Saturday, October 22, 2011

Where To Start - The Three Best Frank Zappa Albums To Hear First

Apostrophe (')Frank Zappa, Apostrophe(') - Image via WikipediaBy Zach Charge

Frank Zappa is undoubtedly an icon. Musicians, artists and people-in-general all over the world credit him as a source of inspiration, insight and enjoyment. With over 60 albums released over the course of his lifetime, spanning multiple genres and styles, getting to know Zappa's music can be a daunting task.

For years before eventually getting into Frank Zappa I had heard his name and wondered what he was about, but didn't know where to start. In this article, I hope to give you a few pointers to enable you to effectively sample Frank Zappa's work and, hopefully, inspire you to check out more.

As such, I now introduce you to what I consider to be the best Frank Zappa albums to listen to first.

Apostrophe(') (1974)

I have to put Apostrophe(') first because it is the first Zappa album that I heard. It is also still the most-played album that I own. While Zappa's music is incredibly varied and ranking any of his albums as 'better' or 'best' is somewhat useless, I rate Apostrophe(') as one of the best Frank Zappa albums out there.

Firstly, I think it's accessible because of it's heavy blues and soul undertones and because it contains actual 'songs', with words and everything.

It also has a healthy dose of Zappa's humour and sense for inanity - the first four songs are a 'suite', vaguely linked together by a story about an eskimo and littered with dirty jokes and nonsensical imagery. The story-telling, wordplay, thematic nature and sense of excitement in this album grabbed me immediately. For a single, try Cosmik Debris.

Hot Rats (1969)

For the second entry, I think Hot Rats is worth a try. It's an instrumental album - think rock/classical/funk/jazz/awesomeness. This album is on the list to gently give you a sense of the diversity of Zappa's music - the structure of the songs within is completely different from those of Apostrophe(').

Peaches En Regalia is a good place to start, or perhaps try the vocals of Captain Beefheart on Willie the Pimp.

Zappa In New York (1978)

As the final entry in this short round-up, I submit Zappa in New York. This album contains a broad selection of Zappa's repertoire and also imparts a sense of the experience of Zappa's live shows.

It is heavily laden with dirty jokes and various other shenanigans but, humour aside, the music and performances of the band are incredible - this album is a great representation of how hard Zappa and his band worked to achieve amazing things live on stage.

For a lengthy blues jam and poo-poo jokes, try The Illinois Enema Bandit, for dramatic storytelling and titty jokes, try Titties and Beer, for insightful social commentary, try I'm the Slime and for orchestral-style musical virtuosity, try The Black Page #1 and #2.

So, if you are looking for the best Frank Zappa albums to hear first, I think these three are a pretty good place to start.

Alternatively, if you are interested in Frank Zappa, you might like the music of Ardeem - click here to download a copy of his latest single for free!.

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