Frank Zappa

Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar

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While most of the discussions of Frank Zappa have to do with his satirical and off-color lyrics, the fact remains that he was one of the finest and most underappreciated guitarists around. This collection places the spotlight squarely on Zappa's mastery of the guitar. Recorded for the most part in 1979 and 1980 (with a few tracks dating as far back as 1977), Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar is simply a collection of guitar solos. Even though most of the tracks were just edited out of their original song context, they fare well as stand-alone pieces, as Zappa was an ever-inventive player. Take, for example, the three versions of "Shut Up." These tracks were simply the guitar solos from "Inca Roads," but thanks to Zappa's ability for "instant composition," each version has its own complete story to tell, without ever being redundant. Other highlights are the reggae-tinged "Treacherous Cretins" and the beautiful "Pink Napkins." In addition to the electric guitar mangling contained on Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar, there are a couple of rare tracks that feature Zappa on acoustic guitar in a trio with Warren Cuccurullo on acoustic rhythm guitar and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums. In fact, special mention goes to Colaiuta for his polyrhythmic daring all over this album. All bandmembers play great throughout, but Colaiuta's playing is mind blowing. The album closes with another oddity: a gorgeous duet between Zappa on electric bouzouki and Jean-Luc Ponty on baritone violin. This is an album that should be heard by anyone who's into guitar playing. Highly recommended.

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