DVD: Frank Zappa’s “The Torture Never Stops”

December 21st, 2010, 11:53 am by Greg

(Eagle Vision, 2010):

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the birth of Frank Zappa, which is always cause for celebration. I’ve been a Zappa fan since I was in high school, when “Freak Out” and his other early Mothers albums melted my mind and set me off on my life-long musical adventures.

Recorded back in 1981, the disc boasts three essential ingredients – 1) Frank Zappa 2) live in New York City at the Pallidium 3) on Halloween night. It’s actually a two-hour concert compilation culled from two FZ performances that evening.

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Live: Dweezil Zappa Plays Zappa @ The Egg, 12/16/10

December 17th, 2010, 5:00 pm by Greg
Dweezil Zappa

Dweezil Zappa

It was more than four years ago that Dweezil Zappa, the son of legendary rock genius Frank Zappa, put together a band (including a handful of his father’s former bandmates) under the banner, Zappa Plays Zappa.

That initial incarnation of Zappa Plays Zappa featured guitar god Steve Vai, drum monster Terry Bozzio and saxophonist Napoleon Murphy Brock, among others. By the time the band made its Nippertown concert debut at The Egg back in August 2008, vocalist Ray White was the only Zappa alum left in the fold.

Since then White has split, too, and on Thursday evening the sold-out crowd at The Egg’s Hart Theatre caught a sans-superstar version of the band, which has been re-named Dweezil Zappa Plays Zappa. It didn’t matter. The younger recruits that Dweezil had enlisted were all quite capable of tackling the vast and very tricky musical repertoire left behind by Zappa the Elder.

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LIVE: Project/Object @ Revolution Hall, 1/9/10

January 12th, 2010, 4:20 pm by Greg

Frank Zappa died in 1993. But not his music.

An off-shoot of a Zappa birthday celebration in the New Jersey basement of guitarist Andre Cholmondeley, Project/Object has carried on Zappa’s musical legacy. Not only was Project/Object among the very first Zappa tribute bands, but, as Cholmondeley pointed out at Revolution Hall in Troy on Saturday night, they’re the only tribute band “with actual ingredients.”

“Accept no substitutes,” chimed in vocalist-guitarist Ike Willis, himself a decade-long veteran of Zappa’s bands.

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The Present-Day Composer Refuses to Die…

December 21st, 2009, 11:04 am by Greg

Today marks the 69th anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest American composers of the rock era – Frank Vincent Zappa.

From “Who Are the Brain Police?” to “Peaches en Regalia” to “Black Napkins” and beyond, Zappa’s music consistantly pushed the envelope, and even now – 16 years after his death – Zappa continues to be a major influence on the contemporary rock scene.

Here’s a clip from the 22-year-old (pre-Mothers) Zappa’s television debut on “The Steve Allen Show” in 1963, playing a duet for two bicycles, pre-recorded electronic tape and show band:

And don’t forget: Zappa tribute band Project/Object is scheduled to rock Revolution Hall in Troy on Saturday, January 9, joined by Mothers alum Ray White and Ike Willis.

“I might be moving to Montana soon…”

May 10th, 2009, 7:51 pm by Greg

Hey, just a few nights ago, I settled back and watched the DVD “Classic Albums: Apostrophe (‘) and Over-Nite Sensation,” and it was a stone gas.

Frank Zappa: Apostrophe/Overnight SensationLots of old interviews with Frank Zappa and live footage, too. (Remember “I Am the Slime” from Zappa’s 1976 appearance on “Saturday Night Live”? It’s here, complete with the Don Pardo spoken word section.) Lots of recent interviews with the bandmembers from those early-’70s Zappa bands – including George Duke, Napolean Murphy Brock and Ruth Underwood. And lots Dweezil sitting at the mixing board, dissecting the music track by track – really fascinating.

Every once in while, there was footage of Dweezil onstage, too, leading his tribute band Zappa Plays Zappa, as they cranked out an Frank nugget. I got all wistful (or was that wasteful?) about the sold-out ZPZ show at The Egg last year. “Sure would love the opportunity to catch that band in action again soon,” I thought. “I mean, it’s not like I’m going to have the chance to ever see Frank again.”

(Of course, there was that time back in ’69 when Zappa and the Mothers played the University at Buffalo’s Clark Gym and brought out Simon & Garfunkel for a set of old doo-wop tunes. But that’s a story for another time.)

Anyway, the next day I find out that ZPZ is coming to the Palace Theatre on Tuesday, August 4 as part of the second annual Progressive Nation tour with Dream Theater, Pain of Salvation and Beardfish. How lucky am I? Maybe I’ve got the shining.

Tix for the Palace show go on sale Friday, May 15.

Oh, and one more little tidbit that I learned watching the DVD? The back-up singers on “Over-Nite Sensation” were the uncredited Tina Turner and the Ikettes. Whoa…

Frank Zappa: Apostrophe / Over-Nite Sensation

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