.

Agree with you about Beefheart. What made it even more frustrating was to see silent footage of a pre-fame Don near the start, without much in the way of comment. What was it all about?

Petey Pate

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Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #17 on: December 23, 2020, 11:21:09 PM »
Zappa wouldn't have known anything.

Gail Zappa did make this cryptic comment online years ago which implies that she and Frank knew that he was involved with criminal activity.

Quote
Roy has his nerve complaining about FZ in interviews now and if I catch another example I will officially go on record for what he has never taken responsibility for and remind him that we did not report him to the police all those years ago.

Twonty Gostelow

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Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #18 on: December 24, 2020, 12:20:10 AM »
Could have been jaywalking. Moon Zappa has a memoir coming out but I doubt she'll bring it up.

If I've got the timeline right Zappa was dead before Estrada's first conviction. If he and Gail were sitting on something up to then we're never likely to find out.
I dunno. I love a lot of the music but never warmed to FZ as a person, but I'm not convinced he would have turned a blind eye to something that horrible.

Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #19 on: December 24, 2020, 07:01:04 AM »
That's it in a nutshell.

I'm what you'd call casually familiar (altho' not a fan) but all the footage from the Garrick residency in 1967 was interesting and completely new to me. Likewise the clip of folk moving about on set preparing for the We're Only In It... cover.

You’re right, I’m sure plenty of the earlier days footage was from the vaults - I think I’d forgotten about that by the end when it was mostly interviews and concert footage that’ve been on YouTube for years.

SpiderChrist

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Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #20 on: December 24, 2020, 07:27:06 AM »
Yeah, you're not going to come away from this thinking he's NOT a wanker

I won’t be going into it thinking he’s not a wanker. Because I think he’s a wanker.

the science eel

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Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #21 on: December 24, 2020, 11:18:17 AM »
So 'separate the art from the artist' isn't something we need to consider here. 'cos they're both wank

Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #22 on: December 24, 2020, 08:35:24 PM »
I’ve never thought he came off that badly. A bit self-satisfied in his later years especially, but that’s well-enough earned I reckon. Musically, he’s about 50/50 for me, but with the sheer amount of music he put out (and the diversity thereof) it’d be virtually impossible to hit much higher than that. I also admit to probably having only heard half of his total output, and am intimately familiar with even less.

Nevertheless, his fight against the PMRC was noble (if self-serving) and his commitment to highlighting the talents of musicians he found was equally admirable (again ultimately self-serving, but he gave a lot of great and unusual musicians careers they might not have otherwise had). Overall, I think he comes out very much in credit.

Watching this documentary inspired me to look into what Dweezil’s been up to lately - himself notably very absent from this Ahmet-sanctioned piece. He’s an absolute pro, and probably a better guitar player than his dad now. Would recommend.

Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #23 on: December 24, 2020, 09:38:45 PM »
Zappa's definitely not 'in' at the moment, is he?

If you can listen to Hot Rats or We're Only In It For The Money and still dismiss him, then fair play. I certainly wouldn't.

Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #24 on: December 25, 2020, 12:08:03 AM »
This is the only place online I’m likely to read about Zappa, but he certainly seems to be surprisingly contentious here - at least from the last few threads he’s come up in. Accusations about him being some sort of right-winger were especially surprising - of course having died in the early 90s he wasn’t as progressive as we might expect from artists nowadays, but I think he was overwhelmingly on the side of good politically.

As for his music, I can certainly understand people’s aversion to it (I don’t care for a lot of his most definitive work myself), but not outright dismissal. I think you could categorically prove his talent and impact with a pen and paper.

the science eel

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Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #25 on: December 25, 2020, 12:36:18 AM »
Ian Penman on Zappa:

For some, Frank Zappa was a musical iconoclast, capsizing the barriers between high and low culture. For others, he was a reactionary force, vilifying anything that didn't fit his cynical worldview. Ian Penman sits down with Zappa's newly reissued back catalogue and takes sides.

For the pop life of me, I cannot see why anyone past the age of 17 would want to listen to Frank Zappa again, never mind revere him as a deep and important artist, never mind worship at the tottering edifice of his recollected, remastered and repackaged works. Surely the only pertinent use for Zappa was as an interim stage for young lads ‹ scared witless by what they suddenly perceive as the transience or hollowness of popular culture ‹ for whom Zappa represents a gi-normous prefab sneer of self-importance behind which they can shelter for a while. (And, lest we forget: in the pre-Viz, pre-Mayall and Edmondson 1970s, he was the only legitimate supplier of fart and bum and willy jokes).

When you're a Zappa fan, you're supplied with a number of get-out clauses from the idea of simple plain fun most of us plain simple folks get from popular culture. If you're still slightly nervous about the idea of worshipping some geeky, greasy-hair, guitar-stranglin' guy, there is Zappa's obeisance to notions of Western cultural fidelity (as witness his attempts at More Serious Works) to buoy up your sense of engagement with something bigger, something... Beyond. If you're just an average Bill 'n' Ted kinda guy, looking to gross out on guitars 'n' guffaws, then there is Zappa's blanket cynicism, misogyny, Catch 22 smutty humour (supposedly a parody of smutty attitudes ‹ yeah, and Are You Being Served? is Hegel in hiding). And finally ‹ and perhaps most important of all for Frank's fan-boy club ‹ is the fact that all this would-be cultural iconoclasm is served up with its outsize Guitar Worship intact. So Frank's boys can genuflect at the feet of a Real Musician; they can collate and collect and fanzine-date each and every guitar solo into hermetic, cultural, slo-death oblivion ‹ while simultaneously pretending it's all being held suspended daintily between gilded quotation marks. Just like Frank did for most of his life. Instead of having to come out and face the difficult adult world of belief, lust, dirt, pain, you can instead strike ironic poses about belief, lust, dirt, pain; you can string ironic distancing effects like so many fairy lights, finally, around everything you do. Even unto your own aspirations.

At the beginning of his career, Zappa may have perceived one or two truths, whose pure toxicity proved too much for him. Not being someone whose genius was innately, genetically wild and crazy (no Beefheart, Iggy or Reed/Cale he), but who still wanted to be somehow, someway centre stage all the same (and all the time), he cast around. Could he be a leading edge satirist like Lenny Bruce, say? (No, because he wasn't innately... etc.) Could he be another Dylan, an irritant, generational Voice? No, because the economic veracity of the Song never was (and never would be) his forte. Then, why not just jack in all this rock culture bullshit he had such obvious contempt for from the very off, and stick to the Berlioz/Varèse beat, where he could carve out a respectable career as a 'modern composer'? Well, no, he wasn't quite good or brave enough for that, either. So, let's recap: can't sing, can't dance, not a pretty-boy or an intellectual, contemptuous of both the academy and the Street...

Welcome to Zappaland! A strange world of negative values and funhouse mirrors where acolytes spread out across the world, a demented glare in their eye, determined to persuade us non-believers of things that are manifestly not so. Just like Scientologists, who will earnestly tell you what a rocket scientist type guy L Ron really was (or still is), so the Zappoids buttonhole you with what a political giant he was, what a musicological genie, what a wit and a wag. But just because a few poor East Europeans deprived of guitar solos and anti-consumerist humour for a few decades made him Trade Minister Without Portfolio or something, this does not a Noam Chomsky make of the man who inflicted 200 Motels on the world.

Zappalytes say things like: "OK, by this point the humour was getting a little oafish, and the endless tales of groupies and on the road life is a little stale, and yes, perhaps we can even detect a mouse-peep of misogyny here and there, but ‹ Wowee Zowee! ‹ check out the modal declension in the five minute solo on "Limburger Corporation Wowser", it's about the third best version on record so far! Hot poop!" No, they really do say things like that. Even (or especially) the intelligent, grown-up ones. Even the ones who have an otherwise coherent grasp of the adult world and all its politics and evasions and lies claim him to be the author of some kind of on-going modern Leviathan ‹ a splenetic contemporary satire, withering in its attack, all-encompassing in its range. Then you (and they) search for the actual targets of this piercing worldview, and what do they (and you) find? Satires on porn, wanking, dope, more porn, cocktail jazz, teenage girls, disco music, more porn, TV evangelists (always a favourite stop-off for the more intellectual rock star), um... session musicians... um, hello?

I've been saying some of this stuff about Zappa for years, so when the staff here at The Ire (sic) sat me down with the first batch of Frank releases from the first stage of Rykodisc's all-embracing reissue programme (there are, naturally, lots of double and triple CD treats herein), I thought what a great chance to fire poison darts at the Emperor's pimply bod. I really would like to present you with a monumental, work-by-work deconstruction of the Zappa canon (I even started to write one: honest), but all those 'pressing' questions about matrix numbers and matching edits and how they differ from semi-legal bootlegs and so on, crumble into dust when confronted with just a few seconds of the globe-encircling smugness of that Zappa-knows-best voice intoning "Stinkfoot" or "Dinah Moe Hum". I mean, this is the sort of stuff you play real quiet so the neighbours don't think you're the sort of person who listens to this sort of stuff.

The classical pieces? About as desiccated as bourgeois formalism gets. (The only time I got a genuine laugh out of these reissues was reading an exasperated Zappa-penned sleeve note about how one of his 'ground-breaking' pop/classical crossover performances had to be curtailed when The LSO went off to the pub to get drunk halfway through and never returned: Y-e-s! Let's hear it for that Dunkirk spirit!) Doesn't even that supposed split between serious and workaday popular idioms tell us something about him? You can tell a lot by a person's language, and Zappa's ‹ both musicological and critical ‹ is split between two poles: smut and seriousness, both of which carry an overwhelming aura of anal retentiveness, of shoring yourself up against an unmanageable world. The 'serious' Zappa ultimately operates on the same double-bevel as the scabrous stuff. It's so laced with his flashily dissimulated self-doubt and Other-hatred that it points continually to itself as a parody of its form, so that if the world catches on to what a big con trick is being pulled, he can then turn around and say: "It's all just a parody." Or: "You either get it or you don't." Zappa albums valorise the idea of virtuoso instrumentalists and guitar heroes (or rather, Jean Luc Ponty, Terry Bozzio and Steve Vai) to a point which is beyond parody, however. We were always meant to worship these people, make no mistake about it. (You can never get through any piece on Zappa without certain giveaway buzz phrases cropping up: "chops", "seamless virtuosity", "modal run", "great studio sound", etc.) This is, in essence, as un-rock or un-subversive as music can get, in a way that Terry Riley or Morton Feldman or John Cage, say, never were: this is all about how fast your fingers can go. ... And how low your sarcasm can dredge. Zappa takes the piss out of some of the best things in the modern world (girls, drugs, discos, S&M) without offering anything better in their place. (Except colour-coded Boy's Own Record Collecting.) He took the piss out of ‹ or hitched a ride on (as with doowop) ‹ the transient world of Pop, but tell me this: if you were stuck on the proverbial desert island, which disc(s) would you rather have ‹ one solitary song by Brian Wilson or the entire Zappa back catalogue?

He had long hair but sneered at longhairs; he made a long and lucrative career out of endless guitar solos but sneered at other rock musicians; he constantly bumped his little tugboatful of 'compositions' up against the prows of the classical establishment, but he lambasted that, too. In stuff like "The Torture Never Stops" and "Dancing Fool" he got some of his biggest audiences by exploiting the very idea of exploitation he was supposedly upbraiding. He sneered at people who took drugs; he sneered at their parents who didn't. Most of all, he sneered at women; girls trying to get by in a world of hateful, mastery-obsessed fools like himself. He sneered at anything which represented the mess and fun and confusion of life. He sneered, in short, at anything/everything that wasn't Frank Zappa.

And all through this long, lonely night of merciless Reason, the only people who thought they weren't being sneered at were the fans. Well, how deluded can you get? Go ahead -you buy something called "Titties And Beer" and persuade yourself you're not the asshole and butt of the joke, and that not only are you not being sneered at but you're participating in a revolutionary act. That takes some kinda tortuous contortion of logic beyond most pop fans, so I guess maybe in the final analysis Zappa fans are smarter than the rest of us poor schlobs, at least as far as advanced sophistry goes.

As for the looming, monolithic, Mad King Ludwig shadow of this reissue programme ‹ think about it: there really isn't any equivalent of this sort of monomaniacal, anally-retentive, self-congratulatory madness in cinema or literature. (There is, of course, in music: Zappa is nothing if not a kind of weird 'n' whacky Wagner for junior Ring-spotters). This is not because Zappa's career in popular music represents some kind of brave singularity ‹ it's because elsewhere is real culture and (t)his is ersatz. Compare him with anyone from George Clinton to Can to Sun Ra to Miles Davis (some of whom have their own reissue programmes underway) ‹ genuine breakthrough artists who didn't just reshuffle the given forms ‹ and realise that although Zappa built a career on purporting to despise the facades of Western consumer culture, he could never actually tear himself away from its value system (he just recycled it, reflected it back in myriad 'negative' forms); he could never step out of his circus-master role and plunge into the world of the Other.

The strangest feeling I got from listening to all this back-to-back, hyper-clean, remastered stuff is that Zappa ‹ supposedly the great arch-modernist, the man who lived inside a studio console ‹ was actually on some level scared witless of technology; or that he could only approach it (like everything else) as something to be mastered, a kind of aural vacuum cleaner for his archives, and that any real mind-scrambling interface with music-as-techne or techne-as-music was quite beyond his scope; that any rending of the veil of the future and away from his beloved twin antiquarian unreconstructed poles of Guitar and Symphony would have sent him gibbering into a permanent yesteryear. Modern composer? Please. Like those poor fools who early on in their careers get stuck in one pose of drug-taking Wild Man or buffoon, Zappa early on got saddled with a job description of iconoclast, and there is nothing more wearing than nearly 30 years of neat, tidy, conscientious, sniping iconoclasm. The only way Zappa could ever wow anyone, finally, was through quantity not quality. He was a jack-off of all trades, and master of none.


e-limbo.org/articulo.php/Art/1259

Shaky

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Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #26 on: December 25, 2020, 01:10:16 AM »
Yeah, but what do *you* think?

Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #27 on: December 25, 2020, 02:02:33 AM »
Ian Penman on Zappa:

I remember that get when he wrote for the NME. His smug prose is far worse than anything Zappa ever did.

famethrowa

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Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #28 on: December 25, 2020, 07:28:43 AM »
I've been a Frank fan for 30 years, I think there's a lot you can take from his stuff in terms of musical concepts and ideas. However, I'm also very wary of hero worship, and in the aging boomer music biz there's this received wisdom that Zappa was a musical genius who could write and play absolutely anything. I know that's extremely not true, because he was not capable of writing a popular song. He tried, he could not.

NoSleep

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Re: Zappa (Frank Zappa Documentary film about Frank Zappa)
« Reply #29 on: December 25, 2020, 08:19:03 AM »
Penman represents a gi-normous prefab sneer of self-importance behind which science eel can shelter for a while.

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