There are several CDs of the guitar music of Frank Zappa. They are: Shut Up ‘n Play Yer Guitar; Guitar; and Trance-Fusion.
Shut Up ‘n Play Yer Guitar is a 1981 triple album featuring live material recorded by Frank Zappa between February 1977 and December 1980. The final track, “Canard du Jour”, is a duet with Frank Zappa and Jean-Luc Ponty dating from a 1972 studio session. The album is entirely instrumental and features twenty superb Frank Zappa guitar solos. The solos are interspersed with brief verbal comments between tracks. Each disc is titled after a variation on the album’s name, which is shared with the title track found on each respective disc. They are: Shut Up ‘n Play Yer Guitar; Shut Up ‘n Play Yer Guitar Some More; and Return of the Son of Shut Up ‘n Play Yer Guitar.
In 1998, Zappa released Guitar, a double album follow-up to 1981′s Shut Up ‘n Play Yer Guitar; and like that album it features a collection of Zappa’s guitar solos excerpted from live performances, most of which were recorded between 1979 and 1984. Guitar contains 32 stunning instrumental tracks and is superior in many ways to Shut Up ‘n Play Yer Guitar. For one thing, the music’s better – Zappa really shows his playing skills on Guitar. Also the mix and the sound quality are better than on the CD’s predecessor.
Finally, there is Trance-Fusion, which is an album of guitar solos completed by Frank Zappa shortly before his death, but not released until 2006. Trance-Fusion has got some amazing guitar music on it, especially the first and last tracks.
In order of preference, I’d say Guitar is the best album, followed by Trance-Fusion, followed by Shut Up ‘n Play Yer Guitar.
However, they are all worth listening to – more than once. The music is sophisticated, emotional and very listenable. Give all of the albums a try, but start with Guitar – you won’t regret it.
Here’s the very beautiful Watermelon in Easter Hay from Guitar:
© R J Dent (2009)