The Words and Music of Frank Zappa

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Overview

This is the first book to move beyond the details of Zappa's biography toward a focused treatment of his songs. Zappa worked in a musical realm unfamiliar to many radio listeners. Today, his music can be appreciated as a whole, emerging as a coherent, thoughtful, innovative—if somewhat daunting—body of work. Lowe has left no aspect of that work unexamined, from Zappa's role as a satirist of the highest order, to his place in the genre of progressive rock, and his importance as one of the foremost critics of American culture and society. Zappa's messages—musical and lyrical—may not always be clear, but they are well worth considering.

The volume begins with a discussion of Zappa's role as a satirist and a discussion of his musical style, and then proceeds to a prolonged examination of his albums. Through this extended engagement with Zappa's music, a surprisingly clear perspective on his personal views is also provided, shedding light on his treatment of such topics as the falsified notion of love in popular culture, the compromising influence of money on popular music, and the concept of freedom in a systematized society, among other things. The book also features an official discography and a bibliographic essay that discusses the current state of Zappa scholarship.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
“One of the strengths of Lowe's treatment is his contextualization of pop-culture references in the lyrics, explications that result in a clearer reading of Zappa's texts. Also useful are the discography of Zappa recordings and a critical bibliographic essay on the major contributions on the life and works of Frank Zappa. Students of popular or American music will appreciate this title.”—Choice
Free Bird Times
“Author Kelly Lowe has left no aspect of Zappa's work unexamined, from his role as a satirist of the highest order, to his place within the genre of 'progressive rock' and his importance as one of the foremost critics of American culture and society. . . . [A] surprisingly clear perspective of his personal views is also provided, shedding light on his treatment of such topics as the falsified notion of love in popular culture, the compromising influence of money on popular music, and the concept of freedom in a systematized society.”—Free Bird Times
Library Media Collection
“The first book to move beyond the details of Zappa's biography toward a focused treatment of his rock and pop songs. Author Kelly Lowe has left no aspect of Zappa's work unexamined, from his role as a satirist, to his place within the genre of "progressive rock" and his importance as one of the foremost critics of American culture and society. This title also features a bibliographic essay that discusses the current state of Zappa scholarship.”—Library Media Collection
Choice

“One of the strengths of Lowe''s treatment is his contextualization of pop-culture references in the lyrics, explications that result in a clearer reading of Zappa''s texts. Also useful are the discography of Zappa recordings and a critical bibliographic essay on the major contributions on the life and works of Frank Zappa. Students of popular or American music will appreciate this title.”—Choice

Free Bird Times

“Author Kelly Lowe has left no aspect of Zappa''s work unexamined, from his role as a satirist of the highest order, to his place within the genre of ''progressive rock'' and his importance as one of the foremost critics of American culture and society. . . . [A] surprisingly clear perspective of his personal views is also provided, shedding light on his treatment of such topics as the falsified notion of love in popular culture, the compromising influence of money on popular music, and the concept of freedom in a systematized society.”—Free Bird Times

Library Media Collection

“The first book to move beyond the details of Zappa''s biography toward a focused treatment of his rock and pop songs. Author Kelly Lowe has left no aspect of Zappa''s work unexamined, from his role as a satirist, to his place within the genre of "progressive rock" and his importance as one of the foremost critics of American culture and society. This title also features a bibliographic essay that discusses the current state of Zappa scholarship.”—Library Media Collection

From the Publisher

"[T]he first book to move beyond the details of Zappa's biography toward a focused treatment of his rock and pop songs. Author Kelly Lowe has left no aspect of Zappa's work unexamined, from his role as a satarist, to his place within the genre of progressive rock and his importance as one of the foremost critics of American culture and society. This title also features a bibliographic essay that discusses the current state of Zappa scholarship."

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Library Media Collection

"Author Kelly Lowe has left no aspect of Zappa's work unexamined, from his role as a satirist of the highest order, to his place within the genre of progressive rock and his importance as one of the foremost critics of American culture and society….[a] surprisingly clear perspective of his personal views is also provided, shedding light on his treatment of such topics as the falsified notion of love in popular culture, the compromising influence of money on popular music, and the concept of freedom in a systematized society."

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Free Bird Times

"The book is organized chronologically and divided by the artistic periods, beginning with The Mothers Of Invention (Zappa's first influential group) and ending with the Terry Bozzio albums an era identified by the presence of Zappa's greatest percussionist. Each of Zappa's albums is analyzed within these larger divisions, often scrutinized for entities as detailed as specific phrases, both musical and verbal. Sections on satire and politics bookend the sequential chapters, creating an excellent in-and-out to the chronological sections. To be sure, Lowe knows his Zappa, and he writes with an obvious affection for the subject, the artist, and the man. Frank Zappa is already important and respected part of music history. His reputation, influence, and contributions will continue to be more widely recognized, and ^IThe Words and Music of Frank Zappa^R is a publication sure to foster that growth."

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Maximum Ink

"As part of a series on the work of singer-songwriters, this volume studies the music of Frank Zappa, looking at his songs as well as how he was a satirist. Lowe offers a reading of his rock and classical music from the 1960s to the 1980s, explores how Zappa was a satirist through his critique of pop culture, and analyzes his albums with the Mothers of Invention, as well as his jazz-rock and solo music, and political statements in the music on ^IJoe's Garage^R."

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Reference & Research Book News

"Ever wonder about the significance of the kazoo in ^IFreak Out!'^Rs Hungry Freaks, Daddy? Kelly Fisher Lowe will tell you his theory. In examining Frank Zappa, the author does everything short of having his subject turn to the side and cough, addressing album after album and song after song in Da Vinci Code detail. Sure, the readings are occasionally questionable, but this is exactly what makes the book--and Zappa himself--so interesting."

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chart

"In examining the songs of American composer Frank Zappa, Lowe offers introductory essays that examine Zappa's unique place in American music; his compositions in relation to other forms of popular music, most notably progressive rock; and his special brand of caustic social criticism in the tradition of satirists like Jonathan Swift and Lenny Bruce. The author then examines Zappa's songs by looking at his albums in four groups/chapters: The Mothers of Invention; Hot Rats, the Last Two Mothers Albums, Flo & Eddie, and The 'Jazz-Rock' Albums; The Duke-Brock/Progressive Rock Bands, Lather (Lather), and the Terry Bozzio Albums; and Politics: 1979-88. One of the strengths of Lowe's treatment is his contextualization of pop-culture references in the lyrics, explications that result in a clearer reading of Zappa's texts. Also useful are the discography of Zappa recordings and a critical bibliographic essay on the major contributions on the life and works of Frank Zappa. Students of popular or American music will appreciate this title. Recommended. Lower-/upper-division undergraduates; general readers."

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Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803260054
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Kelly Fisher Lowe (1966-2007) was the director of the learning resource networks at the University of Wyoming and is the author of 100 Years of Caring: The Centennial History of Alliance Community Hospital.
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