When someone hears the name Frank Zappa the first words that might come to mind are bizarre, strange, unique or odd. Or one might recall his fight over music censorship in the late 80’s and may picture him wearing a t-shirt that says “Tipper Gore is a fascist”. The sad thing is this would barely touch the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the one-of-a-kind musician and composer that was Frank Zappa.
Alex Winter brings his second hit film of the year, the first being the long awaited third installment of the always fun Bill and Ted movies in which he plays Bill Preston esquire. The other is his newest documentary film. Winter has become a well respected documentary filmmaker in the 30 years in between the second and third Bill and Ted installments. His latest film that examines the great career of the one and only Frank Zappa and his unique style of music might be his greatest film yet.
The life of Frank Zappa begins and evolves as one might expect and has no profound events that created the person who would come to be known as just, Zappa. His view on the world and his discovery of music is what made him who he was. It’s apparent that he saw and heard things just differently. A young early friendship with Don Van Vliet (better known as Captain Beefheart)and a mutual love of the delta and Chicago blues, would help shape his sound.
It wasn’t long before Zappa put together his first of what would be many bands usually known as The Mothers Of Invention. A mixed blend of black and white musicians with various backgrounds of various musical stylings. Frank tried always to find the best musicians who could not only play what he heard in his head but perform his art on stage musically and visually.
Zappa’s career expanded and charged forward full force with a somewhat revolving door of band members Zappa never lost focus of what he saw for his music and his art and staunchly never conformed to the mainstream all the while maintaining a large and loyal fan base.
Zappa was one of those rare humans who never compromised what they wanted, who they were and what they believed. Long remembered by a whole generation as the old guy on cnn who fought for musics right not to be censored was just one of his many crusades. Forgotten in that fight was that he and his music were never the target of the somewhat fascist group PMRC. He fought for his belief not himself.
All of this is more than magically captured in the new Alex Winter documentary that makes you feel like you just dove into the box set videos of the best and most important times in Zappas life and career.