peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2020 12 07 Zappa


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This doco attempts to present the greatest hits of a man who (by choice) only had one hit. I'm ambivalent about a lot of Zappa's music but there are some things (Jazz from Hell for instance, and that live version of Muffin Man I first heard in the late 1990s) that do it for me. Colour me curious.

Another problem this doco faces is that Zappa was a very public figure who spent perhaps half his working life on the road amongst people who are typically epically indiscrete. He's aloof, driven, maybe disingenuous; another great American who leant heavily on his wife. But we know all this just by watching him walk through an airport so far ahead of his entourage. There are a few necessary inclusions, such as the back story to Moon Unit's Valley Girl and his performance with John and Yoko. Most irritating is that there's nothing in the way of anchors when the music gets interesting; I cannot follow any particular thing up. What might be possible is that piece over the credits, and the piano/drums thing performed by his former percussionist.

Overall it's a time capsule. They don't seem to make them like that any more.

Glenn Kenny.