The Cruncher

The Rotations
The Cruncher b/w Heavies 45 (Original Sound, 1964)

There are very few prejudices that I have when it comes to music. I got over the knee jerk reaction to Christian music when I first discovered Black Gospel and, later, freaky records like the Stoned Age or Fireblood Angel Band. I never bought into the whole Hate Accordians fade and like some polka music a lot. I have a small collection of pipe organ records. There are very few records, aside from the obvious Top 40 nonsense, that I won't listen to at least once. However, I have always loathed Frank Zappa.

Before I go on let me cop to a few things: First, I have a copy of Weasels Rip My Flesh. I bought it because it was cheap and it has one of the top ten record covers of all time. I also listened to it and enjoyed it. Second, I like a lot of the records that Zappa produced and put out - Captain Beefheart, Alice Cooper, John Trubee. Hell, I even like a few GTOs songs. Third, I haven't listened to everything. I have heard Apostrophe (and didn't like it even as a very stone 14 year old), Over-Nite Sensation, Freak Out!, and parts of Hot Rats, We're Only in It For the Money, Joe's Garage, and Absolutely Free. And I saw 200 Motels, but I was 13 and it was a midnight movie and I was stoned out of my mind. Fourth, much of my reaction is due to Zappa Fan and the elitist/evangelical way they come off. My teenage years were littered with a few neighborhood Zappa heads who constantly lectured me on how great and smart Zappa was and how stupid I was for liking Black Sabbath and then punk rock. Fine let them have their club. Over the years, though, while I haven't warmed to Zappa, I do appreciate the idea of Frank Zappa and some of his work.

When I picked up this Rotations 45 little did I know that it is one of Zappa's earliest works. Record in 1962, when he was a youngster in Cucamonga, California, these two Rotations songs are among the greatest surf tunes ever made. The Cruncher is exactly that: A slow groove based on the Peter Gunn riff, it has a killer sax solo atop a great raw sound. Extra percussion and the always popular surf sound effects give it that little bit more that makes it stand out. Heavies starts with surf crashing into the shore (and continues throughout) and vamps some tasty twang. That the waves almost overwhelm the music is no big thing, and actually aids the song.

Thinking about it, I shouldn't be shocked that Zappa could make a record this great. The guy did know music and he was without a doubt a great musician. Still, I am surprised, and, yes, even pleasantly so.

This is the ginchiest!
Have you heard his album, Cucamonga?
Pretty much with you on the Zappa question. I have the same thing against, e.g. Bowie. Things to be thankful to Frank for, additionally, though: Jeff Simmons' "Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up", the Wildman Fischer 2LP... Straight in general, I guess.
What a great find... I don't call myself a Zappa-tisto, but I do appreciate his music. Maybe give his Sheik Yerbouti CD another chance?
when i was 16 i memorized the lyrics and sound effect of Wereonlyinitforthemoney. I even sang the lyrics to the whole album in one sitting a cappella to a girl to impress her (she never spoke to me again). but i too was turned off by the zappa snobbery, some friends of mine made me listen to ruben and the jets (snore), shut up and play yer guitar (yeech) uncle meat (pleh) etc and ranted on his "cynical wit" and so on....

anyway, he aint so bad and he aint so great, but that is one great surf single.
I believe The Onion put it best: "Zappa Fan Insists You Just Haven't Heard The Right Record".

I thought it was impossible to dislike Zappa any more than I already did, but recently reading a long interview with him did the trick. Overly-clever weird-rock for people who don't do drugs.

I have always loved Zappa and been a fanatic, but have almost never listened to anything after, say 1968 (at least not more than 5 minute needle drops... love Freak Out and Money, hate Hot Rats, not big on Weasel, though I love doo wop and Rueben and the Jets is totally ace among serious doowop fuggers!)

His Early Mothers and pre-Mothers shit has all kindsa high points, but the *killer* is a fairly recently released LP of the 1965 pre-Freak Out demos called "Joe's Corsage". I think his son OK'd the release of this. Has some of the cuts from Freak Out. The doo wop parodys from Freak are NOT parodys at this point! Has the amazing 60s Louie Louie punker version of Plastic People that used to only be available on muddyboots! You needa hear this....
oh yeah, nobody mentioned that Heavies is on Were Only In It For the Money, well the intro anyway. Those Cucamunga and the Lost Sessions still haven't covered all those killer Del Fi and other rarities.

Other crazy things to look for: bootleg called The Boy Wonder Sesssions which has the Burt Ward 45 (really is Zappa backin Burt Ward) plus 4 more BW cuts or so, and the boot of the acetate version of We're Only In It For The Money, which was salvaged out of the studio trash can, which is not full length but contains very different version of tunes!

those are by far not among the best 60's surf tunes ever made.. i don't think that it's even a question of taste since there are 1000's of instro singles that are written and sound pretty much like this one.

lookin' for the best ?
try Holiday on Saturn - by Del Kent
Listen, Mr Man without a Name, I'll take the Rhythm Kings or any of that mariachi chicano surf stuf over this, but the Rotations is a great surf 45. I could break it down for you why, but IT IS A MATTER OF TASTE. That is unless you have a Surf-o-matic Song Rating Machine around and a Surf Scientist to do the appropriate tests to prove to me it ain't a grand tune.
pardon my french mr. soriano but if it's a matter of taste it's a matter of bad one, cinicism is also bad taste, (not a good bad one) anyhow take any "instrumental greats" or any other shitty compilation and you'll see that frank zappa and those tunes are AVEREGE. averege as there's noting special in them, averege as - the ussual basic 3 chords instrumentals. god damn.
Okay, you win. I am wrong. I feel shame. I bow to your taste. Please guide me, nameless one. Tell me what I should post next. I am yours to command.
Or let me put it this way: What I measure surf or garage instrumentals by is different than your average surf freak. I don't give a shit about guitar fluries or smoothness or stuff like that. I like stuff that is primitive, crude, has lots of echo, at least one good solo, and sound effects. Basic three chord instrumental is fine...no, it is more than fine. It is great. What the fuck? You want me to listen to 12 chord rock instrumentals? And then what Trans Am? Post rock? Give me a fucking break. On second thought, you don't win. PS: I don't mind the criticism, but if you are gonna call me names, put your name to it.
spoken like a true prog-rocker :),

i think you forgot that surf and Instrumentals ARE 3 chord based rock'n'roll at 80% of the time (when it comes to late 50's pre surf it's 95% of the time) so telling me that you like your surf primitive with lot's of echo is like telling me that you like your punk fast. all i'm saying that your thoughs on that single are a bit overrated.

here some GOOD+CRUDE instros, master.

Rockatones - Shandia
Rondels - Satan's theme
Jan Davies - Sabre Dance
Citations - Moon Race
Gamblers - L.S.D 25
John Buck and his Blazers - forbidden city.
PROG ROCKER! That is some low shit, Mr One.

Okay, okay, reread my blog entry and "one of the greatest surf tunes ever" is a bit of an overstatement HOWEVER I am a sucker for songs with sound effects and surf sounds throughout a song is so stupid I cant pass it up. I mean even though Duane Eddy's Water Skiing album is a wretched piece of crap, I love it for all the water skiing sound effects. It is a miswiring in me head. Take out the waves and, sure The Rotations made a good record, maybe nothing more than that. Put the waves in and add to it that it comes, to me, from the most unlikely place, and it slots up a few notches. In this case context matters. Also the fact that I found it for a quarter.

As far as your recommendations, I've heard Satan's Theme, Sabre Dance (though I like Jan Davis's Funky Mud better), and Forbidden City. One of the greatest (that word again) is the Tiki Men's Cattle Prod, the only band from the 90s garage instro scene that really matters. I am not at home so I cant riffle though boxes and give you a list of other primitive faves, but I do invite you (or anyone else) to ramble off a few more. Instros arent a new thing for me; I've been buying them for ages. But I am not a student of the genre and there are so god damn many of them.
oh yeah, this genre is endless. and it's much more hard to get stuff when your from Israel, but greek and arabic instro's comes as a bonus since you can find'em here once in a while. as for the 90's i think that there are 2 important bands: Phantom Surfers and the Trashwomen, can't think on anything better than these two. as for duane eddy,for me, he had only one really really good album which is "Twangy Guitar, Silky Strings" an amazing orchestral instrumentals and the Best "Bali-Hai" version that i ever heard.
here's a list of stuff that like which i made for a stupid forum..

Surfmen - ghost hop (amazing horror instro)
-Del kent - holiday on saturn (frightnin' melodies on exotic rythem)
-Citations - moon race (low+high guitars KILLER)
-Johnny fortune - dragster (engine sounds + up-tempo bits)
-Frantics - werewolf (dot horror masterpiece)
-Go-Go's - chicken of the sea (this is THE most stupid vocal surf from 1964, a real anthem)
-Viscounts - harlem nocturne (ECHO)
-Omar Khorshid (from egypt, has one song with guitars that'll make dick dale go cry to his mom)
-Chevells - riptide (sad melodies, infectious bit)
-Fender iv - everybody up (well....)
-Hondells - little honda ("honda honda goes faster faster" right...)
-Aris San (israel, well it's greek music actually but you may refer to some of his tunes as "greak surf vocals" anyhow it's unbeatable)
-Trademarks - baha ree ba (up tempo with an eastern touch)

+ arabic flavor instrumentals:

sandy nelson - casbah
dave and the customs - ali baba
gladiators - istambul
the blazers - sounds of mecca
los relampagos - misirlou
trifonas - dam dam o pam (semi instro)
atlantics - bombora
johnny green combo - desert gold
eddie "the shiek" kochak - ya habibi.

one thing that we'll both agree on is the los kikes's c.d, if you'll ask me it's probably a top five for the last 20 years.
So wait, "Have Twangy Guitar, Will Travel" is not a good Duane Eddy record? Glad that was cleared up.
The Go-Go's LP is one of the greatest corniest records ever (and will be posted soon). I'll give you Chicken of the Sea but Underwater is one of the best and stupidest songs about oral sex ever made. "See his brand new gear, see him handle is spear..."

I cnat get with you on the Trashwomen. saw them several times and they were little more than a joke. Really, the Tiki Men are where it is at. I cant think of anything that tops their Sneak a Drink 7" and the Cattle Prod 45.

Arabic scales are always a plus. ALWAYS.

And I am with Jared, Have Twangy Guitar is a great great record. And it was the first rock & roll album I ever owned so it has a special place for me.

Viva Los Kikes!
more early Zappa on the soundtrack to Timothy Carey's outrageous World's Greatest Sinner film from the late 50s early 60s
I'd always wanted to hear more of that surf tune partially used in "Nasal Rententive Calliope Music". Thanks!
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?