Zappa (7) : “Louie Louie” part one

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September 19, 2013 by admin

“‘Louie Louie’ repeatedly figured in the musical lexicon of Frank Zappa in the 1960s. An early live version of his original composition ‘Plastic People’ (from his You Can’t Do That Onstage Anymore series of live albums) was set to the melody of ‘Louie Louie’ (the official version was released on the album Absolutely Free in 1967). Zappa reportedly fired guitarist Alice Stuart from The Mothers of Invention because she couldn’t play ‘Louie Louie.’ At a Zappa concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Mothers of Invention keyboardist Don Preston climbed up to the legendary venue’s pipe organ, usually used for classical works, and played the signature riff (this can be heard on the 1969 Zappa album Uncle Meat). Quick interpolations of ‘Louie Louie’ also frequently turn up in other Zappa works.”

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“In the end, the most pertinent thing to be said about Frank Zappa is probably that for all he knows about music, he lacks the talent to write a song like ‘Louie Louie.'”
Lester Bangs, qouted in Jim DeRogatis’s Kaleidoscope Eyes: Psychedelic Rock from the ’60s to the ’90s

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“When Kevin Ayers said that Johnny Rotten was the most exciting voice since Little Richard’s, and all the punk bands started playing [Richard] Berry’s ‘Louie Louie,’ rock reconnected to the sparks that originally inspired Zappa: the abdurdist mind-fuck of R&B. By the late ’70s Zappa was too occluded in his private enterprise to notice such continuites and he dismissed punk as a fad. It was Iggy Pop — another exponent of ‘Louie Louie’ and an intensity that transcends the categories of the absurd and the sublime — who received the ‘godfather of punk’ title. Nevertheless, Zappa’s attitude has always been an extension of the transcendent idiocy of the ‘Louie Louie’ riff — the revolutionary heart of rock.”
Ben Watson, Frank Zappa’s Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play, p. 15 (merely the first of 20 unique references in Watson’s tome to “Louie Louie”)

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Zappa & Howard Stern & Robin Quivers

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“Well, I was also in bands when ‘Louie Louie,’ before the Kingsmen made it into the joke that everybody recognizes now. ‘Louie Louie’ used to be a really cool tune, the Richard Berry version of it. It had, y’know, a nice arrangement to it, and a whole different feel to it. It wasn’t until The Kingsmen version that it became, y’know, the Animal House joke that it is right now.”
Zappa, quoted at Eric Predoehl‘s Frank Zappa and ‘Louie Louie’ (which has more quotes from FZ and an indispensable listing of all the Zappa reworkings of the tune)

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cf. Dave Marsh‘s “Louie Louie” book, which I believe has a lengthy bit on Zappa but which I don’t have handy to pluck something from right now.

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Mothers of Invention, “Plastic People”

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