home
news
features
demos
live listings
DVD reviews
forum

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Back to main page

Frank ZappaFrank Zappa
A Token Of His Extreme
(Eagle Rock)

Many an hour has been wasted up here in TM-Towers debating the worth and abilities of the numerous Mother’s line-ups created to realise Frank Zappa’s peculiar visions over the years, from the original scary/ugly nut-jobs to the later musical geniuses like Adrian Belew, Steve Vai, Terry Bozzio, The Brecker Brothers, Jean-Luc Ponty Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, Captain Beefheart and many, many more. But to this particular reviewers ears there was no greater Mothers line up than the mid ‘70s one found herein featuring George Duke on keyboards and vocals; Napoleon Murphy Brock on sax and vocals; Ruth Underwood on percussion; Tom Fowler on bass and Chester Thompson on drums, the band behind such seminal Zappa works as Apostrophe ('), One Size Fits All and the live album (also apparently due out on DVD soon) Roxy & Elsewhere. Originally conceived and recorded in 1974 as a 'made for TV' special some of this has already appeared on the Dub Room Special DVD but this is the (almost) complete performance – why the two missing tracks 'Cosmik Debris' and 'Approximate' aren’t here is unclear – and it’s a blinder, the band and Zappa seeming almost telepathic at times and even the odd duff bit of ‘psychedelic’ film work doesn’t detract from a truly stupendous performance.
Ray Harper

Buy this DVD

******************************************************************

Frank ZappaFrank Zappa
200 Motels
(Boulevard Entertainment Ltd)

A tiny budget resulting in a seven-day shoot and eleven days of editing, ensured that 200 Motels was always going to be a hectic road crash of a movie. Filmed in 1971 the almost non-existent production values and whirlpool of insanity Zappa encouraged in his entourages takes huge liberties with the film's ostensible theme of ‘life on the road for a touring rock musician in the late twentieth century’. Needless to say, this being Zappa, the film also attempts to make far wider sweeping comments on sex and the political and cultural life of his homeland whilst doing its utmost to warp the viewers perceptions with mad animations, lunatic special effects Ringo Starr playing Zappa (and a dwarf), Keith Moon playing a nun and of course astonishingly demented country meets rock meets avant-garde orchestral meets ‘whatever the hell he feels like putting in next’ musical interludes. This is as unlike every other ‘modern music’ film of the era as Zappa’s sound was unlike everything else release at that time. This DVD is part of a whole slew of re-releases of film director Tony Palmer's music movies (see also the Leonard Cohen film below). Flawed but fascinating.
Ray Harper

Buy this DVD

******************************************************************

ZZ TopZZ Top
Live From Texas
(Eagle Vision)

It’s heavily rumoured that Rick Rubin will be the man behind the desk for the next ZZ Top album, and, as with other all the other legacy artists he’s renowned for working with, he’s apparently keen to take the band right back to their roots. Before the results of that collaboration are released however we have this, the bands first ever (official) live DVD, and given that they have been together for almost forty years now it comes as no great surprise to find they are tighter than a space shuttle air-lock, what is pleasantly surprising however is just how good their down and dirty, boogie driven blues rock still sounds, and yes they play pretty much everything you would want to hear. Oh, and Frank Beard now actually has a beard, albeit a pretty wimpy goatee effort compared to Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill’s full length soup strainers. Extras include an entertaining trip down memory lane whilst the boys play poker on some flight cases, some pre-show footage, a photo shoot and a bonus cover of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Foxey Lady’. As any musician will tell you a trio is one of the most difficult live propositions to pull off, this is a masterclass.

Buy this DVD

******************************************************************

Frank ZappaFrank Zappa
Classic Albums: Apostrophe/Over-Nite Sensation (Eagle Vision)

Widely recognised as being Frank Zappa’s most accessible albums, his sixteenth and seventeenth releases - beginning a run of classics which would also include One Size Fits All and Bongo Fury (with Captain Beefheart) – whilst being no less musically convoluted managed to tap into a fan base which Zappa successfully retained for the rest of his too short life. Due to the age of the albums there’s not as much of the Classic Albums standard strip ‘em back to their constituent parts approach (although offspring Dweezil does pop up to deconstruct sections) but there are numerous ex Mothers, including Steve Vai, Warren Cucurullo and ‘70s Zappa Stalwarts such as Ruth Underwood, George Duke, Bruce Fowler and Napoleon Murphy Brock plus more famous talking heads like Alice Cooper and Billy Bob Thornton, there is full involvement from the extended Zappa clan and plenty of archive footage of the man himself. The studio and live snippets are fascinating if occasionally a little frustrating (you do find yourself wishing someone had tied up the editor so the performances would run for longer). Bonus material includes a great live performance of ‘Montana’ from 1973 and a sadly truncated ‘I’m The Slime’ from Saturday Night Live in 1976.

Buy this DVD

******************************************************************

Frank ZappaFrank Zappa
The Dub Room Special
(Eagle Vision)

Initially released in 1982 this, hard to find, 90 minute documentary features recordings from two live shows, the vast majority from a 1974 set featuring, for many long term fans, the holy grail of Mothers line up’s, George Duke, Ruth Underwood, Chester Thompson, Tom Fowler and Napolean Murphy Brock playing the hell out of classics like 'Cosmic Debris', 'Montana', 'Florentine Pogen', 'Stinkfoot' and 'Inca Roads'. The remaining tracks are lifted from a more bloated, and in consequence less spontaneous, 1981 line up (featuring, amongst numerous others, future guitar virtuoso Steve Vai), but which still manage impressive versions of 'Cocaine Decisions' and 'Flakes', all of which is then cobbled together in a video editing suite with some off the wall, sometimes funny, sometimes illuminating, often embarrassing (Zappa, like Andy Warhol, loved nothing more than standing back and letting people make arses of themselves), but typically Zappa style interludes. Add a little Bruce Bickford clay animation – best seen in another fine DVD release Baby Snakes – a short Valley Girl documentary and the man himself, lugubrious, caustic, dry and desperately missed.

Buy this DVD

****************************************************************** ZuccheroZucchero
Live At The Royal Albert Hall
(Polydor)

What most people in the UK know about Zucchero could easily be written in marker pen on the passing housefly, so for the uninformed, Adelmo Fornaciari is an Italian musician (his nickname Zucchero means Sugar), who has carved out something of a career for himself in the blues field, also marrying old school R&B with Italian pop to hugely popular effect not only in his homeland but also throughout Europe. Indeed so popular is he amongst the world’s muso fraternity this DVD boasts a ludicrously impressive list of guest performers (Eric Clapton, Solomon Burke, Brian May, Cheb Mami, Luciano Pavarotti and, erm, Ronan Keating amongst many others), and whilst he may not be a household name in the UK he comfortably sold out this showcase of quality grown up pop for an obviously rapt and enthusiastically appreciative audience (aside from a teeth grindingly duff Dolores O’Riordan appearance). Extras include a ‘behind the scenes’ feature, a ‘making of the album’ feature, videos clips, photo’s, a hidden performance (could we find it? could we buggery) and the more altruistic amongst you will be pleased to learn that part of the proceeds from the DVD sales go to the UN Refugee Society.

Buy this DVD

******************************************************************

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Back to main page


Features Archive

features Interviews with Supergrass, Ryan Adams, Mark Josephs and our features archive.

more

******************
Live listings

live listings What's on and where Check the listings for all the latest news on where to go and why

more

******************
Album reviews

Our monthly roundup of all the latest album releases good, bad or ugly, we listen and then rate 'em

more

******************
Book Reviews

Book Reviews All the latest music related tomes, top shelf or under the counter, we read ‘em and then pass on the good (or bad) word

more

******************
Class act

A full page monthly retrospective look at the most Influential acts from the last fifty years

more

******************


Web site designed, built and maintained by Craig Goult at XUNY in association with CaPhun Ung at Phyo.net