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Another Spewer: Frank Zappa

To recap, Spewers are artists who are

  • incredibly prolific
  • awesome at their best
  • but with a nonexistent quality filter
  • largely intuitive in approach, as far as I can tell
  • even the best works are big messes (in a great way) rather than tightly constructed jewels
  • apparently wide-ranging in genre
  • but with enough tics that their work is instantly recognizable

So far the category has consisted of Jack Vance, Robert Pollard, and William Vollmann, and I just thought of another: Frank Zappa.

I’m very ambivalent about Zappa. He’s clearly a genius, but the juvenile humor and lack of quality control (e.g., long annoying spoken word interludes) are real strikes against him for me. I think We’re Only in It for the Money is 90% absolutely incredible and 10% repellent. Lumpy Gravy didn’t make much sense to me when I first heard it, but I tried again today and it held together better than I expected. The only other albums I have of his are a two-fer of Apostrophe and Over-Nite Sensation, which I recall finding okay but nothing special, although a bit more research today indicates that those records, while relative hits, aren’t really regarded as very high up in his creative output.

I’m going to explore Zappa a little more, starting with the early Mothers of Invention records, which seem most likely to be up my alley. Further findings will be posted here.

(By the way, this Crossfire episode with Zappa about music censorship is awesome. If you have 20 minutes to spare they will not be wasted if you spend them on this.)

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  1. dfan says» Blog Archive » Spewer #5: Michael Moorcock on Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    […] the previous discussion here for definitions and […]

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