BAND MEMBERS- FZ, Steve Vai (stunt guitar, sitar, spankings), Ray White (vocals, guitar), Scott Thunes (bass), Chad Wackerman (drums), Ed Mann (percussion, vocals, Mystery Words, Dylan), Tommy Mars (keyboards), Bobby Martin (keyboards, sax)
SPECIAL GUESTS- Dweezil Zappa, Moon Unit Zappa
DATES- May 5th- July 13th
COUNTRIES- 13 (all European)
# OF DIFFERENT SONGS PLAYED-79
AVERAGE SHOW LENGTH- 115 minutes
AVERAGE # OF FZ SOLOS PER SHOW- 10 to 11 (10.5)
SONGS FZ WOULD SOLO IN- Advance Romance, Alien Orifice, Bamboozled By Love, Black Napkins, The Black Page #2, Carolina Hard-Core Ecstasy, Chunga's Revenge, City of Tiny Lites, Clownz on Velvet, Cosmik Debris, Drowning Witch, Dumb All Over, Easy Meat, Heavy Duty Judy, Illinois Enema Bandit, In France, King Kong, Let's Move to Cleveland, Mammy Anthem, Marqueson's Chicken, Muffin Man, Nig Biz, Outside Now, Packard Goose, Pound for a Brown (on the Bus), RDNZL, Ride My Face to Chicago, Sharleena, Sinister Footwear, Stevie's Spanking, Stinkfoot, Treacherous Cretins, Truckdriver Divorce, Watermelon in Easter Hay, What's New in Baltimore?, Whippin' Post, Zomby Woof, Zoot Allures
COMMENTS ON FZ SOLOS- This was Frank's last great tour as far as guitar playing goes. I personally believe that this was the peak year in his guitar soloing career- a claim with which you may or may not agree. Regardless of that, however, I think most of us will readily concede that as far as the '84 and '88 tours go, Frank came nowhere near matching the intensity on those tours that he had on this outing. "The Black Page #2", "Drowning Witch", "Easy Meat", "Let's Move To Cleveland", and "Sinister Footwear"- those 5 songs alone contain enough mind boggling solos to please the most ardent Zappa fan for years to come. Not only was Zappa in top form, but the rest of the band- especially Thunes and Wackerman- seemed to explode with intensity. Just listen to Zappa's playing on YCDTOSA Volume V. It's insane, and half of those solos are only average performances for this tour. Even the songs that would grow quite old by the end of '88- "Advance Romance", "City of Tiny Lites", "Sharleena", "What's New in Baltimore?", "Zoot Allures"- have an intensity on this tour that makes you sit up and go wow! (especially "Sharleena".) And let's not forget Vai. Whether you like him or not, I think it is safe to assume that Vai's presence on this tour triggered something in Frank. A desire to show off? To take chances? To really go out on a limb? Frank's solos have an experimental edge to them that, mixed with the incredibly high energy of his playing, create some of the most "what the hell?" guitar solos that Frank ever produced. For his guitar playing alone, a great Frank Zappa tour.
SONGS THAT FZ USUALLY SOLOED IN BUT DID NOT ON THIS TOUR- Approximate (no solo), Montana (no solo since '77))
NEW SONGS ON TOUR (played for 1st time live)- Mammy Anthem, Marqueson's Chicken, Ride My Face to Chicago
MONSTER SONGS- King Kong, Pound for a Brown. These two were played in typical Monster song style this time out. Percussion solos, keyboard solos, scat, Mystery Words, special guests, and, of course, Frank bringing the proceedings to a close with a monster guitar solo.
OVERVIEW- This tour ranks as one of Frank's best for three simple reasons- one, excellent guitar playing; two, very solid and consistent setlists; and three, an incredibly talented band. I have already ranted and raved about FZ's guitar playing, so I don't really feel the need to go over that again (You're welcome!). I will just say that with the exception of Fall '74 (which simply has an unusually relaxed feel to it), and Fall '81, this is, to my ears, Frank's best guitar playing tour.
The setlists- Look at the list of songs played on this tour, and tell me, where are the weaknesses? This tour saw a handful of relatively rare pieces appear and shine in all their glory (well, almost)- "Sofa", "RDNZL", "Packard Goose", "Clownz on Velvet", "Approximate", "Zomby Woof", and the cream de la creme, "Strictly Genteel". We get three new songs that consistently contained some of Frank's most volatile guitar work- "Mammy Anthem", "Marqueson's Chicken", and "Truckdriver Divorce". The tired, old songs- the ones that have been around for ever, or at least seem to have been- were infused with a double dose of energy, especially "Advance Romance", "The Black Page", and "Zoot Allures". Most importantly, we get several leftovers from the '81 tour- "Drowning Witch", "What's New in Baltimore?", "Sinister Footwear", "Alien Orifice"- that not only rank as some of the best pieces that Frank ever wrote, but continually contained some of his most inspired and frenetic guitar work. Combine these songs with the best of the "You Are What You Is" lot, throw in a number of lesser but in no way uninspired tunes, do your best to vary the setlists nightly (and succeed), and you get one very consistent and excellently performed tour.
The Band- Do I really need to go into how incredibly talented this group of musicians is? Not only could they perform almost any piece of music Frank threw at them (apart from "Drowning Witch"), they were all comfortable "out there"- in improvisational no-man's land. Vai went head-to-head with Frank on many an occasion, Eddie did his thing, Tommy and Bobby battled it out with keyboards and scat, and even Ray occasionally got in on the jamming action. This band was the best of both worlds. They were expert marksmen- able to nail down the most difficult of tunes over and over again- and they were inspired craftsmen- able to take their instrument and create something out of nothing. This contrast in styles- which Frank took advantage of in composing the setlists- provides a sense of contrast and relief (YCDTOSA criteria number 7) that makes this one of the most interesting tours to listen to. In my opinion, easily one of Frank's top five tours.
ADVANCE ROMANCE- Essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volume V, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. In my opinion, this was the best guitar solo vamp that this song ever witnessed. "Jim and Tammy's Upper Room" from "Guitar" is an "Advance Romance" extract.
ALIEN ORIFICE- Essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volume VI, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo.
APPROXIMATE- This song was performed in two different ways on this tour. One, it was performed as a stand alone song, essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume IV, with the standard deviation coming in the improvised vocals. Two, it was performed as a part of "Tinseltown Rebellion". For the earliest portion of the tour, the musical accompianment to the "Did you know that in Tinseltown...?" section of the aforementioned tune was actually "Approximate". Frank would sing the "Tinseltown" lines as normal, and the band would play a strictly instrumental version of "Approximate." Once the vocals were complete, the band would then return to the fanfare conclusion of "Tinseltown". Sometime in mid-May, however, Frank dropped the TR lyrics during this section, and instead of singing over "Approximate", we would receive an actual performance of "Approximate", and TR would stand complete as is.
BAMBOOZLED BY LOVE- Essentially played as on "Tinseltown Rebellion", allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation, and with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. Bobby handled the vocal chores on this one. The guitar solo vamp transformed into horrible reggae, which interrupted the flow of the song, but did not seem to prevent Frank from playing some mean solos, nonetheless.
BEAUTY KNOWS NO PAIN- Essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volume III. Always played as part three of that particular four song, YAWYI suite. Frank's "Hi'ya girls" line was subject to change at the whim of Frank.
BLACK NAPKINS- Essentially played as on the '88 tour, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation, and with the standard deviation coming in the Frank-only guitar solo. For this tune, the band would play the opening vamp for approximately thirty seconds- sort-of a little warm-up- before playing the main theme. Frank would solo after the theme, and the band would return back to the theme once Frank's solo was complete.
BLACK PAGE #2, THE- A guitar monster. Essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volume V, with the standard deviation coming in the monster guitar solo/jam. The vamp for this tour was the "Them Or Us" version, and I don't know what it is about this vamp, but it never failed to produce guitar madness. These solo sections remind me of waves hitting the coast during a particularly bad storm. The waves are all essentially the same, but they each have their own traits, and do their own damage. More importantly, each wave adds to the overall effect of the damage, producing potentially massive changes in the coastline. Likewise, the "Black Page" Them or Us solos. Yes, the same vamp is repeated over and over, but each separate section of the vamp has its own traits, and adds its own little flavor to the jam. Again, more importantly, each section adds to the overall effect of the jam, numbing the listener into a state of complete surrender. This allows Frank to solo like a madman, producing potentially massive changes in the way you view the world. However, I digress. Seriously, though, just listen to the aforementioned release (which truly is one of the better BP outings), and you get an idea of the kind of mania that this song included. Also, "Move It or Park It", "Which One Is It?", and "Do Not Try This At Home" from the "Guitar" album are all "The Black Page #2" extracts.
BLUE LIGHT, THE- Essentially played as on "Tinseltown Rebellion", allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation, and with the standard deviation coming in Frank's middle-of-the-song tirade. Like "Billy the Mountain" years earlier, Frank incorporated knowledge of local areas and daily band happenings into his vocal parts, giving each performance its own unique flavor despite the similarities in music and structure.
BOBBY BROWN GOES DOWN- Imagine a world where this song was once- possibly twice- performed differently. Too hard to imagine? Hurting your brain? Okay, forget about it then. It's not like that ever would have happened, so...
BROKEN HEARTS ARE FOR ASSHOLES- The basic structure of this song is the same as on "Sheik Yerbouti". Unfortunately, however, there are some minor changes that really affect the mood of the tune. Things start off as normal, with the aggressive guitar riff. But almost immediately, things start to look bad as Terry Ted's aggressive "Hey! Do you know what you are?" taunt becomes a keyboard driven, whiny little tease. Same lyrics, just a completely different attitude. The verses follow-performed as always- but with a differently arranged chorus. Again, same lyrics, but this time accompanied by an overplayed, metal-tinged swing groove, which, by the way, works. Back to the annoying whine, normal verse, swing chorus. The middle spoken section is also performed as normal (but lacks O'Hearn's frequently hilarious remarks), with an added disco vamp following the "work the wall with Michael" line. Finally, the conclusion of the song also takes us through familiar territory. Overall, the satirically played swing vamp in the chorus works, but the wimpy pre-verse yell and the absence of O'Hearn cause this version to suffer. Definitely worth hearing, as it is stylistically quite different from the majority of the material, but not as strong as the '70's version.
CAMARILLO BRILLO- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume VI, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation, with the normal first half/ arena- rock-slow second half.
CAROLINA HARD-CORE ECSTASY- A special treat that rear its head (stomped its feet?) only once this time out. Essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volume IV, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation, and with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo.
CHARLIE'S ENORMOUS MOUTH- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume III. This song was always played as part four of that particular YAWYI four part suite.
CHUNGA'S REVENGE- Essentially performed as a show opening, guitar solo vehicle. The song begins rather calmly, with the bass-prominent main theme and no abrupt guitar intro as on the studio release. Once the main theme is played through, then we get the aforementioned guitar part, which drops us off into Frank's solo. Upon the conclusion of the solo, the bass theme would then be used as the vamp for the band introductions.
CITY OF TINY LITES- A monster version of this tune, essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volume V, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo, and in the conducted-by-Frank theatrics of the post-solo section. Throughout the tour, there were standard vamps and musical dramatics that the band would perform in the post solo section, but the order, length, and arrangement of these parts were not the same nightly. Frank reconstructed the song at each performance, maintaining a slight regularity, but not simply repeating the same dramatics in each performance. The guitar solo in this version contains the "Carlos Santana Secret Chord Progression" solo vamp, and "That Ol' G Minor Thing Again" from the "Guitar" album is a "City of Tiny Lites" extract.
CLOSER YOU ARE, THE- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume IV, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation.
CLOWNZ ON VELVET- Essentially performed as an instrumental version of the "Thingfish" track, with the inclusion of a Frank guitar solo. The entire song is played once through (with not as much emphasis on Ed's percussion as on the studio track), before Frank steps up and takes a quite lengthy solo over an active vamp and rhythm section. Upon the conclusion of his solo, the song is played once again, and then it ends. An excellent version of an oft overlooked song, and another "why wasn't this on the Stage series" candidate.
COCAINE DECISIONS- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume III, minus the gas bombs and pleas for calm.
COSMIK DEBRIS- Essentially played as always, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's guitar solo. Unfortunately, we get the reggae-tinged "price of meat" section, made so unpopular by the '84 band.
DANCING FOOL- Did we really need this song released on YCDTOSA Volume V? Did this song ever change? How many people know what Kinishinai means? Your place or mine? [Okay, so it was played faster this time out. But was that an artistic decision, or Frank being merciful? But, to be honest, if I was forced to listen to any particular version of this song, I would go with this one- thanks to the speed of the performance and Vai's metal flourishes.]
DEAD GIRLS OF LONDON- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume V.
DISCO BOY- Esentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume IV.
DOREEN- Esssentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume V.
DROWNING WITCH- Essentially performed as on SATLTSADW, with the standard deviation coming in both of Frank's solos; and since Frank claims that no live band ever performed this classic correctly, we also get the standard deviation in the errors that were inevitably made. For this tour and the Fall' 81 outing, this song was a guaranteed show stopper as far as guitar solos go. I do not know what it is about this song, but Frank never failed to produce brilliance for these solos, as "St. Etienne" from "Jazz from Hell", and "Do Not Pass Go", "Were We Ever Really Safe in San Antonio?" and "But Who was Fulcanelli?" from "Guitar", easily prove. Approximately a month into the tour, Frank brought some changes to the song, dropping the "meltdown" vocal section, and creating an immediate segue into the post-"Rite of Spring" musical section. Plus, as Patrick Buzby points out, around this time Frank also turned the first solo section into more of a "free jazz" section, ditching the 9/8 vamp and loosening things up a little.
DUMB ALL OVER- Essentially performed as on "Have I Offended Someone?", allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation, and with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. This is one of the reasons why tape collecting was so essential for the Frank Freak- in order to hear one of Frank's typically kickin' DAO solos. Why he chose to edit these solos out of both the YCDTOSA and YAWYI CD versions, we may never know. But thankfully, Ryko has saw fit to see to it that we get our DAO solo, and now everybody is happy.
EASY MEAT- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume V, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. Another song that was in peak form on this tour. The Vai/Mars combination on the pre-solo "classical" part is deadly, and Frank's solos were simply all over the place. These solo sections remind me of tornados (this is not my original analogy, but it was the only one I could think of that was not strictly American). When you view a tornado, there are two you things you will notice- one, that it is moving forward in some direction (it is NOT motionless), and two, that it is centered around one spot (although that spot is moving.) Likewise, the "Easy Meat" solo sections. They are definitely moving forward (they are NOT static guitar solos), and they are centered around one spot, namely Frank's guitar; and although in both cases you are definitely concentrating on the motion of that one spot, you frequently find yourself distracted by other things. In the case of a tornado, you see random pieces of debris frequently fly out of the tornado funnel itself. Your eye is not concentrating on these pieces, but you cannot help but notice them. Likewise with the "Easy Meat" solos. Your ear is concentrating on Frank's guitar playing, but you cannot help but notice the musical debris continuously being thrown at you. Wackerman's brilliant drum work, Thunes' off-the-wall rhythmic support, Mars silly little keyboard riffs, or Vai's occasional but always effectual stunt work. However, I digress. This is a very active and unrestricted solo section, and if it had an actual physical presence, the wake of destruction it would leave behind would prove to be quite costly.
ENVELOPES- Essentially performed as on SATLTSADW.
FINE GIRL- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume I, with Bobby's beautiful falsetto floating through the latter half of the proceedings.
FLAKES- Essentially performed as on "Sheik Yerbouti", allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation. Ed Mann did the Dylan routine instead of the long departed Belew, with the line about wanting to buy some Mandies actually being "Wanna buy some acid, Bob?"
GOBLIN GIRL- Essentially performed as on YAWYI- the first half only, unfortunately. Precisely at the point where the song would segue into the transcendent multi-vocal section, Frank would conclude this tour's version of this piece and head straight into the transcendent multi-rhythm section of the show known as "The Black Page #2".
HARDER THAN YOUR HUSBAND- Essentially performed as on YAWYI, with Frank handling the lead vocal chores instead of Jimmy Carl Black.
HEAVENLY BANK ACCOUNT- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume I.
HEAVY DUTY JUDY- Essentially played as on TBBYNHIYL, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation, and with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. Also, like all versions of this song other than the '88 one, there were vocals. While they occasionally changed at the whim of FZ and the band, the standard set of 3 lyrics was simply "Heavy Duty Judy," chanted over the main theme.
ILLINOIS ENEMA BANDIT- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume VI, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation, and with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solos. The vocals were not as tweaked as on the aforementoned version, as this band was not as inclined towards Secret Word usage as the '84 band.
I'M A BEAUTIFUL GUY- Essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volume III. This song was always played as part two of that particular YAWYI four song suite.
IN FRANCE- I have not heard this tour's performance of this tune, so I therefore solicit the opinion/review of someone who has. Helping me out will not turn your peter green.[ Jon Naurin comes to the rescue: "Essentially performed as on "Them or Us", i.e slower than on YCDTOSA3. It starts out with Tommy playing the famous first notes of the French national anthem in characteristic Mars-harmonic style. Then there's the first 5 verses, before Bobby (?) is told to "Blow your harmonica, son!", followed by a mean blues solo by FZ, and finally the last verse. Lyrics are essentially the same too, with just a few differences".]
JOE'S GARAGE- Essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volume III, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation.
JOHNNY DARLING- Essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volume IV, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation.
KING KONG- A true monster, containing a little bit of everything. The main theme was essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volume III- the slow, reggae version. Ed Mann was typically first in line for solos, and seemed to be the leader in the occasional Mystery Word section (obviously conducted by Frank, though). The keyboardists are next- with both Bobby and Tommy exercising their vocal and scat skills when possible. And, of course, Papa Frank concludes the festivities with an always ferocious guitar solo, which, for approximately the first month of the tour, is over the "It's Not Really A Shuffle" vamp. Then, with the arrival of "Marqueson's Chicken", the shuffle vamp is moved to it's new home, and we now get the tried-and-true King Kong vamp. Like all true Monster Songs, this song has an "anything goes" feel to it, and thus, we got a Moon Unit Valley Girl spiel at one show, and an "I-wanna-garden" reprise at another.
LET'S MOVE TO CLEVELAND- Essentially performed as on "As An Am" from Beat the Boots volume one. This is the definitive version of this song. Vai's guitar lends a cutting edge to the main theme and written parts, and without the piano/drum tomfoolery of the following tour, Frank was able to get right to the heart of the matter and simply play guitar. And play guitar he did. For my money, Frank's guitar playing is at its peak during this tour, and I credit the presence of the experimental Vai as the main influence. Vai seems to bring out the best in Zappa, and as a result, the '82 "Cleveland"'s produced some of the most intense and offensive guitar playing you may ever hear. If you are lucky enough to only have heard '82 performances of this song, I suggest you don't seek any others out. The odds for disappointment are high. "Is That All There Is?" from "Guitar" is a rather subdued yet interesting "Cleveland" extract.
MAN FROM UTOPIA, THE- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume IV.
MAMMY ANTHEM- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume I, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. Was anybody else particularly excited by the inclusion of this song on the aforementioned YCDTOSA, and later disappointed by the relative disparity of other such "rare" tunes?
MARY LOU- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume IV.
MARQUESON'S CHICKEN- Essentially performed as on "Them Or Us", with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. In my opinion, this is another one of those guitar vamps that Frank really seemed to connect with, and thus, the typical "Marqueson's" solo was great. Another "why wasn't this on the Stage series?" candidate.
MEEK SHALL INHERIT NOTHING, THE- Essentially played as on YAWYI, and like I have said before, Denny Walley's slide is sorely missed.
MOGGIO- Essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volume V, and always followed "What's New In Baltimore?". [Note the similarities between the 2 songs- they actually contain the same, short musical theme. Prior to the '81 tour, the '80's bands frequently rehearsed a tune known as "The Mystery Studio Song". "Moggio" and "WNIB?" are the two offspring of this creation.]
MONTANA- Yes, the reign of terror continues. Okay, so we get Steve Vai playing the melody lines in the "tiny little horse" section. That's cool. And Bobby Martin does do some good "yippie-ay-o, ay-a"'s. But c'mon Frank- where's the solo? You know the one- where you would pick up the guitar, play for quite a bit, and simply never disappoint. What happened to that part of this song? Have you simply forgot about it all these years? C'mon man, we want some answers, and we want them now. This is just not funny anymore.
MS. PINKY- Essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volune VI, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation.
MUFFIN MAN- I haven't heard this tour's version of this yet, so all I need to know is- Was it reggae by this time, or were we spared this atrocity for one more tour?
NIG BIZ- Can Ray White sing, or what? Essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volume III, with the standard deviations coming in the somewhat standard solos. For me, this short, rotating solo format- which Frank also used in the '80's "Suicide Chumps"- simply does not work. As we know from the Monster Songs, Frank's band members are capable of soloing at length while maintaining a high interest level, and thus there is no reason to limit their solos. By the time the soloists get any momentum built up, the plug is pulled and we're on to the next person. I believe that this song would have been better served by one lengthier, more intense solo (be it guitar, keyboards, sax), or a more elaborately wriiten vocal part. Other than that, I love this tune.
NO NO CHERRY- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume IV.
OUTSIDE NOW- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume IV, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. As much as a treat as this song is to hear, Ike Willis' husky yet beautiful voice is sorely missed.
PACKARD GOOSE- Essentially performed as on "Joe's Garage", with the standard deviation coming in Frank's somewhat shorter solo. During "Mary's speech", which is actually performed in its entirety, several members of the band recite the lines in droll unison, sounding almost robotic. While we obviously cannot have Dale doing this every time, the way Frank chose to do it on this tour does not really work. In my opinion, the '78 and '88 versions work better because Frank recites the lines himself, and he is able to give flavor to these not completely serious lyrics. And sorry, Wackerman, but this is when we really start to miss Vinnie.
POUND FOR A BROWN (ON THE BUS)- Once a Monster, always a Monster- at least as far as this song goes. Essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volume V, with the standard deviations coming in the solos. Ray White usually got his chance to shine in this tune, displaying both his guitar and scat skills. Ed Mann did his percussion thing, which was usually more interesting for the band acompianment than for the actual solo itself (is this why Ruth hated to solo?). The keyboardists occasionally got a stab at the gold, and, of course, Frank brought the party to a hearty climax with a typically smokin' solo. "It Ain't Necessarily the Saint James Infirmary" from "Guitar" is a "Pound for a Brown" extract.
RDNZL- Essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volume V, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's and Tommy's solos. This is a great song to hear, but in comparison to the '74 band's performances, this year's RDNZL is quite weak. First of all, there's no Ruth. Frank obviously realizes this, as Ed does not really get the chance to attempt the opening percussion part. Instead, Frank rearranges it as a whole band exercise. Second of all, there's no George. While Tommy is in many ways a great and very interesting soloist, his style does not really fit into the solo section that is allotted to him on this song. Frank, however, is typically great throughout these performances, and saves the song from being nothing but a mere shadow of its former self. I love hearing this tune on this tour, don't get me wrong. But as Frank did with "Inca Roads" on the '79 tour, I am sure there is a way he could have excised out the keyboard solo section, and in doing so, pay respect to Duke, and prevent the song from losing its power.
RIDE MY FACE TO CHICAGO- Performed once on this tour, the debut of this song is rather painful to hear thanks to the poor sound quality of the circulating tape. Nonetheless, the performance comes across as energetic, and is a rousing conclusion to that evenings set. Here's Jon Naurin with more info: " I like this version, though it's obviously still under construction here. It's slower than you're used to (could you imagine that - the 1984 band speeding a song up?!), and played in a pleasant shuffle/boogie-type beat. The only words are "Ride my face to Chicago, ride it all night long", sung in that nice 3-piece harmony, while the "Oooh-iiih-ooh-oooooh" part is replaced with just guitars playing the chords. The shuffle beat is kept steady through out the song, and FZ delivers a dirty blues solo."
SHALL WE TAKE OURSELVES SERIOUSLY?- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume V. This song is based upon a true story (like most FZ songs), which, on 5/21, Frank relates to the audience. In a nutshell, the song tells the story of Fritz Rau, a German concert promoter who got very upset one night after a show because the roadies got to eat asparagus. Yes, asparagus. Another opportunity for Ray to strut his vocal stuff.
SHARLEENA- Essentially performed as "As An Am" from Beat the Boots volume one. This tour's performances of this tune had an edge to them that was lost on subsequent tours. While I enjoy the '84 performances and solos, the '82 "Sharleena's" have a rough quality that really adds to the flavor of the song. Even though this band was obviously well-rehearsed and very professional, they still managed to maintain quite a bit of passion and fury. This tune, and the previously discussed "Let's Move to Cleveland", greatly benefit from this emotional charge. [Note: One of Frank's most ineffectual segues must be the transition from "King Kong" into this track. Frequently employed on this tour and in '81, this segue robs "Sharleena" of all of its opening power, and results in one overlong and somewhat dull reggae beat.]
SINISTER FOOTWEAR SECOND MOVEMENT- Essentially performed as on "Them or Us" with the standard deviation coming in Frank's always incendiary guitar solo. Also, Vai seems to be more active in the pre-guitar solo sections, and the keyboard theme that immediately precedes the solo has some extra layers of keyboards thrown in. One of those songs where an attempt at verbal description is completely pointless. A classic that must be heard to be fully appreciated.
SOCIETY PAGES- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume III. This song was always performed as part one of this particular YAWYI four song suite.
SOFA #1- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume I.
STEVIE'S SPANKING- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume IV, with the standard deviation coming in both Vai's and Frank's solos. The ultimate guitar battle, with Frank and Steve going head to head in an ugly, feedback laden, metal fury. The song may be mere parody, but the guitar theatrics are the real thing.
STINKFOOT- Essentially performed as it was always performed, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. Hearing this song on this tour is like visiting with a long lost friend. To me, this song will always be strongly associated with the Zappa of the mid-70's, when this tune haunted practically every damn show [sometimes that's a good thing ('74), sometimes its bad ('76)]. When the song pops up here, it seems as if it just does not belong. It seems out of place. A stranger in a strange land. Of course, none of this matter once Frank steps forth and rips out the nastiest and most demented solos "Stinkfoot" ever bore witness to. So that's what a choking poodle sounds like?
STRICTLY GENTEEL- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA V. An absolutely perfect way to end (or in one unusually sweet instance, open) a show.
TEENAGE WIND- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume IV.
TELL ME YOU LOVE ME- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume I.
TINSELTOWN REBELLION- For the most part, this song was essentially performed as on "Tinseltown Rebellion". There were two major differences, however, in this tour's version. One, as I describe in the "Approximate" review, during the "Did you know that in Tinseltown...?" section, the band occasionally played the music to "Approximate" while Frank sang the lyrics to TR. Then, upon finishing his lyrics, Frank would lead the band back into the closing fanfare section of TR. By the end of the tour, when the band made this segue into "Approximate", there would be no more lyrics (despite the fact that TR was incomplete), and the song would thus be over. Secondly, after the line "to learn some stupid riffs", there was a little section- heavy on background vocals- that is frequently referred to as the "grandma" section. To me, this section sounds a lot like one of those euro- new wave songs that was popular in the early '80's- I just have no idea which one. Anyway, during this part, which was short but did vary in length, Frank either oohed and aahed, or made up lyrics pertaining to whatever (though grandma lyrics were dominant in the middle portion of the tour). Once this short little digression was over, we returned to the regular verse.
TITTIES 'N' BEER- Performed at least once, and I have yet to hear this performance, or find someone else who has. Thus, I do not even know who played the Devil. [Third time's a charm- Jon Naurin rings in again: " I believe it's Ed Mann, but I can't tell for sure. It's quite similar to the old 70s versions, with the exception that the band keeps playing the chorus accompaniment through the dialogue instead of switching to that syncopated variation we're used to. Also, there's no improvised dialogue."]
TREACHEROUS CRETINS- Essentially performed as on SUAPYG, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. Steve Vai played the sitar as he performed the repeated arpeggio.
TRUCKDRIVER DIVORCE- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume IV, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. Unlike the solos on both "Them Or Us" and YCDTOSA Volume IV, the solos during this tour seemed to be a lot more energetic and focused than they were on subsequent tours. To my ears, the majority of the solos on the '84 tour were endless meanderings, and seldom seemed to really have a purpose. That was not the case on this tour, with the majority of the solos being quite forceful and concise.
WATERMELON IN EASTER HAY- Essentially performed as on "Joe's Garage", with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. A song simply too beautiful for words.
WE'RE TURNING AGAIN- Essentially performed as on FZMTMOP.
WHAT'S NEW IN BALTIMORE?- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume V, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. While this version is infinitely better than the '84 and '88 versions, the performances from the '81 tour- which were strictly instrumental- still manage to make all other versions pale mightily in comparison. As great as Frank's guitar playing is on this tour, this song became a little too polished this time out, and thus Frank's soloing lost a lot of the edge that it had on the previous tour. I attribute this to the addition of the vocals, which gave the tune a "cute" personality, and caused Frank's passionate guitar playing to lose its sense of bitterness and frustration.
WHIPPIN' POST- Essentially performed as on "Them or Us", with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. Again, we get a horrible reggae vamp for the guitar solo, which definitely ruins the flow of the song, but does not seem to effect the intensity of Frank's solos.
WHY DOES IT HURT WHEN I PEE?- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume III, acounting for obvious differences in instrumentation.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU IS- Essentially performed as on YAWYI.
ZOMBY WOOF- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume I, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo.
ZOOT ALLURES- Essentially performed as on "The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life", allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation (Vai on sitar), and with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. During these solos, Frank and/or Vai would occasionally employ the use of delay effects, and this added to the excitement and possibilities of Frank's playing. "When No One Was No One" from "Guitar" is a "Zoot Allures" extract, with a little effect use thrown in towards the end.