Welcome to my Music Diary – today for the 21st December!
Happy birthday to Frank Vincent Zappa, who was born on the 21st December 1940 in Baltimore, Maryland! The American musician was one of the most innovative and outstanding artists in rock history, who recorded over 60 albums of nearly all kind of music from Rock to Jazz up to Avant-Garde, Classical and contemporary music.
The American singer-songwriter, composer and actor is one of the most outstanding artitsts, who recorded 16 studio albums so far and acted in many movies. So he was „Zack“ beside John Lurie and Roberto Benigni in Jim Jarmusch’s masterpiece „Down by Law“ (1986). Tom Waits‚ trademark is his very distinctive voice, which was described by critic Daniel Durchholz as „like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car.“ Also his music sound has became very unique and idiosyncratic: From the classic bar piano sound it developed in a very special style which includes beside Rock also Blues, Jazz and Vaudeville.
In the sixties Waits played in a band called „The Systems“ and at the age of 21 he signed for Frank Zappa’s and Herb Cohen’s label Bizarre/Straight. His first demo recordings of that time became available on the two compilations „The Early Years, Volume One“ and „The Early Years, Volume Two„. Shortly after that, he signed to „Asylum Records“ for which he recorded his jazzy-folky debut „Closing Time“ (1973). The LP received very good reviews and other artists covered some songs: Tim Buckley recorded „Martha“ in the same year and The Eagles did their version of „Ol‘ ’55“ for the album „On the Border“ (1974). Tom Waits described his second album „The Heart of Saturday Night“ (1974) appropriately as „a comprehensive study of a number of aspects of this search for the center of Saturday night, which Jack Kerouac relentlessly chased from one end of this country to the other, and I’ve attempted to scoop up a few diamonds of this magic that I see.“
Five years after Waits‘ last studio album he recorded another masterpiece: „Bone Machine„. Critic Steve Huey (Allmusic) calls it „perhaps Tom Waits’s most cohesive album… a morbid, sinister nightmare, one that applied the quirks of his experimental ’80s classics to stunningly evocative – and often harrowing – effect. Waits‘ most affecting and powerful recording, even if it isn’t his most accessible.“ The LP received a Grammy in the „Best Alternative Album“ category.
The album „Mule Variations“ (1999) is another masterpiece. „Billboard“ described it as „backwoods blues, skewed gospel, and unruly art stomp into a sublime piece of junkyard sound sculpture.“ It won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album and sold more than 500,000 copies worldwide. In 2002 the two LPs „Alice„and „Blood Money“ hit the stores. All songs of these collections had been written almost ten years previously and were based on another theatrical collaborations with Robert Wilson.
„Real Gone“ followed in 2004 and it’s the first album by Tom Waits which features no piano. Two years later the rarities set „Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards“ was released. This 3-CD-set features unreleased and new compositions. In 2008 Tom Waits started his „Glitter and Doom Tour„, which lead him through the USA and Europe (see here some pictures, videos and reviews of his performance in Paris). In November 2009 the live album „Glitter And Doom Live„, which features a fine song selection of the tour, was released.
In October 2011 his new studio album „Bad As Me“ hit the stores. After „Real Gone“ this is the first LP which is consisting completely of brandnew material by Tom Waits. Also in 2011, Tom Waits was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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Welcome to my Music Diary – today for the 4th December!
On the 4th December 1993 one of the most outstanding musicians passed away:Frank Vincent Zappa died at the age of 53. The American musician was born on the 21st Decmeber 1940 in Baltimore, Maryland. Zappa composed in his long and unique career nearly all kind of music from Rock to Jazz up to Classical. In over thirty years the multiinstrumentalist recorded over 60 albums.
In the fifties Frank Zappa met Don Van Vliet who later changed his stagename into Captain Beefheart. They became friends and around that time Frank started to play drums in a Californian band called „The Blackouts“. In 1957 he improved more and more his guitar skills. During the early sixties Zappa wrote, produced and recorded on many different projects. In 1965 he joined the local band „Soul Giants“ by invitation from Ray Collins, who asked him to take over as the guitarist. Shortly after that the group was renamed in The Mothers and Zappa became the frontman. In 1966 the label Verve insisted to change the name into The Mothers of Invention and the debut album „Freak Out!“ was released. The double LP-set features a very innovative mixture of all kind of music genres and showed Zappa as a very radical and new voice in the music scene. In 1967 the second album „Absolutely Free“ featuring the songs „Plastic People“ and „Brown Shoes don’t make it“ hit the stores. Zappa about this record: „We’re satirists, and we are out to satirize everything.“
In the Eighties, Frank Zappa continued recording a wide range of records with all different music styles. On the 2nd November 1993 his last recording was released: The orchestral music piece „The Yellow Shark„, which was recorded live in Europe one year before, hit the stores. One month later, on the 4th December 1993, Frank Zappa passed away. He died from prostate cancer.