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Frank Zappa: ideas to burn

Frank Vincent Zappa packed such a ridiculous amount of great music into his 52 years on this planet that we would honestly need not just one book but several tomes to do him justice. So please excuse what can only be a whistle-stop-tour. After all during his lifetime and then posthumously we can send you towards nigh on 100 separate recordings, dozens of classy compilations, fistfuls of singles, some super rare, and tribute albums galore. His legacy is equally vast: Paul McCartney admitted that Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was inspired in part by The Mothers of Invention’s Freak Out! and his work has touched on Avant-Garde, industrial, neoclassical and theater rock protagonists.

One of the few artists operating in a rock or post-rock medium who deserves the epithet genius, Zappa may have begun by poking fun at the establishment and the counter culture with varying degrees of venom, but he was truly an advocate for free speech and personal choice and was quite prepared to accept any barbs that came his way just as he was fearless in turning over America’s stone to see what lay underneath.

Feted by the Velvet Revolutionaries in Prague, he became a friend of Vaclav Havel’s and on a more everyday tip, he was voted within the higher echelons of Rolling Stone’s Greatest Guitarists of all time. Metal, pop, rock, blues, free form à la Albert Ayler and classical nods to Igor Stravinsky, Edgar Varese and Anton Weber are all within his scope and his own influence ranges far beyond commercial success – in fact, he didn’t so much struggle as persevere in his quest to remain prolific.

He had ideas to burn and would undoubtedly be in the studio today had it not been for his early death in 1993… read more >

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