As it's my birthday I figured I'd share with you something from 'The Best'.
Despite this 2008 album's official release status, it seems to have gone beneath many's radar, especially in Britain where I believe it only existed as an import - if such things can exist in that fashion in today's technology reduced planet.
Essentially an album of fragments from seventies' shows, this, unlike some of the posthumous releases, is definitely of interest to both the casual and the hardcore Zappa fan. The fragments are extremely well selected; offering some wonderfully tasty morsels for the ears to chomp upon.
To open, there's a glorious piece from the Apostrophe/One Size Fits All band, where the playful stretching of words, mainly the word 'well', can be heard; all done in the spirit of jazz of course: an old joke it may be, but it always makes me chuckle.
The clowning is followed by some masterful loose keyboard playing by Duke - surely one of Zappa's most homogeneous and complimentary of collaborators (after all, they wrote 'Uncle Remus' together, right, say no more!).
After a mosaic of quite discordant instrumentals, FZ gets down to business and two of those gorgeously claustrophobic squitty solos are captured.
'Occam's Razor', lifted from a recording of 'Inca Roads', highlights Zappa's tactile playing - as much done with pedals as it is with his fingers - and it's so precise and so extraordinary it totally mesmerizes.
'Heidelberg', a solo extracted from a recording of Sheik Yerbouti's 'Yo Mama', is deep: deep, deep notes squirted straight into your head; even the pauses, the spaces, creating a deep sense of claustrophobia.
To be there, to experience what Zappa referred to as 'air sculptures' was incredible.
The notes, especially those 'deep' ones, would leave you catatonic.
When that spotlight picked out that guitar player the audience were one.
Not in a 'Radio Ga-Ga' way, but held, suspended; beheld by something truly great; beheld by something magical: sublime.
And no matter how many people were in that venue, when that guitar player played that guitar there existed in that moment merely you and him.
And that doesn't happen very often.
Well, not to me it doesn't.
'Australian Yellow Snow' is a revamped version of the Nanook songs from Apostrophe. A real hodge-podge this one: each section taking on a different genre, making it very new and fresh to the ear.
And no matter how familiar you think it's going to be, you can never assume you've heard it all before with Zappa, he always went beyond expectations; even evening shows following a matinee were considerably different.
Hence the glut of bootleg material.
But this isn't a bootleg, and you have no need to worry about the sound quality; as with all released by the ZFT, sometimes the artistic quality may not always be top notch (Trance Fusion, what was going on there?) but the sound quality always is.
Fortunately, this selection meets all criteria.
Frank Zappa - One Shot Deal (2008)
Trudgin' Across the Tundra
The Illinois Enema Bandit
Australian Yellow Snow
CD rip to mp3s
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