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4 stars I find this too self-indulgent in comparison to "Shut Up 'n' Play Yer Guitar". Too much "showy" guitar strangling for my taste, but it has some unmissable pieces in there too. My favourite is "Were We Ever Really Safe In San Antonio?" which has such an increadibly beautifull moment of resolution in it - ya just wanna cry!! (sap that I am). The fast(ish) version of "Watermelon In Easter Hay" is sublime and "Winos Do Not March" is hilarious. It just has to many "average" FZ solos (tho' that's still great by most folks' standards).
Report this review (#29687)
Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Awsome, another Double CD (31 songs!) full of excellent 79-84 guitar goods. I just love all of Zappa's 80's guitar, has anyone else felt that little soft spot from track 5 disc 2 GOA? It actually gives me the chills, its cool like track 18 off Sheik Yerbouti "Yo Mama" earlier versions of Watermelon in Easter Hay and Outside now. Both kick ass. Great improv jams all around too.

I think if you listen to all of Zappa correctly, with the right frame of mind for each and every album for they all have different moods, then you will most likely love them all forever.

Trust me, this along with all Zappa albums are awsopme if you listen to them right.

Report this review (#85437)
Posted Tuesday, August 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Guitar contains some killer live solos deliveredthrough the years by the avant-garde maestro, Frank Zappa. Fans already got the Shut Up 'N Play Your Guitar trilogy to appreciate Zappa's prowess, and it stands as a much better document than this. The problem here is that, naturally, the focus is given to the guitar. Thetrue genius of Zappa was his ability to find and use skilled musicians to craft weird yet amazing tunes where every instrument could shine. Here, however, it's all about Frank. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it is when most of the solos are average.

Zappa and guitar afficiandos will want this album, but I suggest sampling his talent in his "real" studio albums. The best solos are Were We Really Safe in San Antonio?, the redone Watermelon in Easter Hay, Sinster #3, and Outside Now. The rest is mostly bland for FZ standards.

Grade: D

Report this review (#108211)
Posted Sunday, January 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Unashamedly, I admit to be a Zappa admirer, well at least for the bulk of his works with a few exceptions. Often he plays fantastic solos that lift and fit the compositions well.

The solos alone here without the framework feel somewhat sterile, requiring much attention with little entertainment value on the side. The rhythm section are left to provide little more than just that, rhythm, or more like filling the background with very little to hold onto in musical terms. I'd say, rather boring, albeit performed with skill this remains just a routine work for them with little affection on display. They could have been watching TV while doing what they were paid for and doing it with remarkable precision. Nothing like collective improvisations like on Hot Rats, but then again, its called Guitar.

There are some gems amongst Zappa's solos, perhaps a bit of improvement on his previous releases in a similar vein, but it's a daunting task to listen to the entire recording without losing focus and interest. "Less would have been more" springs to mind. The album may represent much interest to practicing musicians wanting to dysect Zappa's talent, for a casual listener it remains boring if not irritating after a few tracks.

To me it remains a soul-less and sterile release with a few highlights only.

Report this review (#110334)
Posted Thursday, February 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
Chris H
4 stars Is there any need to compare?

"Guitar" blows the "Shut Up N' Play Yer Guitar" series out of the water! This is one of the few pure solo albums that I can listen to the full way through. (The other being Trace- Fusion, by the way!)This shows Zappa at his rawest and most intense guitar moments, and then it can also show his beautiful progressions. The heaviest hitters are the superb "Which One Is It?" and the classic "In-A-Gadda-Stravinsky", while he breaks out he raw intensity during "Jim & Tammy's Upper Room" and the extremely catchy "For Duane". How can you not clap along? Like I said, he can also play very toned down and make things sound perfect rather than intense. "Once Again, Without The Net" and "Do Not Pass Go" are prime examples of that. The funk that is delivered in "That's Not Really Reggae", and the bluesy "Sexual Harassment In The Workplace" are not to be forgotten either.

After you listen to this album, you will realize that if you have ever even seen somebody play guitar, they should be playing it like this guy. One listen, and trust me, you will regard Frank Zappa as high as I do. Those who don't appreciate his praise as a guitarist need to hear this. As a matter of fact, this would be an excellent compliment to any musician's collection. It can be relaxing and dangerous all in the same CD.

4 stars, not 5 because of the fact that some people could just not be able to appreciate the intense musicianship in this here album.

Report this review (#114087)
Posted Friday, March 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars The songs on this double album are live and all instrumental. They were taken from many concerts(1979- 1984) and blended into each other giving the impression of one long suite on each disc. Steve Vai is on stunt guitar for many of these tunes. Zappa plays his Custom Strat for the most part, but he also uses his Hendrix Strat, Custom S.G. and Les Paul Custom.This didn't impress me as much as i thought it would, I think that a lot of the guitar solos have a similar style and sound, so with 32 tracks it's a bit much, especially with no vocals present. There are lots of highlights though, and i'll go over what impressed me the most.

"Sexual Harassment In The Workplace" is classic Zappa,and he's faithful to the original. This is such a relaxing tune that really stands out from the others. "Republicans" is dark, angular and raw. Not surprising given the title and Frank's thoughts on politics. Great song. "Do Not Pass Go" has some nice intricate guitar work after 1 1/2 minutes. "In-A-Gadda-Stravinsky" features an amazing rhythm section of bass and drums throughout as Frank makes his guitar cry out overtop. "Once Again, Without The Net" is a difficult but rewarding listen. I love the title of "Jim & Tammy's Upper Room" a reference to those televangelists of that era. Zappa really lets go on this one with some powerful guitar work.

"That Ol' G Minor Thing Again" has a catchy beat with the keyboards standing out for one of the rare moments. The guitar is almost dissonant after 4 minutes. Check out the drumming in "Move It Or Park It" and "But Who Was Fulcanelli ?". "For Duane" is really a long instrumental section lifted from a cover Zappa did of the ALLMAN BROTHERS "Whipping Post". Some passionate blistering guitar in this one. The guitar and drumming are outstanding in "GOA". "Winos Do Not March" is a brighter more melodic track that stands out. One of my favs. "Swans ? What Swans ?" is a reflective song with some prominant bass. Some ripping guitar in "Systems Of The Edges". "Watermelon In Easter Hay" is probably the closest Frank gets to soaring guitar melodies, and they are beautiful.

3.5 stars. Well worth getting for guitar and Zappa fans alike.

Report this review (#163663)
Posted Monday, March 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
3 stars 120 minutes of Zappa's delightful Guitar

In the 80s Frank Zappa was making two very different kinds of music; on one hand he was making a weird mix of commercial music tinged with his excessive humor, as he had shown previously with Sheik Yerbouti, while on the other hand he was making instrumental music led by guitar solos in which the musicians on board, while very capable, there role was really just settle the rhythm and mood . Frank with 'Guitar', already obvious by the name of the album, is headed to the later of the mentioned previously, just like the trilogy of Shut Up N' Play Yer Guitar which was released earlier.

However, despite at how mediocre you think that this album may sound which is purely based on endless guitar solos and below Zappa's standards on the composition side, this album truly makes a place of it's own in Zappa's wide and diverse discography.

Obviously while having simple, yet effective, compositions, you won't find obvious standouts in which either complexity or top-notch musicianship is found, but still tunes like 'Sexual Harassment In The Workplace', 'Which One Is It?', 'Chalk Pie', 'Variations On Sinister #3', 'GOA', 'Winos Do Not March', 'Do Not Try This At Home' and 'Things That Look Like Meat' all present some grabbing and emotional guitar playing. However, I must recommend you to listen this album as a whole piece, not detracting from each track, if not all like one single long piece in which flows smoothly that'll chill you completely.

No, it doesn't match Roxy & Elsewhere and Zappa in New York in terms of complex composition and exceptional musicianship, but none of those two give such a chilling performance of Zappa's guitar for around 120 minutes. If you already have listened to the Shut Up N' Play Yer Guitar trilogy, either you liked it or not, this shouldn't be much of a worthy addition, but if you haven't listened to that yet, I would definitely recommend this as a damn great chilling experience, as well as to get another point of view from Zappa's versatility.

Report this review (#213083)
Posted Thursday, April 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Frank Zappa was so many things. First and foremost, he was possibly the greatest composer of the late twentieth century. He was also a funny and entertaining performer. But also, he was one hell of a guitar player. Unique and exciting, his solos were one of the highlights of every live show. This is the second collection of guitar solos that Zappa released (the first being "Shut Up And Play Your Guitar" - if you don't count the separate LP releases of that set). Both sets spotlight Frank's unusual and amazing guitar style.

I have heard complaints about how Zappa always played over fairly simplistic chord progressions. My thought was that he did that to contrast the complexity of his playing. In fact, his solos usually consisted of many of the odd timing and melodies that made his written pieces so interesting.

While I love this whole set, two pieces always stand out to me. On In-A Gadda- Stravinsky, Zappa dares to play "The Rite Of Spring" over the famous Iron Butterfly riff, until the piece breaks down into "Taps". And It Ain't Necessarily The Saint James Infirmary Frank, along with keyboardist Tommy Mars, play a great bluesy version of the Gershwin classic.

I highly recommend this for the serious guitar freak.

Report this review (#377779)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I kinda get the feeling that any edition of this kind of album from Frank, unless something made it exceptionally good or exceptionally bad, would almost automatically get a high *** from me. This is a 2-CD successor to the Shut Up 'N' Play Yer Guitar set from several years earlier, and here as there it's just one guitar solo after another. Here, as there, no context is given for the solos (though the title of one betrays that it comes from a performance of "Whipping Post"), and just as with the previous set, I absolutely cannot get through this in one setting. Once again, though, this absolutely works as a collection of individual performances.

The biggest difference between this and the previous set comes from the obvious: that set featured performances done with Frank's 70's bands, while this set features performances done with Frank's 80's bands. The 80's version of Zappa live was generally louder, more abrasive and more technophilian than the 70's version of Zappa live, and this set reflects that amply. Frank's playing style is essentially the same here as there, but there's more emphasis on noises and effects that weren't demonstrated on Shut Up. I would tend to say that a lot of the solos on here could easily pass for heavy metal solos, only more experimental on the whole. For that reason and others, I could actually see the possibility of somebody enjoying Shut Up and disliking this, but I can't really buy that. The relative weaknesses of Zappa's 80's live shows came from plenty of factors that had nothing to do with his guitar playing; if anything, his guitar playing was often what saved the day.

Some particularly memorable performances come from three tracks: "In-a-Gadda- Stravinsky" (where Frank starts off with the opening theme of "The Rite of Spring" before going in other directions, while the bass player plays the "In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida" riff), "Watermelon in Easter Hay" (not identical to the gloriously beautiful original, but a good listen regardless), and "For Duane" (taken from "Whipping Post," as mentioned before). Oh, and the opening Sexual Harrassment in the Workplace could actually pass for a regular 'song' on a regular Zappa live album. Other than that, none of the performances really stand out as either especially good or especially bad. They just kind of feed on one other, creating a good overall effect.

And thus they make a good overall album. Again, very few people will have any chance of suriving a listen to this from start to finish, but as music to randomly interspere with other tracks from your collection, it's totally worthy. I definitely recommend it.

Report this review (#419058)
Posted Monday, March 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
2 stars This album is simply a collection of guitar solos taken out of the context of the concert and the main song and renamed and pasted together so that you get over 2 hours of FZ jamming on the guitar. Each track is melded together and starts when the solo starts and ends before the band returns to the main melody again. The way these solos are presented makes for a somewhat painful listening experience if you are not a lover of FZ's solos. If that is all you want to hear without any context to the song they are being performed in, then you are in luck because this is wall to wall guitar. Or if you are a guitar student and want to hear what amazing things FZ can do on the guitar, then this is for you. Or if you are a completionist, then you must have it I suppose. However, if you want something entertaining or enjoyable to listen to, then there are many other FZ collections and recordings that are much better. To the layman, this will sound like a continuous guitar jam, which is basically what it is, but taken out of context like it is and pasted together as one jam after another, it takes all of the character out of the solo and sounds too much the same all the way through. So, in other words, for me at least, this is very hard to listen to in a single sitting. Little bits at a time, it isn't quite so bad.

The linear notes on this collection tell you the concert venues and dates (but they are not always correct) and it also tells you what performance (or the name of the song) the solo was taken from. If you are familiar with FZ's jamming songs, then these notes will be of some value and will help return some of the character of the jam as long as you can imagine the context that it was taken from. Many of the tracks are taken from performances of "Ride My Face to Chicago", "Black Napkins", "Let's Move to Cleveland", "Black Page", "Zoot Allures", "City of Tiny Lights" and so on. There are a few of the tracks that do stand out a bit, like "Ina-Gadda-Stravinsky" which takes the hook from the Iron Butterfly song as the base for the jam and includes the opening notes from the bassoon line of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" and if you listen close you'll hear "Taps" played by the bass further into the song. This is one of the highlights of the album. There is a great solo taken from a performance of Gregg Allman's "Whipping Post" called "For Duane" in remembrance of Duane Allman who originally played the guitar solo for that song. There are other great solos that stand out in this mish-mash of solos, but you will only catch them if you are a careful listener and most of these get lost as it is hard to make a point of reference unless you are following closely along.

Zappa hardcore fans will be interested to note that the track entitled "Outside Now" is named after the track on Joe's Garage of the same name. However, the jam is not taken from a live performance of that song, the jam comes from a performance of "City of Tiny Lights" which was the original song where the "Outside Now" track was based on in Joe's Garage. There are little secrets like that here that wouldn't mean much to a regular listener. This album just does not hold a lot of appeal for the person that wants to explore FZ's discography, even if they are only interested in his guitar work. You are better off getting "Zappa Plays Zappa" or listening to some of his better albums like "Zoot Allures" or any number of live albums where he was likely to play extended jams.

Personally, I can only recommend this to hardcore fans, especially fans of FZ's guitar work who are more familiar with his repertoire. As such, I can only rate this with 2 stars. It's just not a collection that's easy to sit through, even for a Zappa fan like myself.

Report this review (#1403424)
Posted Friday, April 24, 2015 | Review Permalink
2 stars Review #82

ZAPPA in the eighties was not good. I'm sorry, I probably shouldn't be that direct and make such a daring statement but with the exception of "Ship arriving too late", all the ZAPPA albums in the eighties are extremely hard to swallow for me because most of them sound as they have a lot of instruments playing all kinds of stuff at the same time and making the music incomprehensible or, like in this case, there is only one instrument taking all the space of the album.

"Guitar" is a double live album released in 1988 and, as its name implies, it is only guitar and guitar and guitar. Yes, Frank ZAPPA was a very good guitar player, there's no doubt about that, but we can appreciate that in several brilliant guitar solos he played in some of his 70's songs such as "Black napkins", "Muffin man", "Zoot allures" and the immortal "Watermelon in Easter hay", but all of those songs were in albums with other songs that showed the brilliance and creativity of the other musicians who played with Frank: the drums by Terry BOZZIO, the keyboards by George DUKE, the saxophones of Napoleon MURPHY BROCK or the xylophones of Ruth UNDERWOOD (just to name a few and those names depend on the album we're talking about), in "Guitar" it's just that: guitar.

The album starts with "Sexual harassment in the workplace" which is a really good song when you hear it isolated from the album; my first encounter with this song was in the compilation "Strictly commercial" and I thought (and I still think) it is a great song with a powerful guitar line filling it almost entirely. Further than that, the album falls in the "everything sounds exactly the same" kind of record and it is very hard to tolerate it because it lasts a whole hour and just when you thought it is over you realize there is one more CD with another hour of the SAAAAAAAAAAAAAME stuff.

Maybe "In a gadda Stravinsky" would be the second song that I'd save from this album: you don't have to be extremely smart to understand that it is a weird (ZAPPA-like) cover of IRON BUTTERFLY's "In-a-gadda-da-vida" with a touch of Igor STRAVINSKY's influence; this song reminds me a lot to the early albums of ZAPPA & THE MOTHERS (especially "Burnt weeny sandwich" and "Uncle Meat"). It is a good (but not that much) song.

If we talk about an artist who has sooooooo many records as Frank ZAPPA it is easy to find some albums that are not that amazing. Even when I adore Frank ZAPPA and almost everything that he recorded from 1966 to 1982 I sincerely wouldn't recommend to listen to this or any other ZAPPA album recorded after 1982 (it is important to mark a difference between recorded and published and in this case I think it is especially important) in it's entirely; however, I would recommend to listen maybe one song of this album today, another one in two or three days, then another one after a week and maybe listening to it song by song with a lot of huge intervals and maybe then it would be a nice (not great) record.


Report this review (#2487992)
Posted Saturday, December 26, 2020 | Review Permalink

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