WARNING- I looked and looked, but I was unable to find a single flaw with this tour. Be prepared for a completely biased review.
BAND MEMBERS- FZ, Chester Thompson (drums, gorilla, world famous Bob-the-chef energy), Ruth Underwood (percussion of the gods, the Cosmik duck), Napoleon Murphy Brock (vocals, sax, flute, exotic dancing, tush tush tush), George Duke (vocals, keyboards), Tom Fowler (bass, who broke his hand and thus was demoted to "Mystery Pointer"), Michael Erso (played bass during one show [11/23]), James "Birds Legs" Youman (played bass on the five concluding dates of the tour)
SPECIAL GUESTS- Bruce Fowler, Lance Loud
DATES- June 28th through December 1st (plus one show on 12/31)
# OF DIFFERENT SONGS PLAYED-56
AVERAGE # OF FZ SOLOS PER SHOW- 6 (including "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?")
SONGS FZ WOULD SOLO IN- Andy, Any Downers, Apostrophe ('), Approximate, Big Swifty, Blues Jam, Can't Afford No Shoes, Cosmik Debris, Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?, Dupree's Paradise, Eat That Question(?), Florentine Pogen, Help I'm A Rock, I'm the Slime, Inca Roads, Montana, More Trouble Every Day, Oh No/ Son of Orange County, Penguin in Bondage, Pygmy Twylyte, RDNZL, Road Ladies, Satumaa, Stinkfoot, Willie the Pimp [NOTE: Since Frank was the lone guitarist on this tour, there tends to be guitar where there usually isn't guitar- i.e. when not singing, Frank would occasionally provide some very tasty fills. The songs above are simply the ones that frequently contained a full-blown Frank extravaganza.]
COMMENTS ON FZ SOLOS- This is my favorite tour as far as Zappa guitar playing goes. It is not, I believe, his best tour. He was at his soloing peak in '81/'82, and it is in these tours where I think he produces his most brilliant work. But what I really like about this tour is the casualness in which Frank went about playing his solos. During "Stinkfoot", he would frequently spend half his solo tuning his guitar, incorporating the tuning into the solo, letting the highly skilled band just vamp along behind him. During "Montana" and "More Trouble Every Day", he was in absolutely no hurry to conclude his solo section, and would let Duke solo a little, let Chester dictate the jam into chaotic nonexistence, and even let Brock sing complete nonsense. All of his solos were good- the "Inca Roads" and "RDNZL" being typical Zappa masterpieces, the "Pygmy Twylytes" being dangerously close to straight ahead rock 'n' roll- but the jewels in this tour's crown were undoubtedly the "Dupree Paradise" outings. These solos saw Frank working at a pace more akin to the Grateful Dead than to the Mothers. Frank would typically start off slow and easy, messing around with chords, trilling for bars at a time while the band casually strolled along beside him. After several minutes of this, he would dig in a little bit, ripping off runs, urging the band to pick up the pace a little. Then, bit by bit, he would add a little more to the mix, until he and the band had built up quite a head of steam and were racing towards oblivion. Upon reaching the always spine-tingling climax, Frank would allow us to cool down a bit before returning to "Dupree's" proper. More trilling, more tomfoolery- no hurry to wrap things up. One of the less hurried- and thus for Frank, more unusual- guitar spots that he ever performed. It is this relaxed side to Frank- a side we hardly ever saw- that makes this tour my favorite as far as guitar playing goes.
SONGS THAT FZ USUALLY SOLOED IN BUT DID NOT ON THIS TOUR- None
NEW SONGS ON TOUR (never previously played live)- Apostrophe, The Booger Man, Building A Girl, Can't Afford No Shoes, Dinah-Mo Humm, Flambay, Ol' 55, Pojama People, Room Service, San Ber'dino, Satumaa, Stinkfoot, Tush Tush Tush
MONSTER SONGS- Dupree's Paradise, Big Swifty; There is only one regular Monster Song on this tour, and what a Monster it is. Unfortunately, the one released version we have of this frequent tour-de-force- the YCDTOSA Volume II "Dupree's Paradise"- is probably the weakest of the lot. Throughout the tour, "Dupree's Paradise" gave us The Booger Man, Moon Trek, The Continuing Saga of Marty Perellis, Tom Waits and his jokes, some incredible and some not-so incredible Brock solos, Tom Fowler strutting his stuff, Ruth and Chester beating each other up, and many a very tasty Frank solo. Practically every show that contains this song is worth getting simply because of this tune. "Big Swifty" makes a handful of rare appearances this time round, but the 11/8 version is the only true Monster performance of the song, containing a parade of solos and some frenzied jamming.
OVERVIEW- Can you ever stop heaping praise upon this tour? Just listen to YCDTOSA Volume II, the edited Helsinki concert, and then try to limit yourself to only five words when attempting to convey this band's awesomeness (I never said that this info was objective). There are so many great things about this tour, where do I begin?
The Band- To begin with, Duke is the funkiest keyboard ever to occupy the same stage as FZ. Tom Fowler is the long forgotten and highly underrated bass player; and Ruth, well, what can't you say about Ruth. Just listen to RDNZL, and let the music do the talking. Brock is, well, he's Brock, and was there ever a better one; and let us not forget Chester, who had the greatest drum sound and the most interesting way of providing rhythmic support. Finally, let's not forget the lone guitarist- Mr. Frank Zappa- who sounds like he's having more fun than he's ever had.
The Setlists- While these were not the most diverse setlists, the songs contained within them are all uniformly great. Really, not a throwaway tune in the bunch. Yes, quite a few of them were played at practically every show, but how can you tire of hearing a band this skilled play material this challenged. Either they were demonstrating their expertise in the more limited "Echidna's Arf" and "Dog Breath/Uncle Meat" exercises, or displaying their passion in the many solos of "Cosmik Debris" or "RDNZL". Even the songs we would all eventually grow sick of, like "Camarillo Brillo" and "Dinah-Moe Humm", either contained the energy of youth, as in the former, or some truly hilarious audience participation, as in the latter. And, of course, we have "Dupree's Paradise", which causes this reporter to absolutely melt.
The Attitude- More than any other tour, this band has a definite attitude, or personality. For the most part, these musicians had been playing together, non-stop, for practically a year. They joke with each other on stage, tell stories about their lives away from the stage, and it is obvious from all this that these 6 musicians are very comfortable with each other. Without a doubt, this influences their onstage performance, and gives the music a sense of freedom and spontaneity that is definitely not present on other tours. The YCDTOSA Volume II "Montana" is a perfect example of this. From the jokes about "Whippin' Post" to the tomfoolery that concludes the guitar solo, this performance reminds me of a garage band messing around one afternoon. This band truly could, and frequently did, handle anything.
In my opinion, this is, without a doubt, Frank's greatest tour.
12 INCHES- Refers to the joke that Tom Waits told occasionally throughout the tour, but most notably on the 11/9 late show.[An excellent tape of this exists. He also told the joke on at least one other performance-8/11- but his performance is missing from the circulating tape. Thanks to Biffy for this info, who attended the aforementioned show.] Tom came out during "Dupree's Paradise"- after Duke's improv section and before the main theme- and proceeded to tell two jokes. When Duke concludes his solo, Frank asks where the wino is, referring to Tom, and wonders if he is backstage drinking again. Waits comes onstage, and Frank asks him to sing "the only song of yours that we know" (this song is "Ol 55"; it is performed earlier in the tour, but only the backing music is played here), but Waits insists on telling a couple stories first (they never make it to his song). The first story is a very short joke about Johnny and Roseanne Cash. The second is the 12 Inches joke. Essentially, the joke is a story of a man who goes into a bar and orders a beer, when all of a sudden a 12 inch man jumps out of his pocket. The little man starts running up and down the bar, knocking over beers, throwing pretzels, messing up people's hair, etc. The bartender gets upset, has no success stopping the 12 inch man, so asks his friend to take him and leave. The man does, and returns the next day. Same thing happens- the man sits down and orders a beer, when all of a sudden this 12 inch man jumps out of his shirt pocket. The little man starts running up and down the bar, spilling beer and causing trouble. The bartender gets upset, looks at the man and asks him what's going on. The man tells the story of how he was laying on the beach one day when this bottle of Jose Cuervo washes onto the shore. He rubs it, and POOF, out comes this genie, granting the man one wish. And the man thinks and thinks about what he wants, and in concluding the story tells the bartender, "And I had to get greedy and wish for a 12 Inch Prick, and that's just what I got". Okay joke, but the way Tom Waits tells it is absolutely hilarious.
200 YEARS OLD- Premiered on 11/26, in a very skeletal, but probably superior, version than the one we have on "Bongo Fury". Essentially, this performance consisted of Frank speaking several of the lines from the song, followed by some absolutely wicked and must-hear guitar. While the song itself is nothing special (here or on "Bongo Fury"), the guitar playing that accompanies this live version makes this performance a must-hear. I don't even think Frank is aware that the rest of the band is present, he simply wails away in a metal frenzy. I cannot think of a better way to honor America.
ANDY- Essentially performed as on OSFA, with the only variation being in Frank's solo. Not performed as often on this tour as on the previous two, and would not resurface again until Spring '79.
ANY DOWNERS- One of the many surprises we get towards the latter part of the tour. During his typically insane "Montana" solo during the 11/30 show, Frank tears into the opening "Any Downers" riff, carrying the whole band into a quasi-heavy metal jam. They ride this vamp for around two minutes, before Frank is off again, exploring new musical territory in this smorgasborg solo of melodic teases. It is an excellent and very interesting performance, but amazingly enough, just a mere shadow of the "Any Downers" monsters that would terrorize setlists a year later.
APOSTROPHE (')- This tune was only played several times on this tour, one of the performances being Halloween with Bruce Fowler, and another being 11/23/74, which was, of all shows, the one with Mike Erso on bass (see BAND MEMBERS for details on this). For the shows other than Halloween, the tune is essentially performed as it is on the album- a little rougher around the edges, obviously- with Frank solo only. The Halloween version is especially sweet, though, as it segues out of a Bruce Fowler led "Big Swifty". This holiday version of "Apostrophe" sounds somewhat different than the original, in that there appear to be more written parts. As performed here, the song reminds me of "Son of Mr. Green Genes", with written parts interspersed with solo sections. The 10/31 version is not the monster that "Son" is, but it does have that sort of feel to it.
APPROXIMATE- Quite an event on this tour. In three parts- with words, with feet, and with music. YCDTOSA Volume II gives us a good representation of this. All performances of this were roughly the same, with the only changes really being the Frank cues and remarks made between the songs. Also, part three- the full band with music section- contained improv in both FZ and Duke's solo, and early in the tour, with a short Brock freak-out. Amazingly enough, this song was actually used as a show opener early in the tour.
BABETTE- The version on YCDTOSA Volume I gives us the basic musical structure of this tune. Brock was probably given specific lyrics to sing, but he was undoubtedly given leeway to improvise, as each of the performances is slightly different in lyrical content. Also, I don't believe there was a set length to the song, as some performances run longer than others. In a way, this song is structurally like "Tush Tush Tush", in that each song has the potential to be played forever.
BIG SWIFTY- Played way too infrequently, and the song in its entirety (well, almost- including head and solos, but no return to theme) only known to be played twice (10/31 and 11/8). The Halloween performance of this song was quite a treat, with special guest Bruce "Call Me God" Fowler on trombone. For this performance, the main theme was rather jerky. It seemed underrehearsed and had no real flow to it. At one point, it even sounds like the theme is rewritten, but I think this is more due to the hesitancy and inaccuracy of the performance. Once the head is finished, Fowler takes off into full flight, and we are in improv heaven. Man can this guy blow! Frank follows him with a solo of his own- alternating between biting metal licks and more spacy trilling. Or, as Frank put it, with "just a twinge of psychadelicness... just a twinge". When Frank begins to run out of soloing ideas, he then keeps the energy high by tearing into "Apostrophe". Very sweet. The 11/8 performance runs more along the lines of your typical "Dupree's Paradise", with a parade of solos, some chaotic Zappa conducting, and the culminating guitar solo. A true Monster performance. The final known version of "Big Swifty" is the Helsinki take, which is just the closing theme. Nice, but a beast of a different nature.
BLUES JAM- Several times on this tour, Frank felt like playing the blues, so that's what he did. He would give the band a key, they would start riffing, and he would start laying down some pretty heavy blues licks. Some of the purest music of the tour. See FZPTMOFZ for an excellent example of this occurrence.
BOOGER BEARS- If this tour had a theme, it would be "The Booger Bear". This idea permeated so many songs and so many shows, that I thought I would briefly explain the concept of the Booger Bear. The term refers to the girls that the band met on the road who looked like something that, well, that came from your nose. Towards the beginning of the tour, Frank would have the nightly Booger Bear update, letting the audience know which band member got that best Booger Bear the night before. The Booger Bear update eventually disappeared, but the concept provided some downright silly continuity throughout the tour.
BOOGER MAN, THE- As part of his opening moment-in-the-spotlight before the official start of "Dupree's Paradise", Duke would spin a tale based on the band's experiences on the road. Frequently, these tales would involve Marty and his peculiar fascination with dogs, and from these tales, this song- with everchanging lyrics- would arise out of the jam. In several shows, Duke would spin a different tale, and the band would jam on this same riff, with the lyrics relating some other non-"booger man" story. As this is an improvised event, however, we will include those performances as other performances of this song. In the instance of the actual YCDTOSA Volume IV release, "The Booger Man" is an isolated event, and does not serve as a prelude to "Dupree's Paradise".
BUILDING A GIRL- Always occurring after "Dog Breath> Uncle Meat", this was essentially a "composed-on-the-spot" piece by Frank for flute, percussion, and keyboards. Usually lasting one to two minutes, the piece changed nightly with the whim of its composer, but the overall feel and sound was essentially the same.
CAMARILLO BRILLO- Frank tears into this song- guitar only intro- on this tour. This song never sounded meaner. Essentially the same up to the first repeated verse (where it slows down on YCDTOSA Volume VI), except for this tour, Frank would instruct Duke "To get funky now", and George would lead us into Keyboard Funkytown, with Frank infrequently giving us a closing guitar solo. This song was played with much energy on this tour, and was not the "by-the-numbers" event that it would become on later tours.
CAN"T AFFORD NO SHOES- As far as I know, this is only performed twice. It premieres on 9/25/74 (the same show as the only performance of "Flambay"), and was performed as "Ralphie Stuffs His Shoes". Essentially the same music, but the lyrics were changed and were about Ralph Humphrey, who- so the song goes- stuffed his shoes. Definitely worth hearing. The song later reappears on 12/31, with the lyrics that would later resurface on OSFA, plus special guest Bird Legs and a healthy dose of guitar based boogie.
CARAVAN- Yes, with a drum solo, though its not much of a drum solo as the entire performance only lasts about 30 seconds A one-time-only event for this tour (7/21/74).
CHEEPNIS- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume II. Brock's vocals after "the monster is approaching the airport" section are improvised, however. He was free to say what he wanted, while the band grooved along as they do at Helsinki. Only performed a handful of times, this was probably a song Frank never got comfortable with. On every subsequent tour since its premiere, its arrangement changed quite drastically, and then, when it finally seemed to gel with this tour, it disappears.
COSMIK DEBRIS- Did this song ever change? Well, the "the price of meat" section did, which for this tour was essentially the "Apostrophe" version. Also, the solo section over the years had its many changes, and for this tour, we got a full-blown, "everybody-gets-a-chance" solo spotlight. Brock would go first, then Duke, and FZ would bring the proceedings to a close.
DICKIE'S SUCH AN ASSHOLE- The specter of Nixon haunts yet another tour. Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume III, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation, and with the standard deviation coming in Duke's solos.
DINAH-MO HUMM- The first half of this song is performed as it was always played, with the only difference being a slow, dramatic reading of the "I can't get into it." section. Then, after Frank's spoken interlude about the sisters, Frank would have a little "audience participation". He would encourage the audience to make their own Sex Noises, and would lead the band in a VERY LOUD funk vamp while the audience did so. You may not like this song, but the VERY LOUD vamp was always interesting, and in my opinion, is worth sitting through the song for.
DOG BREATH/UNCLE MEAT- Played as on YCDTOSA Volume II, with the only difference being the tempo of the pieces (occasionally played quite a bit faster). For me, this little medley represents the main reason why I like this tour so much better than all other '73 and '74 tours. Apart from the Spring '74 band, all other bands in this era performed this medley, and to my ears, performed it nowhere near as well. Technically speaking, the '73 performances are probably better, but energy wise, this band is where it is at. The other performances come across as cold exercises in technical wizardry- you cannot help but sit back and go "Wow." But these performances are not about the amazing skills of the band (which are truly amazing), but about the warmth and energy and simple good feeling that shoots through the music. These performances are fun. Earlier versions make you respect the band. These versions make you want to get up and dance. That is one of the reasons why I love this band so much.
DON'T EAT THE YELLOW SNOW- Arranged somewhat differently on this tour than on the official release and on subsequent tours. Essentially, it was the hyperactive, lots of extraneous music version. It starts off as normal until the conclusion of the first vocal line. But after this line, and almost every subsequent line, the band would play the opening theme of the song, but in a very loud, very overdone style. After playing this theme, the next line would be sung, then the aforementioned theme, then a line, etc., until we reach "Nanook". Interesting. This song was always played as part one of the four part "Don't Eat" suite.
DON'T YOU EVER WASH THAT THING?- Played as on YCDTOSA Volume II. The part where Frank says "Watch Ruth" changed nightly, and would include a different joke about or referring to Ruth. My favorite is from 11/17/74 ["Ladies and Gentleman, watch Ruth. All through the show... Ruth has been thinking...Ruth has been thinking!... All through the show!... All through the show Ruth has been thinking!!"]
DUPREE'S PARADISE- This was the Fall' 74 monster, and sadly, the YCDTOSA Volume II version is the worst of the tour. For the most part, each "Dupree's" followed the same pattern>
Intro by Duke- with nightly updates, road stories, keyboard noises, and random band orchestration by Frank; contained "The Booger Man" jam in several of the November shows. Without a doubt, the highlight of any '74 show is the transition riff from George's intro into "Dupree's Paradise" proper.
Main Theme- as on YCDTOSA Volume II
Brock solo- either flute or alto sax; backing varied depending on Frank's command
Bass solo- again, Frank dictated the backing rhythm and frequently orchestrated the band
Bass/Drum/Percussion duet- do you need this explained?
FZ solo- band usually returned to opening chord of main theme and the solo was built on this. In my opinion, these were the best solos of the tour.
In the earlier performances of this song, the solo structure was not as clear cut, with Duke occasionally getting another opportunity to display his wares within the body of the song. This song is the event of the tour. Every band member had an opportunity to freak (at great length), George's opening monologues/solos were frequently hilarious and downright funky, and Frank's guitar playing is in a whole other dimension.
EAT THAT QUESTION- Another treat brought to us by the end of the tour. The last song played on the last day of the "official" tour. I have yet to hear this, so I cannot really descibe it, and unfortunately, those of you who have heard it probably cannot describe it either as I heard the tape sounds horrible. But anyone who attempts to do so will win Bronco's new "Bondage in a Bottle". [Jon Naurin wins, with this lil' bit of info- "Cleveland 12/1/74: was very curious to hear what "Eat that Question" would sound like. Much to my disappointment, Montana led into the usual finger-cymbal jam, which went on while the tape was running out. Then, suddenly, the band steers into the Eat that Question riff, majestetic as always. After 50 secs, just when FZ is about to start soloing, the tape ends. And I'm left in frustration."]
ECHIDNA'S ARF (OF YOU)- Played as on YCDTOSA Volume II. Essentially the same nightly
FATHER O'BLIVION- Essentially played as on "Apostrophe". Always played as part four of the four part "Don't Eat" suite. During the "Good morning, your highness" section, the band would continue to vamp on this theme once the vocals were sung, at which point Frank would usually make the closing band introductions, or annnounce a segue into the next song.
FLAMBAY- This was a treat. Only performed once-ever- on 9/25/74, with Duke on vocals. At this concert, the song arose out of the ashes of a "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?" drum solo. Frank starts messing around with his guitar- playing chords- and distinctly plays the opening riff of "Zoot Allures". He messes around with this theme for about thirty seconds, before the whole band jumps headfirst into "Flambay". Upon finishing the song, the band makes a somewhat ricketey but very interesting segue back into the closing riff of "Echdina's Arf (of You)"
FLORENTINE POGEN- By this tour, this song had developed into what we have on "OSFA". The only difference is that live, we have a guitar solo. This latter portion of the song, apart from the solo itself and the lack of horns, was composed and played as it was for the '88 tour, a version of which can be found on TBBYNHIYL.
GEORGE DUKE IMPROVISATIONS- This "song", and others with similar titles, appear on many tapes and setlists. Usually, this refers to George Duke's "moment-in-the-spotlight" synthesizer freak-out that he got at the beginning of "Dupree's Paradise." See YCDTOSA Volume II for a very lame version of such. Also, "The Booger Man" from YCDTOSA Volume IV is another, much better, example of a "George Duke Improvisation".
HELP I'M A ROCK- During the absolutely incredible 8/11 show (documented on an absolutely horrible tape), Frank whips out this '60's classic, and turns in one of the most inspired performances of a consistently inspired tour. The song is essentially performed as on "Freak Out!", with an extra verse of Nixon-esque "Help I'm Not A Crook" thrown in for good measure. Frank even throws in an extensive guitar solo a la the Sixties, complete with some "Transylvania Boogie-ish" style riffs. This leads to a short Duke solo, a short Thompson solo, and then a segue into special guest Tom Waits "Ol' 55". Unfortunately, the tape is edited here, and when we return, Waits has already left the stage, and the band is once again jamming on the "Help I'm A Rock" riff. This is very, very sweet. Anyone who can tolerate less than average sound must make it a top priority to acquire this tape.
HOW COULD I BE SUCH A FOOL?- Essentially played as on "Unmitigated Audacity" from Beat the Boots Volume one, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation. This was a leftover from the previous "Ten Years of Mother's" tour that appeared sporadically throughout the beginning months of the tour.
IDIOT BASTARD SON- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume II. At one particularly silly show (7/20), the song became "That Arrogant Dick Nixon", yet another tune inspired by the Watergate situation. Same music as above, with rewritten lyrics. The song was performed as usual for the rest of the tour, though it did transform into an Arrogant Dick tribute at least one more time on 12/31.
I'M NOT SATISFIED- Quite a treat. Rather short, quick run-through of this song, but very enjoyable nonetheless. Essentially played as on "Freak Out", allowing for the obvious differences in instrumentation. The only real difference between the two versions is the opening segment. The guitar riff in the '74 version is a lot more pronounced and frantic than the studio version, and personally reminds me of the intro to "Dead Girls of London".
I'M THE SLIME- Essentially performed as on OS, with the only improv occurring in FZ's solo. There is no opening guitar frenzy in the one version I have heard.
INCA ROADS- Played as on YCDTOSA Volume II, with the only improv occurring in both FZ and Duke's solos. There's not much I can really say about this song that can do it justice, so I won't. Notable Performances- December KCET [love those noises].
IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE- Essentially performed as on "Unmitigated Audacity", allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation, and with the standard deviation coming in the somewhat improvised, and disappointingly weak, vocals.
JAZZ ALLURES- Not an actual song, just Frank messing around with the "Zoot Allures" chords during the 9/25 show.
LET'S MAKE THE WATER TURN BLACK- Another holdover from the "Ten Years of Mothers" tour. This tune was essentially performed as on "Unmitigated Audacity" from Beat the Boots Volume one, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation.
LOUIE LOUIE- Yes, it pops its teenage head up once again. Just Frank being Frank, so whether it be as a stand alone song, or incorporated within another tune, "Louie Louie" made its requisite appearance.
MONTANA- Essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volume II, although the "thrilling conclusion" to the song was usually played. The solos were routinely excellent, and frequently dissolved into complete randomness thanks to Chester's interesting drum accompianment. Vocal changes were usually minimal ("I'm moving to..."), and no versions ever reached the extremes of the unbeatable Helsinki version.
MORE TROUBLE EVERY DAY- Essentially played as on "Roxy and Elsewhere", with the main variation coming in Frank's solo. Like in subsequent years, the lyrics would also frequently be changed to update the audience on band happenings.Notable Performance- 11/17/74 [Monster jam, with "Any Downers" riff; song never finished]
MUDSHARK- Yes, ladies and gentleman, the dance that is sweeping across the Atlantic, swept into San Diego one August night (where's the Navy when you need them?) and corrupted the minds of a whole new generation. It is essentially performed as in '71 and '73- the only difference being the spontaneous FZ- conducted improv. The story is the same, and Frank even has the audience singing "mud-sh-sh-sh-shaaaark." We even find out that the Mudshark Treatment has been repeatedly used on Ruth.
NANOOK RUBS IT- Essentially performed as on "Apostrophe", with the standard variation in Frank's limited guitar fills, and in Duke's and Brock's comments. Unlike the YCDTOSA Volume I version, no audience participatipion. Always played as part two of the four part "Don't Eat" Suite.
NITE OWL- Performed twice on this tour, both times with special guest Lance Loud (of the TV show "The American Family") doing the vocals. Unlike the 80's versions of this tune, this performance is a lot bluesier, with more of a hard-core, slow blues sound. It is NOT upbeat like the version that Frank would occasionally play on his early 80's tours. [Sean Gaffney was unfortunate to remember "The American Family" show. It was a "rather cruel show that purported to broadcast the everyday lives of an average American family for 13 weeks. By the end of the series, the son had come out, the daughter was pregnant, and the parents were divorced". A true American classic.]
OH NO/ SON OF ORANGE COUNTY- Essentially played as on "Roxy and Elsewhere", allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation, and with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. Occasionally, the lyrics would fall victim to the whims of Frank and Napoleon, and thus we got versions about politics, and also versions about chord changes. This was another song on this tour where Frank's solos were typically ferocious. He alternated between a clean and distorted sound, and typically worked the rhythm section into a frenzy before segueing into "Son of Orange County."
OL '55- The Mother's played this Tom Waits' tune one time only- on 8/11- with Tom Waits sitting in and doing the vocals. I do not know much about the performance, but Biffy the Elephant Shrew attended this show, and filled me in on this missing piece of info. Also, during Tom Waits' "12 Inches" joke on 11/9, this song is played as the backing for the joke, but the song itself is never actually performed.
PENGUIN IN BONDAGE- Essentially played as on TBBYNHIYL (the "Roxy" version is edited). The solo section, however, was not limited to 16 bars as on the '84 and '88 tours, but was essentially limitless, though the rhythm section was fairly under control.
POJAMA PEOPLE- This song was played MUCH slower on this tour than in the version on OSFA. It debuts on the European portion of the tour as a painfully slow and very uninteresting number (even as a historical comparison, the first performance sucks.) The tempo picks up slightly over the course of its several performances, but never really gains much speed. For the most part, it is a keyboard and drums affair, with very little of that biting guitar that we have in the OSFA version. Hence, the song had a very laid-back, slow blues sort-of feel to it. Frank would solo, and provide minimal rhythmic support to George's keyboard solos, but none of those wicked, composed runs found in the studio take. THAT IS, however, until the Mini-monster performance found during the 11/30 show. At the end of Frank's somewhat short solo, Frank hesitantingly begins playing the melodic lines we know from OSFA, with Duke hesitatingly joining in. Frank continues teasing the riffs, Duke continues to follow, and although they never achieve the power and precision found on the studio take, the results are quite musical. Not only that, but this seems to spurn on Frank's quest for improvisation, as this performance takes us into improvisational heaven. Duke solos, Brock solos, Ruth solos, an audience members lectures us on music, Fowler solos, and then musical chaos ensues as Frank leads the band through some random orchestrations on their way back to the mellow, laid back ending. A perfect ending for this song's way too short live career. Thus, over the course of the tour, we find that Frank's solos are not much to listen to at first, but that with each subsequent performance, Frank gets more comfortable with the song's rhythm and changes, and his solos come to have a little more bite to them. Then, without warning, the final performance erupts into a shower of improvisational heaven.
PYGMY TWYLYTE- Essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volume II, with the only variation coming in Frank's solo. The meltdown and reemergence of the theme at the end of the song appear to be written out, as they occurred in each performance. For the first several weeks of the tour, this tune is performed as on the previous tours, i.e. the fast version, with the "Dummy Up" funk jam in the middle where Nappy improvises the lyrics while the band funks away. This changed once the band reached Europe, and became the guitar solo vehicle we have on the Stage series.
RALPH STUFFS HIS SHOES- On 9/25, Frank premiered "Can't Afford No Shoes"- the music; the lyrics, however, were something different altogether. Yes, they were about dear ol' Ralph Humphrey, and concerned a peculiar habit he had of stuffing his shoes. Huh.
RASHID (GLORIA)- In response to an audience member requesting "Louie Louie", Frank takes a poll to find out if the audience would actually like to hear "Louie Louie". When they loudly cheer "No!", Frank replies "How about Gloria?", and without hesitation, the band tears into the song. I don't know if Brock knew the original lyrics or not, but all he really sings is "Rashid" over and over again. Then Frank informs us that it is the band's duty to report to the audience on the events of the previous night in the hotel, and that this is such a report (which he refers to as the "Booger Bear report"). He then tells us a short little story about "one of the girls in the band", a bag of Fritos, the Hitachi penguin, and a vibrator. Upon concluding this strange and somewhat amusing tale, Frank instructs the band to "take it away", and they dutifully finish the song.
RDNZL- No band played this song better (sorry '82). Ruth's performance in the beginning of the song is a Percussion Wonder of the World. Frank never fails to achieve greatness when soloing, and Duke funks the hell out of his solo section. Essentially the same as the Helsinki version, with the opening segment more closely resembling the "Lost Episodes" version during the opening weeks of the tour. Thus, instead of Ruth's slow, mesmerizing solo, we get an active, fast paced, somewhat shorter solo before the segue into Frank's solo. This changed by Europe, and became the classic intro of the YCDTOSA Volume II version. Throughout the tour, there are frequent changes in the vocal part of the "We Can Build A Love" section, with my personal favorite being- in reference to Marty Perellis- "Every Holiday Inn has a kennel in the back of... except where prohibited by law."
ROAD LADIES- From tapes and setlists I've seen, this was a one-time-only event as far as this tour goes. Performed as an encore on July 17th in Phoenix, this is the heavy blues version we know and love, complete with guitar solo, and with a little '74 humor- all directed at Marty- thrown in just to be safe.
ROOM SERVICE- Basic structure as on YCDTOSA Volume II. Obviously, this song changed with each performance, as the words reflected the happenings of the band. This song was always preceded by "Pygmy Twylyte" (but not vice-versa), and did not appear until the European portion of the tour.
RUTHIE RUTHIE- A one time only performance (11/8), represented in all its glory on YCDTOSA I. At the request of an audience member, Frank decides to play "Louie Louie", conceding to all in attendance that they might as well play it since they are "only in Passaic". Ruth begins the festivities with a short percussion rendition of the tune, before we get the full blown "Ruthie Ruthie" version.
SAN BER'DINO- Makes it's glorious premiere on New Year's, with the music sounding essentially the same- well-rehearsed if not a little more racuous- but the lyrics are quite different. To begin with, they are in the first person ("only one shower, but it don't apply to me"), and thus there is absolutely no mention of Potato-headed Bobby. Definitely worth hearing. [Thanks to Jon Naurin for info then tape]
SATUMAA- A Finnish Tango-performed only once- but NOT on 9/22 during the course of the infamous Helsnki concert. It was actually performed at an unannounced free concert that Zappa performed the following evening at the same venue. It was obviously lifted from FZ's tape of that performance and grafted on to his compilation of the TWO concerts performed on 9/22. But considering Frank's success record at acurately identifying dates, it's possible that he was unaware that it was from a different night, and might have believed it was from one of the two 9/22 shows.
SON OF MR. GREEN GENES- This song is known to have been performed once on this tour, as an encore to the recently surfaced 7/5 St. Louis show. Apart from some typical '74 madness featuring Ruth- which ends the song in inspired fashion- there is not much to this rather tossed-off rendition. The pace is quite fast, and the two featured solos- Brock and Duke- have a very rushed feel to them. This is nothing spectacular, but it is nice to know that Frank at least gave the tune one last shot.
ST. ALPHONSO'S PANCAKE BREAKFAST- We love you Ruth! Essentially played as on "Apostrophe", with Ruth the Goddess playing some absolutely spellbinding percussion. Always played as part three of the four part "Don't Eat" Suite. In a couple of the earlier performances of this, it is played at a very slow pace, though with essentially the same arrangement.
STINKFOOT- Except for a handful of shows in the beginning of the tour, this song always followed "Tush Tush Tush" as the second song of each concert. Like that song, this also fell victim to wordplay and nightly updates, and maintained a particular liveliness thanks to the Perellis situation. The "Come here, Fido" portion usually contained some interesting moments, and over the course of the tour, Frank's solos ranged from brilliant to pointless. Interestingly, Frank did a lot of tuning in these solos. Also, the performances towards the beginning of the tour were a lot more guitar dominated, especially in the pre-vocals opening section. The 7/21 performance- the second ever- is a veritable monster, with some of the most serious, no-nonsense "Stinkfoot" soloing you will ever hear. These early performances were also a lot more vocal oriented, with extended Frank rants on Booger Bears, Marty Perellis, and, of course, dogs. CARLOS SANTANA CONCEPTUAL CONTINUITY CLUE- During the 7/20 premiere performance of this tune, Frank says, in his diseases of the foot rant, that you, the audience member, think "you are cool coz' you got a Santana album". Why?
T'MERSHI DUWEEN- Essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volume II, with the only variation being tempo.
TUSH TUSH TUSH (A TOKEN OF MY EXTREME)- Probably the most performed song of the Fall '74 tour, as it was used to open and usually close almost every show (except for a handful of shows at the beginning of the tour). The tune was performed differently each night, and was sort of a Nightly Update on the band's happenings. While the musical structure of the tune was essentially the same nightly (although it would vary in length), the vocal content was different. Duke and Brock would comment on whatever strange things were happening with the band, poke fun at Ruth and Chester, and update us on the continuing saga of Marty Perellis. In my opinion, always funny and a great way to start each show.
VILLAGE OF THE SUN- Played as on YCDTOSA Volume II, with the only improv occurring in Brock's solo (and even then...).
WILLIE THE PIMP- A rare treat, played the way it should have always been played (hear that, '84 band). Wicked guitar intro, wicked lyrics, wicked guitar solo- a not a trace of reggae anywhere in site. Only played once- on 7/7.
WOWIE ZOWIE- Another leftover from the "Ten Years of Mothers" tour. This was essentially played as on "Unmitigated Audacity" from Beat the Boots volume one, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation.
ZOOT ALLURES- Not actually played, but the opening chords were teased frequently by Frank throughout the tour, especially in is "Dupree's Paradise" solos. The most obvious "Zoot" tease, however, came in a post- "Don't You Ever" jam, which segued rather beautifully into the only ever performance of "Flambay". This occurred on 9/25, and their exists a rather sweet copy of this in the taping community.
Well, what can I say. I love it. I think FZ had an incredibly strong suite of bands from Feb 1973 'til Dec 1974. Though these bands resemble each other, the final line-up is the least terrific to me. Probably because I dig Humphrey better than Thompson, and I miss the bigger horn sections from previous bands. But anyway I regard this as one of FZ's 5 best line-ups ever. FZ never seemed more comfortable with any other band, and this really reflects in their output. I love the interplay between FZ/Brock/Duke.