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Frank Zappa

Son of Cheap Thrills

(Rykodisc)

With somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 original Zappa albums, you simply have to wonder if Rykodisc will ever need to find another artist to keep them in the black. This is the second and by no means the last compilation of Zappa tunes that was not arranged by the artist except in the original cut. While Son of Cheap Thrills shares some features of compilations created by the master, they are only in a vague cookie-cutter type of way. While every Zappa album has to be hated and suffered through twice before you understand and love it forever, this makeshift semblance of Zappa tunes still couldn’t outshine charcoal after the tenth listen.


Yes, it has favorites like “Disco Boy” which graces about fifteen of his albums and is sickening by now to connoisseurs. It also packs time into endless go-nowhere jams on tunes like “Ya Honza,” that only make you wish you could be there, or at least somewhere else. What the boys at Rykodisc, forgot to do was add some type of continuity or greater picture to this semblance of orphaned tunes. Mind you I cannot disparage or in any way insult the music of the man who pioneered and/or perfected any sound ever heard. The extreme disjunction of “It Just Might Be a One Shot Deal,” the sarcastic ‘50s doo-wop sound of “Love of My Life,” and the numerous instrumentals that grace this seemingly thrown together album are to some small degree a display of his range and talent. But, these tunes are by no means picks of the litter. As for Rykodisc’s plan to increase Zappa awareness, they’d do better by promoting the album Strictly Commercial (a compilation produced by the artist) more heavily than by throwing together this bunch of second-rate tracks. Why the 6.2 you ask? It’s Zappa, and even Rykodisc can’t ruin that.

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Tagged as: frank zappa
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This is well worth the 38-plus year wait for an official release. Good singin', good playin'.
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There has never been a rock artist like Zappa. Who else could combine Spike Jones and Stravinsky? Who else saw themselves as both Monty Python and Duke Ellington?
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Zappa was never commercially huge for the two most uncomplicated and inexorable reasons: he didn't particularly want (or, to his credit, need) to be, and more, he couldn't be.
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Sometimes changing the course of modern music can be surprisingly easy. Though their names may not be laced in the stars right next to Sinatra and Dylan, these mavericks will always be remembered for breaking boundaries, stretching the definitions of genres, and rewriting what the very notion of a "pop song" is.
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