Frank Zappa
Guitar


1.5
very poor

Review

by Thomas Bambaataa Ghidrah Towers USER (67 Reviews)
September 1st, 2006 | 17 replies | 5,825 views


Release Date: 1988 | Tracklist


4 of 4 thought this review was well written

I wasn’t even sure this was a real Zappa release at a first glance. “Guitar”? What kind of bland, lifeless name is that? By regular artist standards, Guitar would be a fine name, but compare it to such candidly titled albums like Weasels Ripped My Flesh, Sheik Yerbouti, and We’re Only in it for the Money. Now the name just sucks! Listening to this for the first time I could easily think of better names, like “Frank Zappa Masturbates on Stage”. It’s vulgar, sums up the album, it’s perfect! But obviously a name like that would cause problem with the Zappa-hating censors in the 80s, who once put a Parental Advisory sticker on an entirely instrumental album for having the song title “G-Spot Tornado”. The only thing censored here is anything that isn’t a guitar solo. Guitar is two discs of pure guitar solos Zappa did live, whether it’d be just an sole song based on a guitar solo, or full songs that have been altered just to include the solo; basically, a guitar wanker’s dream.

As impressive as his guitar playing is, though, I am not very impressed with the album. A lot of Frank Zappa’s work is wildly ambitious, like making his own movies, writing rock operas, or composing hundreds of music pieces on the ridiculously expensive synthesizing machine the Synclavier, but rarely does it ever feel overblown to the point of no longer being enjoyable. Though a simple concept, this does just that, I don’t understand why Zappa would bother putting together a double album of guitar solos, especially after already releasing a three disc set of them (the Shut Up ‘N Play Yer Guitar series). He was no doubt one of the most brilliant musicians of the 20th century, but the idea of releasing this seems like something a low brow shredder like Yngwie Malmsteen would think of. Oh wait. Malmsteen does do that.

I do enjoy guitar solos, but they have so much more impact when there’s a build-up to them. When one amplifies the mood of the song, it can be the best feeling in the world. But simply listening to excerpts of solos seems pointless for the most part, like skipping most of a dramatic film to see the 2 minutes of where someone gets killed.

The main problem with the album’s solos is that after listening to all of them in a row, one could only tell a handful apart. Mostly every song follows a rigid groove, with each backing musician playing prosaically, with the exception of the drummer, who throws in some impressive fills. This leaves Zappa’s guitar literally solo, with the rest of the band like sitting ducks. I know they’re guitar solos, but it usually helps with the whole band actually gets into a groove instead of robotically just backing up. It sometimes gets to a point where it’s near impossible to tell which tracks are lifted from other songs, or actual instrumentals.

There are occasional moments when Zappa’s tube fuzz driven playing does call for attentions. Sexual Harassment in the Workplace features a rare moment of organic jamming, and a unique bluesy feel that makes a strong opener. Longer songs like That Ol’ G Minor Thing Again and Variations on Sinister #3 appear to put Zappa in a restless mood, as they feature more spontaneity and weird sounds effects than other songs (if there’s any in them.) Canadian Customs’ jittery tempo and fluctuating drumming actually dominate over the guitar solo. None of these exactly save the album from being a disaster, as it took me heavily repeated listens of the album to spot highlights without dosing off or feeling every song run together as the same thing.

Guitar is the last place the check when looking for Zappa’s creativity, songwriting skills, and humour. Unless one is a completist or wants to really dig into Zappa’s soloing. Even if someone is the latter, the Shut Up ‘N Play Yer Guitar series is much more varied and spontaneous, despite still having many of the same negatives as this. Listening to two discs of Frank Zappa actually masturbating onstage might have made a better live album.



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user ratings (41)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
September 1st 2006



16072 Comments


I have unfortunately heard this release, but tkaen into context (aka taking into account Frank Zappa was...kind of loopy, to say the least), it really can't be that bad. Fun review though, I suppose.

The Door Mouse
September 1st 2006



2092 Comments


how dare i say this to u (an appoved) but i didnt really love this reivew. it did describe it but not 1/2 as much as ur other ones.
sry

pulseczar
September 1st 2006



2385 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

What didn't I describe? I'd like to know since I'm almost never given criticism. I don't mean that like I think I'm perfect or something, I'd just like to hear some good stuff for once.This Message Edited On 09.01.06

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
September 1st 2006



16072 Comments


You never got specific about much, just sort of genralized about the album in a rather long winded fashion.
That would hold hope, except for the fact you said most of the album is very repetitive and hard to differentiate, thus negating the extreme need to go into detail.
oh btw your reccomendations = lololol.

The Door Mouse
September 1st 2006



2092 Comments


i actully rethought this and i shouldnt have neged it i should've just not done any thing

P.S. how do u take back votes

Activista anti-MTV
September 1st 2006



3134 Comments


Zappa a 1.5? I don't beleive it. 'Twas an enjoyable read.

[quote=Zepdude7]how dare i say this to u (an appoved) but i didnt really love this reivew. it did describe it but not 1/2 as much as ur other ones.[/quote]
The vague negs hurt the most. Seriously, that was really uncalled for.

The Door Mouse
September 1st 2006



2092 Comments


i no now i feel like a jackass

metallicaman8
September 1st 2006



4677 Comments


P.S. how do u take back votes


You can't ake it back, you'll just have to switch your vote to a yes.

Bron-Yr-Aur
September 1st 2006



4405 Comments


Not a bad review, but Zepdude has a point.

Whoa....

The Door Mouse
September 1st 2006



2092 Comments


[quote=metallicaman]You can't ake it back, you'll just have to switch your vote to a yes.[/quote]

i already did that thx

yes bron i have many pionts


pulseczar
September 1st 2006



2385 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

You guys are probably right, but it's pretty hard to get into actual detail when the entire album is so one-dimensional. At least with other albums I can go in-depth with the trash talk. This will eventually be negged by a rabid Zappa fanboy anyway. They're like mormons I tell ya.

Activista anti-MTV
September 1st 2006



3134 Comments


[quote=pulseczar]They're like mormons I tell ya.[/quote]
Yeah, not really.

[quote=Zepdude7]
yes bron i have many pionts[/quote]
:P


711
September 1st 2006



1342 Comments


Sweet review :thumb:

The Jungler
September 2nd 2006



4827 Comments


I dunno, I really liked the review.

This sounds pretty bad, but at least it\'s not Angus Young or something horrible like that. Nice work Tom Towas.This Message Edited On 09.02.06

Eliminator
September 2nd 2006



2067 Comments


I saw this in the store and I thought "Haha that probably sucks".

And then I ESP'd you my thought and you wrote this review.

Two-Headed Boy
September 8th 2006



4527 Comments


...and you lived happily ever after in a house on Muffin Hill.

Anywhoo, I liked this review mainly because this is sort of how I'm modeling my reviews to be. Plus it was really well written. This sounds terrible, though.

BurgerMcJackson
August 22nd 2007



32 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This album is solid but maybe two discs of ridiculous guitar soloage is not your thing......in which case you should make it your thing.




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