MELOMANIAS: Frank Zappa: admirable madman or misunderstood genius? | Today’s Chronicle

MELOMANIAS: Frank Zappa: admirable madman or misunderstood genius?  |  Today’s Chronicle

Frank Vincent Zappa, musician, composer, guitarist, record producer, actor, and filmmaker; American born in Baltimore, Maryland, but raised in California by parents with Italian-French roots. Very young he discovered what would be his definitive musical influences, especially Igor Stravinski and Eduard Varése.

In his high school days he befriended another boy guitarist with strong musical aptitudes named: Don Van Vliet, who would become the famous Captain Beefheart; with him, Zappa would share a volatile friendship and maintain an eternal competition for each other. In those final years of high school Frank’s talent as a composer and arranger fully blossomed; he wrote only original music for the school band, so upon graduation he immediately began looking for a way to earn enough to make a living from music. He wrote the soundtrack for a movie made by a teacher at his school.

In 1960 he began as a drummer in his first bands, but by those coincidences of life, in 1964, he was invited to join the R&B band: TheSoulGiants, but as a guitarist, and there he took the role of the leader in a few months and transformed it. en: TheMothers, which is not a reference to anyone’s mother, but is a shorthand for the word “motherfuckers” (sons of bitches), which in jazz slang is used to define someone who is individually simply a true god musical, for his great ability to execute, that is, a virtuous motherfucker!

Zappa’s intention at TheMothers was to reinvent jazz by mixing it with rock’n’roll, DooWop, R&B and all with a hint of psychedelia. Frank from the beginning showed his love for strange sounds in his recordings, as well as showing us a talent for creating compositions a bit far from pop and really showing extreme virtuosity on all instruments, and it is impressive what he achieved in his time with the few technological resources that existed.

In 1966 they released their first album: Freak Out !, which was the second double album in history (the first was Bob Dylan’s BlondeOnBlonde) and at the suggestion of their label they extended the name of their band to: TheMothers Of Invention. The best part of this album is the end of the second album, a 12-minute progressive jazz piece called: “The Return Of The Son Of MonsterMagnet”, along with the song: “Help, I’m A Rock”; The rest of the album is very well done in its jazzy sounds with R&B, but in our opinion it abuses the dissonances a bit, especially in the voices, so it is a bit difficult to digest.

With TheMothers Of Invention, with some changes in the lineup, between 1965 and 1969, Zappa released only 4 albums; After the aforementioned, Absolutely Free arrived, which definitely shows much more maturity in creating a sound for the band and again shows us the virtuosity of the members, individually and collectively, but it does so in a more digestible way in this album that could be closer to the genre called: art rock.

In 1968 they released: We’reOnly In ItForThe Money, whose cover is a satire on the album Sgt. PeppersLonelyHearts Club Band by The Beatles. This album is considered the best that Zappa made in his entire career and it was also very controversial because this work is considered the epitome of the total disdain for the socio-political establishment of the nascent hippies. The best thing about him is that he received strong recognition for his contributions to new recording techniques in his eternal search for new and different sounds.

On the cover of their album, We’reOnlyOnItForThe Money, the members of TheMothers Of Invention are shown, all wearing women’s clothing; behind them is a collage of faces, similar to the one shown on the cover they parody (Sgt. Peppers / The Beatles), with characters ranging from Jimi Hendrix, through the Statue of Liberty, and even The Three Musketeers; all around the central flower drum in which the name of the disk is displayed and at the bottom, instead of flowers, the word is displayed: Mothers, formed with carrots, watermelons, strawberries and tomatoes, all under a dark sky and lightning, unlike the beautiful “blue sky” of Sgt. Peppers.

Not content with the parody of the front, the back cover continues with the caricature: here the members are shown, with a red background, again in women’s clothing, all with their backs turned except one, who only shows us a crumpled sheet of paper. butcher.

The best comes in the music, because, although it is obviously not a musical parody of The Beatles album, it does show two flashes of satire: one in the song: “What’sTheUgliestPart Of YourBody?”, In which we hear a bell. similar to that of John Lennon; and in the song: “Mom & Dad”, we find some sounds, in the music and the voices, that remind us of TheDoors, another renowned promoter of hippies.

In this album, the music that Frank Zappa gives us with his Mothers borders on the great; Decades before the word deconstruction was invented, TheMothers express it to us in a lofty way. The game that they generate with music and voices, when moving away from the tones of harmony towards dissonances and then that mixture with different noises, the sudden changes in the instrumentation of the typical ones of a rock band to an orchestra in the same song, the Impressive pianos in the style of a very modern jazz or classical music (Stravinsky was his spiritual guide) break everything but in the end they reassemble what was destroyed, and that comforts the listener in a way without equal.

Zappa’s black humor floods the entire work, with bizarre dialogues, inexplicable voices, cuts, mixes and scrambles of musical sounds and others not so many, harmonic and dissonant.

Definitely: the sublime work of a madman to tie up!

Treatises could be written on the humor of Frank Zappa expressed in this magical album, and also on his avant-garde style and philosophy, his contempt for “flowerpower” in the midst of the hippie era, his nihilism, his libertarian optimism, and so on. And this without talking about the musical.

Zappa from these years marked the history of Rock and made it clear that he was a musician for musicians for his virtuosity combined with his extreme sociological and philosophical depth.

But let’s continue with more of his work. His next album was: CruisingWithRuben & The Jets, released that same 1968 and in which he paid homage to the Doo-Wop music (black vocal music mix of R&B and Gospel) of the fifties. It was followed by: UncleMeat in 1969; double album, originally projected as a soundtrack, and therefore full of strange sounds and voices without clear lyrics and crazy dialogues, voices in unimaginable ranges, all on the fringes of the cartoonish; In it he uses the first synthesizers and shows us more his jazz influences but does not abandon the hallmark of the house in its construction, he highlights his great use of brass and horns. He closes with his famous suite: “King Kong”, made up of 6 pieces with an excellent fusion of jazz and rock. And there is still a lot of story to tell …

Until his death, Frank Zappa followed only the roads less traveled and for his extreme virtuosity he earned the recognition of the entire music scene.

We consider him the greatest musician for musicians in the History of Rock.


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MELOMANIAS: Frank Zappa: admirable madman or misunderstood genius? | Today’s Chronicle