Dweezil Zappa

Confessions

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Talent: what would it be without motivation to back it up? Along with the ancient proverb about creativity being one-percent inspiration and 99-percent perspiration, that concept describes the crux facing so many rock star kids, who, even if they actually have talents of their own, rarely possess the ambition and determination of spirit (read: empty bank account, desperate need to find a girlfriend, etc.) to replicate their famous parents' success. This is the dilemma lived by gifted guitar player Dweezil Zappa, who, as the son of one of rock's most prolific and eclectic geniuses, could have been the reincarnation of Mozart himself, and still probably never get the respect due him for his own merits. Then again, the younger Zappa hasn't made much of a case with his sporadic recordings over the years, and, as 1991's inevitably disappointing Confessions proves, besides his genes and unquestionable virtuosity on guitar, a sense of scattered chaos may be the only other shared trait between Dweezil and papa Frank. As good a case in point as any of his releases, really, Confessions finds "da Dweez" and his many cronies (including guitarist Nuno Bettencourt, bassist Scott Thunes, drummer Josh Freese, irrepressible brother Ahmet, and numerous others) skateboarding wildly between bland '80s pop ("The Kiss," "Maybe Tonight"), dreadful cover versions (the Beatles' "Anytime at All," the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive"), post-Satriani and Vai instrumentals ("Shoogagoogagunga," "Obviously Influenced by the Devil," and other smaller snippets), and, of course, bad west coast hard rock and metal...lot's of bad hard rock and metal, actually. "Earth" and "Bad Girl" are prime, truly atrocious examples, not certain if they want to be intelligent and socially conscious like U2 or decadent and depraved like Mötley Crüe, their widely divergent lyrical messages coming off half-baked and unconvincing in both directions, and their seemingly interminable, mid-paced plods barely serving to support Dweezil's mercurial solos. Marginally more interesting are the vocally improved "F.W.A.K." and "Helpless," the Van Halen homage "Gotta Get to You," and funk-a-fied "Pain of Love," a mildly amusing and certainly energetic title track, and the really quite funny (in an over-the-top, 80s kind of way) "Vanity," where Dweezil and co. at last manage to spontaneously combust in an entertaining and wild but cohesive fashion. And, as he shuts down shop with a comedy-laced noise-collage named "Return of the Son of Shoogagoogagunga," it's at least obvious that Dweezil himself is all too aware of his inescapable destiny to stand in his father's shadow -- for better and for worse.

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