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Frank Zappa - Francesco Zappa CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



2.58 | 128 ratings

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2 stars Leave it to Frank Zappa to go out of his way to release an album because he clearly doesn't think it's very good. While in the Berkeley music archives, Frank stumbled upon the works of one Francesco Zappa, an extremely minor figure of the 18th century who was better regarded as a cellist than as a composer. More importantly, as a composer, his entire goal was to make money off of the noblemen to whom he would dedicate his work, which pretty much made him the opposite of Frank in terms of general "artistic philosophy." Well, given the similarity in name, and radical difference in style, it was pretty much inevitable that Frank would program a couple of Francesco's sonatas into his Synclavier and release it.

You know, I always get antsy when people (and there are many who do this) act as if classical is a genre that can do no wrong, and that if something is classical it must automatically be good. You know why classical has such a good reputation with so many of the masses? It's because history did an exceptionally good job of emphasizing the best and burying the rest. For every Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Mozart etc, there were hundreds of composers writing stuff like what makes up this album. Francesco Zappa, were he alive in the early 21st century, would probably have been part of the corporate songwriting team employed by the record companies who sign American Idol winners, and that's nowhere near a compliment. I admittedly bristle a lot when Zappa tries to be "difficult" in his classical numbers, but that doesn't mean I want to go to the opposite extreme, which is something like this. The two pieces that make up this album are just way too prissy and rote for me to take them seriously. I'd actually prefer it if it had turned out that Francesco didn't really exist, and that Frank was doing a sort of classical update of Cruising with Ruben and the Jets; that would have been worth an extra star.

Still, as spectacularly pointless as the album might be, it's very hard to hate the music here outright. It's fun to listen the synthesized noises and try to pick out what instrument would be playing which part as a track moves through its little classical exercises, and it's all at least vaguely pleasant. Heck, had I lived way back in the day, or had I decided to go into music theory / composition for some reason, I'd probably have been proud to write something like this. Of course, that just shows what a hack I'd have been, but that's another story. I give the album a high ** grade because it's a funny joke and because it's not offensive when listening to it, but to get a grade better than this I need to be impressed at least at SOME point, and that doesn't happen here. Only get this album if it's very cheap.

tarkus1980 | 2/5 |


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