SETLIST: Watermelon in Easter Hay-> Dancin' Fool-> Easy Meat-> Idiot Bastard Son-> Suicide Chump-> Uncle Meat-> I Have Been in You-> Flakes-> The Black Page #2-> Bamboozled By Love-> Sy Borg-> Little House I Used To Live In-> Mo's Vacation-> Twenty One-> The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing-> Yo Mama, E: Sofa #2, Packard Goose
APPROXIMATE TIME- 2 hours, 20 minutes
OFFICIAL RELEASES- I Have Been In You, on YCDTOSA Volume VI; Lobster Girl (from "Little House I Used to Live In"), on YCDTOSA Volume VI
WATERMELON IN EASTER HAY (7:28)- This may be the best opening solo of the run. Its hard to choose simply because the majority of the opening solos not only contain some of Frank's best playing, but they all also come in quite different guises. All things considered, however, you really cannot beat any solo that is bookended by the beautifully understated "Watermelon in Easter Hay". We get a loose version of the main theme, a solo that abandons that theme and heads for the nether regions of improvisation, and finally a smooth and welcome return to that theme. Damn near perfect.
DANCIN' FOOL (3:52)
EASY MEAT (7:11)- FZ solo, 4:24; Not only is this by far Frank's longest "Easy Meat" solo of the run, it is also his best. Vinnie and the bass players work the "Easy Meat" vamp to death, and Frank sails over them, taking the time to explore a variety of different moods and themes in this solo.
IDIOT BASTARD SON (3:11)- This is the first of the many surprise treats that this show would serve up. And even though I got mildly flamed for critiquing this '78 version on my Fall '78 page, I will boldly venture forth and critique it again. Yes, is is nice to hear, but musically speaking, it just does not work. Arthur's acoustic guitar parts are horribly cheesy, Frank cannot carry the tune, and the rest of the band sounds like its never played the song before. Mars manages to add some nice keyboard flourishes every so often, but that is about all this performance has going for it. But yes, it is nice to know that Frank remembers the tune. Just where is Nappy when we need him?
SUICIDE CHUMP (6:57)- Denny Walley slide solo, 1:10; Frank gives a 2:15 suicide lecture, Denny takes a somewhat lengthy middle-of-the-song solo, and then Frank sets up the "Uncle Meat" that will follow. If you are a "Suicide Chump" fan, you may like this, but it is nothing all that special.
UNCLE MEAT (2:04)- Another song from an earlier era that is quite a treat to hear- for novelty's sake, though, not for music's sake. Ed Mann is great, and he saves this tune from being a complete disaster. The rhythm section simply does not bounce as the '74 band did, and the keyboard parts are painfully out of place. But Ed!!! He's no Ruth, mind you, but boy can he play.
I HAVE BEEN IN YOU (7:34)- Srangely enough, I find myself actually enjoying this song at this point in the Halloween run. Something different, and it works. Frank gives a 2:30 intro (which includes an update on his "Baby Snakes" movie, and an analysis of love songs), and then we get a typical performance of the song. And, of course, we get that excellent segue into...
FLAKES (4:43, with tape cut)- Always nice to hear, and typically well played, with an immediate segue into...
THE BLACK PAGE #2 (3:06)
BAMBOOZLED BY LOVE (7:59)- Denny Walley slide solo, 1:27; FZ solo, 1:25; For some reason, Denny is now on vocals, and while he does a technically better job than Frank, he still sings like he always does. The solos are okay, with the best playing coming in the :30 guitar coda (i.e. "Tryin To Grow A Chin") that ends the tune.
SY BORG (5:21)- Peter Wolf solo, 1:24; Without Ike's voice during this run, Frank resorted to performing "Sy Borg" as an instumental for New York #4. That performance seemed to work, but Frank must have been unhappy with it as he tries the song with vocals here. So what happens? The band messes up the second verse (what's the deal with second verses for this run?), and goes back and tries to amend their mistakes. Twice. Somewhat amusing.
LITTLE HOUSE I USED TO LIVE IN (13:08)- Mars' solo, 7:05; O'Hearn/Barrow bass solos, 3:47; This show starts off great, with two great solos in only the first three songs. But then Frank deviates from the standard procedure, tries to mix things up a little, and the band is unable to get anything really smoking. Well this is where things change. As always, Mars gives us his best, with Mann providing some great gong support, someone making monkey noises, and Barrow whipping out a slick walking bass line. O'Hearn gives us one of his always melodic and funky bass solos, complete with his now classic "Lobster Girl" rant. Shortly after this, Barrow begins his solo, which very smoothly segues into...
MO'S VACATION (3:59)- This piece for Barrow and Colaiuta works much better as part of the "Little House-> Mo's-> Twenty-One" madness. A nice live example of contrast and relief.
TWENTY-ONE (12:20)- Wolf solo, 3:46; Ed Mann solo, 2:41; FZ solo, 1:14; Vinnie solo, 3:14; After Mo returns from her vacation, we get approximately :39 of pure Wolf before the rhythm section gets to work on the 21 vamp. Wolf then bases his solo around this vamp, only to see it disappear around the 3:00 mark. Ed's percussion solo picks up right where Wolf leaves off, and already having a head of steam to work with, Mann is able to keep the music alive and energetic during his solo (with much thanks to the remainder of the rhythm section, of course). Then Frank takes a very weird and distorted solo, before the band briefly returns to the "Little House" theme. This then drops us squarely into Vinnie's lap, who solos right through the tape flip, and into the "Little House" ending chord.
THE MEEK SHALL INHERIT NOTHING (3:47)
CITY OF TINY LITES (10:52)- Denny Walley slide solo, 1:43; FZ solo, 3:54; This is a nice song to hear at this point in the show. Denny's solo is pretty weak, but Frank more than makes up for it with his lengthy, dramatic workout.
YO MAMA (13:55)- FZ solo, 10:00; Hands down, this is the best guitar solo of the run. This is one frightening beast. Frank's extended tour-de-force starts off with a 3:53 pre-rhythm section workout, in which Frank goes at full speed with nothing more than sparse keyboard atmospherics. Frank eventually works his way into a chugging locomotive groove, which heralds Vinnie's out-of-control drumming into the picture. After about 1:30 of this, Frank shifts gear, O'Hearn locks down the groove, and the song slowly begins bulding to its intense climax. For 4:38, Frank rides that final "Yo Mama" groove, taking the solo to higher and higher levels, and reaching that "Yo Mama" intensity that we only dare dream about. When Frank finally tears into the closing riff 10 minutes after he first starts soloing, you breathe a sigh of relief, having spent several minutes fearing what might happen to your head if this climax managed to reach greater intensities. Oh yeah.
SOFA #2 (1:01, with horrible edit leaving only the last third of the song)- This is encore #1.
PACKARD GOOSE (13:34)- FZ solo, 4:33; While Frank simply could not top the "Yo Mama" solo he whipped out minutes earlier, he still manages to pull out a pretty impressive workout in this closing number. The song is essentially performed as during NY #4, with an extra set of lines after "Music is the best". Frank's solo occurs over an active rhythm section who practically tears "Mary's vamp" to pieces, but somehow manages to keep it all together. Again, the rhythm section works wonders, and eases into a danceable swing groove towards the end of Frank's solo. An energetic and well-performed ending to a rather rickety show.
Frank's intentions for this show are great, though the overall effect is not as successful as it might seem. The show starts off great, with two of Frank's best solos in the first three songs. At this point, the show has a healthy head of steam going, but Frank's decision to deviate form the "normal show" puts a chill on this heat. The songs by themselves range from great to lackluster, but the overall effect is one of many parts adding up to nothing. There is no flow for over 45 minutes in the middle of the show. But then, when he returns to the more familiar "Little House I Used To Live In", the band hits its stride once again, and the results are quite satisfying. "Lobster Girl", "Mo's Vacation", and "Twenty-One" are all one-time only or rare performances, but coming in the midst of the "Little House" festivities, they are able to maintain a sense of cohesiveness, and thus keep the music flowing. When this craziness is over, the band's energy make "The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing" and "City of Tiny Lites" sound fresh, and Frank continues to up the musical ante by pulling out all the stops in "Yo Mama". While I find the middle portion of this show rather inconsistent, and usually skip over it when listening to it, the beginning and ending are simply superb. High energy, inventive improv, tight performances, and the best guitar playing of the run- all of this helps push this show into the number 2 spot.
2nd out of 6