BAND MEMBERS- FZ, Mark Volman (vocals, sofa), Howard Kaylan (vocals, concertina, beer), Aynsley Dunbar (the most passionate drummer FZ ever had), Ian Underwood (keyboards, horns, vocals), Don Preston (mini-moog, intensity), Jim Pons (bass, vocals)
DATES-October 6th through December 10th
COUNTRIES- 9 (U.S., Canada, and Europe)
# OF DIFFERENT SONGS PLAYED- 34
AVERAGE SHOW LENGTH- 100 minutes
AVERAGE # OF FZ SOLOS PER SHOW- 5 (many of the set lists are incomplete, and two shows were cut short by disasters, so...)
SONGS THAT FZ WOULD SOLO IN- Billy the Mountain, Call Any Vegetable, Dog Breath, King Kong, Pound for a Brown (on the bus), Sleeping in a Jar, Who Are the Brain Police?, Willie the Pimp, Wonderful Wino [FZ is the only guitarist on this tour, and because he hardly ever sings, he plays guitar- both rhythm and lead- throughout each show. Hence, there are bursts of guitar in the majority of the tunes, but the titles above represent the lengthier, more "official" solo spots.]
COMMENTS ON FZ SOLOS- Frank's guitar playing on this tour (and on all Flo 'n' Eddie tours) is interesting and very worthwhile for two reasons. One, it provides a welcome relief from the vaudevillian antics of the majority of the repertoire. When Frank picks up his guitar and begins soloing in "Pound for a Brown", the sound of his playing appears like an island amidst a sea of smothering vocals. While you will discover below that I actually like most of the vocals, I still understand that there is nothing like a straightforward, no-nonsense guitar solo, and the "Pound for a Brown" excursions are classic examples of this. The second reason for the success of Frank's playing on this tour is that the majority of the solos arrive in very interesting and somewhat underplayed songs. "Billy the Mountain" contains an excellent Frank/Preston mini-jam, "Who Are the Brain Police?" simply rocks, and "Willie the Pimp" is thankfully still vocal less, giving the tune a sleaziness that mere words cannot convey. Best of all, the Monster Song- "King Kong"- contains a truly monstrous Frank showcase, as can be heard on the YCDTOSA Volume III version. Finally, while Frank does not solo all that frequently in each show, he is present on rhythm guitar for the duration of the activities, and this adds greatly to the sound of each performance. He inserts random spurts of guitar throughout the majority of the songs, which seems to infect the overall sound with a much more "rock" atmosphere this time round. Frank's playing is nowhere near the degree of insanity that he would achieve by the end of the 70's, but he is still Frank, and that is more than enough for these ears.
SONGS THAT FZ USUALLY SOLOED IN BUT DID NOT ON THIS TOUR- None.
NEW SONGS ON TOUR (performed for 1st time live)- Anyway the Wind Blows, I Wanna Hold Your Hand
MONSTER SONGS- King Kong. This song is so monstrous on this tour, that the heat from Preston's mini-moog solo ignited the rafters during the 12/4 performance, causing the place to burn to the ground. Right? Actually, no, but we do get some mighty "King Kong's" this time round, which do a more than adequate job of filling the Monster shoes for this tour. What with Preston's mini-moog solos, Ian's blistering saxophone workouts, and Frank's carefully played and sonically sweeping guitar creations, these ferocious "King Kong's" help us forget the repetitive and mostly vocal nature of the rest of the show, and let us find solace in this insane improvisation. And let's not forget that Aynsley is drumming all the while in the background, filling every sonic inch with fury, but never overpowering the rest of the band. The sax solo and first guitar solo on the YCDTOSA Volume III "King Kong" are from this tour.
OVERVIEW- This is not one of Frank's most popular tours, and it constantly battles the 1984 tour for the unfortunate title of Least Favorite Era of Frank's Career. The nature of the material being performed ("The Groupie Routine" "What Kind of Girl?", etc), the limited set lists, and the simple presence of Flo 'n' Eddie are all aspects of this tour that have not been treated kindly over the years. While I understand the numerous complaints that have been made, I cannot say that I agree with them. To begin with, Flo 'n' Eddie do not bother me. If they did, I would probably not be able to tolerate this tour. I think they have excellent voices, however, and more so than on the previous couple tours, they do more singing than goofing around. Yes, there are still several instances when I wish they would simply shut up ("Peaches en Regalia", "Dog Breath"), but they usually redeem themselves with stellar vocal performances elsewhere in the show. Also, by this point in their Mothers' stint, both they and the band have become comfortable with the material that they are performing, and thus even the Groupie songs (i.e. the "Fillmore East" material) have an energy to them that casts the tunes in a new light. Plus, there are a handful of tunes that are simply great, that either would not appear or would be radically different on subsequent tours. "Call Any Vegetable", "Magdalena", "Wonderful Wino", the instrumental "Willie the Pimp", and the outrageously rockin' "Who are the Brain Police?" frequently appear throughout the tour, infecting each show with energy and humor. Heck, that last song alone practically redeems this entire outing by itself. Again, there are still some complaints ("The Sofa Suite" and "Billy the Mountain"- two very looong complaints), but even these songs are not without their high points. Finally, the band is phenomenal. Frank on lead and rhythm guitar, Jim Pons on bass and godlike vocals, the highly experimental Don Preston on mini-moog, Ian Underwood on anything he wants to be on, and the energetic Aynsley Dunbar providing the most frantic drumming any tour has witnessed (and unfortunately overlooked on many Best of... polls). When these guys really get a chance to play, as on the Monster "King Kongs", memory of all other music and tours fade away, and one experiences some of the twentieth centuries most versatile musicians doing nothing more than creating incredible music. I wish they could have done it a lot more often, but I will take what I can get. I hate to admit it, but I like this tour.
200 MOTELS FINALE- I love this tune on YCDTOSA Volume VI, and sadly, I have not heard any performances from this tour. For some reason, I always assumed it was a one-time only event, but obviously not. Anyone with any info?
ANYWAY THE WIND BLOWS- Essentially performed as on "Swiss Cheese" from Beat the Boots Volume II.
BILLY THE MOUNTAIN- Essentially performed as on "Playground Psychotics", with the standard deviation coming in the Zappa/Preston jam during the "Studebaker Hoch" movement. I personally enjoy the JABFLA version better, as it is from later in the tour and hence is a little more lively. Unfortunately, Frank chose to edit the "Studebaker Hoch" jam out of that release, and thus the "Playground Psychotics" version becomes essential (unless you own "Apocrypha", but then you lack the continuity given by a complete performance). Also, Flo 'n' Eddie are given some leeway in their routine, and supposedly they actually "researched" the local area around each concert in an attempt to "personalize" each performance of this monster tune.
BWANA DIK- Essentially performed as on "Fillmore East, June 1971".
CALL ANY VEGETABLE- Essentially performed as on JABFLA, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo, and in the post-solo "lecture" given by Frank. Like Flo 'n' Eddie's routines, Frank usually caters his speech to the audience, throwing in local references and giving each performance its own flavor. Flo 'n' Eddie's "where can I go?" segment also changes nightly, and typically reflects the locale of the concert.
CRUISIN' FOR BURGERS- Essentially performed as on "Playground Psychotics". Notice the excellently placed "me" in the opening bars- a lingering lyric from the previous tune ("Sharleena"), which somehow links these two songs together and provides a neat sense of continuity. Don'tcha agree?
DIVAN- Essentially performed as on "Playground Psychotics", and originally part five of the overlong five part "Sofa Suite". An example of this tune in its actual context can be found on the "Fire" boot from Beat the Boots Volume II.
DOG BREATH- Essentially performed as on JABFLA, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo.
DO YOU LIKE MY NEW CAR?- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume I ("The Groupie Routine"), with the standard deviation coming in Flo 'n' Eddie's side-splittingly funny routine. (I hope the sarcasm is obvious.)
ELEPHANT BEER, THE- No idea what this refers to. Probably a Flo 'n' Eddie skit (which, of course, would be hilarious). Anybody out there know? [Biffy the Elephant Shrew knows, and thus writes: "Elephant Beer" is a long boogie/shuffle performed at the Copenhagen show. I don't know if it was performed more than once. The (possibly impromptu) lyrics are relevant only to Denmark, home of Carlsberg "Elephant Beer." It includes conceptual continuity with "Sofa," as Kaylan sings :Elephant Beer is gonna be the death of my guts/ Elephant Beer gwine to be the death of my guts[??]/ drink that Pilsner/ And all that "dein geheime Schmutz"! The song features a short Underwood sax solo and longer solos by Zappa and Preston.] Now we know.
HALF A DOZEN PROVOCATIVE SQUATS- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume VI, and which appears as the untitled part two of the three song "Shove It Right In" suite. On "200 Motels", the three songs that make up this suite are separated by classical interludes, but live, they are joined at the hips to form a raging beast.
HAPPY TOGETHER- The "Bullet!" Essentially performed as on "Fillmore East, June 1971", complete with an "audience sing-and-clap along", just like at all those big rock shows
IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE- But it did. And I have yet to hear it. But don't worry, we're safe.
I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND- Ah, the Turtles sing the Beatles! The beauty (of which I have yet to hear), the majesty (of which I am not sure I want to hear), the morbid curiosity (which means eventually I will force myself to hear). But for now, a simple description- possibly by you?- will suffice. [Biffy the Fall '71 Shrew writes: "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was a completely straight rendering of the song, with no perverted lyrical or musical content added. The one tape I have with this song (Dusseldorf) has it as the very first song after the intro jam. A bit ragged vocally, but fun and spirited. The story of the Rainbow assault suggests that it was also used as an encore.] And yes, it was used as an encore in at least two of the Eurpoean shows.
KING KONG- The Monster Song of the tour, and a welcome relief from the tightly structured vaudevillian nature of the rest of the repertoire. The standard "King Kong" jam consists of an intense Preston mini-moog solo, a blistering Underwood saxophone solo, and a rather deliberate and slowly building Frank Zappa guitar creation (allowing for obvious differences in the performances marred by spontaneous disasters). As good as all these solos are (what a trio of musicians!), it is Dunbar's drumming that is truly insane. He is simply all over the place, yet somehow never manages to overshadow the soloist. The mark of a true drummer. The saxophone and guitar solos on the YCDTOSA Volume III "King Kong" are extracts from this tour. (Oh yeah, let's not forget the incredible vocal "soloing" by Flo 'n' Eddie. Wait- maybe we should?)
LATEX SOLAR BEEF- Essentially performed as on "Fillmore East, June 1971", with the awesome segue into "Willie the Pimp" managing to remain for the duration of this tour.
MAGDALENA- Essentially performed as on JABFLA, with the standard deviation coming in Howard's end-of-the-song rantings. While Howard frequently uses many of the same images and lines in his tirade, he also incorporates daily events and local themes into his vocals, as can be heard on "Fire" from Beat the Boots Volume II.
MUDSHARK- Essentially performed as on "Fillmore East, June 1971".
ONCE UPON A TIME- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume I, with the standard deviation coming in the dialogue amongst the band members. This is the opening portion of the overlong five song "Sofa Suite".
ONCE UPON A TIME REPRISE- This appears as part three of the overlong five part "Sofa Suite", following hot-on-the-heels of "Sofa #2". It is basically a return to the "Once Upon A Time" theme- with different words and dialogue- and essentially serves the purpose of forwarding the story onwards to "Stick It Out".
OPENING JAM- This refers to the opening "avant-garde" music that the Mothers typically used to begin these shows. Frank refers to these jams as nothing more than "soundchecks with the audience in attendance"- which may actually be the case- but they make for an interesting start to a concert, nonetheless. Preston typically begins each affair, infecting the air with a constant drone. Underwood joins the fun, and the two of them provide us with a variety of keyboard noises (Dom DeWild type stuff), with the other band members eventually entering the "jam". The "Swiss Cheese" performance is excellent, beginning with over 6 minutes of uninterrupted keyboard randomness, before the always impassioned Dunbar enters the scene and justs starts thrashing away. Flo 'n' Eddie start wailing (Yoko Ono impressions?) and muttering in what sounds like French. Finally, Frank enters the scene (tuning his guitar to start off), teases what sounds like "American Woman" by the Guess Who, and then just starts soloing. Some 14 minutes after the whole thing begins, the music calms to a near silence, and Dunbar tears into "Peaches". Stunning!! "Zanti Serenade" from "Playground Psychotics" is another example (though edited) of such an opening jam.
PEACHES EN REGALIA- Essentially played as on "Fillmore East, June 1971", with Aynsley's ferocious drumming lifting this song to even more intense levels.
POUND FOR A BROWN (ON THE BUS)- Essentially performed as on "Fire" from Beat the Boots Volume II, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. Another welcome relief from the vaudevillian antics of the majority of the repertoire. Here we get just simple music- the perfectly composed theme, followed by a sinewy Frank guitar solo and some awesome Dunbar accompaniment. As a bonus treat, we still get the "Sleeping In A jar" segue, which allows Frank to smoothly bail out when he is done soloing. A little slice of instrumental heaven.
SANZINI BROTHERS- Ah yes, the Sodomy Trick. Thankfully, I was not around to ever see a live Flo 'n' Eddie performance, and thus I have no idea what the Sanzini Brother's Sodomy Trick is or what it looked like. Frank-20 years later- claimed that he had no memory of what it was, but that it involved an over-sized drum stick. Let us use our imaginations, ladies and gentlemen...
SHARLEENA- Essentially performed as on "Playground Psychotics", with some bursts of guitar throughout, and Dunbar's hyperactive drumming (listen to that bass pedal) bubbling underneath. Note the excellently placed "me" in the first bars of the following "Cruisin' for Burgers", and how that delayed vocal does such a fine job of linking the two songs together.
SHE PAINTED UP HER FACE- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume VI, and which appears as the untitled part one of the three song "Shove It Right In" suite. On "200 Motels", the three songs that make up this suite are separated by classical interludes, but live, they are joined at the hips to form a raging beast.
SHOVE IT RIGHT IN- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume VI. As this song appears on YCDTOSA Volume VI, it is actually three separate songs joined together. These songs- "She Painted Up Her Face", "Half A Dozen Provocative Squats", and "Shove It Right In"- are separated by classical interludes on the "200 Motels" album, but live they become the beast that appears here.
SLEEPING IN A JAR- Essentially performed as on "Fire!" from Beat the Boots Volume II, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo.
SOFA #2- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume I, and always appears as part two of the overlong and multifaceted "Sofa Suite".
SOFA SUITE, THE- This refers to the five part suite which contains these parts: 1) Once Upon A Time, 2) Sofa #2, 3) Once Upon A Time Reprise, 4) Stick It Out, 5) Divan. Please see each title for more details. [To be fair, I now give you an opposing view to my obvious dislike of this suite, as noted above-> Biffy the Elephant Shrew writes: I object strongly to your dismissal of "The Sofa Suite" (actually my understanding from Society Pages was that "Divan" was the correct title for the overall suite)! IMO one of the very biggest mistakes FZ made in his archival releases was never giving us a complete, "official" version of the suite (not counting the semi-official one on BTB#2). The first FZ boot I ever heard was Poot Face Booogie, and I was ASTOUNDED by the existence of such an epic...of course that was before "Sofa" or "Stick It Out" were released.] I disagree.
STICK IT OUT- Yes, the "Joe's Garage" song, in all its multi-lingual glory. This song appears here as part four of the five part "Sofa Suite", and somehow manages to be relevant to the whole God and Sofa story, and still, ten years later, manages to fit into the whole Joe and Music is Evil story. It is essentially performed as on "Joe's Garage", allowing for some major differences in instrumentation, and with the added bonus of Flo 'n' Eddie moaning in sexual pain?/ecstasy? during the closing strains of the tune. This tune has quite a bit more energy than the later performances, and manages to save the Sofa Suite from being an utter bore.
TEARS BEGAN TO FALL- Essentially performed as on "Fillmore East, June 1971". This straightforward and simple pop song is one of the greatest by-products of the Flo 'n' Eddie era.
WHAT KIND OF GIRL DO YOU THINK WE ARE?- Essentially performed as on "Fillmore East, June 1971", with the standard deviation coming in the slight changes that Flo 'n' Eddie made to the routine nightly.
WHO ARE THE BRAIN POLICE?- Does this tune rock or what? Completely revamped and rocked up, this version barely resembles the ominous original, and instead serves as a show closing, audience pleasing rocker. Frank's ferocious guitar begins the proceedings, with Flo 'n' Eddie doing a more than adequate job of being rock 'n' roll singers. Frank takes a particularly nasty and quite lengthy solo after the second chorus, before the song returns to the final verse/chorus section , and the typical arena rock-type ending. With plenty of screams from the boys, and some chaotic playing from the band, the song appears to conclude in typical orgiastic rock style, before Frank throws his usual curve ball and tacks on 30 seconds or so of the slow, ominous "Who Are the Brain Police?" that we all have grown to love. An excellent and very energetic way to end any show, and yet another of those "Why wasn't this on the Stage series?" candidates. And did I mention that this version is really rockin'?
WILLIE THE PIMP- Essentially performed as on "Fillmore East, June 1971"- as an instrumental jam arising out of "Latex Solar Beef"- with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. While I find the original version to be an almost perfect Frank Zappa creation, this version ranks up there as another of Frank's true classics. The manner in which it creeps out of "Latex Solar Beef", slowly inching its way into the spotlight before appearing in its full sleazy glory- is one of the greatest segues of all time. Plus, without the vocals, the tune adopts an even more lurid feeling, and manages to convey the essence of Mr. Pimp better than any lyrics could ever do.
WONDERFUL WINO- Essentially performed as on "Playground Psychotics", with the awesome "Bringing in the Sheaves" introduction setting up Frank's ferocious opening chords and riffs. This is simply one of Frank's better straightforward rock songs, and I have always been a fan of this tour simply for this tune (and the one reason why I continually dig up my "Playground Psychotics" album). Another case of a potentially big mainstream hit sabotaged by Frank's lyrics
ZANTI SERENADE- This song is an example of one of the opening "jams" that Frank and the Mothers used to open the shows on this tour. While Frank refers to these works as nothing more than soundchecks, they manage to stand on their own as songs in themselves (though quite "avant-garde" songs, at that), and are great openings to each show. Sadly, Frank chose to edit this song as it appears on "Playground Psychotics", and does not present it in its actual length.
Great things about the 71 tour:
1) Don Preston. Has there ever been a more underrated keyboardist? If anyone ever typified the Mothers going "out there", it was Don. His keyboard solos every night were amazingly weird, and yet never boring. Don's influence is in need of much re-evaluation, IMO.
2) Jim Pons. Now, I loved Jeff Simmons. In fact, I think the '70 version of Wino Man is better than the '71 version. But Jim and his bass voice added a new dimension to the singing that blended beautifully with Flo and Eddie's vocal gymnastics. And he made a great God, too.
3) Call Any Vegetable. One of the things I may never forgive Frank for is editing out the cool part of CAV on "Just Another Band from L.A." I mean, where Frank does his free-form monologue, taking in band events of the day, and then suddenly slides into "Muffins! (YEAH!) Pumpkins! (YEAH!!) Wax Paper! (YEAH!!!) Caledonia, Mahogany and Elbows...". I just love that bit. Great guitar solo, too. A real tour treat.
4) Sofa. Am I the only one who thinks that the F&E version of Stick It Out is the best? It just kicks major butt. PLus, this series of songs isn't as plot-oriented as Billy the Mountain, so it can be taken in a little easier.
5) Humor. Just as much fun as the 84 band, and they didn't laugh so hard they couldn't sing the lyrics.
Um...I love this tour. I suppose one negative could be F&E's dynamics. Let's face it, they had loud. They were always a little unconvincingon the quiet songs.
Billy the Mountain: The first of the two epic story songs, and by farthe most interesting. Frank's Studebaker Hoch solos were very experimental,proving to be interesting listening. (PP & Apocrypha have two examples).
Wino Man/Sharleena/Cruising for Burgers: Nice medley, though I liked Wino Man better with Jeff. But Sharleena sounds great, especially inMontreaux.
Who Are the Brain Police?: WHY WASN'T THIS RELEASED??? WAAAAAAAAHHH!!!(Thank god for Disconnected Synapses...)
Pound for a Brown/Sleeping in a Jar: The segue between these two songs is one of my favorites, and Pound on this tour is another guitar barnburner.
Soundcheck: As I said, practically a monster song. Start with Don, Ian strolls in, then Jim and Aynsley, then Flo and Eddie, and finally Frank,building up noise until we get a nice opening solo and into Peaches.
King Kong: Don Preston, ladies and gentlemen! This was a monster, as always. Out there time.
I am afraid I have say that the Flo And Eddie years of Frank Zappa music are my least favorite of everything FZ ever did! I find this period to be his least creative, where he seems to be relying on the sophmoric (or sophmoronic) penis humor that is very juvenile, in my opinion. Frank himself once said that there were very few of his fans who liked his orchestral pieces, his guitar albums, and Dinah Moe Humm. The same can be said of this period. You either love it or you hate it. I personally don't like it. The Flo And Eddie crotch-level humor was funny when I was 13 years old, but it doesn't wear well today. Sorry Flo And Eddie fans, there's nothing wrong with you liking this stuff, but I don't.
I saw the Mothers on this tour in Portland, Oregon on 28-August-71. I know a lot of FZ historians tend to not care much for this line-up or the tour, it will always be near and dear to my heart. Arriving at the venue three hours early, I waited patiently by the long row of doors fronting the place. I noticed some people walking toward me from across the parking lot and didn't think anything of it until I noticed that one of them was Mr. Zappa himself! I ran up and nearly shook his hand off as I blathered something about what a big fan I was. He smiled and said "Thin Q" and was gracious enough to autograph a piece of paper I happened to have in my back pocket. Back then they had "festival seating" in which everyone sat on the floor where ever they wanted, and I sat right under Frank's famous honker. The audience had a great time, and the band was obviously having a blast. Aynsley Dunbar played the living shit out of his drum kit, Flo and Eddie had everybody in stitches, and Mr. Zappa earned my deepest respect as a jaw-droppingly awesome guitarist. I even got to see Don Preston and Ian "Yes I Play All Those Instruments" Underwood from those nostalgic days of the old MOI. I saw FZ each time he returned to Portland, each time with a finer-tuned and more technically perfected show and band, but that 1971 show will always be my fave. You don't suppose I'm being a little biased, do you...?