grand master made it easy. The album title alone is enough to choose it for our
JukeBox from the nearly 90 recordings released under his name. Guitar.
This is not the only album Frank Zappa dedicated to the instrument, nor the one
that includes arguably his greatest solos, or at least the best-known ones. It
doesn't rank as one of his best-selling albums, either, but fans and guitar
connoisseurs alike considered it to be the finest example of his unmistakable
The 50th album in Frank Zappa's official catalog is exclusively composed of guitar solos drawn from live performances recorded between 1979 and 1984. His band at the time included an outstanding student by the name of Steve Vai...but that doesn't explain why a double CD with 32 tracks of intricate pieces full of his trademark extended improvisations would earn Zappa his sixth Grammy nomination (for detail-lovers, it was in the best rock instrumental performance category).
Guitar was also the first album Zappa released simultaneously on compact disc and vinyl, a sign he was already looking to the future by choosing the former format. In this case, to the great suffering of collectors, he released it first as a vinyl LP with only 19 pieces. And there matters stood. Apparently, he wanted to do a "triple" set in the same vein as Shut Up n’ Play Yer Guitar but things got complicated.
Complicated like everything surrounding this genius. In his prodigious and wide-ranging creative output, the guitar is something of a 'universal constant', his true musical personality split between rock and jazz -and a thousand other things- that stood out and dominated everything among the multitude of musicians he frequently shared the stage with.
Nevertheless, he will go down in history as one of the great composer of the 20th century. The man who knew how to introduce classical music into rock. As an instrumentalist, he was recognized as a master despite his unorthodox technique. Yet his name doesn't often figure among the great six-string virtuosos –ranked number 22 according to Rolling Stone- as much as it does among the guitarists who have had the greatest influence on them. Or you might say, the Mother of Invention.