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Frank Zappa: The Complete Guide to his Music [Format Kindle]

Ben Watson

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Descriptions du produit

Présentation de l'éditeur

The indispensable consumers' guide to the music of Frank Zappa - the genius of the absurd, and one of the most prolific and unpredictable characters of 20th century music.A thorough analysis of Zappa's complete recorded output, from the early days of the Mothers Of Invention, through his more avant-garde compositions and classical projects to the most recent posthumous releases. The guide features:An album by album analysisA full Zappa bibliographyDetails of when and where the music was recorded, including all collaborating artistsA special section concerning compilation, archive and bootleg releasesSixteen pages of full-colour images

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1678 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 96 pages
  • Editeur : Omnibus Press (19 janvier 2012)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B006ZP827W
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°192.026 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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26 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Dense, with an Unhealthy Dose of Ego 22 février 2007
Par Sir Charles Panther - Publié sur
This is the "tweezed" 2005 update to the original 1998 publication. It comes with the addition of a section on 1998-2005 releases, called "Posthumous Existence."

This book is a very serious, crowded work of Zappa deconstruction and analysis, definitely not for someone looking for an introduction into the Zappa cosmology. Watson certainly knows his stuff, whether it comes to the music, its construct and content, band membership, the history and context, but his overwrought analysis, increasingly haughty tone, and his curt dismissal of virtually all other Zappa writers and historians comes off as nothing but intolerant ego.

I got this book as a work-up to Watson's Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play. Being a solid FZ fan and prophet for a good 30 years now, I'm just a few releases short of the complete library, and have been reading up. And in reading about FZ, you can't miss the references to the massive, intimidating Ben Watson magnum opus, his Mother of all Zappa biographies/interpretations. At the same time, while these references make it clear that it's no Ulysses, one has to have a certain level of background and knowledge of FZ's work and larger issues of music and its criticism to be able to access it. This was my seventh Frank Zappa book, having read the FZ/Occhiogrosso autobiography, and the Walley, Courier, Kostelanetz, James and Lowe works. I figured I was ready to get into Watson, at least at the introductory level. But, reading this book has changed my plans; I don't think I'll be reading Negative Dialectics.

Watson comes across in this book as the worst kind of expert, the one who has complete command of the facts, never lets you forget it, and then heaps condescending scorn on every single aspect of your outlook which does not conform perfectly to his own interpretation. You get that with his snide comments on "peanut-brained `hardcore [FZ] fans'" and almost universal condemnation of authors of other FZ books, sarcastically deriding their works. I got the feeling from reading this book that the two of us would not get along, despite the fact we're both lifelong Zappa fans.

Watson's increasingly frequent references to himself and his work at first were quirky, but by the end of this short little book were just plain intrusive and egotistical. His first mention uses the journalistic third-person convention ("The author observed..."), but as the book progresses it's more and more "I," "my" and "me," with extended first-person narrative on his actions. We get more than enough references by Watson to what he wants us to know is his personally defining 1993 meeting with FZ, talks with Gail, and meetings with others in the inner circle, right down to Frank playing Watson selections from Civilization Phaze III, in Frank's living room of course. For a book with such a high gloss of academic rigor and discipline, this increasingly frequent first-person intrusion seems a desperate and needy attempt at legitimation.

As for the density of this work, it seems Watson is over-qualified to write a guide like this. His wide-ranging, reference-rich approach and his analytical touchstones are so esoteric and academic that they're going to leave most readers weary, if not totally lost. This book has Marxism, feminism, Kafka, Plato, Samuel Beckett, Shakespeare, Goethe, the vilification of "the `political correctness' that expresses the condescension of the rich and powerful," and the loneliness of pornography, among many, many other issues, concepts, persons, movements and philosophies. I mean, seriously: "Zappa's confrontation of accident and rigour bears comparison to John Cage and Jackson Pollock and their fascination with `chance.' However, although the neo-Dadaists of Fluxus liked to say they were demolishing `high art' values, the discourse that surrounded them elevated them to a plane Zappa could not aspire to." Wut?

Early on, it's pretty clear Ryko has been involved in the preparation and/or publication of this book. Watson gives clear thanks to Ryko for its decision to re-release the entire FZ catalog. And whaddaya know, all of the Rykodisk catalog numbers are listed, but all we get for the original vinyl releases is a date. For a "complete guide," this deliberate lack of release detail is unforgivable, and smells to me as coming strictly from commercial. Go to the Billy James book for a more comprehensive discography. (The James book also is better on appendices on band members and concerts, although restricted to the MOI years.)

Layout: Major sections are the introduction, "The Verve Years," "The Bizarre Years," "Discreet," "Warner Brothers versus Laether," "The CBS Years," "'Classical' Projects," " Barking Pumpkin," "Digging the Archive," "The Final Masterpiece," (that's "Civilization Phaze III") and "Posthumous Existence." Each FZ release gets its own write-up. There are no individual write-ups for each track, although certain tracks do get extensive coverage within the album descriptions/deconstructions. There's also a very interesting and helpful appendix on which Zappa recordings are most treasured and rare.

The index is a track index only. If you're looking for specific references to your favorite track, you can find it easily. But, with all of the places, studios, personnel and musicians and academic references noted here, a comprehensive index would be extremely helpful. Note to editor: upgrade the index in the next issue.

I also note for this book, as I did for the Steely Dan guide, that the print is too small. Note to editor: up-size the print for the next edition.

Bottom line: If you're new to the world of Frank Zappa, the MOI and conceptual continuity, and are looking for a book that'll give you clear background on and observation of Frank and his music, don't choose this one. This book is written from the point of view of total familiarity with FZ and all of his music, words, performances, etc. This overly dense and distractingly author-centered work is not an entry-level book on FZ; read the Real Frank Zappa Book, the word from the original hungry freak.
36 internautes sur 42 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Benign Fabrications 6 avril 2004
Par S. M Marson - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I have read the following books by or about Frank Zappa. In addition, this list constitutes a ranking of my assessment of the quality of these books.
1. THE REAL FRANK ZAPPA BOOK by Frank Zappa and Peter Occhioigrosso
8. THEM OR US by Frank Zappa
9. UNDER THE SAME MOON by Suzannah Thana Harris
When I started reading FRANK ZAPPA: THE NEGATIVE DIALECTICS OF POODLE PLAY, I found myself having flashbacks to the days of my doctoral studies and to the philosophical debates emerging from the 60's liberation movement. While a Ph.D. student I studied Postmodernism, Feminism, Liberation Philosophers, etc. You know, all the stuff you'd think would have no application outside of graduate study. As a result, I was fascinated because reading this book was the first time I had to actually reflect back to the philosophies I studied. I actually found myself reading POODLE PLAY in the manner that I read my required readings as a Ph.D student. I checked and read some of the citations; I searched for more information on topics for which I was unfamiliar (i.e.," Situational International"); I discussed major themes and ideas with colleagues who were professors of economics, philosophy, sociology and political science. After reading the several chapters, my first impression was that Watson's book was intellectually challenging - more challenging than any recent research I have been reading.
Two critical points can be made. First, I was profoundly struck by Watson' critique of Feminist Theory within Zappa's work. I never read such an analysis and found it refreshing. I saw Zappa much more of a deep thinker and an intellectual giant. Second, some of Watson's later analysis of Zappa's work seemed to be pushing the envelop to absurdity. I began to see Watson as a pseudo intellectual particularly when he equated KING LEAR with Zappa's APOSTROPHE('). Watson writes: "In 'Nanook Rubs It' Nonook blinds the fur trapper by rubbing his eyes with snow discoloured with ... [you know]. Blindness is also central to King Lear." (page 243). I almost stopped reading.
Somehow I managed to continue to read and I'm glad that I did. When I reached the epilogue, the entire book was made clear. Here, Watson describes his meeting with Zappa and his wife, Gail, after they read the prepublished manuscript of POODLE PLAY. At that time, Zappa had terminal cancer and the book made him laugh! Clearly, this was Watson's intent for his book. I finally got it! In an attempt to define the humor found within, I spoke with Dr. Bowman who specializes in the study of humor and recreation. Currently, there seems to be no formal label for Watson's brand of humor. Bowman came to the conclusion that Watson's work can best be described as hyperbolic or benign fabrications - descriptive terms that were derived from the work of Erving Goffman. Essentially, through a series of intellectual gyration, Watson takes classical literature (throughout the ages) and draws parallels with Zappa's work. In many cases the linkages are fascinating, but other times they are absurd. It is like a very good April Fools joke. It is like tugging a barely fitting rubber band over the head of a jar.
The big question is how was Watson able to pull this off? First, it is obvious that he studied philosophy and knows the subject matter. Second, he intimately knows Zappa's work. Third, Watson discovered reoccurring themes in the history of humanity. Thus, the blindness we find in APOSTROPHE(') can be defined with the same symbolic value we see in King Lear. Did Zappa create this deep symbolism in his lyrics? Of course not! Is there some kind of collective unconsciousness within humanity in which general themes for the understanding of the meaning of life continues to surface in a unique manner for each generation? Well, that sounds like a theme for Watson's next book.
20 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 A Great Scholarly Work, But Not Without Problems... 20 mars 2000
Par x - Publié sur
I have enjoyed reading (and re-reading) Watson's book since it first came out years ago. His passion for the music of Frank Zappa makes this book a wonderful read. I especially like the way in which Watson draws upon a wide array of musical and literary sources that help place Zappa's work in a broader artistic and intellectual context. Any Zappa fan who appreciates the relationship between theory and culture will find much value in this densely researched book, even if you find yourself (as I do) disagreeing with Watson's conclusions and the premises of much of his analysis.
In general Watson's assertions, while cogently argued and often compelling, serve to espouse theory--especially Freudianism and Marxism--at the expense of the subject, Zappa's art. This creates the unfortunate problem of teaching the reader a lot about theory but little about Zappa's music. Watson, despite a very noble attempt, is unsuccessful at demonstrating a strong link between his chosen theoretical approach and the complexities of Zappa's art which tend to resist mere reduction to Marxist and Freudian interpretations. But, as a reader, it is enjoyable to see Watson try. In fact, Watson demonstrates a lot of courage in his attempt to do so, and that in itself makes this book a worthwile purchase.
8 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Somewhere up there Frank is looking down and laughing... 29 mai 2001
Par Un client - Publié sur
Alternately ludicrous, entertaining, informative and pretentious, Ben Watson's book on Zappa is nothing if not different. The clue is in the title: "Negative Dialectics", Theodore Adorno is mentioned almost as often as Zappa himself is (but could he play guitar like him?). The thing about Zappa is that he may be probably the most intelligent man ever to strap on a guitar in rock 'n' roll history but (like Beefheart), he ain't no intellectual. Mr Watson however is, and he has uncovered a whole barrel-load of entertaining, but frankly ludicrous, philosophical, literary, political and psychoanalyical allusion and meanings in various Zappa songs and albums. The thing that makes me most suspicious of Mr Watson is the way the lamer an album is the more time he spends expounding on it's "actual" meaning - thus Apostrophe is compared to King Lear, I could go on - no wonder Frank and his missus were in stitches.
The fact that Watson has to spend so much time and hard work on Zappa's oeuvre post-1970 perhaps tells it's own story - the fact is Zappa stopped saying anything very interesting in his songs throughout the entirety of the 1970's, only the intervention of the PMRC into his increasing smug and self-refential universe helped reignite the kind of indignation and passion Zappa had displayed in the 60's.
Watson goes thru all sorts of ingenious and amusing contortions trying to defend or explain away his hero's often rancid social and sexual politics. He does at least nail Zappa's hopelessly petit bourgeois hatred of unions but struggles to convince on such gems of Zappa's back catalogue as "The Illionis Enema Bandit" (a glorification of a convicted sex offender) and gives up altogether on the truly repulsive "Jumbo Go Away". Unfortunately, Watson, as with most Zappa fanatics seems incapable of noticing their hero's often quite considerable clay feet. IMO his sexual politics are not surprising for a guy who grew up in the 50's and then experienced the 60's counter-culture's knuckle-dragging sexism at first hand - ...Zappa was a middle-aged rock star by the 80's, and he sounded it.
Towards the end of the book it becomes little more than a track-by-track review of each album - a trifle wearying if truth be told. Plus Watson is annoyingly self-aggrandizing at times, for instance mentioning that Zappa had introduced him at a party as "some kind of genius"!
Still, worth a look
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Codswallopry at its most pretentious 10 mars 2012
Par Loco-Moco - Publié sur
This is a fabulous book if you want to learn everything about who played on which album, on which tour and in which session. Watson gets most of that correct. But the analytical portion overwhelms the factual portion and is pretentious in the extreme. He casts everything in the light of his personal dialectic, and in a way that sets the reader's head a-reeling.

One random middle-of-book quote will suffice to illustrate Watson's dog-Marxism. Referencing "Apostrophe (')": "The interest in punctuation is...itself a practice that arose to a fine art alongside the emergence of the bourgeois class. The anal retention of the accountant, the concentration on minutiae coupled with paranoiac mistrust of everybody else, is the secret soul of capitalism...The dialectic between discipline and chaos in Zappa is derived from a self-conscious extension of capitalist logic, a play with the nihilistic violence that lies behind repression." What pompous twaddle.

And you should thank your higher power for the ellipses above. There's actually a pony in there somewhere, but don your hazmat suit before plunging in.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that this book's about "Finnegan's Wake", or Philip K. Dick or Wyndham Lewis, since he namedrops at least one of these cherished favorites every handful of pages. Tedium ensues after the first twenty such references, followed ineluctably by the desire to do to this book what Thomas Jefferson did to his Bible.

Furthermore, this Englander -- though seemingly knowledgeable about the roots of Zappa's music -- displays profound ignorance of American society and its undercurrents. His dialectic take on these is alternately laughable and irritating. He tramples on the elementary dictum, "Write about what you know".

One particularly galling and egregious example is his insistence that "The Torture Never Stops" is sung in "n----r slang" (his characterization). To justify his vile term, he points to the deliberate pronunciation of "rehearsed" in the line "His carving style is well reHOISed". A pronunciation unknown to any African American slang -- and it shows this mook's never been within hollerin' distance of Joisey.

If you can wade through reams of this sort of thing, you'll find some interesting nuggets of Zappology in there. But its absurd cognitive dissonance makes abundantly clear why Zappa guffawed when he read it.
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