Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Zappadan 2018 again The Persuasions Frankly a Capella: the Persuasions Sing Zappa 2000

Zappadan 2018 continues unabated with some fine contributions on YouTube from Rev. Alex DiBlasi who is reviewing a Zappa release each day of this year's celebration, and brilliant Dutchman Fred Handl plays a number of Zappa's compositions on solo piano. Both of them are celebrating the season in high style. There's also more links over at Zappadan.com.

I'm digging out a wacky a Capella tribute to Zappa by The Persuasions. They manage to sing a number of Frank's finest sans musical accompaniment. That's not so hard to believe on Any Way The Wind Blows, Tears Begin To Fall or Electric Aunt Jemima, which lend themselves to do-wop arrangements, but their versions of Hot Plate Heaven At The Green Hotel, Lumpy Gravy and My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Momma are equally fine. Vocalizing many of the instrumental parts, they turn in fascinating renditions and pay loving tribute to the man who signed them to their first record deal in 1969. It is fun and entertaining, and a novel way to hear Zappa. Holiday cheer!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Zappadan 2018 Lumpy Gravy Primordial 2018

Zappadan is a celebration of all things Zappa. It is celebrated from December 4 to December 21 each year. It was originally conceived as a blogswarm, but has moved beyond just the blogosphere to be embraced on other media as well.

Zappadan, as far as I can tell, got started in 2006. The origin may have been The Aristocrats blog (now defunct) or Mark Hoback’s FriedGreen Al-Qaedas blog (still around, but idle since July 2017), or even Blue Gal (currently operating her own blog, The Professional Left podcast, and contributing to Crooks and Liars).

Aaron Pryor at Adventures Into The Well Known is a regular contributor, and has many Zappadan posts. Patrick O’Grady at Mad Dog Media, Brady Bonk at Ketchup Is A Vegetable, the The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing blog all either continue the tradition or have some swell posts in the archive. Mr. Pryor also maintains a blog for referencing more Zappadan info at Zappadan.com

Let's hope this will be a Zappadan filled with miracles for all. We could use a few miracles.
At Zappadan, I have frequently discussed whatever Zappa recordings I've added to the stacks during the previous year. I had come to the conclusion that I pretty much had all the Zappa I needed, and that I certainly didn't need all the posthumous stuff. But last April for Record Store Day, the Zappa family trust issued a mono, vinyl only, 45 rpm 12-inch original version of Lumpy Gravy, which had been released only as a four track tape in 1967. The story goes that Zappa released the tape in August 1967 only to be sued for releasing it on Columbia. By the time Zappa reedited the album for release on Verve, he had added several surf music pieces and spoken word bits and stretched the record to 32 minutes from the original 22 minute tape release.

I always liked Lumpy Gravy's orchestrated works, and was generally annoyed by the surf music and spoken word pieces. Especially the spoken word stuff, which Frank had recorded inside a piano when he discovered something he liked about the sound. He used some of the spoken word bits on multiple other releases over the years.

Now at last was the chance to listen to Frank's first orchestral work as he initially intended it. Yes, he always seemed happy with the record that came out in 1968, but this version is what he first put together, and like many an artist, Frank was not always his own best editor/producer. 

For anyone who likes Zappa's orchestral works, this presentation of this material is a vast improvement over the Lumpy Gravy we've had for the last fifty years. It is just delightful to hear this music without the stuff that got in the way of hearing this music all this time. There is nothing new here; this is the same material without the other stuff tacked on, but it makes such a difference.

More Zappadan over the years here