Archive for Joe’s Garage

Great Rock Albums of 1983: Frank Zappa- The Man From Utopia

Posted in 1980s, films, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2015 by 80smetalman

220px-The_Man_From_Utopia

If there was any more evidence to further my belief that 1983 was the year for humour in music, then it would have to be the album “The Man From Utopia” by Frank Zappa. For over a decade and a half before the release of this album, Frank had been successfully carrying out a two pronged assault of making some fantastic music while at the same time, making us laugh our asses off with his humourous lyrics. In the late 1970s, listening to Zappa was practically a requirement at my high school. 1983 would be the year that one of his songs would actually get airplay on commercial radio. Before that, his only access to radio play was via the Dr Demento Show. Yes, I know that “Valley Girl” broke into the top forty charts in 1982 but that song will always be associated with his daughter Moon.

Doctor Demento

Doctor Demento

That all changed when one day, while listening to the one decent rock station in Jacksonville, North Carolina, I heard the track “Cocaine Decisions.” Okay, the song never broke the top forty singles chart, but who really cares about that? I just thought it was great to hear Frank on the radio. True, “Cocaine Decisions” is an anti drug song. However, it is not aimed at the common man. Instead it pokes fun at all the high class executives who used to snort. There was a saying back in the 80s that went, “Cocaine was God’s way of telling you that you make too much money.” Frank’s song parodies that.

The rest of the album consists of everything that Frank Zappa has been doing to entertain us for all those years. There are a load of great parody songs on the album. At first, I thought “The Radio is Broken” was going to be about a broken radio. Instead, Frank is being a kind of prophet here. It would only be less than two years later when, in my view, commercial radio started to suck. This song is about that.

Then there’s “The Dangerous Kitchen.” This one takes the piss out of the rising health and safety culture and look where it is now these days. The track “The Jazz Discharge Party Hats” rips on musicians trying to get laid after every gig. However, my favourite track on “The Man From Utopia” is “The Man From Utopia Meets Mary Lou.” While the song is done with the usual Zappa sense of humour, there is a serious side to it. It’s about a down trodden housewife who gets away but then gets revenge by fleecing men. It is on this track that Ray White’s underrated vocals come out. Oh yes, “Sex” is a pretty funny track too.

If I were to nit pick anything about the album, it would be the absence of Frank Zappa’s guitar playing ability. He doesn’t go into any great solos and it could be said that there is a lack of guitar great Steve Vai’s skills. Honestly, I’m not really bothered. There are three instrumentals, “Tink Walks Amok,” “We’re Not Alone” and “Moggio,” on the album and they all boast the great musicianship from the people Frank gets to play on his albums. I think that “The Man From Utopia” might be his best album since “Joe’s Garage Act 1.”

Track Listing (CD)

  1. Cocaine Decisions
  2. Sex
  3. Tink Walks Amok
  4. The Radio is Broken
  5. We’re Not Alone
  6. The Dangerous Kitchen
  7. The Man From Utopia Meets Mary Lou
  8. Stick Together
  9. The Jazz Discharge Party Hats
  10. Luigi and the Wise Guys
  11. Moggio
Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa- vocals, guitar, drum machine

Steve Vai- guitars

Ray White- guitar, vocals

Roy Estrada- vocals

Bob Harris- boy soprano

Ike Willis- vocals

Bobby Martin- keyboards, saxophone, vocals

Tommy Mars- keyboards

Arthur Barrow- bass, rhythm guitar, keyboards

Ed Mann- percussion

Scott Thunes- bass

Chris Wackerman- drums

Vinnie Colaiuta- drums

Craig Twister Stewart- harmonica

Dick Fegy- mandolin

Marty Krystall- saxophone

Frank Zappa was still going strong in 1983 as “The Man From Utopia” shows. After all, if 1983 was a year for humour in music to step forward, it wouldn’t have been able to do so without Frank.

I have also made a rather disappointing discovery. As a teen forty years ago, I thought that by now, 2015, wars would no longer exist but there would be ROLLERBALL!

Rollerball

Rollerball

Next post: Weird Al Yankovick

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

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Great Rock Albums of 1982: Frank Zappa- Ship Arriving Too Late To Save a Drowning Witch

Posted in 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2015 by 80smetalman

Frank_Zappa_-_Ship_Arriving_Too_Late_to_Save_a_Drowning_Witch

It was true that Men At Work brought a fresh sense of humour to music in 1982, however, Frank Zappa had been bringing humour to music for nearly a decade and a half before that. In 1982, Frank gave us the album “Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch.” What’s more, this album gave him his only top forty single with the help of his daughter Moon Unit. “Valley Girl” made it to number 32 in the pop singles charts and to number 12 in the mainstream rock charts. It also had many girls and quite a few guys using the lingo from the song. Terms like “barf me out,” “gag me with a spoon” and “groady to the max” were all used quite liberally in 1982 and for the next few years after.

Moon Zappa

Moon Zappa

“Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch” only has six songs on it but they are all memorable ones, usually the case with Zappa. Except for the track “Envelopes,” which is an instrumental, the songs all have that trademark warped sense of humour that he possessed. They also have, the instrumental track included, the precise musicianship that a Zappa album always had. In the case of this particular album, a then little known guitar named Steve Vai makes an appearance, playing what is credited on the album as ‘credited guitar parts.’ What some people sometimes forget and I will keep shouting from the rooftops, is that Frank was a damn good guitarist himself. He really smokes the fingerboard on the title track of the album and does a similar job on “I Come From Nowhere.” In fact, after refamiliarising myself with this album, I am lead to draw the conclusion that with the possible exception of “Joe’s Garage Act 1,” “Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch” has the perfect balance of humour and musicianship for a Zappa album.

Steve Vai

Steve Vai

Track Listing:

1. No Not Now

2. Valley Girl

3. I Came From Nowhere

4. Drowning Witch

5. Envelopes

6. Teenage Prostitute

Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa- vocals, lead guitar

Steve Vai- guitar (impossible guitar parts)

Ray White- rhythm guitar, vocals

Tommy Mars- keyboards

Bobby Martin- keyboards, saxophone

Ed Mann- percussion

Scott Thunes- bass (tracks 2,4,5,6)

Arthur Barrow- bass (tracks 1 and 3)

Patrick O’Hearn- bass on the guitar solo on track 3

Chris Wackerman- drums

Ike Willis- vocals

Roy Estrada- vocals

Bob Harris- vocals

Lisa Popeil- vocals on “Teenage Prostitute”

Moon Unit Zappa- vocals on “Valley Girl”

If you want humour and good musicianship, then a Frank Zappa album is the best way to get it. It just so happens that this album hits the right combination of both.

Next post: Utopia- Swing To the Right

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

Great Rock Albums of 1981: Frank Zappa- You Are What You Is

Posted in 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2014 by 80smetalman

220px-Zappa_You_Are_What_You_Is

It was little secret that Frank Zappa was capable of putting out several albums in a year. Earlier in 1981, he had put out “Tinseltown Rebellion” and then a series of albums called “Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar.” Then later in the year he put out this album “You Are What You Is,” which is probably his best known album for this year. Like with many of Zappa’s albums, the songs are all bound together but not in the way like “Joe’s Garage” as there is no visible story line in the songs.

As expected with any great Zappa album, there is that perfect blend of humour and fantastic musicianship. The album begins with “Teenage Wind” which is a parody about teenage hang ups and right on the heels of that is “Harder Than Your Husband.” This song, with it’s country music sound is definitely a good hoot. The first song that real portrays the quality musicianship of Frank and his band is “Doreen.” While stalwart Ray White proves his underrated vocal ability Zappa backs him up with some great guitar work. I’ve always thought that his guitar talents have gone unnoticed. But it’s not just Frank smoking the fingerboard on this album. Accompanying him is some guitar player known as Steve Vai. You might have heard of him.

The title track was also the first video he ever made and like sometimes with his music, it landed him in some trouble. I guess the portrayal of then president Ronald Regan as the president from hell might have had something to do with it. I just wonder why some people are so devoid of a sense of humour. Following the track “Mudd Club” are two tracks that I really like. “The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing” and “Dumb All Over” are both mega swipes at religion and both songs are done with that tongue in cheek Zappa sense of humour. The remainder of the album continues with funny songs until the closer “Drafted Again” which is remake of a song from the early days “I Don’t Want to Get Drafted.”

Track Listing:

1. Teenage Wind

2. Harder Than Your Husband

3. Doreen

4. Goblin Girl

5. Theme From the 3rd Movement of Sinister Footwear

6. Society Pages

7. I’m a Beautiful Guy

8. Beauty Knows No Pair

9. Charlie’s Enormous Mouth

10. Any Downers

11. Conehead

12. You Are What You Is

13. Mudd Club

14. The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing

15. Dumb All Over

16. Heavenly Bank Account

17. Suicide Chump

18. Jumbo Go Away

19. If Only She Woulda

20. Drafted Again

Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa- vocals, guitar, composer

Arthur Barrow- bass

Jimmy Carl Black- vocals

Bobby Harris- trumpet

David Longeman- drums

Ed Mann- -percussion

Tommy Mars- keyboards, vocals

David Ocker- clarinet

Mark Pinske- vocals

Motorhead Sherwood- tenor sax, vocals

Craig Twister Stewart- harmonica

Steve Vai- guitars

Ray White- rhythm guitar, vocals

Ike Willis- rhythm guitar, vocals

Ahmet Zappa- vocals

Dweezil Zappa- vocals

Moon Zappa- vocals

With so many albums under his belt, it was very hard to keep track of everything Frank Zappa produced. Fortunately, for me, “You Are What You Is” wasn’t one of them. This is a very good Zappa album in the tradition of Frank Zappa. Definitely his best in 1981.

Next post: Rolling Stones- Tattoo You

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1979: Frank Zappa- Joe’s Garage Act 1

Posted in 1979, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 29, 2012 by 80smetalman

One of the big advantages of having your own recording studio is that you can make albums without worrying about what producers or corporate executives might think. ¬†Frank Zappa was forced to start his own label because many of the big record companies were too afraid of his risque lyrics and themes. This was an advantage for Frank because he was unrestrained by any of the corporate restrictions and therefore was able to get on and make records the way he wanted and at this stage, he was making records as fast as one every three months. It was out of this that the album “Joe’s Garage Act 1” was born.

“Joe’s Garage Act 1” has all the rude themes and humorous lyrics that is traditional with most Zappa records and there are some classic reminders on this one. “Catholic Girls” and “Crew Slut” are typical cases of him poking fun at society and not holding back. I still find myself quoting lines from the former like “Hey, she gave me V.D.” and “She was on her knees.” However, I can’t leave out my favorite from this album, “Why Does It Hurt When I Pee.” Again, this is Zappa at his funniest and is what made him great. This song is so amusing that I had to write down the lyrics for a friend because she kept wanting to sing them. Yes, “Joe’s Garage Act 1” has all the humor that is renowned with a Zappa record and is probably the best at doing so.

Another great thing about the album is the musicianship. I said it before, Frank Zappa is a great guitarist but not only that, he always brought out the best in the musicians who played with him. Each song again is an example of this and the guitar solo in “Crew Slut” is among the best. So with “Joe’s Garage Act 1” you have both things coming together and the end result is one hell of a fantastic album.

Track Listing:

1. Central Scrutinizer

2. Joe’s Garage

3. Catholic Girls

4. Crew Slut

5. Wet T-Shirt Night

6. Toad O Line

7. Why Does It Hurt When I Pee

8. Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up

Fran Zappa

Frank Zappa- guitar, vocals

Warren Cuccurullo- rhythm guitar, vocals, organ

Denny Walley- vocals, slide guitar, guitar

Craig Twister Steward- harmonica

Jeff- tenor sax

Marginal Chagrin- baritone sax

Patrick O’Hearn- wind, bass

Peter Wolf- keyboards

Stumuk- bass and baritone sax

Tommy Mars- keyboards

Vinnie Coliauta- drums, percussion

Arthur Barrow- bass, vocals

Ed Mann- vocals, percussion

Dale Bozio- vocals

Terry Bozio- guest vocals

November has been Testicular and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and I bring this up because it was prostate cancer that took Frank from us in 1993. I played all his albums, well the ones I have, when I heard the news that day. Frank Zappa will always be remembered for being a musical genius and this album is a true testament to that.

Next post: Blue Oyster Cult- Mirrors

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London