Zappa: five memories

Click to follow
1: Freak Out (Zappa CDZAP1) The first debut double-album, a summation of the musical distance Zappa had already travelled, taking in greasy doowop, terse social commentary, exhilarating acid-rock, and free-form freak-outs, often all in the one song. Staggering. (1966)

2: We're Only in it for the Money (Rykodisc RCD 40024) Sold in a sleeve which wickedly spoofed Sgt Pepper, this satirical broadside against the inadequacies of the contemporary flower- power scene took the form of a dazzling extended suite in which fragments of songs and scraps of found-speech recurred to devastating effect. Includes 'What's the Ugliest Part of your Body?' Humiliating. (1967)

3: Weasels Ripped my Flesh (Zappa CDZAP 24) A perfect equilibrium of jazz, classical and rock influences, this is the most successful early application of the strategy which Zappa would use throughout his career, of piecing together LPs, and individual tunes, from different fragments of live performance. Includes 'Prelude To The Afternoon Of A Sexually Aroused Gas Mask'. Rash-inducing. (1970)

4: Guitar (Zappa CDD ZAPPA 6) Exactly what it claims: two CDs crammed with guitar solos in the inimitable Zappa manner, serpentine, referential and endlessly inventive. Includes 'Too Ugly For Show Business' and 'In-A-Gadda-Stravinsky'. Stratocasting. (1988)

5: Playground Psychotics (Zappa CDD ZAP 55) The best of Zappa's later releases, a double-CD compiled from classic performances including the Fillmore East 1971 concert, the ill-fated Rainbow concert at which his leg was broken, and Zappa's own mix of the Lennon / Ono / Mothers show which the former released as Sometime In New York City, along with various hilarious taped fragments of band life on the road. Exhausting. (1992)

(Photograph omitted)