Nobody could accuse Frank Zappa of courting popularity. He has hardly even achieved it accidentally. Instead he has something which was once even more highly esteemed in the murky world of pop. New Musical Express called it ‘credibility’. Today’s popsters strain for ‘street credibility’, but it is a poor relation, flashier and more artificial. ‘Bros’, Tiffany, Jason Donavan or anyone else disappointed with success should study the real thing. It’s hard to define, but involves learning to play instruments, writing incomprehensible lyrics, and, ideally, being banned for obscenity.
Frank Zappa is forty eight, and ready to turn to a more literary form than the rock album to correct a few myths and record some home truths. Let’s start with his poor children. A big hand please for: Dweezil, named after his wife’s deformed toe, Moon-Unit, Ahmet and Diva. ‘People make a lot of fuss about my kids having supposedly “strange names”, but the fact is that no matter what names I might have given them, it’s the last name that is going to get them in trouble.’ Fair enough, and despite everything Dweezil is already doing well as a television presenter.
The Real Frank Zappa Book manages to convey a vivid impression of its author, the kind of impression one gets from a long drive with a talkative hitchhiker. Sometimes he’s funny, sometimes he drones on obsessively, but he is always trying to be polite. Zappa acknowledges his ghost-writer in the