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


Frank Zappa


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5 stars This colection of improvised guitar solos has become part of my life! If you are initially put off by the statistical density of it all just give it a few 100 spins.It helps if you are familiar with Zappa and his propensity to take long jazz like solos.Some of the best musos on the planet provide a suitably elastic backing.Opening with five-five-five in a flurry of ascending eastern scales the song segues via a spoken word interlude into one of the all- time heavy guitar solos, `Hog Heaven`. Worth the price alone. The title track is a furious take on the `Inca Roads` solo with otherworldly drums provided by Vinnie Colaiuta.It was a conventional lick at the opening of this track that got me hooked.It is like pulling a thread and after a while it all makes sense. Guitarist Steve Vai transcribed these solos...maniac. `Heavy Duty Judy` is also one of my all-time Zappa cuts. Molten sheets of guitar verging on feedback balancing on the finest freeform vamp you will ever here!
Report this review (#30275)
Posted Saturday, December 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
Petrovsk Mizinski
3 stars As well as being an influential composer, Frank Zappa was known (although perhaps to a lesser extent) as a great guitarist. A historical note that has always been very important to me about this album, even years before I had even heard it, was that Steve Vai, a virtuoso guitar hero of mine, transcribed a fair amount of this album, but at the time I had no idea how difficult the task would prove for Vai. Now, years later, I have finally got the chance to hear Zappa's Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar, and a fairly difficult task it must have been for Vai to transcribe the songs, especially when he was only getting paid 10 dollars per song he transcribed.

This is a fairly interesting album and very jazzy at times too, but there are many flaws about it that meant I couldn't seem to enjoy it as much as I hoped I would. Sure enough, we have a fine opening track, five-five-FIVE , which has the main musical idea of featuring two bars of 5/4 and one bar of 5/8, hence the title of the track. It sounds really crazy at the beginning, and it overall an enjoyable track and makes me think of an espionage mission, although I have no idea and doubt it was the intended feeling of the track, but regardless it sounds great. The rest of the album is of good quality in general, but it just doesn't always seem that great at capturing my interest and attention throughout it's duration, which is really unfortunate as I expected something really captivating from Zappa.

I have a great deal of respect for Zappa's abilities on the guitar, don't get me wrong, but it seems it wasn't just the compositions that failed to excite me that much, but Zappa's guitar work too is not always the most interesting and lively here.

Perhaps it could have had a saving grace in the form of being highly influential on the guitar world as well, but to be honest it doesn't seem to be, especially compared to Steve Vai himself, Joe Satriani, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi et al. While I imagine this did influence Vai to a fair extent, I can certainly hear more Hendrix, SRV and Joe Satriani whom was his Vai's guitar teacher for a while, in Vai's playing.

A good album, but definitely not at the top of the guitar world heap, or Zappa's own discography either.

Report this review (#169900)
Posted Monday, May 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album is kind of marginal Zappa's release, but dedicated listener will find there plenty of joy to his ears!

In fact, all this album is just a collection of live recorded guitar solo improvs played by Zappa (with support of his band, including great drumming of Vinnie Colaiuta and Steve Vai on rhythm guitar),and musical pieces is coming from some different sessions.

I agree that very often such kind of musical materials could be nothing but endless guitar noodles. Not there though. Frank genius even guitar improvs transferred to interesting compositions, with their own melodies and structures. Frank plays absolutely great guitar, and bigger part of music just sound as pre-composed pieces. Guitar technique is great, but all this album is far not technique demonstration. More like jazz-rock improvisation miniatures, played by real Master. Quiet accessible listening, this album is great for repetitive spins.

For sure more conservative listener should better search for more song-oriented Zappa's releases, but any Frank's fan, and anyone with love to great electric guitar jazz-rock improvs should pay attention to this album.

My rating is 3+.

Report this review (#291059)
Posted Monday, July 19, 2010 | Review Permalink

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