Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Frank Zappa: General Disclaimer

In the coming weeks, Everybody’s Dummy will begin a series of reviews involving the music of Frank Zappa. In the interests of full disclosure, we submit the following.
I am not a Zappa expert, nor do I pretend to be, nor do I plan to be. There are lots of places on the Interwebs where people can argue about which touring band did the best version of “Pound For A Brown” or whether Scott Thunes isn’t fit to tie Arthur Barrow’s shoes or that the Flo & Eddie years were the best. Prior to his death, my knowledge of the man was limited to:
• a few Saturday Night Live performances;
• the rare occasions when FM radio played a track but it was usually “Valley Girl”, “Dancin’ Fool”, “Joe’s Garage”, “Montana” or “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow”;
• his testimony in Congress during the PMRC hearings; and
The Real Frank Zappa Book. That said...
I have listened to every commercially-available-through-the-year-2000 Zappa album at least once, and some more than that. These include everything from Freak Out! past The Yellow Shark up to the Rykodisc releases of Läther and Mystery Disc. Such things became possible when one managed a CD store in a suburban town with a rabid Zappa fan base even before the sad events of December 1993, after which, in an attempt to educate myself, so began the journey. In the process I heard a lot of music I came to love, and a lot that just plain irritated me. Not all of his best stuff is limited to the early stuff, just as not all of it takes overt detours into shock value and songs about oral and/or anal sex. Some of it is obnoxious crap. Much of it is original and inimitable.
Everybody’s Dummy will not commit to chronicling each of the 62 or so albums he saw released, nor all 29 and counting of the posthumous vault dispatches thus far. We will, as ever, simply try to put some of these albums and/or collections into perspective for those who, maybe like me back in the mid-‘90s, simply wanted to know what the fuss was about. How far we’ll get is yet to be known.
So if you’re a Zappa expert (translated: anyone who knows these albums better than I do, which isn’t tough to achieve) and you think I’m full of it, consider the above. And by all means, please comment or complain about any of the posts where you see fit. I’m eager to learn.
If that doesn’t work for you, then consider this dialogue exchange from Uncle Meat:
“I can’t tell when you’re telling the truth—”
“I’m not.”
“How do I know anything you’ve said to me is—”
“You don’t.”
As always, thanks for reading. Hopefully you’ll find it to be an interesting ride. And don’t forget: Music is the best.


  1. Can't wait, we are in the same boat, when it comes to Zappa music.

  2. As someone who loves music and is supposed to be knowledgable about it, Zappa music has mainly eluded me. I have several albums, but I am not sure I really get them. Same with Leonard Cohen, he just does not work for me.