GAIL ZAPPA talks to Alan Clayson about her husband’s musical legacy - and her own half-serious pursuit of pop stardom in the mid-1960s.


This spring, the Zappa Family Trust will release Lumpy Money, a 3-CD retrospective containing stereo and mono versions plus extras of We’re Only In It For The Money and Lumpy Gravy. First issued on vinyl in 1968, these interrelated albums - respectively, The Mothers Of Invention’s third and a solo Frank Zappa’s first - are pivotal both as catalysts in the breaching of the abyss between pop and modern classical, and to any constructive study of the most remarkable North American composer of the twentieth century - and, perhaps, any other time.

As well as an intangible something else, they were drawn from seemingly disparate influences that range from black vocal groups of the 1950s to the pioneering tonalities of Stravinsky, Webern and, most exalted of all, Edgard Varese. Indeed, Frank’s admiration extended to his recording of the hitherto un-issued The Rage And The Fury: The Music Of Edgard Varese with Germany’s Ensemble Modern.

The late Zappa’s hard-won recognition as a cultural titan on a par with the likes of Varese and Stravinsky is evidenced by the inclusion of his works in London’s Promenade Concert seasons and in the repertoires of not only the expected rock tribute bands but also those of, say, the Britten Sinfonia chamber orchestra and Ensemble …

by Alan Clayson
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