BAND MEMBERS- FZ, Ike Willis (guitar, vocals), Denny Walley (slide, vocals, messed up lyrics), Warren Cucurullo (guitar, occasional jokes), Tommy Mars (keyboards, vocals), Peter Wolf (keyboards), Arthur Barrow (bass), Ed Mann (percussion), Vinnie Colaiuta (insanity, I mean, drums)
DATES- February 10th- April 1st (no foolin')
COUNTRIES- 11 (all European)
# OF DIFFERENT SONGS PLAYED- 40 (includes all five parts of "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow", plus opening solos)
-14 songs played at every show
AVERAGE SHOW LENGTH (based on tape sources)- 110 minutes
AVERAGE # OF FZ SOLOS PER SHOW- 5
SONGS FZ WOULD SOLO IN- Opening Solo, Bamboozled By Love, City of Tiny Lites, Conehead, Easy Meat, Andy (short), Inca Roads, Watermelon in Easter Hay, Deathless Horsie, Treacherous Cretins, Pound for a Brown, King Kong (?)
COMMENT ON FZ SOLOS- Just look at that list of songs. What do you think these solos were like? The "City's" smoked, thanks to some inspiration from Denny's wicked slide. The "Easy's" were over a somewhat dull vamp, but Frank, Vinnie, and Artie were almost always in top form. The "Andy's" were somewhat inconsequential, but the "Inca's"- my god- just listen to any of the "Shut Up and Play" tracks from the album of the same name- all "Inca" outings. For some reason, this song on this tour caused Frank to just Freak. And "Watermelon"- just say the name and I start to drool. Yes, as far as guitar playing goes, this was an excellent tour.
SONGS THAT FZ USUALLY SOLOED IN BUT DID NOT ON THIS TOUR- Cosmik Debris (Cucurullo solo/ not played since '74), Dirty Love (Cucurullo solo/not played since '77), Florentine Pogen (no solo/not played since '75), Montana (no solo/ not played since '77), Why Does It Hurt When I Pee? (yes, this song had a solo [short and bluesy] on the previous tour)
NEW SONGS ON TOUR (never performed live before)- Catholic Girls, Dead Girls of London, For the Young Sophisticate, Joe's Garage, Jumbo Go Away, Outside Now (solo section only), Treacherous Cretins, Wet T-Shirt Nite
MONSTER SONGS- Pound for a Brown (on the Bus), King Kong, City of Tiny Lights; There is only one recurring Monster song on this tour, and unfortunately, it isn't played all that often. Occasionally, when FZ is apparently in a good mood, "Pound for a Brown" pops up in the encores, giving the band a chance to strut its stuff. We get some interesting solos, but never anything mind blowing. "King Kong" forces its way into the picture, bringing with it some more improvisational relief, but unfortunately it is a one time only affair. Also, "City of Tiny Lights" becomes quite monstrous in the final days of the tour, bringing with it a rare keyboard solo, and several early instrumental "Outside Nows". On the whole, however, a sub-par tour for full-blown improvisation.
OVERVIEW- What to say about this tour? On the one hand, it was dull- plain and simple. The same set list night after night after night, with the only deviation being in the OMITTANCE of certain songs in the latter half of the program, or maybe an extra long encore some nights. While this set-in-stone set list was not new to the World of Zappa Tours, it seemed to be particularly annoying on this particular outing, maybe due to the weakness of some of the songs chosen to be set in this particular stone. Who knows? On the other hand, however, Frank managed to produce some stunning displays of fretwork pyrotechnics on this particular outing, and proved time and time again why many of us believe that Jimi is probably up there begging Frank for lessons. So, the question remains- is it worth sitting through the same stuff over and over and over again to possibly hear several minutes of cosmik guitar work? On this tour, yes. Below is the set list for every friggin' show. The only difference amongst shows came in the Opening Solo (see song descriptions below for more info on this), and with the songs listed in brackets, which sometimes were simply not played. Excuse the abbreviations, but hey, I do have a little streak of laziness in me.
Opening Solo> Dead Girls> Ain't Got> Brown Shoes> Cosmik Debris> Tryin' to Grow> City of TL's> Dancin' Fool> Easy Meat> Jumbo> Andy> Inca> Florentine> Honey> [Keep It Greasy> The Meek> Young Sophisticate> Wet T-Shirt> Why Does It Hurt]> Peaches.
The encores contained diversified excitement- an occasional Pound or Watermelon, usually a Don't Eat- but nothing that I would call mind-blowing (well, Watermelon, but...). Also, at least 6 separate times throughout the tour Frank freaked, and inserted a not-yet-played song into the setlist. "Bobby Brown", "Bamboozled", "Conehead", Joe's Garage", "Village of the Sun" and "King Kong" were these special guests, but sadly they didn't stay for the whole party.
CARLOS SANTANA CONCEPTUAL CONTINUITY CLUE- At the end of the 3/6 Gothenburg show, Frank sees several lines from "Black Magic Woman" (or maybe this is a Peter Green conceptual continuity thread?). Why, Frank, why?
AIN'T GOT NO HEART- Played as on "Anyway the Wind Blows" from Beat the Boots Volume I. Very little variation if any.
ANDY- Essentially performed as on "Anyway the Wind Blows" from Beat the Boots Volume I, with the standard variation coming in the short but tasty solo. Your typical "Andy".
BAMBOOZLED BY LOVE- Played a couple times on tour- as an encore, and as an early in the set surprise- in the slower, grinding blues version. Denny took his standard scorching slide solo, and Frank then tried to match his fire.
BLACK PAGE #2, THE- Jon Naurin with this- just in- "Towards the end of the tour, The Black Page starts to appear in setlists. Surprisingly, these are probably the least tight versions I've heard, and Vinnie might be to blame. He's pretty far out sometimes, which is cool, but some of the other players seem disturbed. Apart from this, it's pretty identical to how it sounded previous tours (I don't think Warren plays on it)." I have since heard this tour's version, and muct agree with Naurin's assessment. While I do think it sounds pretty decent, Vinnie is simply too wild, completely dominating the proceedings and ruining the stop-and-go feel of the song.
BOBBY BROWN GOES DOWN- Played at least three times- twice in March, and then later as an encore during the "chock-full-of-surprises" 4/1 show. Performed as it was destined always to be performed, regardless of year, band size, or Frank's mood.
BROWN SHOES DON'T MAKE IT- Played as on "Tinseltown Rebellion"- that is, perfectly! Occasional vehicle for secret word usage, but pretty much played note-for-note as on TR. In my opinion, this version has a more fluid and thus more enjoyable sound than the original "Absolutely Free" version. While this is not my favorite FZ band, this '79 ensemble earned a place in my heart and proved their worth for this song alone.
CATHOLIC GIRLS- Very interesting, this. Towards the very end of the tour, this song pops up in the middle of an "Easy Meat" guitar solo. Already wailing away in quite a frenzy, Frank starts playing some very charged chords, with the entire band falling in quickly behind him. Before you realize what's happening, the band is tearing through an instrumental version of "Catholic Girls", in a very guitar-tinged arrangement. They proceed this way through the first two "verses", when it seems as if the entire song simply starts over. Hey, it does start over again- this time with Ike singing the vocals we know and love. They proceed once again through these two verses, and then- where we would normally have that killer instrumental section- we have a new, rave-up ending, similar to the one found on the OSFA version of "Andy". Warren tears up his fretboard while Ike keeps yelling, "dominus obiscum, dominus obiscum" over and over. Then, just as abruptly as it started, "Catholic Girls '79" ends and we find ourselves back at the beginning of "Easy Meat", only its actually the end and all we have left are the closing vocals. This is not quite the production we would get on "Joe's Garage", but this tune- in this context- really is a must hear for all you die-hards.
CITY OF TINY LITES- Essentially played as on "Anyway the Wind Blows" from Beat the Boots Volume I, except for the fact that the solo on that version sucks. On any other night, Denny rips the roof off the place with an incendiary slide workout, forcing Frank to collect his wits and prove to the world that no sideman is going to outdo him. In the waning days of the tour, Frank starts to experiement with this tune, inserting an early instrumental version of "Outside Now" into the solo section. The results are not that smooth, but they are musically quite interesting. Finally, to finish off the tour, the final "City of Tiny Lights" performance on this tour (4/1), contains a very rare keyboard solo (Wolf), and the smoothest of the "Outside Now" workouts. This turns out to be a pretty successful tour for this tune. Notable Versions- 3/19/79 [with "Filthy Habits" rif], 3/31/79 [with original "Outside Now" solo]
CONEHEAD- Played at least three times- twice late in March, and later as an encore during the insane 4/1 show- and essentially performed as on the previous tour (see "Saarbrucken" from Beat the Boots Volume I). Frank takes his always-interesting-when-in-this-song guitar solo during the former performances, but delegates the duty to both Wolf and Mars for the latter performance, who serve up a subtle and very rare "Conehead" keyboard feast.
COSMIK DEBRIS-"Let's rock!" Played as on "Anyway the Wind Blows" from Beat the Boots, with the "heavy metal tinged" price-of-meat section. Frank sat this solo out, and let Sophia Warren Cucurullo prove to the world that he was better off playing written parts. CARLOS SANTANA CONCEPTUAL CONTINUITY CLUE: During the 3/26 performance, Frank ad-libs the following line- "Aren't you the same little nerd that Carlos Santana goes to see all the time?" Someone help me- what is Frank's obsession with Carlos all about?
DANCIN' FOOL- Essentially performed as on "Anyway the Wind Blows" from Beat the Boots Volume I, and as it was always performed- on every tour, forever, ad naseum. The only highpoint of this band's version of this song is Vinnie's manic drum style. He is simply all over the place.
DEAD GIRLS OF LONDON- Played as on "Anyway the Wind Blows" from Beat the Boots Volume I, with Cucurullo's harsher-than-Vai's opening chords, and Walley's vicious sounding slide. In my opinion, this version tears apart any versions of any later bands, even the Vai-guitar-solo version of the Fall '80 band. Notable Versions- 3/19/79 [Frank stops the song to yell at some idiot who threw a beer can on-stage, and then gets some crew member to yell at him again in French. Classic!]
DEATHLESS HORSIE, THE- Played as an opening solo several times on tour, just like the version we've come to know and love on SUAPYG, but with a different FZ solo, obviously. These opening solo slots were truly Frank's time to shine on this tour, and his performances on this tune support this claim. And as always, Artie and Vinnie play the supporting role perfectly, providing some of the greatest rhythmic support any side of the Mississippi.
DIRTY LOVE- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume 6, with a short Cucurullo guitar spurt, and an extended outro as Frank usually concluded the encores or announced a segue into the next song. And yes, Vinnie was his usual brilliant self during this tune, elevating it far past throwaway status.
DISEASES OF THE BAND- While not an actual song, the instrumental portion of this track from YCDTOSA Volume 1 was used as the segue out of the opening solo/song of each show, and as the backing music for each nights band introductions. Another example of this can be found upon the conclusion of the "Watermelon at Easter Hay" solo on "Anyway the Wind Blows" from Beat the Boots Volume I, and can be heard in the midst of the "On the Bus" solo from "Joe's Garage".
DON'T EAT THE YELLOW SNOW- Essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volume I, and always appeared as the first part of the five part suite which Frank just called "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow." [one- DETYS, two- Nanook Rubs It, three- St. Alphonso's Pancake Breakfast, four- Father O' Blivion, five- Rollo]
EASY MEAT- Essentially performed as on "Anyway the Wind Blows" from Beat the Boots Volume I, with the usual variation occurring in the solo. In my opinion, this was the most repetitive and potentially dull version of "Easy Meat" performed by any Zappa band- the same riff, over and over and over. Fortunately, Frank occasionally came up with some tasty solos, and Vinnie, as always, was brilliant. Note: the guitar solo on "Packard Goose" from the "Joe's Garage" album was taken from the April 1st performance of this song.
FATHER O'BLIVION- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume I, and always appeared as part four of the five part Don't Eat Suite.
FILTHY HABITS- Not played in its entirety. Frank dipped into this riff for several bars, with rhythm section in tow, during his "City of Tiny Lites" solo on 3/19/79. I guess FZ figured that that was the only was he could top Walley's scorching slide solo.
FLORENTINE POGEN- Performed as on "Anyway the Wind Blows" from Beat the Boots Volume I. Notice that unlike the '74-'75 and '88 versions of this song, there is no guitar solo.
FOR THE YOUNG SOPHISTICATE- Performed as on "Tinseltown Rebellion", minus the asides to Vinnie.
HE USED TO CUT THE GRASS- On setlists and tape covers alike, the opening solo from the 3/19/79 show is frequently referred to as this, implying (?) that this solo was later xenochranized onto "Joe's Garage". Sadly, I have failed to ever cue up the two and find out. Anyone out there know for sure? Either way, the opening solo in the 3/19/79 show is awesome! [Patrick Buzby confirms that this is NOT the JG solo.]
HONEY DON'T YOU WANT A MAN LIKE ME?- Performed as on "Anyway the Wind Blows" from Beat the Boots Volume I.
INCA ROADS- Essentially performed as on "Anyway the Wind Blows" from Beat the Boots Volume I, with the standard deviation in the solo. Note the missing keyboard solo section and immediate edit into "Florentine Pogen" after the post-solo written section. This song was very frustrating on this tour as Frank would waver between playing completely worthless, uninspired solos (as on the aforementioned release), with stunning solos filled with fury, passion, and a rather urgent sense of abandonment (as on SUAPYG). Vinnie and Artie proved their rhythm section godliness on such excursions, but unfortunately, the thinness of the rest of the band showed through during the written sections, especially on the opening theme. Where's Duke when you need him?
JOE'S GARAGE- Played at least once- on 3/25. I have yet to hear this version, or receive a description of this performance, so I will leave it at that for now.
JUMBO GOES AWAY- Performed as on "Anyway the Wind Blows" from Beat the Boots Volume I, minus the nasty edit. Note the extra "Jumbo Go Away" tacked on at the end- used as a segue into "Andy"- not found on the YAWYI version. Supposedly based on a true story involving Denny Walley and a particularly large groupie.
KEEP IT GREASY- Performed as on "Anyway the Wind Blows" from Beat the Boots Volume I.
KING KONG- Played at least once- on 3/26. When I first posted this page, I had yet to hear this performance, so Jon Naurin contributed the following:"Here are my impressions of the 3/26 performance: Quite similar to the spring 1978 version. The head of the song is played at the fast pace, followed a xylophone (I think, but it might be marimba) solo by Ed. Then, the two keyboard players start trading solos, including some solo piano, but in the middle of a Wolf-solo, there's an unfortunate cut into a drum solo. After the drum solo, FZ starts noodling on his guitar, which turns into a vamp similar to the "Any Downers" one from 1975. Soon, the whole band joins the vamp and FZ takes a great solo. Quite a unique, on-the-spot composed event - you'd love it! All in all, a great version - especially the ending - and it definitely qualifies as a Monster Song!"] Then so be it- you are now a Monster Song. I have since heard this version, and it is great. Frank's solo is very melodic, and definitely reminds me of another song (but which one?). Plus, the end of Wolf's solo sounds quite similar to the "Pound for a Brown" jams from Fall '78, as can be heard on YCDTOSA Volume IV.
MEEK SHALL INHERIT NOTHING, THE- Performed as on "Anyway the Wind Blows" from Beat the Boots Volume I.
MONTANA- The first horseman of the Apocalypse, right here. In what would be a sign of horrible things to come, Frank chose NOT to play the guitar solo in this song during this tour (in fact, for almost every performance of this song from here on). Why, Frank, why? Yes, this song was extremely overplayed from '73-'75, but did you ever hear a bad Montana solo? No, you did not, because there was no such thing as a bad Montana solo. This was Frank's stomping ground- his home turf- his El Monte. He did no wrong in Montana. So what happened to our beloved guitar solo? We will never know. All we know is that from here on out, we got no solo, just the rest of this harmless little ditty. Pity.
NANOOK RUBS IT- Performed as on YCDTOSA Volume I, and always appeared as part two of the five part suite. There was some improvisation in this tune, most noticeably in Warren's guitar fills and in Frank's aside comments. Also, it was in this part of the Suite that we got "Audience Participation", and even though this routine basically followed the same format in each performance, they were not word for word recreations. Hey, some of them even had poetry!
OPENING SOLO- For lack of a better name, the guitar solo that Frank would play to open the show. As on the previous tour, Frank would frequently start the show by simply picking up his guitar and playing. The band, led by Vinnie and Artie, would fall in behind him (never failing to inspire the master, may I add). I've yet to hear an opening solo that left me cold. At least for this tour, Frank at his best. This opening slot also saw performances of "Watermelon in Easter Hay", "The Deathless Horsie", and "Treacherous Cretins".
OUTSIDE NOW (ORIGINAL SOLO)- Yes, this is the track that appears on "Guitar". In its actual context, this solo appears in the midst of an otherwise normal "City of Tiny Lites" from the 3/31 late show. The "City" starts off as always- vocals, then a Denny Walley slide performance. But upon concluding Denny's solo spot, the band stops playing while Vinnie keeps a rather frantic beat alive. Tommy and Petey start playing those very cheesy, Space Invaders-type sound effects, and Artie essentially solos. This continues for roughly a minute, when Artie starts playing the "Outside Now" arpeggio, which is eventually picked up by Warren. Once this arpeggio is firmly established, Petey gets a chance for a short solo, before Frank steps up and creates the masterpiece that we have on "Guitar". Upon finishing his workout, the band jumps right back into 'City", running-through the written guitar lines that occur at the end of the '79 solo section. While only the 3/31 performance is documented on "Guitar", Frank actually performs this weird musical sandwich in several of the final shows on the tour, with each guitar solo managing to achieve greatness. The transitions from the "City" part of the solo section into the "Outside Now" portion are consistently sloppy, and not all that pleasing to the ears; but once this segue is complete, and the arpeggio is firmly established, this Teenage Rockin' Combo repeatedly performs several of the most intense instrumental passages that this tour saw.
PEACHES EN REGALIA- The "Peaches III" version, as performed on "Tinseltown Rebellion", the set closing song at each and every show.
POUND FOR A BROWN (ON THE BUS)- Unfortunately, no official versions of this song were released from this or the previous tour (apart from THE SOLOS). Essentially, the head of this song was performed as it was always performed, making adjustments for the particular band's instrumentation (read "lots of keyboards"). Once the head concluded, we were off into solo Never-never land, with Eddie, Petie, Tommy, Frankie, Artie, and yes, even Vinnie, all getting their respective shots at the "it's my turn in the spotlight" game. [John W. Busher adds: Pound For A Brown was performed in the 3/31 late show. The reason I remembered this while reading your page, is because Arthur plays a bass solo in this version of Pound that is tasty as fuck.]
ROLLO- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume I, and always performed as part five of the five part suite. This is the closing portion of the song that begins after the "Good morning your highness" section (where the Apostrophe version fades out). This song was first performed on the Fall '72 Petit tour, although in a longer, much more involved version. What we have here for this tour is essentially the closing portion of the original "Rollo", which was performed instrumentally in '72, but gained vocals when it reappeared as part of DETYS in Fall '78. And for those of you unsure, thats Tommy doing the vocals.
ST. ALPHONSO'S PANCAKE BREAKFAST- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume I, and always occurred as part three of the five part Don't Eat Suite.
TITTIES 'N' BEER- Jon Naurin sends us this update:"Basically, it's very similar to the Baby Snakes or ZINY version. I'm pretty sure it's Warren who plays the Devil's part. Compared to earlier, screamy Devils, Warren sounds very cool, and he even tries to steer FZ into some improvised dialogue (FZ doesn't seem very inspired though, and this gets pretty short on both versions I've heard).>
TREACHEROUS CRETINS- Played as either an opening or closing guitar solo, this tune is essentially the arpeggio and reggae riff with a stunning FZ guitar solo laid over it. These moments- like with "Watermelon", "Deathless" and his unnamed opening solos- were Frank's highlights of this tour, and it was in these spots that Frank typically went "out there", taking the well-prepared Vinnie and Artie along with him.
TRYIN' TO GROW A CHIN- God bless Denny Walley! Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume I, with Walley usually flubbing the lyrics as well. Notable Version- 3/19/79 ["I am only 36, thinly and sick, tried all of my life, to grow me a dick."]
VILLAGE OF THE SUN- This treat pops up as an encore one time only this tour, during the simply insane final show of the tour. It is essentially performed as on the previous tour (as heard on "Saarbrucken" from the Beat the Boots Volume I), with a laid back keyboard solo serving as the climax. This version is more akin to the Fall '73 performances- as found on "Roxy and Elsewhere"- than to the more recently performed Fall '74 version. Unlike that later, hyperactive rewrite, this "Village" is taken at a much slower pace, with just enough room left at the end for the casual keyboard stroll..
WATERMELON IN EASTER HAY- What would you prefer- Frank starting a show or ending a show with this classic? Preferably both, but hey, let' not get greedy. So in '79, you just crossed your fingers and hoped for either of the above. A perfectly written song- Frank could do no wrong, allowing those beautifully tortuous notes to fly from his guitar. When he ends the show with it, you go home with a grin etched into your face; when he opens the show with it, you realize 90 minutes later that it was all downhill from there. Frank, thank you for this song.
WET T-SHIRT NIGHT- Performed as on "Anyway the Wind Blows" from Beat the Boots Volume I.
WHY DOES IT HURT WHEN I PEE?- Performed as on "Anyway the Wind Blows" from Beat the Boots Volume I.
For my taste, the material from this tour that made it to FZ's official releases may be his best live music ever, due to a well-balanced banda nd the improvisational chemistry between FZ, Vinnie Colaiuta, and the underrated Arthur Barrow. However, what the official releases don't reveal is how repetitive the setlists from this tour are, and how few chances for improvisation there were at each show. For this reason, I don't find myself compelled to get every show from this tour, though every collector should have a few.