Zeppo Shulman

From The Gentle Giant Home Page

Zeppo, The Long-Lost Fourth Shulman Brother, by Kenneth Newman (kenneth.newman@oln.com).

It's nice to see recent mention of the importance of Phil [Shulman] to the band but I would go further and say that it wouldn't really be a reunion without the participation of the long lost "fourth" Shulman brother. I refer, of course, to Zeppo Shulman.

Even the most hard core fans like Geir haven't heard of him, largely because he was only in the band at the very beginning and, taking the role of the "straight man" in the band, he didn't even look or act like the rest of the band. Where Derek would prance around like a deranged troubadour, Zeppo sported a schtick which was later copied by Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos - the bored, dyspeptic, chartered accountant look. His musical contributions to the band were minimal, as well, as he could only play euphonium, ukelele and euchre, his proficiency in the last accounting even more than filial loyalty for the lads letting him hang around.

However, even more than his lack of musicianship, it was undoubtedly the "Taste" incident which caused his ultimate and forceful ejection from the ensemble. Having slept through all of the recording sessions of the first album, he attempted to dominate the production of the second. Bad enough for the label was that he insisted on titling the album "Acquiring the Taste of Buttocks" (oddly enough, the label kept his idea for the cover art), but he included these liner notes, which they eventually used, though with substantial revision:

"Acquiring the taste of buttocks is the second phase of sensual pleasure. If our first album sticks in your gorge, then you'll want to put relish (we hope) on this, our, second, offering.

"It is our goal to make extremely unpopular music while still persuading legions of underage nymphettes to become our wanton love slaves, even allowing us to slobber on them, specifically their buttockular regions (see illustration). We have recorded each composition with the one thought - that it should be unique and adventurous....with these two thoughts, that it be unique and adventurous and fascinating, um,....with these three thoughts, that it be unique, adventurous and fascinating and get us laid, oh...., never mind! In any event, we are willing to shed every bit of our combined musical and technical knowledge to achieve this (i.e., obtaining access to nubile buttockular slobber-targets).

"From the outset we, the party of the first part, hereinafter referred to as "the band," which should in all cases be understood to mean Gentle Giant (TM, marca registrada, pat. pending, reg'd Penna. Dept Agriculture) have abandoned preconceived thoughts on blatant commercialism, which is why we have explicitly decided to forego any and all royalties on this album and are insisting that those capitalist scumbags at Vertigo Records give away all the copies they can press, even going so far as to purchase record players for those who might not have one. Instead we hope to literally give you something that is far more substantial and fulfilling. All you have to do is sit back and acquire the taste of our buttocks. "

After leaving GG, Zeppo briefly played bass for Mott the Hoople under the pseudonym "Labial Blender" (apparently a cutesy reference to his habit of making a "thpthththttt!"). noise into the mike which he shared with Ian Hunter whenever Hunter would attempt to sing) but he was given the boot when they got wind of the impending lawsuit from Vertigo. An abortive disco comeback attempt in the mid 70's masterminded by Kim Fowley (with an 11 year old Bill Laswell playing all the instruments, composing the pieces, doing the singing and handling essentially all of the production duties) was also doomed to failure.

Zeppo once placed an ad in Melody Maker and Rolling Stone's classified sections advertising himself as a "well-known British progrock musician looking to work with a successful commercial-sounding band so crass they would sell their mothers for the price of a pint." But as Foreigner were the only people to contact him, and he did at least have some standards below which he was unwilling to plummet, he chose to retire from active performing, becoming producer for such deservedly forgotten 80's bands as Flock of Haircuts, Croydon Crisis, and Segue Segue Segue Segue Sputum. Like most washed up proggers he has done some film work recently and is currently looking to make a '90's comeback on the reasoning that "if that pathetic, ugly, no-talent, worthless David Crosby bastard can do it, anyone can." Last I heard, Zeppo was trying to sell Geir Hasnes his phone number for two thousand kroner.

More Answers About Zeppo

Q: Just heard a rumor that Zeppo Shulman was actually The Fifth Beatle.

A: Not true, but during his "disco period" of 1977-79 he did produce an album called A Fifth of Beatlemania-mania which he described as "not the real Beatlemania but an amazing soy analog, blended together in 20 second sound bytes and set to rollicking disco beats." It was even less successful than his follow-up effort Steers on 45 which was supposed to be a bunch of cattle grunting in 20 second sound bytes set to a ubiquitous disco beat. The bubble burst when it was revealed that they weren't really cattle but merely unemployed Danish porn actors (including Nina Hagen's boyfriend, Herman Brood) trying their best to go "mooooooo" without a specifically northern European accent, a trick he more successfully managed ten years later on his 1988 fluke hit Le mystere des vaches bulgares, which had fake cows doing harmony grunting for 20 minutes at a stretch. The English, being blase and cynical after 20 years of rock'n'roll hype and posturing, went for it in a big way. NME wrote: "these cow belches are like a breath of fresh air on the London scene."