Friday, August 16, 2013

Return of The Son of Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar

Beat It With Your Fist is 1:39 of berzerk craziness that opens up the album. A trait that is common and cool in the Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar series. While this track is the weakest opener, it's still a great start. It get's you pumped up, catches your attention, and then set's you up for the next song to take you home.

Return of the Son of Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar, is the longest of the Guitar title tracks at 8:45. I'm not sure if it's the best of the three, but I really do enjoy this one. There's some real experimentalism, and crazy exploration in this one.

Pinocchio's Furniture is a cool short track, that is this awesome dropped down solo, with some excellent music.

Why Johnny Can't Read is yet another track that is just some off the wall wild soloing mixed with music and other instrumentation that's equally spontaneous sounding.

There's only two tracks on the second side of the last album in the Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar series. The first one is Stucco Homes. This is 8:56 that makes me think of a bunch of guys out on the American South Coast. It could be Florida, or it could be California. Maybe even Texas depending on the area, and what the population is like. There is a definite South American, Latin American, kind of vibe to this track, that can't be ignored, but at the same time there even feels like there is some Carribean influence. However, with all this mixed in I would say that the over all feel of this song is that of a free flowing, exploritory jam.

The album ends with the only track that doesn't feature a guitar. Canard Du Jour has Frank Zappa playing bouzouki and Jean-Luc ponty on the baritone violin. Now it can be forgiven that there is no guitar here, because the bouzouki is a Greek instrument that was brought to Greece in the 1900s by immigrants from Asia Minor and is a mainstay in modern Greek music. It's played with a plectrum and has a sharp metallic sound, reminiscent of a mandolin but pitched lower. It's fantastic on this track, and I think it's being included was a fantastic idea. Over all this track is really cool and enjoyable from every perspective of a person that enjoys more than just basic pop music.

The last track is what really saves this album for me. If it were not for that, I may not find it as enjoyable of an album and would rate it less. It's not this is a bad album either, it just geared very specifically towards a certain type of fan. This is the one album in the series I might be up set if I had to buy it on it's own.

7/10 - content

8/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar Some More

When Frank Zappa originally released the Shut Up 'n Play Your Guitar series, it was released as three separate vinyl albums. It was then later put together as a three record set. When the age of the compact disc dawned it allowed the three vinyl set to be turned into two CD's. I have chosen to review the albums in their original forms as individual records instead of as the two disc set that I currently own.

So, let me introduce you to Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar Some More.

The album opens with Variations On The Carlos Santana Secret Chord Progression, which much like the first Shut Up 'n Play Is a great lead of to the album. It's fast, bouncey, really get's the heart pumping, and the title isn't just a catchy gimmick. It really is Zappa sounding like he has unlocked the secret to a Santana solo. In fact I would love to hear Santana do a cover of this track, to get his take on it.

Then it's on to Gee, I Like Your Pants. This is totally 2:32 of some free form Jazz rockin'. It's a great recorded Jam, that just sort of dies out as quickly as it starts up.

Next up is Canarsie, which is musically insteresting. That's about all I really have to say about the song. Even though it's 6:06 for the most part I find it one of the weakest songs on the album. It's way too much on the erratic, experimental, Acid Jazz, for me, and I don't even know if that's the right description, but it's the best I can think of.

Ship Ahoy is beyond words. This song must have been a major influence on Buckethead. I can hear some tricks that Vai pulled. If John 5 has heard and been inspired by this track I'd be amazed. I mean this song is the type of solo, and it's pretty much a solo, even though there is bass and drums, that people should still be talking about today, especially because of how ahead of it's time it was. This is by far the best track on the first side of the album, and one of the best tracks all together. The limited drum work that is on this track is provided by Terry Bozzio. Unlike Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar which had Vinnie Colaiuta playing drums exclusively, this album features Bozzio on two tracks. This one and the last track on the album.

Now, I want to mention that with the two disc CD set I so get to experience something one doesn't often get to experience normally with the digital format. Side one of Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar Some More is on the second half of disc one in the three album / double disc collection, and side two is on the first half of disc two, so it's like flipping the vinyl. It's a nice touch.

The second half of the album opens with a really cool, and cute, background track, that Frank just opens up over top of. The Deathless Horsie is just a great way to open up the second side of the album. The track is a little loose, very wild, and yet so magically orchestrated. It's put together and arranged in a way that let's you enjoy it with the fullest quality.

Next up is Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar Some More and you can totally see where Steve Vai got his influence. Sure he doesn't play on this track, but you'd think that he does. I really can not get over how amazing of a guitar player Frank really was. It's a shame that he was only able to release around sixty-three albums in his short lifetime. It's also a shame that most of the thirty or so albums that have been released since his passing are live albums, because it's tracks like this, that I keep hoping will eventually pop up out of the vault.

Then there is Pink Napkins to finish off the album. It's so sexy, and slinky, and seductive. I believe there are two types of people in the world when it comes to this song's title. Those that automatically jump to the wrong conclusions, which says alot about their mental character. Then there are those that take it at face value which is, according to the historical account, how it should be taken. The song's title was inspired by the napkins at his daughter's party. Either way it doesn't matter, because this song is totally about the music. It's my favourite song on this album. That's what this track is too. It's a song. While Ship Ahoy is an amazing solo and one of my favourite tracks in the entire Guitar series, this is one of the best songs and a great way to close the album.

This is not my favourite album in the series, but it does contain two of the best tracks. If I had to buy the album separately I would and not think twice about it. But I wouldn't like it as much.

8/10 - content

8/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Friday, August 2, 2013

Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar

When it came time to buy yet another Frank Zappa album I took the time to choose wisely based on different factors, tastes, and research. Andria really enjoys the musical genius of Zappa, but finds the lyrical content often silly, or crude. A common complaint. Based on my experience so far, I like mid to late seventies Frank for the sound quality and production value. I have no experience with any records after the 1970's until I picked up this album.

Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar, as it's on the cover, is one of the most amazing instrumental albums I have discovered to date. I do love a great guitar album, Steve Vai and John 5 both have amazed and astounded me over the years. Well, Vai has for years anyway. Zappa I always respected as a guitarist, and understood how good he was, but it wasn't until I picked up this album that I realy got it.

However, what's even better is the fact that this album is not about Frank Zappa's guitar alone. The drumming on this album is fantastic and crazy, and wild. The bass is also impressive at various points too. Then there are all the other guitars and keyboards, and some extra percussion. But that doesn't mean every track sounds loaded with instruments, or is a rich orchestra of Rock musicians. It just tends to sound that way.

The album opens with (and since Zappa felt the need to write it out in a certain fashion, I'll replicate it) five-five-FIVE. This is a crazy, wild, cat n' mouse roller coaster that just fires up the album from the get go. Vinnie Colaiuta's drumming is very controlled mayhem, like a cross between Keith Moon and Gene Krupa. It's 2:31 of adrenaline inspired by fast wicked paced Jazz.

Hog Heaven features Steve Vai as the rhythm guitarist. You know you have something special when you get to list Vai as a rhythm guitar. What I find intetresting though, is how you really can't tell where the first track stops and the second one starts, and if it weren't for a brief little vocal snippet you might not notice where the third track starts. Which is a bit of a shame as a person trying to learn the song names, but for pure listening pleasure it works well.

Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar is more controlled sounding than the first two. The wild, and crazy, and even a little loose Jazz sound is still there, but the over all sound structure is more contained and less erratic. Which I think is perfect, because it allows you to focus on where the music is taking you without getting distracted by the extra chaos.

The last track on the first side is While You Were Out. This is the most unique song on the album so far in the sense that it's much more laid back and has a much slower groove. I think part of the reasons this track sounds so different and cool is mainly due to Frank's guitar choice during this recording, which was a accoustic Black Widow with EMG pick-ups direct into the recording console. Then the only other instruments playing with around and through the guitar is Warren Cuccurullo's rhythm guitar and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums yet again.

The second side of the album starts off with Treacherous Cretins, which sounds like a magical version of what the song title suggests. This is one of the most stand out tracks to me on the album, but only in the sense that I always get it stuck in my head. This is a song that Zappa orchestrated for Rock.

My first experience with Heavy Duty Judy was one the live album The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life. I really dug the track and it was a major inspiration in my picking up this album. This version is even more complex sounding, fuller, and really pumps out a great backing track that everyone takes time working around and letting a little loose on. Arthur Barrow's bass work on this track is one of the parts that really stand out to me. I mean sure we all know the guitar work on this track is going to be top notch, remember this song inspired buying this album, but the back of this track is totally bitchin'.

The album ends with Soup 'n Old Clothes. This is a darkly, sexy, fluidic, Jazz track with all the makings of great sex music. There are very few songs in the world I will say that a person needs to fuck to in their lives, but this is one of them. And if you can't get it on to this song you should go seek some sexual education stat. I mean this song is just so smoothe and velvety and well paced that it is all passion and groove and 7:40 of pure enlightenment.

I still can not get over how good this album is. Really my only complaint is that the album isn't much over thirty minutes. I mean by the time you really get going on the album it's over, and that is sad. Especially when this album was first released. In the more modern case, it's okay, because you get to go right into the next album.

9/10 - content

8/10 - production

10/10 - personal bias