Zappa Shows Flair For Weirdness

By George Fuller

Spartan Daily, February 20, 1974

Frank Zappa is weird. That much I will attest to. I had a chance to see Zappa and his Mothers of Invention at the Berkeley Community Theatre Saturday night. [1]

Zappa started with a medley of his greatest hits, and I use that term loosely. The song titles themselves will give you some idea of Zappa's genius, or at least his humor. The medley consisted of four songs: Something Anything, Penguin in Bondage, Variations on Doggie Breath, and Daughter of a Wealthy Philistine Poet. Very strange.

Zappa is, you must understand, a very creative man. He appears to be funny, quick, and above all very forceful.

Zappa's music sounds like free form jazz played in a structured way. Zappa conducts a highly technical arrangement, stopping at seemingly inopportune moments, only to start again at full speed, never faltering or hesitating, always right on the money, but never quite sounding right.

Zappa is more of a conductor than a musician and more of a musician than a guitar player. He is, when all is said and done, an amazing personage.

The head Mother is also a humorist, taking pokes at Nixon, dopers, wino's, jazz trumpet players, guru's and Sacramento throughout the show.

He even dedicated a song to Nixon. The song was called the "Idiot Bastard Song."

The ultimate key to Zappa's music is his use of scales. He used scales in every song performed. Up and down, in and out, every conceivable variation of do-ra-me-fa-so-la-te-do was used.

Playing with two drummers, a vibes player, two horn players, a bass and guitar player, Zappa would use them all together playing scales. Frankly it was this constant, drilling piercing sound that drove me nuts. Especially the vibes. The sound was too lound and much too harsh for me.

In the final analysis I have come to two conclusions. Frank Zappa is either the ultimate genius, in which case who am I to dispute his success, or, and I tend to believe this second conclusion, the average concert goer has no idea what music is in the first place and will applaud anything.

1. February 16, 1974. Warm upper was Casey Kelly (Zappa Gig List)
This concert was taped and the songlist was: soundcheck intro, Andy, Florentine Pogen, Kung Fu, Penguin In Bondage, T'Mershi Duween, Dog Meat, Montana, improvisations (incl. Dupree's Paradise story), Dupree's Paradise, Cosmik Debris, Pygmy Twylyte (incl. Dummy Up), The Idiot Bastard Son (That Arrogant Dick Nixon), Cheepnis, Approximate, Inca Roads (FZShows)

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