Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Frank Zappa for President

Now I have been contemplating to do this since the day it was released, I kinda wanna do The Crux of the Biscuit too, but I figured what's the real point. But I also could do a quick and easy Zappa review for both of these, since I know exactly how I felt the first time I listened to them. So in the spirit of the election year we get this, a collection of tracks with somewhat political themes and what not. So, yeah.... Let's dig in. Also to do a decent review I spent probably more time than I need to listening to the other versions of the songs.
  1. Overture to "Uncle Sam": Dated 1993, this is a Synclavier piece by Zappa. Okay so that means it'd fond it self around the time of Dance Me This or Civilization Phase III. Now I've yet to listen to either of those, completely, for the fact I'm not that big on the synclavier pieces. Some I like, like on Thing-Fish, but for the most part I'm just either in different or don't care for. When I listened to this, I have to be honest, I just though it was okay. I mean I liked it I guess, but I didn't love it. I was probably more like on a scale of 1 to 10 a 6, just over half but not much over. I think it would be better if he added something into it. Like maybe a guitar or some vocals or something else rather than just the synclavier and it's samples. All thought I guess I do still enjoy this, it's just I'd rather it be with real instruments. The biggest complaint is that it's 15 minutes long and kinda gets old a bit.
  2. Brown Shoes Don't Make It (Remix): In 1970 Frank remixed a number of tracks from the Freak Out! album, some of which later appeared on MOFO. This is a similar affair, but differs in that Dick Kunc remixed it in 1969. Now this is still the album track from November 18th, 1966 but remixed. Now to do an accurate review I needed to revisit the original mix, and the Ryko mix to be able to compare and contrast. The biggest comparison I heard was that it was cleared up. On the original it sounds much more mixed together, for lack of better word. Like if your not paying attention I could see you losing track of what's what. But for the most part you can pick out the different instruments. Now on the Ryko version they added digital reverb and I think it kinda fucks with.... Just look it up its not hard to find hate for the Ryko mixes on a Zappa fansite. But you can also hear the drums much more pronounced at certain parts and there is other louder things mixed louder in certain parts. Now this does make it a bit harder to focus on the overall but whatever. The reverb can also distract you at certain parts, but whatever. Now this version it sounds pretty good. I mean I don't know if it's all that necessary since there's... I don't know. I do like it, but I don't really see the need to include this other than the story of the song. I mean what if they included at version from 1969 or 1968 live, that would be a year that hasn't been released yet. I know I didn't really describe the song, but I don't  want to go to into the song because of next year. 2017 is the 50th anniversary of Absolutely Free review, and because of that I plan to have the review out on June 26th. I also wanna point out I really love the freak out at the end and how it sounds in this remix, you can hear everything.
  3. Amnerika (Vocal Version): Now this track, thanks to globalia, pointed out that it's the backing track to That Evil Prince on Thing-Fish or it's the music. I haven't heard that album in a long time, I'm feeling like it could be the same thing, or not, I don't know. I do know that Napoleon sings on this, and it was recorded somewhere from 1982 to 1984 (same time as Thing-Fish). The vocal version reminds me of an extension of The 'Torchum' Never Stops, the section with The Evil Prince. I guess it's nice, I could see some people hating this, but I happen to love Thing-Fish so it's a nice addition I guess.
  4. "If I Was President...": The music is dated as 1985 and the spoken word, probably from an interview, is from 1990. I've actually heard the interview that this was taken from, I don't remember what channel or radio or whatever it's from but you can find it on YouTube. As much as I don't LOVE this, I feel like this is what the album probably should have been a mix of him talking on his views over his compositions. I mean he's an intelligent man and his view take the for front over the composition in this situation. You could go, that's against what his intentions for piece so and so was, but I think the synclavier pieces work best when there's something else going on to. Maybe they didn't do it because of the Eat the Question movie thing, but you know but what the fuck. The funny thing about it though is I've seen most of these interviews in the trailer for the movie.
  5. When the Lie's So Big: This was taken from the March 25th, 1988 show at the Nassau Coliseum in New York. This track though, finds it's original album as Broadway The Hard Way. So I should touch on this, this is a song making fun of Pat Robertson, who was a televangelist who was very far right and he would later make an even bigger ass of himself. Look up his views on the ERA that he said when he ran for office in '92. Now I am not sure on the music front, if this was or wasn't more his vision of what it was to be. I mean it's welcome because it doesn't just sound like the exact same performance as the album version, which is kinda played straight. This has more changes and things that make it feel like it was the dick around that happened on songs from the band. I mean the message isn't really a dick around message, but it is a bit more fun to listen to than the original released version. This version is better at keeping my attention than the other version.
  6. Medieval Ensemble: Another synclavier piece from 1985 and unlike the last sole instrumental piece on this, sits are over 6 minutes. I do find this piece a bit more interesting than the last, it's a bit more chaotic I'd say up front. I also like the way the melody is moving. Yes this eventually starts to get old, but I isn't as bad as say the opening.
  7. America the Beautiful: Taken from the same show as Lie's So Big, this is a cover of the famous song, and it was previously featured on the AAA·FNR·AAA Birthday Bundle from 2008. Now that pisses me off a bit is they are the same fucking length, they don't really even differ at all. I dig the track, but like what the fuck guys, there's no other performance of the song. Okay now that that's over I can say, what I like. The '88 band, while his "best" I don't love everything they did. There's a lot of great shit, but not everything is as good as everything else. These the great performances, then there are the songs that have a certain charm to them. This song has that charm, for me at least and I also do like Bobby's vocals a lot. It's a nice way to end this and probably the best choice, though I'd prefer a different date or live recording. The solo also works in this song so that's a plus. 
Overall I have to give this album a 7/10. I mean it isn't terrible, no. Is there any cohesiveness, kinda. I mean I get the Presidential Year (kinda like how they released Understanding America in 2012) theme to it and the political message, though instrumental might not be the best for this type of album. Basically what it is... It's just a collection of tracks and I mean I guess you could go why? But I do enjoy it and I don't mind this album. That could be the fan boy speaking, probably, but I don't hate this album. It's not as bad as Road Tapes 3. If your a fan I'd check this out, if your not I don't know if this is the best first album for you. I mean it is easy to take, for the most part, but if you don't like it don't let it turn you off. So yeah, hopefully that makes sense. I'll probably end up doing Crux in 7 or so reviews.

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