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Electric Don Quixote: The Definitive Story Of Frank Zappa Format Kindle
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|Format Kindle, 17 novembre 2009||
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Compared to other sources of all things Zappa, Electric Don Quixote is like a spotlight that illuminates not only the facts and chronology, but also the mood and mentality surrounding Frank and the key individuals in his immediate circle. I'm reminded of how much a step forward the new Jimi Hendrix biography (Musician, by Keith Shadwick) is in comparison to the competition. Musician takes the reader into the musical mind of Hendrix and Electric Don Quixote does the same for Zappa, except that Frank's years in the industry were longer, his story more complex, his art less popularly appreciated and his psyche far more difficult to analyze. But Slaven was up to the challenge and we are all the richer for his ability and dedication.
As good as Electric Don Quixote is, I do not consider it adequate to stand completely on its own. It stands on the shoulders of past Zappa bios and without reading at least one or two of them, the reader might lose the sublety Slaven has incorporated. I'd recommend "No Commercial Potential" and "The Real Frank Zappa Book" as possible starting places. These other books provide factual detail, such as info about Frank's settlement with Warner Brothers that could and probably should have been discussed more clearly in Electric Don Quixote.
I'll also warn that the reader is in for a long ride because, as the years pass, this hardcore fan has witnessed the evolution of Zappa's impact. The body of work is so immense and so dense, that it must be digested sequentially, with periodic rest breaks, then the process restarted anew. Zappa's art is like a perrineal flower that slowly mutates over time, reemerging the next spring, or even in winter with newly discovered clues and perspectives. Thanks to Neil Slaven for shining the spotlight in a way that illuminates previously darkened corridors.
THE REAL FRANK ZAPPA BOOK by Frank Zappa and Peter Occhioigrosso
ELECTRIC DON QUIXOTE: THE DEFINITIVE STORY OF FRANK ZAPPA by Neil Slaven
NECESSITY IS... THE EARLY YEARS OF FRANK ZAPPA AND THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION by Billy James
COSMIK DEBRIS: THE COLLECTIVE HISTORY AND IMPROVISATIONS OF FRANK ZAPPA by Greg Russo
NO COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL: THE SAGA OF FRANK ZAPPA by David Walley THEM OR US by Frank Zappa
UNDER THE SAME MOON by Suzannah Thana Harris
BEING FRANK: MY TIME WITH FRANK ZAPPA by Nigery Lennon
With no doubt in my mind, ELECTRIC DON QUIXOTE is most creative title among the Zappa biographies. Clearly this title accurately reduces Zappa's musical contribution to the fewest read possible words. Thus, the title is a masterpiece of composition and creativity.
In many ways, the book's content is similar to THE REAL FRANK ZAPPA BOOK. However, Slaven doesn't offer that whimsical and playful flavor that is found in Zappa's and Occhioigrosso's words. Slaven lays out the facts in a well-written and humanistic manner. Of books in my Zappa library, Slaven offers the most even-handed approach. I didn't find this even-handed approach in any of the other Zappa books I have read. However, being even-handed can lead to some dry reading, but nonetheless still worthy for those interested in Zappa's life.
One significant reaction emerges in my head. I hope young musicians read ELECTRIC DON QUIXOTE. Zappa made some critical errors of judgement early in his career that effected his entire life. The evil characters - in this and other Zappa biographies - are record company executives. In his naiveté, Zappa was too trusting or too hungry to make rational decisions prior to signing a record deal. If young musicians carefully read ELECTRIC DON QUIXOTE (and COSMIK DEBRIS by Greg Russo), they can avoid making the mistakes that plagued Zappa and the Turtles.
The ELECTRIC DON QUIXOTE will be enjoyed by all Zappa fans. In addition, I think it should be required reading for all musicians who intend to record.
If someone is interested in the person Frank Zappa my advice would be to read interviews (with F.Z., colleagues and bandmembers), his own biography (with Peter Occhiogrosso) and brwose through the contents of F.Z. devoted websites.
A deeper analysis of F.Z.'s musical works, if at all possible, would be noting short of a heroic task. This work does not attempt to do so, and the smaller passages where some musical aspects are discussed, the content is - for my taste - barely touching the surface.
On the positive side, the author tries to remain balanced and writes from a clearly neutral perspective, which seems appropriate. Most of the political, sociological and/or anthropological (if you will) viewpoints - for which Frank Zappa was also famous - are kept at a minimum in this book.
All in all I can recommend the book as a chronological guideline through F.Z.'s life, but would warn readers (or fans) not to expect answers or a portrait of F.Z. as a person.
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