Saturday, September 22, 2007

Classic Album Corner

Frank Zappa- Shiek Yerbouti (1979)
I'm not sure if Frank Zappa has ever been truly appreciated since his death in 1993. The man was, first and foremost, an amazing technical musician. He was also funny as hell.
Never a commercial success throughout his long career, he did experience brief bouts of mainstream appeal, particularly in 1982 with the song "Valley Girl". A few years prior to that, in 1978, at the height of the abomination that was Disco, he released another single, "Dancin' Fool", which found a modicum of popular appeal, particularly among the Rock crowd which had become so fed up with the entire Disco trend.
The album on which "Dancin' Fool" appeared, Shiek Yerbouti (Get it - Shake Your Booty?), a double album, was one of the most amazing records Zappa released during a very fertile creative period. Instant classic Zappa tracks such as "Flakes", "Bobby Brown", "I Have Been In You", "Baby Snakes", and my personal favorite, "Broken Hearts Are For Assholes", all stand out. Obviously, these never had a chance of being played on the radio, even on the progressive album-oriented rock stations of the day. The album also contains several of Zappa's trademark instrumental jams, displaying some amazing work by both Zappa and the crack group of musicians he surrounded himself with.
Zappa would go on to release the critically acclaimed Rock opera of sorts, Joe's Garage, the following year. He continued to make music on his terms, on his own label, right up until his death. His joining of the anti-censorship movement in the mid eighties (see video below) was a high point, as surprised many by appearing so "normal" as he discussed first amendment issues before Congress, often sounding far more intelligent than the government representatives.
As Kevin Murphy (famous for his work on Mystery Science Theater 3000) said, most people would be shocked at how normal the guy was, and how he simply abhorred stupidity. He is undoubtedly missed today.

Here's Frank on CNN's Crossfire in 1986, holding his own against some anti-music idiots:

Shiek Yerbouti (Allmusic guide page)

Official Zappa website
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