I started with Zoot allures many years ago and became hooked. Frank Zappa was a genius and way ahead of his time.
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"have i offended someone ?" is a great compilation disc put out by ryko in 1997. it should lead you to some of his other best stuff. also a great collection is the 12-cd "box" called "you can't say that on stage anymore." if you want a single "original," i'd go for "sheik yerbouti" or "joe's garage" on vinyl.
"Hot Rats" is my favorite, mostly for "Willie The Pimp" -- my favorite Zappa tune ever. Sugarcane Harris' electric violin is sublime. The rest of the album is instrumental, showing Zappa's talent as a composer. Even if the instrumentals don't float your boat this is a must have album for the afrementioned track. Kind of like getting the soundtrack to "Performance" only for "Memo From Turner" (although there are many other tracks I like on this platter). "I'm a little pimp with my hair gassed back, pair of kahki pants and my shoe shine black..." -- can you hear it?
Great question! Zappa's bands have incoprporated so many great players using numerous musical boundries. I saw Zappa numerous times going back to 1971 at the Fillmore East (NYC).
I categorize Zappa in three stages. The early stage being the MOTHERS OF INVENTION (era) although FREAK OUT was the debut, the classic album from that era is: WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY"; middle stage had some great players, look for "HOT RATS" or "CHUNGA'S REVENGE" "WACKA-JAWACKA", BURNT WEENIE SANDWICH", the orchatrations during this entire period are awesome; the latter stage "OVERNIGHT SENSATION" / "APOSTROPHE" although tended to commercialize ZAPPA (via George Duke vocals) these are still excellent albums and did maintain musical integrity. After 1975, the sound somewhat went through a swallow commerical sound (ala SHEIK YERBOOTY" which I do not reocmmend). Otherwise you should look for the other classics each with a different style: 200 MOTELS (soundtrack to an acid rock flick); THE YELLOW SHARK (Zappa orchatrated); FRANCESCO ZAPPA (super melow electronic harpzichord Baroque style music which is actaully appropriate for an infant). The man was a true genius. I have often wondered, if he did not die...
There are some new releases out there entitled Cheap Thrills and Son of Cheap thrills that feature live performances; Love of My Life,Disco Boy,The Idiot Bastard Son,Sinister Footwear,Catholic Girls, and Joes Garage. I have never owned a live Zappa album but these 2 are a compilation of old studio stuff that really kicks ass
*way* too many zappa albums to yust pick one. (77 different offerings on amazon.com, alone) the ones that get the most play chez-sedon are *one size fits all*, *uncle meat*, *weasel's ripped my flesh*, *hot rats*, *waka-jawaka*, *apostrophe*, *the grand wazoo*, *yust another band from l.a.* the guy was a freakin' genius. francesco zappa, btw was an italina composer (14th century?) that frank found & decided to arrange, due to the name-likeness...
For non-Zappa Zappa tunes try "King Kong" by Jean Luc Ponty. Jedan Luc started playing his electric violin with Frank on "Hot Rats", I believe, and also contributed to several other titles. Like there aren't enough Zappa options out there -- we now enter the world of covers. It is a really great album, though. A peripheral must, in fact, for the Zappa collector as is all of the Captain Beefheart material. Want to get more peripheral with this tribe (Bizzare/Straight Records days)? Wild Man Fisher. The GTO's. The last band (Girls Together Outragiously) was notable for "Do Me Once And I'll Be Sad, Do Me Twice And I'll Know Better". I won't get into What was said about Suzie Creamcheese, though.
Stick to pre 75 except for Jazz from Hell (very good stuff). Apostrophe is excellent zappa pop, as is Chunga's Revenge. My favorites are Hot Rats - which is a must - Uncle Meat, and Just another band from LA. Uncle Meat has one of the most beautiful pieces of avante garde pop ever recorded: Dog Breath Variations, which still moves me every time I hear it. Just Another Band has a side recorded in concert with the two vocalists from the Turtles (Howard Kalen and ...) which is stunning in its complexity, juice and humor. "Magdalena, when you're near me like this, in the hallway, with your blouse and your tits..." After 75 he got too smooth for my taste. Oh, I forgot Ruben & the Jets, humorous but very good cover of the doowop era with original songs. And there's... oh well, buy some of the early stuff.