steve davis' interesting alternative

Steve is delighted by this posthumous milestone…

When great composers are ripped from this mortal coil well before their allotted threescore years and ten, we should all take time to spare a thought for their family and friends, celebrate what they created and be thankful for what they gave us. However, self interest is only an unissued release away! Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, the Yellow Shark himself, or, if you don’t believe in the afterlife, the Zappa Family Trust, posthumously delivers the 100th official Frank Zappa release. The album entitled _Dance _Me This is due out June 1.

To my eternal shame, I was never fully appreciative of Zappa’s genius at the time and even less so of his partner in crime, Don Van Vliet. As the years have rolled on, however, I’ve found myself fully appreciating the magnetic draw of Franks’ guitar pick up and the hypnotic growl of the great Captain.I now try to sift through the minefield of official and “unofficial” releases from the two great men, hoping for previously unreleased gems.

Dance Me This has got me intrigued and chomping at the bit for two reasons. Firstly, it’s one of his last compositions, a period of his timeline I gravitate to. Secondly, it is one to add to his Synclavier sub-genre. I’m not that smitten with Zappa’s humorous outings, although perhaps I would have embraced them with far more gusto had I been a fan first time around, but give me a Jazz From Hell or Civilization Phaze III and I’m in programmed paradise!

If I’m trying to introduce potential new converts to the music of Frank Zappa, then it’s a different story entirely. I think I’d plump for the album Hot Rats or most likely go out more on a limb, tie my victim to the rack and crank up the volume on Inca Roads from the album _One _Size Fits All or perhaps if I was feeling particularly confident then Regyptian Strut from Sleep Dirt.

If you are already receptive to his work then perhaps an essential purchase, should you not have it already, is Läther. Originally conceived as a four LP box set, it was turned down by Warner Brothers in that format and many of the tracks subsequently appeared on other albums to fulfill Frank’s album contract quota. But Läther now supplies us with alternative takes and a number of previously unreleased gems. It is most probably our gain, because had it been released in its original format, there’s no guarantee these other takes would have ever seen a pressing plant!

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