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From the sonic exuberance of “Dancin’ Fool” and “Tell Me You Love Me” to the funky dissonance of “You Are What You Is” and “Joe’s Garage” to the bathroom-humor excellence of “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow” and “Titties and Beer,” this album will give you just as much of a “taste” for Frank Zappa’s music as his son’s "Zappa Plays Zappa" did for me some eight years ago.

Music Review: Frank Zappa – ‘ZAPPAtite: Frank Zappa’s Tastiest Tracks’

zappatite-cover-art-980x980My love of Frank Zappa and his music can firmly be blamed on his son Dweezil Zappa, and Dweezil’s 2008 release of a Zappa Plays Zappa DVD documenting some of his 2006 performances of his tribute to his father’s music. Before I’d always thought of Frank Zappa’s music as something so inherently rooted in the cultural ethos of the 1960s and 1970s that it was simply something you had to “be there,” as it happened, to appreciate it.

Basically I thought it was trippy rock that prided itself on being weird or difficult – as if Weird Al Yankovic had suddenly gained the ego of David Byrne right around the time that the Talking Heads broke up…

For whatever reason, though, I ended up buying that Zappa Plays Zappa box – most likely thanks to seeing some mention of it on Facebook – and from the first song it was shockingly clear to me that my preconceptions of Frank Zappa’s music were thunderously wrong. Sure, there was still a very trippy element to the music, but there was also a musicianship and craft to the structure of the songs that was simultaneously making my foot tap in rhythm and my mind race to keep up with the inventive harmony structures.

Soon after, I began to slowly dip my toes into the deep waters of Frank Zappa. While there are admittedly albums of his that are still a bit too “out there” for me to get a handle on, more and more I see and hear the passion and talent that caused his son to devote years of his life to unlearning how to play the guitar so that he could learn how to play it like his father. More and more I could see that my appetite for all things Frank Zappa was based on a banquet that was large enough to sustain me for the rest of my life.

I’m obviously not the first person to think Zappa’s music was something you can make a meal of, as is evidenced by the title of the new “Greatest Hits”-style release in his name by the Zappa Family Trust: ZAPPAtite: Frank Zappa’s Tastiest Tracks.

Adorned with a cover shot of Frank Zappa himself at a diner booth, colorful shirt disheveled to reveal his bare chest, and looking amused with an after-meal cigarette in his hand, the album features 18 of Zappa’s best-known tracks broken down into divisions such as “Appetizers,” “Entrees” and “Desserts.” In a career as eclectic and varied as Zappa’s I’m not sure a true “Greatest Hits” collection could ever be pared down to one album; hell, one of his albums, Apostrophe (‘), is damn near perfect from start to finish, so that would take up half of the available recording space on a modern CD alone. But, for what it is and given the limitations the compilers had to deal with, I’m okay with them saying these are his “Tastiest” tracks – as there are indeed some tasty tunes presented here.

From the sonic exuberance of “Dancin’ Fool” and “Tell Me You Love Me” to the funky dissonance of “You Are What You Is” and “Joe’s Garage” to the bathroom-humor excellence of “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow” and “Titties and Beer,” this album will give you just as much of a “taste” for Frank Zappa’s music as his son’s Zappa Plays Zappa did for me some eight years ago.

If you are a fan of Frank Zappa and have the albums these songs originally came from, I’m not sure this album is a “must” purchase for you. If, however, you are a fan of perhaps one or two of his big songs and are curious about some of his other work, or perhaps not a fan at all but have heard the name and maybe wished there was one CD you could pick up that would give you a sense of what all the fuss was about, this album would nicely do that for you and more.

ZAPPAtite Tracklist

APPETIZERS


  1. I’m The Slime
  2. Dirty Love
  3. Dancin’ Fool
  4. Trouble Every Day

ENTREES


  1. Peaches En Regalia
  2. Tell Me You Love Me
  3. Bobby Brown Goes Down
  4. You Are What You Is
  5. Valley Girl
  6. Joe’s Garage
  7. Cosmik Debris
  8. Sofa No. 1
  9. Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow

DESSERTS


  1. Titties & Beer
  2. G-Spot Tornado
  3. Cocaine Decisions
  4. Zoot Allures
  5. Strictly Genteel

 


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