Fifty years of Zappa's "Hot Rats" and how it inspired the jazz-rock fusion genre

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/03/13/fifty-years-of-zappas-hot.html

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and how it inspired the entire genre of jazz-rock fusion.

In A Silent Way is jazz-rock. Hot Rats is rock-jazz.

(Spinal Tap performed at a blues-jazz festival, not a jazz-blues festival)

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Zappa did three albums in that genre, Hot Rats, Waka Jawaka, and The Grand Wazoo. They are all great albums.

The Grand Wazoo is really the culmination of all of it. Worth a listen.

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Peaches en Regalia remains an all time fav.

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Just went to see Dweezil Zappa perform Hot Rats and a few other goodies his dad wrote a few weeks ago. It was truly great. I saw his dad perform more than 30 years ago (ugh I’m old), so it was inspiring to see this music still being performed live and relevant.

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Hot Rats is among my favorite Zappa albums, but I have to admit I find some of the extended soloing a little tedious, “Gumbo Variations” is a bit long for example. Still, this was FZ’s hottest period, most artists would give a kidney to be as impressive as he was between '67 and '74.

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1971, age 13: “Well, [Turnips] what would you like Santa to bring you for Xmas?” “Willie the Pimp by Frank Zappa!”
Turns out to be one of those things you go out and get for yourself–and my first big-boy record.

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That one has been in my CD collection for over thirty years, and it’s still a favorite of mine. (fires up Clementine and cues it up for play)

The thing about Zappa, though, is you have to edit. Quite a number of his albums have both tracks I love and tracks I hate. Hot Rats is among those I can play all the way through without skipping any tracks.

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That’s the entire article?

I love Frank and have a great deal of respect for the musicians who supported him. Ruth Underwood was/is the bomb! As true with many geniuses, Frank was not an easy taskmaster. But I gotta say, the middle school mentality of many of his lyrics just fucking wore me out.

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I second this emotion. Could have listened to that talented band all night.

Yea. Zappa is really a troubling/troubled individual. He can be pretty juvenile, but he’s got a hateful streak as well: the misogyny on his Fillmore East–June 1971, for instance.

I still listen to Hot Rats, though.

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When it was released it became an immediate favorite with me and my crowd. Remains so to this day. Concerning the Live at the Filmore record (and I was at the Friday night show that had Don Preston as guest) it was a parody of the misogyny of some of the rock stars of the era not a favorable one imho

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That’s a fair take. But reading it that way leads to the same problems as the “ironic” racism of, say, Archer, or more appropriately for the times, Archie (Bunker). Some people read Archie and his fulminations as a critique of racism, but others liked him for “telling it like it is.”

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I was lucky enough to see The Mothers of Invention on tour in 1973. Jeeezuuzz, I’m old.

An extended version of Billy The Mountain blew me away.

Anyway, it was one of the concerts that opened my eyes to the vast possibilities of rock/jazz/classical amalgamations. What a great experience!

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I saw Dweezil during the Zappa Plays Zappa tour before the legal bullshit. It was a phenomenal show. And I was supposed to see the Hot Rats show tomorrow but now I’ll have to wait til it’s rescheduled.

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