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Frank Zappa - Does Humour Belong In Music?

Updated on September 3, 2010

"I-oh-I, will rock you like a nincompoop..." - Tinsel Town Rebellion

Frank Zappa, a name that has been synonymous with drugs, excess and "what the fuck was that?" who said himself that he was an anachronism that makes the ugliest music on the planet.

Is that right?

Well, I can't say. I have numerous albums by this man including Zoot Allures, Joes Garage, The Best Band In The World You Never Heard Of, Shaved Fish, Studio Tan and You Are What You Is - possibly more, I'm not sure.

I first came across his music when watching an episode of The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1978 (I know, half of you weren't even born then - I'm an old git, what can I say?), where they showed a claymation video of City of Tiny Lights and shortly after, got to hear the album Zoot Allures.

He said he's not a fun guy because he didn't do drugs. In fact he was a staunch objector to the use of recreational drugs - even marijuana, which made him a bit of an enigma as far as the American officials were concerned. Yet when asked if he was so anti drugs, why did he smoke cigarettes?

His reply was that for him, cigarettes were food. "Now that may be a baffling concept for those people who live in San Francisco who believe they will live for ever if they stamp out tobacco smoke..."

His music isn't for everyone, that much is for sure. It's eclectic - to put it politely, outrageous - to put it mildly, and huge fun. I saw him in Brighton when he was doing the Best Band In The World You Never Heard Of tour, where he and the band did a version of Stairway to Heaven that ran the gamut of musical genres and blew me away.

But that's not on this DVD!

What is present is a collection of songs that anyone who has ever heard Frank's music will recognise, like Dinah-Moe Humm, He's so gay, Keep it greasy and Dancin' Fool to name but a few.

It gives a good insight how someone who could produce a stunning live show without the use of lasers, fog or overdubs.

With Ray white on guitar and vocals, Ike Willis - guitar and vocals, Scott Thunes - bass, Bobby Martin - keys, vocals, sax and horn and Chad Wackerman on drums, this is a veritable feast for the ears, eyes and an assualt on the senses. What would you expect from a man who named his daughter Moon Unit and his son Dweezil?

"I don't know much about dancin', that's why I wrote this song, one of my legs is shorter than the other and both of my feets too long" - Dancin' Fool - Frank Zappa (December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) R.I.P.


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    • Nick B profile image

      Nick B 7 years ago from Normandy, France

      You gave me an idea about putting the claymation video of City of Tiny Lites up here. I got it from YouTube a while back, but it's since been removed.


      Hope you like what you hear. It's not to everyone's taste.

    • Chaotic Chica profile image

      Chaotic Chica 7 years ago

      Not only did you introduce me to a new artist, I love that you did it with humor. Great hub!