BAND MEMBERS- FZ, George Duke (keyboards, vocals, tiny little notes), Napoleon Murphy Brock (vocals, saxophone, flute), Tom Fowler (bass), Ruth Underwood (percussion), Bruce Fowler (trombone, dancing), Chester Thompson (drums), Ralph Humphrey (drums)
SPECIAL GUESTS- Jeff Simmons (vocals, drugs, Roxy shows), the assortment of Roxy crazies (dancing, singing, etc), Bruce ? (breast lecture)
DATES- October 23rd through December 12th
COUNTRIES- 2 (US and Canada)
# OF DIFFERENT SONGS PLAYED- 27
AVERAGE SHOW LENGTH- 85 minutes
AVERAGE # OF FZ SOLOS PER SHOW- 5
SONGS FZ WOULD SOLO IN- Bebop Tango (outro), Big Swifty, Cosmik Debris, Chunga's Revenge, Dickie's Such An Asshole, Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?, Dupree's Paradise, I'm The Slime, Montana, Penguin in Bondage, RDNZL
COMMENTS ON FZ SOLOS- Other than on "Dupree's Paradise", and the occasional exceptional solo, I do not find Frank's playing to be all that interesting on this tour. For one, I do not like his sound (see "I'm the Slime", "Big Swifty" and "Dickie's Such An Asshole" on the YCDTOSA series). It's not bad, its just very nondescript. Same with the majority of his solos. Not bad (they are still Zappa), just rather plain. Not much personality to them, in my opinion. The only exception would be the "Dupree's Paradise" solos, as it is here where Frank really seems to take his time and create something that really matters. On the whole, this is not a tour you go to for great guitar.
SONGS FZ USUALLY SOLOED IN BUT DID NOT ON THIS TOUR- Inca Roads (no guitar solo until following tour), King Kong (no solo/ Duke and Fowler solos),
NEW SONGS ON TOUR (1st time performed live)- Babette, Cheepnis, Dickie's Such An Asshole
MONSTER SONGS- Dupree's Paradise. This tune continues to be the only Monster Song present in this era of Zappa. We get the Duke keyboard intro, a plethora of solos, Frank's most adventurous outings on guitar, and the expected randomness. One of the continual highlights of tour.
OVERVIEW- I am not a big fan of this tour. I know I stand in the minority on this one, as I have already received a number of comments praising this tour. But before I go on to say why, I want to announce my bias to the world. I LOVE the Fall '74 tour, which is undeniably (or is that arguably?) the best tour Frank ever embarked on; and as far as I am concerned, every show from March '73 through May '74 is nothing more than a warm-up for that monster Fall '74 tour. Nothing can compare to that tour for me, and thus, this one does not. That's not to say I do not have positive things to say about this Fall '73 outing- because I do- but I feel that overall, the disappointments outweigh the surprises. To begin with, this is a great band. The same band we would get a year later, with the addition of another drummer, and the most gifted horn player to ever grace the same stage as Frank. But a great band does not automatically mean a great tour. For one, I personally do not feel that this band really has the chance to stretch out and display their abilities as they deserve. Yes, they perform some technically amazing tunes, but unfortunately there is not any really daring improv to balance these shows. Bruce gets the occasional solo, never disappointing, but does not really get the chance to freak as he did on the "Improvisation" tunes from Spring '73. Duke still has his "Dupree's Paradise" spotlight, and we get the standard solos in that tune, but again, they are not as "out there" as this band is capable of going. Second, Frank is not all that hot on guitar either. He has his occasional moments of transcendence, but I find that these are too few and far between. The set lists are okay (Frank does an excellent job of mixing up the limited number of songs that are performed), but many of the versions are by now such second nature to this band that unless something truly inspiring is happening, the band and the songs do not ignite. Thus, for the most part, I think this tour is the first really disappointing tour of Frank's career. The caliber of musicians is amazingly high, but the resulting music sadly is not. [If you disagree, please send me your comments so I can include them on this page. These pages are not about my views on Frank, but are an attempt to provide an overview of Frank's touring career. I really am not trying to be objective (that would be no fun), so I need your help in keeping this thing honest. So, I await your comments, detractors!]
BABETTE- I have not heard the single performance from this tour, but Jon Naurin has, and he says: ""Babette" sounds as on YCDTOSA #1, and segues very smoothly into "What's The Ugliest Part Of Your Body" - which is sung more or less over the Babette accompaniment." ]
BEBOP TANGO (OF THE OLD JAZZMEN'S CHURCH)- Up until this tour, "Bebop Tango" existed as part two of the three part medley known as "Farther O'Blivion". The first part consisted of the Steno Pool section from "Greggary Peccary", part two was the head of "Bebop Tango", and part three was an instrumental version of "Cucamonga" (an example of this medley can be heard on "Piquantique" from Beat the Boots Volume I). For this tour, however, "Bebop Tango" comes in to its own, developing tiny little notes, a desire to dance, and occasional audience participation. The original "Farther o'Blivion" medley is only performed once- on 10/26- yet even within the context of "Farther O'Blivion", "Bebop Tango" now resembles the monster we have on "Roxy and Elsewhere". After this performance, it truly becomes its own song, essentially performed as on "Roxy and Elsewhere", with the standard deviation coming in Fowler's trombone workout, Ruth's short but typically brilliant percussion showcase, and the "why-was-this-faded-out-on-the-album?" feel good outro. We also get our standard audience participation, which not only involved dancing but also the challenge to actually sing all those tiny little notes.
BIG SWIFTY- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume I, with the standard deviation coming in Duke's and Frank's solos. Apart from the improvisational solos, this version is also interesting for the random orchestrations that Frank would impose during the latter half of George's solos. As can be heard on the YCDTOSA release, Frank had a variety of hand gestures that corresponded to different musical themes and motifs, and he would liberally sprinkle these musical flourishes throughout George's solo. The abruptness of these intrusions, and the smoothness at which the band segued from these riffs back into the solo proper, has never failed to amaze this reporter. One of those fun, tiny little moments that make's Frank's music so unique..
CHEEPNIS- At this early stage in its all too brief career, this song appears as a shortened version of the "Roxy and Elsewhere" performance. The tune starts off as always, and continues on the usual path through the "Nuclear Force" section. At this point, the tune then jumps to the "go to the shelter" buildup, we get the Ruth percussion lick, and then the tune concludes with the closing verses as they are found on "Roxy and Elsewhere", i.e. with the Horrible Eye line included. Without the middle portion of the song, whether it be the Roxy, the Spring tours, or the YCDTOSA Volume II version, this song seems ridiculously short. I still find it a treat, but its not as filling as it would be by the end of the following year. [Jon Naurin adds: "- a noteworthy version is the drums/percussion duet (or trio?) one, which was played at least twice."]
CHUNGA'S REVENGE- Played as part of the "King Kong-> Chunga's Revenge-> Mr. Green Genes" medley. As far as the main theme goes, all we get is the abrupt guitar intro as it appears on the album, followed by a Frank Zappa guitar solo played over the "Chunga's" bass line. Upon completion of his solo, Frank would segue into the melody of "Mr Green Genes", at which point the band would follow suit and ease into the medley closing tune.
COSMIK DEBRIS- Essentially performed as on "Overnite Sensation", allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation, and with the standard deviation coming in Duke's and Frank's solos. For this tour, we get the keyboard funk "price of meat" section, with bursts of horn thrown in for good measure.
CUCAMONGA- Up until this point in the year (i.e. for the spring and summer tours of '73), this song appeared as part three of the unreleased instrumental "Farther O'Blivion" (with parts one and two being the Steno Pool section from "Greggary Peccary" and the head of "Bebop Tango" respectively). For this tour, however, this instrumental version of the "Bongo Fury" tune only appears once in the "Farther O'Blivion" medley, and once on the tail end of an early "Bebop Tango" excursion. An earlier version of this tune can be heard on "Piquantique" from Beat the Boots Volume I.
DICKIE'S SUCH AN ASSHOLE- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume III, with the standard deviation coming in George's and Frank's solos.
DOG BREATH- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume II, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation.
DON'T YOU EVER WASH THAT THING?- Essentially performed as on "Roxy and Elsewhere", with the standard deviation coming in Bruce's, George's, and the occasional Frank solos. After George's solo, we get the drum/percussion workout, which, as on the above album, is followed by some improvised musical weirdness. Frank conducts the band through a variety of themes, before eventually leading them into the closing theme, performed as on the album.
DUMMY UP- Premiered early in the tour, with a Frank guitar solo in its place prior to its arrival. While this is not apparent on "Roxy and Elsewhere" due to the fadeout, this song is actually a jam found within "Pygmy Twylyte", and is not a song in and of itself. For this tour, the song resembles the instrumental portion of the official release (i.e. a full band funk jam), with some improvised singing by Nappy.
DUPREE'S PARADISE- This song continues its reign as the Monster Song of this era, providing some of the most inspired and noteworthy performances of the tour. This version begins with the by-now standard George keyboard workout. Lots of experimentation from George, with Frank keeping himself busy (and George on his toes) by conducting the band through the most random of noises. This eventually leads us into the main theme, which is followed by the lengthy solo section. Brock is typically first (on sax or flute), followed by the bass playing Fowler, the always impressive trombone playing Fowler, and finally Frank, playing his most unhurried and slowly building solos of the tour. As in "Big Swifty", Frank inserts a variety of musical motifs and riffs throughout this tune, both as segues between the solos and within them. Also, in true "Dupree's Paradise" fashion, the unexpected should always be expected, as we even get a lecture about the use of sheep to find a way to make bigger breasts (11/9). While these performances are not as monstrous as the ones that would come a year later, they are still some of the most impressive of the tour. Frank's guitar playing is especially noteworthy, as it takes on an entirely different feel during these solos than in the majority of the others.
ECHIDNA'S ARF (OF YOU)- Essentially performed as on "Roxy and Elsewhere".
FARTHER O'BLIVION- Essentially performed as on "Piquantique" from Beat the Boots Volume I, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation, and with the standard deviation coming in the solos. This song consists of three parts- the Steno Pool section from "Greggary Peccary", the head of "Bebop Tango", and "Cucamonga"- all performed instrumental. ( Naurin points out that the one difference in this version is that "the Spring/Summer version - as heard on "Piquantique" - starts with the frenetic little melody right after "using all the frightening little skills that science made available" in "Greggary Peccary", while the 10/26/73 skips this bit and starts with "Steno Pool".") There is only one known performance of this tune on this tour- from 10/26- with the first section containing a Brock solo, and the second containing the typically insane Fowler trombone workout, a Ruth percussion display, and a very short drum solo. Unlike versions found on earlier tours, however, the "Bebop Tango" has now become the full-blown spectacle that we get on "Roxy and Elsewhere", complete with dancing and all those tiny little notes. Thus, early in the tour, "Bebop Tango" becomes its own song apart from the year old "Farther O'Blivion" medley, and "Farther O'Blivion"- as it appears here- becomes a thing of the past.
IDIOT BASTARD SON- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume II, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation.
I'M THE SLIME- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume I. For the majority of the tour, this song immediately segues into "Big Swifty" after the conclusion of the lyrics, and hence there is no guitar solo. For the Roxy shows, however, Frank steps up and solos, as is documented on the aforementioned release. (Thanks Naurin).
INCA ROADS- Swank! The infamous cocktail lounge version, which sadly has not seen the light-of-officially-released-day. The tune starts off with a very cheesy cocktail lounge atmosphere, slow and sultry, like the kind of tune America would listen to before they drink and go home. George sings the lyrics, low and sexy, paying homage to the great lounge acts of our time. Towards the conclusion of the lyrics, we get a burst of Ruth (ah, that Inca sound!), a return to the cocktail lounge groove, and some over dramatic concluding flourishes, both vocal and musical. At this point, we get another burst of Ruth, and an awesome and powerful segue into the "Inca Roads" we know and love. From this point on, we essentially get the song as it is performed on "The Lost Episodes", which is essentially the post-guitar solo section (but complete with lyrics as on OSFA), with the standard deviation coming in the Duke and Bruce Fowler solos. While this version is not the complete classic that we would eventually get on OSFA, it is still a force to reckon with. The meat of the tune is still here, and the sleazy opening is hilarious, serving as an excellent contrast to the remainder of the tune. My only complaint is that Duke cannot hold a candle to the Frank Sinatra inspired renditions that Marquez gave us on the Australian tour months earlier. But then again, this version does not have Ponty, so I guess that even things out.
KING KONG- Performed as part of the "Mr Green Genes-> King Kong-> Chunga's Revenge-> Mr. Green Genes" medley. It appears here in its fast version (similar to the "Uncle Meat" take, but without the opening vamp, and also as performed on the Spring '78 tour), and simply consists of the main theme followed by a Fowler and a Duke solo. A far cry from the Monster "King Kong" of other tours, though Fowler does provide some interesting moments.
KUNG FU- Essentially performed as on "The Lost Episodes", allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation.
LOUIE LOUIE- Need I explain everything? (Only performed once.) [Well, I guess I should explain everything, so Jon Naurin adds..."...with alternated lyrics, a la "Ruthie Ruthie". This time it's about the sound engineer Brian (i.e "Brian, Brian" - cf. YCDTOSA #1 just before "Babette" - nice CC there!). The echoey hall prevents me from hearing the words though."]
MONTANA- Essentially performed as on "Overnite Sensation", with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. During the infamous Roxy performance, Fowler the bass player puts on a stunning display of technique as he successfully plays the melody line, using all the high notes, to the post-solo "tiny little horse" section.
MUDSHARK- Yes, again this craze sweeps the nation, despite (or due to?) the fact that the Bebop Tango is threatening to take its place in the heart of millions. The story has not changed, neither has the music, and everybody enjoys it as always. Apparently only performed once on this tour, but isn't that enough? [Jon Naurin adds- "This is the best version I've heard, though. The band is hot this night, and the Mudshark developes into a good guitar solo, which soon turns into another round of "Louie Louie"/"Brian Brian"."]
PENGUIN IN BONDAGE- Essentially performed as on TBBYNHIYL (the "Roxy and Elsewhere" version is edited), allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation, and with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo.
PYGMY TWYLYTE- Essentially performed as on "Roxy and Elsewhere", although instead of the full-blown "Dummy Up" routine, what we get is a full band funk jam with some improvised singing by Brock. Early in the tour, however, instead of the segue into this funk jam, we get a short and rather nondescript Zappa solo. In both instances, this middle section is followed by a return to the main "Pygmy Twylyte" theme, which is then typically followed by "Idiot Bastard Son". The segue between the two is the same one as heard on YCDTOSA Volume II.
RDNZL- From the post-solo written section on, this songs essentially appears as it would later be performed on YCDTOSA Volume II. The first half of the tune, however, is quite a bit different. The short, quick opening section is present at this point, but Ruth's brilliant display of percussion technique is not yet ready for consumption. Instead, we cut straight to a short Fowler trombone solo, followed by a longer yet not quite filling Frank guitar solo. At this point, we then receive the typical post-solo RDNZL action, with the "We Can Share A Love" segment being the only element absent from this version. In its place, we get several bars of frantic Brock blowing, which serves as the segue into Duke's solo. While roughly only half the tune is different, this version creates quite a different feel. Without Ruth's mesmerizing solo, and Frank's own full-length, sweeping display of talent, the tune loses a lot of its power. An interesting early version, worth hearing but not necessary.
SAN CLEMENTE MAGNETIC DEVIATION- The early title of "Dickie's Such An Asshole", as announced by Frank in several early performances. This title refers to a strange effect that pilots felt when flying over San Clemente, the home of Tricky Dicky (and hence the relevance to Nixon).
SON OF MR. GREEN GENES- Performed as part of the "Son of Mr. Green Genes-> King Kong-> Chunga's Revenge-> Son of Mr. Green Genes" medley. The first portion of the song is an abbreviated run-through of the "Hot Rats" take, heavy on percussion, having that very bouncy, light feel. Once the melody is played twice through, we get some breathing room for a short Brock solo, before heading off into a breakneck-paced "King Kong". Then , upon completion of his guitar solo during "Chunga's Revenge", Frank would return to the melody of "Son of Mr Green Genes", leading the band into a short instrumental version of this tune, similar to the latter half of the song as it appears on TBBYNHIYL.
T'MERSHI DUWEEN- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume II, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation.
UNCLE MEAT- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume II, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation.
VILLAGE OF THE SUN- This version is essentially the same as the overproduced "Roxy and Elsewhere" performance, though somewhat slower, and with the addition of a new, rather out-of-place intro and outro. For the majority of the tour, the tune begins with a melodic instrumental section very reminiscent of the opening theme to "Down in de Dew" off the "Lather" album. I would not be surprised if this intro actually served as the inspiration for that tune, as the two pieces are remarkably similar. This theme, appearing in a somewhat mutated version, also serves as an outro for several shows early in the tour, before the tune ends coldly. Eventually, this outro is dropped, and we get the Roxy segue into "Echidna's Arf". Both Duke and Brock handle the vocal chores
WHAT'S THE UGLIEST PART OF YOUR BODY?- This single performance occurs during the same show as the single performance of "Babbette", and as Jon Naurin points out in the latter's song description, the words to WTUPOYB are essentially sung over the music of "Babette".