Who the F*@% is Frank Zappa? Find Out By Buying His House!

Actor/Director Alex Winter is making the definitive, approved-by-the-family documentary on Frank Zappa’s life, and he’s been given unprecedented access to Frank’s archives to achieve it. But digitising and ordering all of that material is gonna take time and money. So Alex and co have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund this process. The initial goal is $500,000, which will let them get started. At $1 million they’ll be able to shoot the entire movie. At $2 million they’ll be able to complete all the postproduction stuff and everything. And if the full goal of $3 million is reached there will also be a companion book. There are all sorts of pledge perks available at a variety of price points – downloads, shirts, random Zappa ephemera, a visit to the Vault, a chance to play Zappa’s guitars, producer credits – but the most exciting of all has gotta be… Frank Zappa’s Actual Frigging House. Read More …

NAMM: Gibson unveils Frank Zappa Roxy SG

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Dweezil Zappa hinted at this one a few months ago, and here it is! The Gibson Frank Zappa Roxy SG! It has a mahogany body and a mahogany neck with a ’60s profile, rosewood fretboard, ’57 Classic humbuckers, two volume and two tone controls with phase and coil tap mini toggles, and it comes with a hardshell case. It’s not on the Gibson website yet. Stay tuned for release date!

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Dweezil’s new Gibson Frank Zappa SG

Dweezil Zappa has been talking up the brilliant site theguitarvaults.com a lot lately, and he’s posted something super mega ultra amazing: a prototype Gibson Frank Zappa Tribute SG which he hopes will be available to the public soon. It’s based on Frank’s Roxy SG as it looked in that era.

Dweezil says (in part):

“This is a prototype Frank Zappa SG built to my specifications by Gibson. I will be using it on my European and US tours in the Fall and Winter of 2012. Hopefully, fans will be able to get to own one of these in the near future.”

Go here to read the rest. Maybe I’m gonna have to get me another Gibson!

INTERVIEW: Steve Vai on The Story Of Light

Photo by Larry DiMarzio

Steve Vai needs no introduction.

Your new album The Story Of Light is a bit of a departure and it’s been a while since you’ve released a studio album of new material. Where did this one come from?

I guess it came from the same place the other ones came from, but maybe a little bolder. I searched my inner ear more and I gravitated towards things that excited me, as opposed to some things that I thought should be on there. And it’s also the second instalment of a trilogy of records that have a story to it, and as a result the songs are built around characters and situations and events in the story. So when you have something like that to go by, it can inspire you to do certain things that you may not ordinarily do if you just sat down to write a song.

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The world just got a whole lot more Zappafied

Awesome news from Zappa.com:

TIME TO FREAK OUT… FRANK’S BACK!

ZAPPA FAMILY TRUST REGAINS CONTROL OF ICONIC MUSICIAN’S EXTENSIVE CATALOG

GLOBAL LICENSE/DISTRIBUTION DEAL SIGNED WITH UNIVERSAL MUSIC ENTERPRISES

CATALOG OF 60 RECORDINGS TO BE LAUNCHED WITH JULY 31 RELEASE OF 12 TITLES

Back home where it belongs, the music of FRANK ZAPPA is now back in the hands of the ZAPPA FAMILY TRUST.

To celebrate this, the estate has signed a global license and distribution deal with UNIVERSAL MUSIC ENTERPRISES to release 60 of the iconic composer’s recordings. The roll-out kicks offJuly 31 with 12 recordings, with another dozen recordings to be released monthly through the end of 2012.

“The ink is not yet dry on The Zappa Family Trust’s worldwide deal with Universal Music Enterprises,” says Gail Zappa. “They made us the offer we couldn’t refuse–for all the right reasons. It is a win-win for all of us, but mostly for Frank Zappa. Long may his baton wave. We are so ready to go.”

“The artist and composer, Frank Zappa, is one of the most important and influential artists in music history with his prolific body of work, including his breakthrough rock ‘n roll concept albums. We are honored that Gail Zappa and the Zappa Family Trust have entrusted us with his legacy. We intend to honor him and bring high quality releases, digital and physical, for his new and longtime fans,” said Bruce Resnikoff, President/CEO, Universal Music Enterprises (UMe).

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The greatest guitar solo ever

I’ve thought about this a lot lately: what’s the greatest guitar solo ever? I know that’s a purely subjective thing, so really what I’m asking is, what’s the greatest solo ever to me? Well, that’s surprisingly easy: Frank Zappa’s lead on “Any Kind Of Pain” from Broadway the Hard Way. In true Frank style this solo is improvised, and I’ve heard bootlegs of various shows from the 1988 tour which are cool, but not as magical as this one. The take heard on the Broadway The Hard Way album is actually an edited version of this performance, chopping out a big section in the middle. Although the solo’s great in its full version, the edit on the album seems to really kick it up a notch. Here’s the solo as it originally went down.

And here’s Mike Keneally playing it at the Zappa’s Universe concert, very much like the album version.

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I love Frank Zappa’s ‘We’re Only In It For The Money.’ Like, inappropriately love it. There. I said it.

I don’t foresee a situation where I could possibly ever get tired of listening to Frank Zappa’s ‘We’re Only In It For The Money.’

I want to grate it into a fine powder and sprinkle it on my pasta. I want to melt it down and drink it with a crazy straw. I want to take it on a shy bashful date to the movies and then feel it up in the back seat of my car at Make-out Point. It’s one of very, very few albums (Mike Keneally’s Sluggo is one; ‘David Bowie’s Low is another) that gets better and better with each listen. A true musical perpetual motion machine where the only way is up, baby.

If you haven’t heard this album yet, it’s a satire on the Summer of Love, and it’s merciless in its critiques of hippies, squares, cops, parents, musicians (Donovan gets a particular ribbing), and even Frank Zappa fans. What Frank seems to be saying with this album is ‘there’s a whole lot of stupid out there. And you’re a part of it. And you’re a part of it. And you… man, you’re a big part of it.’ Musically it’s progressive, sentimental, outrageous, precise, messy, overproduced, underproduced, and beautiful. Listen to Let’s Make The Water Turn Black for a glimpse of some local freaks back in Frank’s teen years. Check out Who Needs The Peace Corps for a sharp kick in the balls of the hippie movement (‘I will ask the Chamber of Commerce how to get to Haight Street, and smoke an awful lot of dope’). What’s The Ugliest Part Of Your Body includes one of my favourite musical interludes ever (the ‘all your children are poor unfortunate victims’ bit – man, that’s everything I want out of melody, harmony and rhythm right there). And Absolutely Free scores perhaps one of the biggest laughs of Zappa’s long history of making me laugh when, during what feels like an ultra-authentic rendition of flower power-era musical and vocal idioms (ie: the aforementioned Donovan pisstake), a little voice blatantly and flatly states ‘Flower power sucks.’ It’s one of my all time coffee-spit moments and it makes me chuckle a little louder than I probably should whenever I happen to recall it at an inopportune moment like being on public transport or in line at the bank.

There are probably easier Zappa albums to start on, like Apostrophe or Over-Nite Sensation or even Roxy & Elsewhere or Zappa In New York, but if you’re of the disposition to dig this sorta stuff, it’s absolutely essential.