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Frank Zappa - Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar (The Box Set) CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.85 | 108 ratings

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3 stars I'll put my review of these pieces here rather than under the individual discs since the Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar triple-set was originally released as a 3-LP boxed set, and I believe the current CD edition restores the boxed set format.

A treat for those of us who found Zappa's novelty rock direction at the dawn of the 1980s profoundly irritating, Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar is a set of guitar solos trimmed from Zappa's live concerts from the era (except for Canard Du Jour, the closing track on the final album, which is a studio jam with Jean-Luc Ponty from 1972). This is the result of Frank's burgeoning interest in the technique he referred to as xenochrony - trimming improvised performances from their original context and setting them in a separate one to create a new piece.

The extracts here are, essentially, the sort of raw materials that Frank would use to create xenochronous works on albums such as Joe's Garage, but in this context, all jammed together, they work surprisingly well. The album is significantly more varied than expected, contributions in the background from other musicians helping to avoid this becoming the Frank-and-his-guitar show, and the range of genres from classic rock to Santana tribute to fusion is impressive.

Of course, the dedication Frank shows to the set's central conceit (that this is a big collection of Frank shutting up and playing his guitar) is also its downfall to some extent. Man cannot live on bread alone; likewise, listeners aren't often satisfied with just guitar solo after guitar solo. If you are a big fan of technical guitar playing and want three discs of Frank riffing away like there's no tomorrow, then you'll probably love it, but for the rest of us I wouldn't say it's a set to listen to regularly, and indeed I find it hard even to sit through any of the individual portions involved , but it's still a welcome return of Frank's pioneering experimentalism which otherwise seemed to get a bit lost around this time.

Warthur | 3/5 |


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