A Consumer Guide to the Plastic People of the Universe

In A Consumer Guide to the Plastic People of the Universe (2021), Joe Yanosik reviews and grades every known PPU record on the planet (including side projects and mutations, not to mention books and DVDs), all the while — through a series of “historical interludes” — telling the band’s remarkable story, from their post-Beatles/Velvets-obsessed roots in Prague to their critical (if somewhat unwitting) role in bringing down a repressive Soviet-backed regime. I mean, the MC5 were cool and all, but… Continue reading “A Consumer Guide to the Plastic People of the Universe”

Zappa (16): Frank, Lou, Celine, and Carl

“But here at home, the fans of both artists [Lou Reed and Frank Zappa] continue to bicker. Only a few years ago, the Canadian music critic, Carl Wilson, wrote me to say kind words about my book on Randy Newman. I wrote back to thank him and asked him if he read Dangerous Kitchen. ‘I don’t read books about Frank Zappa,’ was his quick reply. … Continue reading Zappa (16): Frank, Lou, Celine, and Carl

Zappa 15: LIFE, June 28, 1968

“The ways in which sound affects the human organism are myriad and subtle. Why does the sound of Eric Clapton’s guitar give one girl a sensation which she describes as ‘Bone Conduction’? Would she still experience Bone Conduction if Eric, using the same extremely thick tone, played nothing but Hawaiian music? Which is more important: the timbre (color-texture) of a sound, the succession of intervals … Continue reading Zappa 15: LIFE, June 28, 1968

Zappa (14): “Dance Fever”!

I noted in my last post that the footage of Zappa on Deney Terrio’s “Dance Fever” had been removed from YouTube. Managed to find a version anyway — hideous quality, but pretty cool nonetheless. Frank appears on the panel (“I thought they were very sincere and I gave them a 96”) with “disco mama” Doris Roberts and one of the sons from “The Waltons.” American … Continue reading Zappa (14): “Dance Fever”!

Zappa (12): Jeff Pike’s Top 10 (+9)

Alas, a little something about the music. Or maybe a lot of something, who knows? Jeff Pike, who has occasionally written about Zappa on his excellent Can’t Explain blog, provides a Top 10 (+9) Zappa-themed list, along with a few additional thoughts on the man. I’ll follow-up Jeff’s list in a later post with my own Top 10+, and we’ll see where it goes from … Continue reading Zappa (12): Jeff Pike’s Top 10 (+9)

Zappa (11)

“However, Zappa is the strangest case. I’ve never met anyone (who expressed an opinion) that wasn’t polarized one way or another — you’re either 100 per cent Zapped or you find him so repellent that his work becomes unapproachable… “I sympathize with Penman’s Zappa problem — it is a toughie, but I can’t accept his position that his problem with Zappa fans and Zappa’s stance … Continue reading Zappa (11)

Zappa (9): “Memories of El Monte”

  “Memories of El Monte,” the Penguins, 1963 — written by Frank Zappa and Ray Collins. Not often commented upon (at least from what I’ve seen) is the fact that “El Monte” holds its place in pop history as one of the early sampling records, stitching in, as it does, quotes from eight doo-wop classics, all of which are helpfully listed on the song’s Wiki … Continue reading Zappa (9): “Memories of El Monte”

Zappa (8): Yellow Snow Beer Hum part one

“Thanks to songs like ‘Dinah Moe Humm,’ ‘Titties & Beer’ and ‘Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow,’ I managed to accumulate enough cash to bribe a group of drones* to grind its way through pieces like ‘Mo ‘n Herb’s Vacation,’ ‘Bob in Dacron’ and ‘Bogus Pomp’ (eventually released on London Symphony Orchestra, Volumes I and II) — in performances which come off like high-class ‘demos’ of … Continue reading Zappa (8): Yellow Snow Beer Hum part one

Zappa (7) : “Louie Louie” part one

“‘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 … Continue reading Zappa (7) : “Louie Louie” part one

Zappa (6)

“FWIW, Joe’s Garage is probably one of my favorite albums, and I absolutely hate parts of it, too. But it was very mind-opening for me when I was sixteen, moreso than the early Mothers albums or fusion stuff or post-Demento crap etc. New [Janelle] Monae reminds me of JG in weird ways — self-consciously flimsy conceit keeps getting in the way, mildly amusing in-song narrative … Continue reading Zappa (6)

Zappa (5)

I started responding in the comments box to something from Patrick regarding Zappa and the critics, but I ended up writing stuff I thought would make more sense in its own post, so — I’ll just post it here instead. Patrick mentioned Christgau’s “A” review of We’re Only In It for the Money (as partial proof against my contention that Zappa is the most “critically … Continue reading Zappa (5)