My Top 1000 Songs #486: Joe's Garage
There are the serious Zappa people out there. Then there are the non-Zappa people out there.
Me, I'm mostly ambivalent. I enjoy some of the late 60s/early 70s fusion stuff. But I hate all the marimbas. And once he starts singing, I'm usually turned off (as it's often sophomoric and/or misogynist).
Still, there are treats among the late musician's vast and varied catalog. I've always had a soft spot for the title track from his 1979 LP Joe's Garage (the first volume of a two-part concept album which has its moments). It's an atypically poppy track, a wonderfully catchy tune tracking the rise and fall of the local garage band. The sweeping suite makes good use of Zappa's fondness for 50s doo-wop, blended with a refrain that conjures a more contemporary 70s rock lighter-hoisting anthem. It's still got some of that Zappa weirdness, like the neighbor yelling "turn it down!" and some of the usual off-putting Zappa-isms, but it's one of those tracks I heard on the radio a million years ago and has stuck with me ever since.Live 1980: