Known Johnson

January 24, 2008

Shut up and buy

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 2:12 pm

I have no idea why, but for some stupid reason a quote from some movie I often have in my head is “It’s good to want things.” It’s a good quote, simple, effective, to the point – sometimes it’s best to just want and finally have it delivered than to just get, if you know what I mean. I just Googled the quote and found out the line came from the 1990 Winona Ryder film, Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael, a movie I have no recollection of ever having seen. Did anyone? Nevermind – that’s beside the point.

I have irrationally wanted some of these Japanese mini-LP reissues of the Frank Zappa catalog for a several years now. There’s nothing unusual about them – no remixes or remastering, no extra tracks – except that they’re in the nice cardboard miniature replica LP sleeves that the Japanese music industry is so fond of. And they’re expensive. I’m not a huge Zappa fan – I love the man’s guitaring, but lyrically, I just . . . I don’t know . . . I don’t like ’em. I’ve given him many chances and always come back to simply keeping Lather in the collection for my vocal Zappa needs. But the instrumental Zappa is another thing. If there was a Zappa Itunes where one could purchase, say, lossless audio files from his catalog, I’d own all of his instrumental music. As such, I own a handful of his primarily instrumental albums and simply go without on the more vocal-based albums. You know how it goes . . . it’s good to want things.

One of the sets I’ve eyed for a long time has been the three-disc Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar. Zappa has always had a penchant for assembling songs out of other things and these three albums are no different. He picks bits and pieces of guitar solos from live shows, arranges new backings, and voila, a brand new song. Most of the time, if you suggested a guitarist was taking his solos and created new songs under them, it would be a frighteningly dull prospect, but Zappa is not an everyday guitarist. Every solo was its own composition, different and distinct from every other. I can see why he has such a devoted collection-minded following – they actually have something worth tracking down in the bootlegs, unlike pretty much every other band out there who play only slight variations on their material from night to night.

Well, today, I found a used copy of the Japanese mini-LP set of Play Yer Guitar albums. And it’s neat. I don’t know why. It just is. As my desire was irrational, my enjoyment of them in this form is just as irrational. Let me be, I am a man of simple, if sometimes expensive means.

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1 Comment »

  1. I was about 13 years old when I started listening to Frank, so naturally, I gravitated toward the smutty stuff at first. But as I get older (and develop a healthier appetite and understanding for jazz and modern classical music), I find his “serious” stuff infinitely entertaining and challenging, much more so than the other stuff.

    Interestingly enough, “Shut Up…” was one of the first (if not the first) Zappa album I ever heard. It’s an amazing collection of music (and better that the later guitar-oriented albums, which are still good). Frank was an incredibly underrated guitarist. But you already knew that.

    Comment by Chris — January 24, 2008 @ 4:34 pm | Reply


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