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Zappa the Hard Way Paperback – December 21, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Wymer UK (December 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908724005
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908724007
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #918,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Dan Watkins on January 8, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've probably read more books on Frank Zappa than any sane person should. After finishing Barry Miles' polarizing biography several years ago, I decided that I was about as well-versed in Zappa's life and work as I needed to be. Then this thing came along. A comprehensive account of the infamous, chaotic '88 tour was just too tempting to resist.

Andrew Greenaway does an excellent job compiling interviews from almost all band members (drummer Chad Wackerman chose not to re-live his experiences) to paint a nicely detailed picture of the tour beginning with the auditions and early line-up changes, through the rehearsals, to the eventual disintegration in Europe. While there are plenty of juicy quotes and anecdotes from various guys in the band, Greenaway presents a fairly well-rounded view of the tour without placing blame on any particular person. The book is unique in that it reads more like a fan's labor of love project (which it basically is) rather than a formal piece of rock journalism, making it a refreshingly enthusiastic read.

It probably goes without saying that this is not a book for casual fans, as it's about as "inside baseball" as FZ books get. Hardcore fans should find very little to complain about though. I only wish it were a bit longer--the actual body of book is only about 140 pages with the remaining content consisting of each show's set list and a "Where Are They Now?" section. Nonetheless, pretty much anyone who's a fan of the '88 band should pick this up.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By DutchieNLD on December 20, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am happy that this book has finally come out in paperback. The limited release hardback version was released in the UK in 2010 but cost over $100. It was very well received among Zappa fans. It deals with Zappa and his 1988 Tour Band which was one of the tightest bands ever but somehow self-destructed along the tour. I read the paperback in two days (while listening to the 88 Zappa band of course) and found it very enjoyable. Certainly ANY Zappa fan (especially ones that love the Zappa 88 tour band like I do) will enjoy it as well. It is written with spirit and the author is clearly intimately familiar with Zappa and his music.

I am still waiting however, for a really well done in-depth well researched complete biography of Frank written with real passion. Certainly someone of Frank's stature deserves that. I have read all that has been published on Frank in English and except for a couple that were halfway decent most left much to be desired.

I think the author of this book Zappa the Hard Way might perhaps be a good candidate for such an undertaking.

P
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
I was given Greenaway's ZAPPA: THE HARD WAY as a Christmas present to add my collection which includes:

1. THE REAL FRANK ZAPPA BOOK by Frank Zappa and Peter Occhioigrosso
2. THE WORDS AND MUSIC OF FRANK ZAPPA by Kelly Fisher Lowe
3. MOTHER! THE FRANK ZAPPA STORY by Michael Gray
4. FRANK ZAPPA: THE NEGATIVE DIALECTICS OF POODLE PLAY by Ben Watson
5. THE ACADEMY ZAPPA: PROCEEDINGS OF ESEMPLASTIC ZAPPA edited by Ben Watson and Esther Leslie
6. ELECTRIC DON QUIXOTE: THE DEFINITIVE STORY OF FRANK ZAPPA by Neil Slaven
7. NECESSITY IS... THE EARLY YEARS OF FRANK ZAPPA AND THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION by Billy James
8. ZAPPA: THE HARD WAY by Andrew Geenaway
9. COSMIK DEBRIS: THE COLLECTIVE HISTORY AND IMPROVISATIONS OF FRANK ZAPPA by Greg Russo
10. NO COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL: THE SAGA OF FRANK ZAPPA by David Walley
11. FRANK ZAPPA: THE COMPLETE CUIDE TO HIS MUSIC by Ben Watcon
12. MY BROTHER WAS A MOTHER: A ZAPPA FAMILY ALBUM by Patrice "Candy" Zappa
13. THEM OR US by Frank Zappa
14. UNDER THE SAME MOON by Suzannah Thana Harris
15. BEING FRANK: MY TIME WITH FRANK ZAPPA by Nigery Lennon

I have ranked these in the order in which I like them. Let me know which is your favorite but using the comment button. Pauline Butcher's FREAK OUT: MY LIFE WITH FRANK ZAPPA seems to be the only book I haven't read. However, I have ordered it on Amazon.

I can make a couple of comments that might be helpful. The book covers Frank's Broadway the Hard Way tour. Starting with rehearsal, this constitutes about two years. Quite controversial and quite sad. Frank was an unknown victim of cancer and was slowing down.

It is a book of perceptions. Like James' NECESSITY IS...
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Bice on February 2, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I saw several glowing reviews of this book on alt.fan.frank-zappa (yes, USENET is not dead yet, it just smells funny), which lead me to buy a copy. It's an entertaining enough read if you're a big Zappa fan. I'd already read most of the anectdotes and stories before elsewhere, but having them all together in one place, arranged chronologicaly and enhanced with new band member interviews made this book worthwhile. As others have mentioned, it's a quick read, especially since the last third or so of the book is mostly just "data" - set lists, disography, glossary, footnotes, index, etc.

As others have also noted, the author comes across as more of a fan chatting with other fans, rather than a music journalist. He sometimes makes the story about himself and gets sidetracked into talking about other passions of his that have nothing to do with Zappa. For example, he wedges Marx Brothers and Led Zeppelin references in multiple times. It's up to the individual reader to decide if that "casual writing approach" is a good thing or not, but I often felt like I was reading some fan's blog site instead of a book I paid $25 for. I was also a little disappointed that there wasn't more to the whole "band infighting" story. The subject is definitely covered, but I thought that was going to be the main storyline of the book, and it's really just one small facet.

All in all I don't know that this is an essential addition to any Zappa fan's library, but it's worth reading and I'm glad that such a thoroughly researched document of the '88 tour exists. Maybe the ZFT should consider buying the rights to this book, bundling it together with the Broadway, Best Band and Jazz Noise CDs and selling it as the '88 tour boxed set.
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