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Zappa Plays Zappa (Fan Pak)
Zappa Plays Zappa
Fan Pak
Actor: Dweezil Zappa
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
NR     2008     3hr 25min


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Movie Details

Actor: Dweezil Zappa
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
Sub-Genres: Pop, Rock & Roll
Studio: Razor & Tie
Format: DVD
DVD Release Date: 04/29/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 3hr 25min
Number of Discs: 5
SwapaDVD Credits: 5
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Village of the Son of Monster Magnificent
Solo Goodspeed | Granada Hills, CA United States | 05/11/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"After weathering a plethora of FZ tributes, some of which are rather good but sometimes sloppy and self-indulgent, many of us fans were resigned to the fact that the man who left on his final tour in the early 90s was the only presence who could truly deliver this very particular musical content. Whether it was a Euro jazz group, a virtuoso chamber ensemble, or reunion of veteran band members, respectful and well-intentioned as it was, it all just seemed to come across as lip service. Something was missing.

After viewing this filmed performance of ZPZ, one may realize that what was missing was blood. Though Dweezil doesn't bleed in quite the same way as father Frank, it is apparent that here is the man who immersed himself in the music (not many others could have the same opportunity) to the degree where he could take it on the road and deliver what really feels like a Zappa concert. Not exactly 100%, but closer than anyone in this generation will experience elsewhere.

And that is the point. Dweezil's mission has been to reintroduce the inimitable music of Frank Zappa to a younger demographic starved for alternatives to the mind-numbingly insipid consumer sock stuffers that pass for popular music in this day and age. With little to compare it to, Zappa's music can't be anything but fresh, a challenging listen but always entertaining. To do this Dweezil has assembled an enthusiastic ensemble that comes close to looking like a group Frank would have hand picked. Scheila Gonzales in particular (a music teacher at a high school in Simi Valley of all places), who accompanies herself on keyboard while improvising on sax, is someone to watch for, both in this show and her future career. Percussionist Billy Hulting nicely fills the void left in the absence of Ruth Underwood. All players of this really difficult material not only pull it off, but make it look really fun. Dweezil himself is both participant and observer onstage: at no point does he attempt to BE Frank, his playing style is his own when he improvs (more fluid and high register), and he has wisely avoided presenting songs like Dinah Moe Hum, TTs & Beer, Bobby Brown Goes Down, etc., because it's just not who Dweezil is and he didn't want the material to seem "like a cheap imitation".

Of course veteran performer Napoleon Murphy Brock is more than up to the task of putting that "snarky" personality into his vocal performance, and as such takes on a gargantuan task of singing most of the songs and making them sound like the real deal, along with the meticulously researched arrangements, obviously taken note-for-note from the original recordings. Another very welcome guest presence is Terry Bozzio, whom many consider the greatest drummer who ever worked with Frank. The camera dawdles lovingly over his considerable percussive kit, which resembles a cross between a space shuttle console and a sea anemone. And the songs "I'm So Cute", "Trying to Grow a Chin" and the epic "Punky's Whips" (best recorded performance of this IMHO) are only included as only Bozzio can deliver. "You know, TECHNICALLY," he assures the audience, "I'm still alive." That's an understatement.

And as if that weren't enough, Dweezil brings in Steve Vai, the man who actually taught him to play guitar (dad was too busy I guess, and didn't want to "work" while with family). As you can imagine, much of this generous show's second half is devoted to some scorching guitar battles, particularly on "Montana", "Zomby Woof" and "Trouble Every Day". Earlier on, we are treated to a stunning improv section in "Pound for a Brown", where Dweezil sheds his guitar and conducts the band with a series of secret hand signals. This is one of the more magical moments when you KNOW you're witnessing a genuine Zappa concert.

Don't approach this video expecting a sort of nostalgic experience.... unless you define "nostalgia" as a time in the past, where artists had the unmitigated audacity to intrude upon rock audiences with truly exciting, challenging, thought-provoking and perversely fun music. It's still there, and will continue to be so, as Dweezil Zappa has stated his intention to continue the legacy of his extraordinary father's music.... minus the Winstons, of course. DZ may not have the same edge as FZ did, though this could work in favor of the music, which may have not enjoyed sufficient reach in the past due to how many felt about Frank's personality. Whatever. To paraphrase the composer (who refuses to die): Zappa isn't dead, he just smells younger.

Let go of any preconceptions, and enjoy a smashing delivery of Zappa music as it sounds today."
This is an absolute must
Simon Jacobs | Surry, NH USA | 05/01/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Just for everyones information, the fan pack consists a 2 disc DVD set combines with the a 3 disc audio cd of the same material.

There is also a 2 disc DVD only set.

The third product listed on Amazon contains an single audio cd compilation

I went to see these guys last year, and don't let the fact that Frank is not playing with them put you off. It was AMAZING! It was like going to see a Zappa's greatest hits show.
I have seen Frank twice live, and although I am a HUGE fan of his work, in my humble opinion there is a lot of detrius that you have to sit through, to get to the good bits. This show and disc set contained everything that I ever wanted to hear live.
The band are awesome and Dweezils guitar work is jaw droppingly good.
Jaw-droppingly intelligent music
G. Minton | 05/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"WARNING: at the time of this review, the product description here on Amazon is just plain wrong. It states that the band "duet" with Frank via video on the tune "Chunga's Revenge." Neither that song nor any other duet with Frank is on the dvd, cd, or dvd/cd version of this release.

That aside, this is an delightful release. Dweezil has selected some of his dad's most accessible tunes, assembled an utterly amazing band to perform them, toured the world for months, and captured for our video amusement and amazement the performances of two consecutive nights.

The songs are among the most popular from Frank's catalog, emphasizing the albums Over-Nite Sensation, Apostrophe', and Roxy & Elsewhere. That was a period in Frank's career when all of his skills hit their zenith together for the first time - his uniquely classical sensibility of long sections of composed instrumental complexity, interspersed with a jazzer's delight of great chord progressions underlying portions of free improvising, overlaid with pure rock band distorted tones, and pop vocal melodies, but minus most of the scatalogical explorations that alienated some listeners (and prevented radio play) a little later in Frank's career.

Dweezil's band is comprosed of mostly unknown musicians, of such a caliber that each of them could easily have been in any of Frank's bands. The one exception, and a brilliant decision on Dweezil's part, was to include Napoleon Murphy Brock on lead vocals, from Frank's band of the mid-70's, and indeed those three key albums listed above. Several reviewers have noted Napoleon's obvious delight at the performances of these tunes by this band, and his delight becomes ours as we discover what he already knows - these kids nail some of the most complex music ever written, at least in the rock realm, and make it look easy, and fun.

A couple of other Frank alumni, Steve Vai and Terry Bozzio, are on this dvd as well, but appearing in cameos in the middle and again at the end. Frankly (pun intended), these are the weaker parts of the show. These guys are phenomenal players, but part of what is so delightful about this concert is the ego-free devotion of the core band to this wonderful music, and the purity of that is somewhat disrupted by inserting "special guest stars."

The video production is as astonishing as the music. The average in-concert dvd is taken from a recording of the video that is on the side screens at the show, or a tv broadcast of a show along the tour. It's usually pretty well-done, but with several cringe-inducing moments where we're stuck looking at the wrong guy, such as the guitar player taking it easy while the sax player solos his brains out, just not where WE can see it. Or, just lots of shots of band members playing the song, mindlessly quick-cut mtv-style for no apparent reason...

None of that here - this video is comprised of many shots, true, and they cut from camera to camera rapidly, but it's different: every single shot is on-screen for a reason. We see the bass player when he is doing something intricate, we see the sax player when she reacts to something the drummer did, we see Dweezil as he points to who gets the next solo, we see guitar and keyboards side-by-side while they play a complex melody in unison. There's a lot of shots because this is intricate music played by 8+ musicians, so there's a lot going on, at almost all times. But not only are no details missed, but while this writer has repeatedly enjoyed many of these tunes for 30+ years since their original release, the video has actually revealed, through the intelligence of the editing, little compositional details that I had never noticed before. Amazing...

Great tunes, a fabulous band, superior video production - what's not to like? This release is recommended for those who have been lucky enough to see one of these shows, as well as those that haven't. If you are a fan of Frank's music, it is essential. If you're not, this would be a great way to get to know some great music that you've been missing.
I didn't think it would be THIS good.
Jack Smith | W-S, NC uSSa | 05/08/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"When I first heard about the ZPZ project I admit I was a bit more that skeptical.

This DVD/CD combo more than dispels any apprehension.
The band is beyond top-notch. Each and every one of these musicians demonstrates a mind-boggling level of skill and most importantly, passion for these performances. And it's great to see Napoleon Murphy Brock having such a great time AND holding his own with a band all (?) young enough to be his children. I hate that he's not still touring with them.

The song selections are great and the execution is perfect. On the DVD, the camera work is really good there are a lot of quick cuts, but let's face it, with Frank's music to follow the action a lot of cuts are really needed.

Are there any other quibbles? Sure. (I still get annoyed with Steve Vai's 'stunt guitar') In the long run, the quality and the overall care put into this package really stands out.