Jeff Berlin fired by Frank Zappa

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by holytiamat777, Jun 3, 2008.

  1. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Inactive

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    Jeff just seems to be one of those "all or nothing" players who would think nothing of tackling a guitar chart if asked. I sometimes forget what a monstrous talent he is!
  2. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    Robert Fripp gets my respect for shagging Toyah

    can't say I like his music though :)
  3. zombywoof5050


    Dec 20, 2001
    Jeff Berlin once said in an interview that FZ's bass parts were some of the hardest he's ever had to learn.
  4. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    it's not often I'm moved to say this on Talkbass, but that's a really good insight/observation... The Rite was about nature & mating rituals, human sacrifice and pagan festivities... the music HAD to be radically different to anything that preceded it, because it was portraying radically different things... it has stylistic and thematic precedents in Debussy's 'La Mer' and in Russian folk music, but still exists in isolation

    the weird thing is that nothing since The Rite Of Spring really sounds much like it.... not even Stravinsky's later work sounds much like it

    and also applies to a lot of Frank's music too... you can appreciate it's construction, or you can you just let the music hit you without thinking about all that (and you get the impression Frank explored a lot of musical avenues that no-one else is likely to follow him down)
  5. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003

    truthfully, probably the concept... the idea that musicians at one time actually meant those examples of interplay & bouncing around of phrases etc excites me.. I like to hear interaction, and the thought that any kind of interaction between parts might be accidental or co-incidental just excites me less... just like the music played by a fantastically talented band could often be played equally well by a sequencer, the idea that humans played it does make a difference to how I feel about it, and I can't deny that

    that's not all I like, but if you have excellent musicians like Terry Bozzio and Patrick O'Hearn, why not have them play something together? :)
  6. oldrocker

    oldrocker Supporting Member

    These shows were interesting:

    Billy Joel - Opens
    Captain Beefheart - Special Guest
    J Geils Band - Headliner

    Roland Kirk
    Tower Of Power

    Flo and Eddie
    Ike and Tina Turner
  7. Sneckumhaw


    Apr 26, 2006
    Crimson's best will likely survive as well as ANY from the rock/prog era.
  8. Barkless Dog

    Barkless Dog Barkless to a point

    Jan 19, 2007
    Fripp will stand the threshold of time, not so much for his guitar work but the iconic work King Crimson has produced, all works pretty much brilliant to after the 90's.

    Fripps work with tape loops stands alone to give him a spot. He has influences so many people.

    I saw Fripp free in the 80's in a small record store in Cleveland. It was just him and two tape machines about ten feet apart. He was amazing as well as a really humble person (when I met him then)

    People often overlook Zappa's work with GFR. I think Good Singing Good Playing was one of their better LP's. Zappa stole the show on "Out To Get You". You can hear the Zappa influence in both some of the doo whop influenced songs as well as the potty humor Big buns.

  9. Risor


    Dec 26, 2005
    Maybe Jaco was not so arrogant as Jeff, but he still was Supernova :p

  10. Lots more here.
  11. srptopdog

    srptopdog Greyhounds make good sound engineers - Big Ears!

    Feb 24, 2008
    Philadelphia, PA
    Interesting. I was heavily into Zappa years ago.

    Actually, it is very costly to cart recording equipment to every show. I'm fairly sure Frank was cutting 48 tracks at that time as the norm, and back in the day we're talking about moving two very large 2-inch tape machines. They didn't have HD recording back then. After the machines arrived at each show each input channel would have to calibrated to "O" vu by hand using a test tone generator. Then the machines have to locked-up, so they run in synch. It's likely the live sound people weren't managing this, since I'm guessing they had their hands full. So, figure the cost of moving and maintaining two (maybe even three, for one back-up), 24-track 2" machines; let's say one full-time engineer/tech; and all of the tape; and you've got a very expensive project to manage. Much more costly then paying great musicians to record in the studio.

    At that time Frank was recording every show. 2" tape running at 30 ips only yields about 30 minutes of recording time (times 2 for 48 tracks). I'm fairly sure I remember 2" costing about $80.00/reel. 8 reels for a two hour show? Oh yes, not to mention the cost and labor of cataloging all of the shows. BTW, as I understand it, he recorded the shows, not just the soundchecks.

    Rather than to save money, I believe Frank knew that the best musical performances were captured through the magic of playing live. After a tour he would listen to each show and cull the best takes. Then (as you say, using some tracks as a "bed"), he would then overdub when/where needed, and/or to fix any problem parts (a bad note, something out of tune, re-do vocals - whatever).

    Now, I'm not sticking up for Frank's integrity or lack of, since I don't know the man, but I did want to shed some light on another aspect of how Frank worked at certain times in his career. I think in this particular case he was putting the music first, regardless of expense.

    My .02 cents, fwiw.

    Salvatore ~
  12. Barkless Dog

    Barkless Dog Barkless to a point

    Jan 19, 2007
    In his biography, he said the most expensive he said was hiring an orchestra as they had to be paid union rates of $15 an hour? for 50+ musicians who he said were required breaks but would go and get drunk, then come back late and he still had to pay for their time.

    He said that is why not a lot of people hire complete orchestras. He said his work with the London symphony nearly broke him.

    Yeah, that was a GREAT concert, wasn't it? Leo Kottke opened and sounded awful with the bad acoustics.

    I just remember him harrassing Ruth "Show your t*ts!" over and over until she lifted up her sweater.

    And before him, Mahavishnu came on (he owned a vegetarian restaurant in Queens, first no smoking restaurant I'd ever been to, don't know if you ever ate there, great food but I always seemed to miss the nights he showed up unannounced and played with his wife), and when asked for a minute of silence out of respect for the music, the crowd shouted "F*ck you!" repeatedly as the band stood, heads bowed, for an agonizingly long full minute, then BLAM! They launched into "Meeting of the Spirits" and blew EVERYONE away.

    I didn't see how Zappa could follow THAT, and though he couldn't match their searing energy, yeah he was virtuosic and funny as hell, too. Flo and Eddie, what a pair. You probably remember the quote on his first 1966 album where some management type says maybe the Mothers could be as big as the Turtles. It must have been a real triumph for Zappa to have the Turtles in his employ singing "Eleanor" at that gig.

    That was May 18, 1973 according to the web.

    Set list:

    1. The Dog Breath Variations
    2. Uncle Meat
    3. Fifty-Fifty
    4. Montana
    5. Improvisation
    6. Dupree's Paradise
    7. Inca Roads
    8. Cosmik Debris
    9. Don't Eat the Yellow Snow
    10. Nanook Rubs It
    11. St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast
    12. Father O'Blivion
    13. King Kong
    14. Chunga's Revenge
    15. Mr. Green Genes

    Saw him a week before at Stony Brook where he was working up the Coliseum show. Lots of changes. He brought out a nerd kid, real young, and stuck him in front of a mic and had him run through some awful long mathematical proof or something as the band played. I can't find any record of that gig online.
  14. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    My Dog Sam Eats Purple Flowers
    This is the same Jeff Berlin who got banned here at talkbass ... more than once ...

    Sometimes great talent comes with great ego ...
  15. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    If Jeff Berlin is so great, how come I never hear about anyone hiring him? Who has he played with, other than himself?
  16. markkoelsch


    Sep 6, 2008
    Damned personality clashes. Too bad. Still, I think "The Best Band You Never Heard in your Life" is one of the greatest live records ever. That was such an amazing band...just awesome. I love the whacky, regae version of Stairway to Heaven, and everything else on the record.
  17. SlingBass4


    Feb 28, 2009
    Kansas City
    Darn......NOW I have to clean my monitor :p
  18. king_biscuit


    May 21, 2006
    +1, Frank was brilliant. Jeff's tone is so bad, that had to be part of the problem.
  19. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Other than Zappa, Bill Bruford, Allan Holdsworth, Esther Philips, David Sancious, Scott Henderson, Kazumi Watanabe, Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe (better known as Yes but calling themselves that because Chris Squire owned the name).

    He can be difficult, though, and that likely cuts into his hirings. Also, moving to Clearwater didn't exactly keep him in the thick of the music business.
  20. pnchad


    Nov 3, 2005
    FZ was amazing and prolific and unyeilding and... and...

    he was a testimony of what hard work and dedication will do for you as a musician

    he was and industrious and persistant and creative, etc, etc

    so, that being said, with ALL respect, he was not a musician except in the 'technical' sense

    there's good reason why not one of his melodies survive as memorable or touching or exciting

    even at the time I never wished I was in a FZ band. Way too disciplined & strict a style - very rigid and only enjoyable as a technical exercise

    sorry but there's a reason a Jaco could never cohabitate with a FZ
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    Primary TB Assistant

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