May 19, 2010

Fillmore East - June 1971 - Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

And so, with recent posts tending towards the tasteful and worthy, we turn trustingly to Frank Zappa. A highly irregular fellow, and not a great lover of cheese.

Reasons for not liking FZ are easy to muster. First up, the lyrics: misogyny, casual homophobia, wee, poo and a puerile fixation on titties and willies (esp. size thereof) plus a diverse range of colourful sexual practices best left to the specialist practitioner (home appliances, fish, enchiladas….). Add to this, great dollops of self-indulgent soloing and cacophonous everything playing at once wonkiness, and you have the justification for the received wisdom take: a great talent frittered away on childish obsessions and muso pretensions.

This kind of misses the point. As the gent himself – apparently – put it: “The creation and destruction of harmonic and 'statistical' tensions is essential to the maintenance of compositional drama. Any composition (or improvisation) which remains consistent and 'regular' throughout is, for me, equivalent to watching a movie with only 'good guys' in it, or eating cottage cheese."

There are plenty of reasons for liking the art of Frank Zappa. For better and worse, Fillmore East June 1971 is one of them.

Oddi wrth y brawd
green rosetta


Welsh Connexion said...

All of the touchstones of Zappa’s notorious career-long project/object concept are here in their glistening gland glory. Telling then that Fillmore East and it’s (superior) companion album Just Another Band from LA are very much considered also-rans by most Zappaphiles. It’s a vivid enough document but it’s subject matter (hormones -teen lust - the LA groupie scene) is tacky and narrow. More zit-geist than zeitgeist.

No surprise then that Zappa and Lenny Bruce hooked up prior to the latter’s early demise. Working within different mediums each were involved in similarly scatological, socially insightful hipster comedy. Inevitably, that which was ‘in the moment’ eventually became ‘of it’s time.’ Watching footage of the oft-revered Lenny Bruce in today’s brave new world one finds oneself sitting through quite a lot of guff waiting for occasional flashes of greatness – which pretty much sums up Live at the Fillmore too.

A word to the wise. This would not be a great entry point for curious latecomers looking for a Zappa taster

Y Brawd said...

Well, if you want breaking in gently, I'd say the first Joe's Garage set or You Are What You Is (achingly 80s production values of latter ahead of it's time and now retro cool - and so it goes...)