Zappa: A Review/Interview

By Rob Lederer

The Eagle, February 15, 1988

I attended Frank Zappa's third and final concert at the Warner Theater on February 10. The stage was full of equipment, and clotheslines were draped with a large collection of assorted ladies' undergarments that had accumulated during previous performances.

When Zappa came on stage he introduced Daniel Shore of National Public Radio, who encouraged the audience to register to vote at any of the many registration tables provided in the lobby. Though some Zappa critics, like the League of Women Voters, have confused the issues, Zappa gives two distinct messages during his show: he wants people to vote for whomever they choose; and he communicates his political opinions.

Zappa sang, played the guitar and synclavier (a sophisticated synthesizer-keyboard). Accompanying him were Ike Willis, Bobby Martin, Ed Mann, Scott Thunes, Mike Kenealley, and a five man horn section.

Zappa, a brilliant musician and satirist, alternated between playing, singing, and conducting his 11-piece band with a maestro's baton. The music ranged from his equally distinctive jazz and rock. All numbers were a combination of powerful, funny, serious, and political. Songs played include the operatic "Aida and Carmen," "I Am the Walrus," "Stairway to Heaven," and originals, such as "Peaches En Regalia," "Any Pain," and "When The Lie's So Big."

Many of Zappa's lyrics contain scathing assertions on states of affairs. In one song he points out the inconsistency in the thinking of many of Robertson's supporters. They say that abortion should be outlawed because "life's too precious," but do not have the same convictions in other instances: "What's that hanging from a tree? Looks like colored folks to me."

Zappa's performance was top-notch. True to his image, he and his band put on one of the best shows that one can ever expect to see.

The interplay between the band and the audience accentuated the musicianship. Fans approached the stage giving panties, fuzzv dice, a doll, a pumpkin, two AU IDs, pantyhose, a cap, and other things to Zappa during the show, like offerings at the foot of an emperor.

Zappa's guitar work was expert and excellent. The drumming was crisp and potent; the horn section made Chicago Transit Authority sound like a high school band.

During the intermission, I asked Thunes, "In one word, what's it like playing with Zappa? " He said, "What do you think? Amazing!" And that is exactly the word that best describes the concert.

I had the privilege to interview Zappa yesterday. An excerpt follows:

When do you expect to work on your next album?

I'm just about to release one. It's called Guitar ... and is all instrumental with guitar solos.

How did you come up with the names of your children (Moonunit and Dweezil)?

I just made them up, there's no significance. What's the significance of Mary or John?

Your music contains a lot of what many people consider obscenities. Please comment.

First of all, you're erroneous about them being obscenities. I feel direct language is the best way to communicate: that's what language is used for.

What do you feel is the role of the media?

No major media is owned by liberals. If you see liberal opinion it's for diversion and in support of conservative goals. NBC is the CIA. None are Democrats. It will never change.

Who would you like to see as the next President?

Mario [Cuomo]. He'd do best. Will he run? I hope so.

What motivated you to become a pro-Constitution crusader?

I consider it a responsibility and I didn't see anyone doing it. If no-one's doing it, who the fuck is?

What do you think the youth of today should know?

Their rights. I saw something that I will never forget on a documentary on the Constitution. This girl is asked "Can you tell me what we did 200 years ago today?" and she says, "We bombed Pearl Harbor?" How far off the fucking mark can you get! It's not just remembering when it was signed, it's knowing what your rights are. People start censoring themselves ... and the forces of evil don't even have to do it.