Wednesday Night Music Byte
Lynnrockets recently watched the film Julie & Julia about a thirty year old New Yorker who decided to cook every dish in one of Julia Childs’ cookbooks and to blog about it. It was a novel idea so we decided to copy it. No, we will not be cooking in the usual sense (that could start a fire). Rather, we will adapt the recipe a day concept to our nightly music bytes. From now to infinity (didn’t somebody else coin that phrase?) we will post a music video and brief description of the artist or song in a sort of alphabetical order as culled from Tom Moon’s wonderful reference book, 1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die (A Listener’s Life List). The book describes both whole albums (remember those) and individual songs from all music genres that are essential listening. Do yourselves a favor and purchase this book. Where the book deals with an individual song, we will post that song, but when an entire album is the subject, we will exercise judicial discretion and post a single song therefrom. So what do you say, let’s get cooking…
Frank Zappa The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life – “Stairway To Heaven” (1988)
Frank Zappa (1940-1993) was an American original, a wry satirist disguised as a crude jokester, a bandleader who’s daredevil deviousness regularly pushed the musicians around him to the threshold of genius. He also shredded the electric guitar like nobody else.
Although you probably need ten Zappa albums to “get” his genius, this live set, culled from the 1988 tour that was Zappa’s last big rock sojourn, offers a thrilling representation of his mayhem-maker’s incredible range. As it opens Zappa tells the crowd that he’s met Johnny Cash that day, and in preparation for a guest appearance, Zappa and the band work up Cash’s “Ring of Fire” as a slow skanky reggae. Cash doesn’t show (his wife got sick) but Zappa and the band play it anyway, expanding its original meaning to include jokes about hemorrhoids. That sets the tone for a nothing sacred set that includes an irreverent romp through Ravel’s “Bolero”, a campy send-up of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” and a demonic “Sunshine Of Your Love” that inspires Zappa’s unhinged near-delirious guitar genius. There are also chipper versions of Zappa originals “Zoot Allures”, “The Torture Never Stops” and “Lonesome Cowboy Burt”, one of several songs with new lyrics commenting on the then-recent fall of televangelist Jimmy Swaggert.
Every track contains at least one moment of jaw-dropping instrumental dazzle — a stickler for precision, Zappa led one of the most accomplished, well-rehearsed bands in rock history.