Music Diary – 21st December

Welcome to my Music Diary – today for the 21st December!

ZappaprofHappy 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.

In 1966 his first album “Freak Out!” with The Mothers of Invention was released. With this double LP set, Frank Zappa became very fast the new and radical voice in the music scene. The follow-ups “Absolutely Free”, “Lumpy Gravy” (both 1967) and “We’re Only in It for the Money” (1968) proved his innovative and fresh style of mixing all kinds of music. With “Uncle Meat“ (1969) Zappa and his group went another step further into Avant-Garde, before Frank recorded his first solo album “Hot Rats” (featuring guest vocals Captain Beefheart on “Willie the Pimp”). This LP is still considered as one of the first Jazz-Rock-Fusion recordings ever. In the seventies Frank Zappa entered the charts with the milestones “Over-Nite Sensation” (1973), “Apostrophe” (1974), “One Size Fits All” (1975), “Sheik Yerbouti” (1978 – feat. the hit single “Bobby Brown„) and the trilogy “Joe’s Garage” (1979). Also in the eighties the multi-instrumentalist recorded further albums and in November 1993 the orchestral music piece “The Yellow Shark“, which was recorded live in Europe one year before, hit the stores. Only one month later, Frank Zappa passed away. He died on the 4th December 1993 from prostate cancer at the age of 53.


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Music Diary – 7th December

Welcomt to my Music Diary – today for the 7th December!

Tom Waits by Jesse Dylan

Tom Watis by Jesse Dylan

Happy birthday to Mr. Thomas Alan „Tom“ Waits, who was born on the 7th December 1949 in Pamona, California!

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.“

After the 2-LP-set Nighthawks at the Diner„, which was recorded in a studio with a small audience, to create a certain live feeling, the very jazzy sounding album „Small Change“ (1976) was released and it broke onto the Billboards Top 100 Albums chart. With „Foreign Affairs“ (1977) Waits conitnued his jazzy way but changed it into a more bluesy and darker sounding for „Blue Valentine“ (1978). in 1980 „Heartattack and Vine“ followed and after that he wrote the score for Francis Ford Coppola’s movie „One from the Heart

In August 1980 Tom Waits married the screenwriter Kathleen Brennan, who became a major influence on his songwriting and „Swordfishtrombones“ (1983) proved that. This new sound was refined for the next two albums, which became real milestones: „Rain Dogs“ (1985) and „Frank’s Wild Years“ (1987).

In 1990 the theatrical colloboration with director Robert Wilson and writer William S. Burroughs happened for „The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets„, which was based on the German tale „Der Freischütz“. The studio versions of the used songs were released three years later and in 1991 Waits recorded the soundtrack for „Night on Earth“ (another movie by Jim Jarmusch).

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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Music Diary – 4th December

Welcome to my Music Diary – today for the 4th December!

Frank Zappa

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.“

The follow-up „Lumpy Gravy“ was another prove of Zappa’s unbelievable diversity in music. After moving with his wife Gail Zappa (born Adelaide Gail Sloatman) and his band to New York, the milestone „We’re Only in It for the Money“ (1968) was released. The cover was designed as a parody of The Beatles‚ „Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.“ In the same year „Cruising with Ruben & the Jets“ was recorded and in 1969 the opulent „Uncle Meat“ feat. the track „King Kong“ confirmed one more Zappa’s widely creativeness. Then the band disbanded and Frank Zappa released his first official solo album called „Hot Rats“ featuring the songs „Peaches en Regalia“ and „Willie the Pimp“ (guest vocals by Captain Beefheart). This LP is still considered as one of the first Jazz-Rock-Fusion recordings.

In the seventies a short reunion of The Mothers of Invention took place and with the three LPs „Over-Nite Sensation“ (1973), „Apostrophe“ (1974) and „One Size Fits All“ (1975) Frank Zappa entered the album charts and earned commercial success. Also with the following albums, especially „Sheik Yerbouti“ with the hit single „Bobby Brown“ (1978) and the trilogy „Joe’s Garage“ (1979).

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.

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