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Published: 2008/05/23
by Randy Ray

Zappa Plays Zappa – Zappa Plays Zappa

Razor and Tie Entertainment 7930182993

What was initially an intriguing novelty has turned into an annual tour with even greater historical possibilities. When Dweezil Zappa appeared with his veteran band of father Franks players at the Jammy Awards in 2006, he was there to pick up his elders Lifetime Achievement Award. That appearance continued a tour began in 2005 whereby Dweezil and his crack musicians interpreted the music of the maestro for a new generation. He said at the time that there was no reason that he couldnt keep doing this year after year because his fathers back catalog was so huge. And so were in 2008, and that promise has turned a corner.

Quite well frankly, covering his fathers work on paper may seem like a cookie-cutter task. Alas, it aint that easy as Zappas compositions remain difficult, take a certain level of competence, and can strain the patience of even the most seasoned, hardcore classical musician, let alone a veteran crew of aging rock stars fronted by the Son of Kong Himself. And Dweezil has met that challenge. In 2006, he immediately won over diehard old fans and n00bs alike by supplying the hits and rare gems in his own masterly manner with an ease and well grace that belied his previous pedigree as a New Wave rocker with heavy metal undertones. He, also, wisely surrounded himself with some of his fathers former band members including guitarist Steve Vai, multi-instrumentalist Napoleon Murphy Brock, and drummer Terry Bozzioall of whom appear on this initial ZPZ release.

The tracks, culled from live performances from December 2006 in the Pacific Northwest, are mainly a mixture of 1970s highlights with a few ’60s chestnuts thrown in to season the heady blend. On the simultaneously-released DVD, one gets two hours worth of prime Zappa. The hour-length CD release — which we are concerned with here — is also supremely stellar with powerful readings of Florentine Pogen, a cool Apostrophe () medley including four of the first five songs from the record (minus Hanook Rubs It), an exquisite Peaches en Regalia, a Vai-enhanced Black Page #2, and the albums long masterpiece, a tight take on Zoot Allures The Torture Never Stops. However, on the iTunes and Amazon download versions, one has a slightly different track listing, including a titanic 16-minute version of _Uncle Meat_s A Pound for a Brown on the Bus that is worth seeking out.

Dweezil Zappa could make an annual career out of this lot and one would benefit quite a bit. Forget cottage side career, this is full-on usurpation of his fathers career and, all cynicism aside, Frank Zappas work was created to stand the test of time under the dual control of a composers trained wand and guitarists mastered wank. And Zappa the Younger does, indeed, fulfill that promise on all accounts. More, please, but lets dig even deeper in 2008 and 2009, getting beyond the well-known eras of the 1960s-70s. Sheez one can get carpal tunnel syndrome just scrolling through the FZ catalog on Suffice to say, Dweezil has a good 10 years to continue delivering the multitude of riches and sharing more fine live compilations like this initial self-titled release.

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