The Subversive World of Zappa
There’s a fine line between insanity and pure genius …The name Frank Zappa often conjures up the image of a deranged satirist. But for close to thirty years, between 1966 until his untimely death from prostate cancer in 1993, Frank Zappa was one of the most influential, innovative, and controversial musicians in contemporary and popular music (despite little radio airplay). Beginning with his band, the Mothers of Invention, Frank Zappa built a formidable career in rock and roll by combining a wide range of styles, including serious contemporary music, jazz, rhythm and blues, doo-wop, and social and political parody.
Yet Zappa was often portrayed as a drug addict (even though he denounced drug use) and a fetishist (despite a normal married life). In Dangerous Kitchen: The Subversive World of Zappa, Kevin Courrier explodes those myths by illuminating the facts about this outrageously gifted composer. Courrier examines how Frank Zappa's emergence in American popular culture during the eclectic and experimental sixties was no accident. Courrier argues that Zappa’s musical career — which poked fun at middle-class conformity, the hippie sub-culture, disco, the rock industry, and the Reagan era — had its roots in the artistic rebellion against Romanticism in the nineteenth century. The book draws links to the musical and cultural antecedents of Frank Zappa’s career, including Erik Satie, Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern, Igor Stravinsky, Charles Ives, and Zappa’s true hero, Edgard Varese, who was as much a scientific inventor of electronic sounds as he was a dynamic avant-garde composer. This book examines Frank Zappa as a composer, performer, political artist, and American original.
Kevin Courrier is a writer/broadcaster and film critic at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He worked for eight years as co-host of the interview program On the Arts for CJRT-FM in Toronto during the ’80s. Courrier has also written about film and popular culture for Box Office, The Globe and Mail, and The Toronto Star. He is the co-author of Law & Order: The Unofficial Companion. Courrier also works part-time at the Royal Conservatory of Music.