Single Status Update
That's right, a whole thread about the deadly stache.
The other day I was among a group of coworkers who are all into rock music and not a single one of them knew anything about Zappa, not even a single song he had written. Not one. This kind of baffled me, but at the same time, he's pretty obscure these days and was always considered pretty far out even when he was alive. I figured I'd dump a bunch of great Zappa tunes in one easy spot.
Zappa wrote some of my all-time favorite pieces. There's a big chunk of his material that simply isn't for me as it's too unconventional/'out there', but it's really quite astonishing that one dude could write in such a myriad of styles and genres. Given his enthusiasm for finding new sounds and pushing the boundaries, I suppose it shouldn't be all that surprising.
Below is a condensed list of Zappa songs I really like. The first few are my absolute favorites, and everything that follows is just a mix of stuff I can put on at any time and love listening to.
Keep in mind, humor was always one of Zappa's focal points when writing music, not just in terms of lyrics, but in terms of instrumental sounds as well. The sounds can range anywhere from rock to jazz to classical to just goofy as hell, but I love them all. At the end of the day, humor really is just one small aspect of it all. Listen to a few for yourself and see what you think:
Watermelon in Easter Hay
I Am The Slime
We Are Not Alone
Dumb All Over
Heavenly Bank Account
Bobby Brown Goes Down
Keep It Greasey
Why Does it Hurt When I Pee?
A Token of My Extreme
Harder Than Your Husband
The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing
Beauty Knows No Pain
We're Turning Again
Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk
Don't Eat The Yellow Snow
Tinsel Town Rebellion
Be In My Video
I'm So Happy I Could Cry
I'm Not Satisfied
Why Don'tcha Do Me Right?
Would You Go All The Way?
Eat That Question
Whippin' Post (Cover)
I could listen to a playlist of those songs almost endlessly. Of course, if you don't want my hand-picked favorites and just want to dive into some Zappa albums, I would recommend Joe's Garage, Overnite Sensation, Chunga's Revenge, Apostrophe', Freak Out!, Broadway the Hard Way, Does Humor Belong in Music?, and Sheik Yerbouti. When listened to in one sitting, Zappa's albums tend to tell a really funny, interesting or even sad story, so if that sounds appealing, maybe one of these will be up your alley.
Aside from his music, Zappa was a guy who I really respect. He valued the constitution and actively fought to defend freedom of speech, the kind of guy who would defend your right to say what you want even if he wholeheartedly disagreed with you. His albums and songs were regularly restricted from radio play and many record stores refused to stock his albums, back when they were new releases. He received constant backlash for the content of his albums, and it's extra hilarious given how tame it all is by modern standards.
Anyway, that's the end of my rant, I hope some of you get some entertainment out of it.
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For me, the artwork and sound quality is just as important as the music itself. CD sound is lossless and I find the difference is quite noticeable, despite what some people claim. While good, mp3 sound is thinner and seems to lack some of the deep bass and crisp highs that CDs deliver.
That and being able to read the lyrics/liner notes is half the fun.
I remember borrowing a couple tapes of Shiek Yerbouti and Apostrophe' from my uncle to take on a weekend school trip when I was around 11, and finding its more juvenile material the funniest goddamn shit in the world. A few years later when I was starting to practice guitar and bass I rediscovered his stuff, and was completely blown away by how musically innovative he was as a composer and performer. So yeah, listen to Zappa, y'all!
I would recommend Joe's Garage [...] Apostrophe' [...]
Seconding these. Also gonna recommend that people give his live albums a listen - his interplay with the rest of the band and the audience is great. Two of the first Zappa albums I ever listened to were Roxy & Elsewhere and Live in New York, and I still listen to them regularly. Those two are quintessential Zappa, I think - the perfect culmination of amazing musicianship and on-stage hijinks.
I absolutely agree with both of you and your points, and to follow up what an_mutt said, Zappa's Does Humor Belong in Music? is some of the best live gig footage I've seen. If you like it, definitely buy the DVD. Certain bits crack me up every time without fail, and the first time I ever watched it I was pretty much in awe!