Dangerous Kitchen: The Subversive World of Zappa
Kevin Courrier

ECW PRESS, Toronto
ISBN 1-55022-447-6
554 pp, paperback, 25 x 18 cm

David Stubbs:

Thorough artistic biography of late avant-garde rock pioneer.

A decade after his death, Frank Zappa has become a faded, remote figure in rock memory. It's hard to find direct antecedents for his melange of jazz, rock, doo-wop and avant-garde. Even his spirit of iconoclasm is hard to trace in these deadened times. He's a victim of misconceptions, based on his flair for the outrageous and scatological (posing for a photo on a toilet seat etc). It's often assumed he was a drugs freak, rock's ultimate wild man, when actually he was contemptuous of drug users and was a highly disciplined, authoritarian band leader. No wonder Zappa complained of being"uncomprehended".

Courrier's exhaustive reconsideration of Zappa is, then, overdue. He reminds us of the scornful and relentless diatribes against rock corporatism and right-wing America Zappa sustained throughout his career. He restores Zappa's reputation as an effortless virtuoso, fluent in several musical languages, who enriched rock music through his application of the principles of Stravinsky, Varese, musique concrete, etc, while debunking classical music's snooty hauteur. He deals with the charge against Zappa that his music was soulless, that he often appeared sneering rather than impassioned.

A welcome and thorough appraisal.


ARF: Bibliography
Review by Geoff Wills (United Mutations)
Review by David Stubbs @ Uncut