Zappa - start with Apostrophe and Hot Rats. Hot Rats is largely instrumental (but one track features Beefheart!), and it’s full of joyous yet insanely complex arrangements. And the song with Beefheart rocks. Apostrophe, on the other hand, is more representative of the rest of his work. It’s driven by a half-sung, half-spoken narrative full of strange jokes (but with some VERY catchy moments), but as it’s not as long (or as grotesque) as some of his other stuff, it’s the perfect place to start. And again, the title track rocks.
Pretty much what I was gonna suggest. If you want accessible Zappa you could also try Overnite Sensation, Zoot Allures or One Size Fits All. But Hot Rats was the first one of his I loved and now one of my favourites ever, so probably just go with that.
Metal is such a broad church that it’s difficult to post general recommendations, but if you like riffy, sludgey stuff then I’d recommend Melvins. They’re not the canonical albums, but I got into them through The Bride Screams Murder, Nude with Boots and A Senile Animal.
Boris are worth a listen too (named after a Melvins song). Maybe try Pink to start with and go from there.
If you want more tunes with your riffage, then anything by Torche is good.
If you like Rain Dogs definitely also listen to Swordfishtrombones, as it’s the same era and very similar. Nighthawks at the Diner is cool in more of a jazzy, bluesy, faux-live feel thing way. I also really like Bad As Me, his latest.
Zappa – as people have said Apostrophe and Overnite Sensation are accessible and brilliant, and Hot Rats is probably his masterpiece. We’re Only In It For The Money is a bit more strange, but songs like Who Needs The Peace Corps are brilliant.
Growing up he was obviously something of an ever present, but around the time that I started to get into music seriously was when Diamonds & Pearls came out and that felt a bit like the first time that his quality control slipped and therefore put me off him a bit. Plus I would liked to have seen him live and that’s not happening now
Any tips? Should I just start at the beginning and listen all the way up to and including Graffiti Bridge? Any late career classics out there?