Saturday, October 31, 2015

FZ's "Roxy: The Movie" (Part Three)

Last time I watched the DVD. This morning I'm listening to the CD and thinking about What It All Means. To begin with, the disc doesn't include the "I'm the Slime"/"Big Swifty" sequence due to length (as is, it's 70 minutes). For the reasons I enumerated earlier (no overdubs, no "Village of the Sun," no "Son of Orange County"/"Trouble Every Day"), it's not a replacement for Roxy and Elsewhere, and I can't imagine listening to it when the DVD is also available. But it's a thing.

In this age of super-deluxeness, with labels scrambling to wring the very last shekel out of the dying CD format before all the boomers croak, we're confronted by phenomena like the perpetual reissuing of the entahr Velvet Underground catalog on a five year cycle, with each upgrade including newer and more cosmic live stuff that makes one wonder "Why were they sitting on this stuff for so long?"

With Gail's passing, the question for the present day Zappafan becomes, "What direction is the Family Trust going to take with FZ's legacy under Ahmet's stern employ?" To date, the irritant has been a steady stream of new releases presented without enough information to allow the discriminating listener to decide whether or not the New Thing is worth throwing down hard-earned coin for (the underlying assumption being that fans will buy anything with FZ's name on it, regardless of the content). And Gail fought long and hard to maintain the value of FZ's work in the marketplace; when Rykodisc wanted to discount the catalog, it was a deal-breaker.

With the "100th official album," Dance Me This, supposedly representing the last work FZ completed during his lifetime, one wonders if there's anything left in the barrel besides scrapings like the ones Experience Hendrix has been releasing for years. And how much of what's left do you really need to hear?

As for Roxy: The Movie, with all the bitches, gripes, and complaints I've got to inordinate length to communicate, the bottom line is this: If you ever gave a shit about FZ, you'll want to see this. It's his best band, caught on film at a very special moment in their trajectory. The gusto and humor with which they tackle the challenging arrangements is truly something to behold. And his solos are liquid fire. Put this together with Roxy and Elsewhere, A Token of His Extreme, One Size Fits All (and, if you're a maximalist, You Can't Do That Onstage Anymore, Vol. 2) and this band can be said to be well documented. So there.


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