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Zappa the Hard Way Paperback – 21 Dec 2011
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And there you were assuming that a book which takes a single tour as its subject couldn't tear you away from 60 Minute Makeover, were you not? Zappa The Hard Way documents the 1988 tour which foundered 10 weeks prematurely when an irreconcilable schism emerged between bassist-cum- "clonemeister" Scott Thunes and the remainder of Zappa's band, all of whom - amenable stunt guitarist Mike Keneally excepted - refused to fulfil the remaining dates if Zappa retained Thunes' services.
This equates to a riveting human drama, written with tremendous vigour by hyper-fan Greenaway and recounted with ossuary-dry humour by the main players (bar drummer Chad Wackerman, who politely keeps his counsel). By most accounts, Thunes' role as "clonemeister" - ie, transcriber of Zappa's music, who had to know everyone else's parts in addition to his own - empowered him in his own mind to be in everyone's grill to the point of blunt force trauma: but reading Thunes' own take on the proceedings, it's impossible not to be charmed by his galloping wit and fierce intelligence.
Extensive appendices dot the Is and cross your eyes; and in a limited run of 400 numbered, slipcased copies, all signed by the author, Zappaphiles had best be quick off the mark. --Record Collector, Issue 382
From the Author
I wondered if the current product description could be corrected as it shows a number of formatting errors (ie. single apostrophes/quotation marks appear as "'") and the product linked to the hardback edition (at amazon.co.uk/Zappa-Hard-Way-Andrew-Greenaway/dp/0955754240/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321720084&sr=1-1) - including the customer review.
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But, Zappa knew the score, with quite so many larger than life individuals. With such a keen eye for the peculiarities of his massive entourage, how could he not also have noticed the Thunes's confrontational mannerisms? It was almost as if Zappa himself was growing tired of life on the road, and that he prodded at the raw bits one too many times.
This volume did much to confirm much of what many must have already known, and an element of what we had long suspected about certain tensions in the band. Using such a huge volume of quotations and close paraphrasing from the musicians et al it was inevitable that there would be more than an element of rambling.
So just what kinda book is this? As a Historian I know the value of primary sources & Greenaway does too, this book must have taken a very long time to write as he has interviewed everyone he could & must have gone back time & time again. The books format is a bit like a diary with anecdotes from the surviving members. I learnt quite a bit, I got the joke with the guy coming up on stage & slagging Zappa off (if it had been real they would have just turned the mike off) but I did not realise the "I just bumped into Sting, Cash" were for real. I also learned & for the first time sympathised with Gail & Moon about just how insecure their life really was would have loved more on this. I don't buy the "I lost $400,000" Zappa's always been a tight arse and I would have loved something about his (& his family) hang ups with money too.
This is the best book you'll ever get on the 1988 problems with the band & without a doubt Keneally is the guy you'd like as a friend he comes
across by far in the most positive light. I find it very easy to empathise with Thunes suffering the same defects as he does. Although Greenaway skirts around it even he has to concede that there was only one person to blame for the demise of such a great band, it was of
course the guy in charge, he paid their wages and should not have left it to one of his employees to lord it over the rest, it was Zappa's fault the band imploded & he probably knew it. I don't buy the premise "He was sick" no, he was pissed.
I hope very much that Greenaway will write another Zappa Book covering some of the stuff I mentioned & a whole lot more, especially on the 'missing groupies'. :)
(edit) addenda; Greenaway understands memory & how it works (he must have read Dawkins :) ) Great read
Some confusion arises from differing memories of exact dates and details, but the overall story is fascinating, if a little depressing in the end. There were some very strong personalities involved, not least the bass player Scott Thunes, who was (wittingly or unwittingly) at the centre of the problems that arose.
The book also describes notable performances and incidents at the gigs that were played on the tour before Frank pulled the plug on a superb band that had become unworkable. The USA leg of the tour was cancelled, hence the title of the live album from this tour, 'The best Band you never heard in your Life'.
A very interesting read for devout Zappa fans, but maybe not for everyone else.
Just like the members of the band during the tour, I had to quit before finishing this book.
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