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Frank Zappa


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Frank Zappa Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention: In the 1960's album cover
3.21 | 10 ratings | 1 reviews | 30% 5 stars

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DVD/Video, released in 2009

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Frank Zappa arrives in a generally excellent full frame 1.33:1 transfer that has good color and saturation, if occasional compression artifacts, in the contemporary interview segments. The rest of the archival footage varies drastically in quality, from very good (The Steve Allen Show clip), to pretty poor (some of Zappa's home movies of various concerts). Some of the archival footage is in black and white, as you might expect.

Don't get your hopes up about hearing a ton of unedited Zappa music here. The DD 2.0 soundtrack is full of snippets, unfortunately none of them last longer than a few seconds to about a minute. That said, the soundtrack is excellent, with full range fidelity and no anomalies. Both the voiceover narration and the interview segments are completely clear. No subtitles are available.

Unedited interview segments are offered, as well as text biographies of a lot of participants in the documentary, including several members of the first two versions of the Mothers.

Final Thoughts:
Zappa is an American icon(oclast), and anyone interested in the evolution of 20th century music needs to visit at least a few of his seminal recordings. This documentary does a first-rate job of detailing the first decade or so of Zappa's professional life, and manages to make both the man and the musician accessible, if not completely comprehensible. Highly recommended.

Line-up / Musicians

Releases information

2009 UK Region 0 PAL DVD - This film reviews the true story of The Mothers of Invention and the music they made during the first incarnation of the band. With group members Jimmy Carl Black, Bunk Gardner, Don Preston and Art Tripp taking up the tale and revealing [often for the first time] what the real Frank Zappa was all about; and with contributions from 'scenesters'.

Format: DVD
Record Label: Sexy Intellectual
Catalogue No: SIDVD545
Country of Origin: UK

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FRANK ZAPPA Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention: In the 1960's ratings distribution

(10 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(30%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(20%)
Good, but non-essential (40%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (10%)

FRANK ZAPPA Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention: In the 1960's reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Neu!mann
3 stars The product description on its page here at Prog Archives is a more or less complete review by itself of this DVD documentary, a beginner's guide to the beginnings of Frank Zappa's career as a musical provocateur. The program is likewise a straightforward but comprehensive history of the band many fans believe was the best of the many Mothers of Invention, and that's not a claim I'm prepared to argue against.

It was produced without the blessing of the Zappa estate, which may explain the lack of biographical data not directly related to the music, and the scarcity of actual concert footage and/or archival interviews with Frank himself (early blues icon Howlin' Wolf gets more screen time in the opening scenes). Goodness knows the Zappa family had little reason to withhold their approval: the show is nothing if not complimentary, sometimes to an almost hagiographic degree (modern music wouldn't be the same without him, and so forth).

The DVD does an excellent job putting the original Mothers in the proper historical / social / critical perspective, and the priceless anecdotes by many surviving band members paint an invaluable (if not always flattering) portrait of Zappa's singleminded genius. But the polite talking-head presentation of facts and interviews can appear somewhat dry at times, hardly a fitting technique for discussing such a lively and irreverent iconoclast. Too bad a more distinctive documentary filmmaker like Errol Morris (or better yet: Werner Herzog) isn't a committed Zappaholic.

The program comes briefly to life, for example in the montage of Watts riot TV footage set to the proto-rap blues of 'Trouble Every Day', and during Zappa's 1963 guest appearance on the Steve Allen show (looking impossibly young, clean-cut and nerdy).

Elsewhere, despite all the scholarly insight and informative chatter (biographer Ben Watson is especially articulate), the DVD is best approached as a primer for neophyte Zappa fans (like myself at the time), certainly worthwhile but nowhere near as valuable as the music itself.

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