Thursday, December 13, 2012

Z is for Zebra

Looks like we made it! This took way too long; as a result, I'm abandoning the "DVDz from A to Z" series I was planning as a follow-up. I'm looking forward to finally posting some of the great stuff I keep talking about that sits in my Drafts folder: a piece about Estes model rockets, some new suggestions for inspirational movie clips at sporting events, and something titled "Calling All Nipples." Thanks for reading!

Dan Zanes - Cool Down Time
I've mentioned this fine record before, I believe. An album with well-written songs, expert musicianship, and smooth production, which distinguished it from 90% of the music I was listening to in 1995.

Frank Zappa - "Peaches en Regalia"
I'm listing this as a separate entity from Hot Rats because: 1) I traded in my Hot Rats CD for beer money in Providence, and 2) I'm a proud owner of the "Peaches en Regalia" CD3 issued by Ryko in 1987. This rare "mini-CD" release is one of the more valuable items in my collection, and I-- Well, looks like you can find it at just about any price you want at Discogs, eBay, Amazon, etc.

Either way, I love this song. They used to play it VH1's New Visions around 1986/87 all the time, along with lots of crappy "new age" and smooth jazz stuff. If you got lucky, you might catch a Lounge Lizards track or even Al Di Meola's "Sequencer" video, which was almost fair compensation for enduring hours of Spyro Gyra and Yellowjackets clips. 

Zebra - Zebra (1983)
If you threw up grew up on Long Island in the 70s/80s, you probably knew about Zebra. If you aren't familiar with the Cajun-cum-Commack trio, they were a cover band that finally got a deal and made a good record, then a not-so-good record, and then a record I've never heard, and apparently made one more that I just learned about. If I were actually a member of Zebra, I'd simply say, "OK, so we're just a derivative mixture of Led Zeppelin and Rush, but we're really fucking good at it!!! And since there's only three of us, we make shitloads of money playing the clubs!"

Someday will my son will wear this.
To be fair, I really loved my Zebra cassette. "When You Get There," "As I Said Before," and "Don't Walk Away" are as good as the bigger hits, and the bigger hits are really darn good. Watching the follow-up, No Tellin' Lies, hit the cut-out bins in real time was almost as depressing as actually listening to the album itself (except "Wait Until the Summer's Gone" and "Bears," I guess). At least they were on MTV for a while there.

*WAIT!!! Look at this incredible cruise concert on Zebra's site! Yes, U.K., Tangerine Dream, Saga, Carl Palmer, Nektar, and Zebra??!!! I feel seasick already...

John Zorn - Naked City (1989)
"Eh, excuse me... I believe this record should be categorized as an 'N' release, since Naked City was an actual band."
"Perhaps you're right (whoever you are), but in case you haven't noticed, the Zs are a bit lean in the artist department."

I'm certain that I've never successfully played this recording from start to finish when I wasn't alone. At least not that I can recall.

ZZ Top - Degüello (1979)
This is the ZZ Top record I've listened to more than any other. I used to crack myself up when I'd sneak "Manic Mechanic" onto a respectably indie rockish mix tape back when people still made mix tapes. Maybe we stopped making mix tapes because it was such a pain in the ass for people to fast forward past songs like "Manic Mechanic." I used to crack myself up thinking about the recipients of my mix tapes having to fast forward past songs like "Manic Mechanic." Again, I've listened to Degüello more than any other ZZ Top record.

ZZ Top - Eliminator (1983)
I'm told that I once declared that Eliminator "was the Kick of its time." This bizarre and ridiculous statement surely requires an explanation.

First, I was referring to the 1987 INXS album. This is immediately problematic, since 1983 and 1987 are chronological next-door neighbors by most standards; many older people would have difficulty making clear distinctions between the two "eras." But one can also argue that popular music in 1983 did sound different than popular music released in 1987, so let's move on.

If I meant that Eliminator and Kick each featured remarkable runs of hit singles that were unprecedented for their respective artists, then maybe I had a point. In hindsight (which is the only way I can interpret or understand many musical claims I made in the 90s), I was probably referring to the fact that both bands incorporated sequenced rhythm tracks to a greater degree than on previous recordings. I'm also pretty sure I was riffing on some slurred comments another friend once made about Kick, but that's beside the point. I stand by what I said.

I love when something I say seemed really stupid at the time, but actually turns out to be only a little stupid.

1 comment:

Left Field said...

I think your closing line pretty much sums up this entire series, and I mean that in the most flattering way possible. I've loved this, Lee. Look forward to what's next.