As one of my favorite Zappa albums for years, I've been waiting a long time for a transcription book to become available; the fact that this book exists is pretty amazing, when you think about it.
Zappa books are bound to be held to a higher standard, and there are thousands of geek musicians around the globe who will be happy to dissect every transcribed bar and criticize minor note variations. Overall, I am very happy with the book (a good value, as well) but in ascending order of annoyance, my issues with the book are:
3. Some incorrect notes in the melody line, Evelyn A Modified Dog.
2. The publisher's insistence on transcribing and arranging keyboard parts (and other instrumental parts) for guitar. This reaches its (il)logical conclusion with "Evelyn," where the piano part (the song has no guitar) is completely arranged for guitar solo with TAB. Elsewhere throughout the book, so many parts are shown this way that it is often difficult to keep track of which staves are actual guitar lines from the song, and which are modified versions of other instruments. Adding to the confusion, of course, is that Zappa multitracked guitars on many of these songs. Perhaps some kind of grayscale shading of non-guitar lines would be helpful? (Do guitarists actually play this stuff? The publisher faces a challenge, as 'transcribed score' books typically are more expensive to produce and do not sell as well as guitar tab books; yet when keyboard parts are prominent, they feel unable to include them in the book unless they are awkwardly arranged for guitar.)
1. Inca Roads. This is an absolute classic Zappa tune, featuring arguably his most famous guitar solo (actually edited down from a live solo.) Unfortunately, the transcription suffers from the sloppiest editing in the book:
- Chord changes under the keyboard solo are simplified from the actual Abmaj7 and Gm7 chords (clearly heard in G Duke's left hand.) Several of the chord names are incorrectly placed over the solo as well.
- This was mentioned in another review - the section immediately following the keyboard solo - which is a unison melody line accompanied by the same part on drums - looks 'as if it were transcribed by computer' (the other reviewer's take) instead of being shown as the even notes assumedly written by Zappa.
- The guitar solo - so impeccably transcribed otherwise - has the first two notes incorrectly placed in the bar.
- Most annoying: the way many sections are barred is completely at odds with the actual rhythms in the piece. The biggest example: "Did a booger-bear..." following the guitar solo - How could the transcriber combine a 5/8, 6/8 and 5/8 bar together and show it as 4/4? Many, many other lines in the complex instrumental sections are shown as groups of 16th notes (always grouped in 4s or 2s) without any indication of the actual rhythms going on - or, for that matter, not at least showing accents on the relevant notes. Most of this should have been fixed in the editing stage, by breaking apart longer bars into 5/8 and 6/8 (etc.) which would clearly show the intended accents in these rhythms (and, incidentally, be much easier to read.) This same problem happens, to a lesser extent, in "Andy" as well.
To sum up: impressive project to tackle - overall very well done - a few annoyances - and a major disappointment with 'Inca Roads.' Still definitely recommended for the Zappa fan!