Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Click Here Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop now



There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

TOP 100 REVIEWERon 3 September 2017
This excellent 192-page book is a thorough analysis of around 60 albums by the eclectic and extraordinary musician/composer Frank Zappa(1940-93).
The informative and perceptive reviews by Zappologist, Ben Watson, encourage the reader to seek out FZ's brilliant and provocative recordings.
The book has numerous photographs of Zappa and CD cover art ending with a useful bibliography.
Although this 1998 edition is in need of an update it's still an invaluable guide to Frank Zappa's remarkable and wide-ranging music.

Btw ~ Confusingly, Amazon have mixed together the reviews for Ben Watson's 'The Complete Guide to the Music of Frank Zappa' and his entirely different book on Zappa 'The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play'. Buyers beware!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 1 November 2002
Watson's book, to my mind at least is a welcome antidote to the work of the supposedly "great" serious rock journalists of the last 30 years - marcus, christgau et al. if he is guilty of making too much of his many connections between zappa's conceptual continuities and high/low culture of the 20th century, so what. all of what he writes is passionate, provocative and stunningly erudite. Watson may infuriate at times with his petty and unfortunately typical left wing put-downs of his peers but this is a very minor quibble within a book that covers such a vast swathe of cultural and political ideas.
Music is not made in a vacuum and it is not just notes on a page. if you are a zappa fan who wants a biography or a technical musical analysis - look elsewhere. but if you have any interest in the media, modern art/literature, non conformity and the music of rebellion - check this out. one of a kind
0Comment| 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 29 August 2014
First read this 20 years ago, it's a hellavu detailed and thought provoking read, you can ignore the pseudo intellectual stuff and just read it as an album by album review of Zappa's official releases and as such it is indispensable. If you choose to read the deeper musings then it is still enthralling although I'm not sure that rock music should be overly intellectualised - but then that's just me. Whatever you want to get from this you will get in spades. I've just ordered my second copy because my original is in bits now. Looking forward to reacquainting myself with it.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 25 November 2007
Anyone who can write a Trotskyist analysis of Frank Zappa is well worth paying attention to,in my opinion.Ben Watson,whom I met at the Zappanale festival in Germany this summer,has put together this book which tries to analyse Zappa's words(not so much music)from a political/philosophical viewpoint.Makes a change from standard biographies,which usually dismiss FZ's lyrics as the deranged rantings of a dirty old man.
You'll have to concentrate if you're not up to scratch on Marxist theory,but it's worth the effort.If you're more interested in a straight biography,get Barry Miles' "Frank Zappa" instead.
UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2011
I met Ben Watson at the Zappanale last month.He's no longer in the SWP,but still sympathetic to it,and was amused to hear of me reading TNDOPP while doing night shifts in a Liverpool hospital.Nice bloke all round.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 June 2005
Worth four stars just for the sheer fun of it all. Unfortunately the Gonzo syle of writing gets in the way of some of the more serious points Watson wants to make. Style is no substitute for substance, although to be fair some of the Gonzo writing is fun even if at times it masks a deficiency in analysis. The second problem is Watsons appropriation of Theodor Adorno as some sort of critical yardstick by which to judge, explain and/or understand Zappa, frankly it doesnt work or at least Watsons use of Adorno is not convincing. More interesting is Watsons convoluted attempts to defend Zappas petite bourgeois attitudes and capitalist inclinations. Watons defence of Zappa and feminsim is worthy of Clarence Darrow. Watson should know better and as an SWP memeber probably does. For all that it is a provocative read and one where you are required to think about both what has been written and Zappa himself as the subject of the book. Watson is a self confessed fan of Zappa and its great to read a book that, despite some defensive flaws, does not demean itself by becoming haiography. This book is a must for anyone seriously interested in taking cultural and critical examination away from the sterile fields of academia. Too often cultural studies means the semiotics of Jane Austen, rehashed versions of the meaning(s) of Gaston Bachlards poetic images of space, the differential equations of mega narratives or some other convoluted wordy concern for the obvious combined with a somnambulent dullness worthy of the Nobel prize for dire dullness. Watson is fun, informative and points to another way of looking at culture. Whether he succeeds is open to debate but he has the merit in trying to locate Zappa as a cultural phenomena of getting away from the previously popular but sterile biography format. If you have no criticisms of this book then you have not understood it. Buy two copies, one for you and one for your best mate, its worth every penny. Even if you do not rate Zappa buy this book as Watson should be encouraged to write more.
0Comment| 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 20 September 2004
What's with all the reviewers on this page? Ben Watson's guide to the music of Frank Zappa is, like its subject, highly engaging and, yes, provocative. It is also thoroughly researched (and has some great photos!). Some might think that Watson is reading far too much into Zappa's music and lyrics, and indeed the author himself hints at as much, but anyone with a genuine love for Zappa's music, and even the faintest interest in exploring ideas as to where exactly FZ fits in the context of 20th Century music and culture, should find this a hugely enjoyable read. It's erudite, informative, enlightening and often thoroughly absurd - and a definite 'must-have'!
11 Comment| 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 12 July 2009
Although this book is obviously a useful text for those interested in Zappa's music, I think Ben Watson has lost a huge audience by making his sentences too convoluted. Often I couldn't understand what he was talking about and I so wished to do so. Maybe someone would like to do a simplified translation.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 18 June 2003
This book does act as a very useful guide for any collecter of Zappa's work, it contains interesting notes on the production and recording of his many albums as well as notes on the 'conceptual continuity'. However, as in Watson's other book, 'The Negative Dialects of Poodle Play', he seems to have been preoccupied with, as he put it, "Putting Zappa up there with Shakespeare". Zappa's reputation doesn't need to be toyed with, he was a genius in his own right and the last thing he needs now is Pseudo intellectuals like Watson making him appear to be something he was not. This book can also add a certain pretention to not only the author but also to his subject, if you buy this book I urge you not to pay any attention to the re-writing of Zappa's personality which Watson seems to have devoted his career to.
0Comment| 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 30 October 2002
This book is published in the right size to fit in with your Frank Zappa CD collection. and is written with love & understanding of the ouevre of Franks work - i would love to see this book updated in hardcover in a square 12" format so i could place it on my coffee table & listen to the music in order. I recommend this little book to any one who loves the Music of FZ (America's Best Kept Secret?)
0Comment| 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 2 July 2013
This is a must for Zappa fans. But be warned, it's an academic appraisal of FZ's work and the 'conceptual continuity' that Zappa himself identified as a key element running through his work. Originally entitled 'The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play', it repays effort ten fold. Frankly, it's a major Zappa study!
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse


Need customer service? Click here

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)