As little as he may look like the straight world’s concept of “musician of the year,” and as freaky an image as he and the Mothers of Invention may have, Frank Zappa has done much to influence and guide pop music throughout the world. (1968 Rolling Stone interview written by Jerry Hopkins) links to the songs can be found in the description under the album covers.
- 5 – Village of the sun live (off of the 1978 “Roxy & Elsewhere” album) The album in itself is crazy enough to give a listen, the backing band of the mothers shine through with the rip roaring guitar sounds of Frank Zappa. Jeff Simmons leads with his scratchy yet authentic voice and Zappa just jams in the background. Theres rhythm, rhyme and some damn good guitar in a song that is talking about the terrible smells of a turkey farm in what they call “the village of the sun”. This song is a triumph, it has all of the elements that make Frank Zappa and the Mothers who they were.
- 4 – The deathless horsie (off the 1979 “shut up and play yer guitar” album) The fifth track on disc two of the 1979 album just plants you in a world of your own imagination. The subtle rise from the orchestra type band and the quick jump into the hands of Zappa’s guitar leaves you on a journey through just complete guitar shredding. After the first strum you just know he is on a mission to blow you away, and that he does. For six whole minutes Zappa is at the wheel and you called shotgun on his ride through the deathless horsie.
- 3 – Montana (off the 1973 “overnight sensation” album) The song feels like the first time you go to a circus, it’s got everything and your just a child thats never seen anything like this before. The reason for Zappa’s move towards the west was to become a dental floss farmer or so he says. But the song has everything, his spoken word type flow is thrown over every instrument he can find. And you can’t forget that Zappa guitar sound, it never drifts from the theme of going to Montana. If you close your eyes you can see the ranches and the beautiful plaines that he paints with not only instruments but with voice “yippy-ty-o-ty-ay”.
- 2 – Peaches en regalia (off the 1969 “hot rats” album) By far his most popular instrumental song Zappa leads with many different sounds on this track. The theme feels very Chinese new year in a since of the sounds of the guitars which feel very light and like fire works popping off in your ears. The lyricalness song is a massive push up the mountain of music and leaves you wanting more every time Zappa’s guitar goes away. None the less if it isn’t the guitar its the drums or its the sax or whatever instrument that is playing in the background that makes this song what it is, beautiful, endless and romantic without even talking.
- 1 – Blessed Relief (off the 1972 album “The Grand Wazoo”) Effortlessly does he throw his hat into the ring of smooth and slow what almost feels like jazz but rocks you at the same time. Frank tried many different sounds over the span of his career but this is by far my favorite. Every time the first guitar notes hit it stills gives me chills just like listening to it for the first time all over again. It is a beautiful cascade of sound, the backing band is no longer playing their sheet music yet transcending into their own sounds. It feels like saying the word smooth in a calm and subtle voice, it is the song that made me realize how good and beautiful music truly is. The song captures everything, all emotions and feelings and lets you tell your story to it, because it fits every story. The organ that plays in the middle makes you feel like you’ve never heard anything this beautiful before. Finally the guitar at the end is what helps you down from the cliff that is blessed relief it helps to tie the band back together, and makes you go “damn” every time he hits a note. Blessed relief is what I believe to be Frank’s masterpiece, the song that explains it all while never saying a word.