RELEASES #54-67 (1989-1997)
54. You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 3 (2CD, Rykodisc RCD 10085/86, November 13, 1989)
Five previously unreleased tracks ("Ride My Face to Chicago," "Carol You Fool," "Chana in da Bushwop," "Hands with a Hammer," and "Nig Biz").
One dramatically different arrangement of previously released tracks: ("Bamboozled by Love").
Six years covered: '71, '73, '76, '81, '82, and '84.
55. The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life (2CD, Barking Pumpkin D2 74233, April 16, 1991)
Twenty-eight tracks of '88 documentation.
Things really get going after an electrifying "Zomby Woof" segues into Ravel's "Bolero" (except on European CDs, due to copyright issues) ... and the band finishes off the first disc with some wonderful new versions of old favorites: "Zoot Allures," and "Mr. Green Genes" followed by a fantastic three-piece OSFA suite: "Florentine Pogen," "Andy," and "Inca Roads," and wrapped up with a beautiful version of "Sofa No. 1."
Disc Two is quite shifty -- Hendrix and Cream covers ("Purple Haze" and "Sunshine of Your Love") followed by an energetic "Let's Move to Cleveland," with most of the remainder of the disc being a Jimmy Swaggart suite, of sorts ... "Lonesome Cowboy Burt":
My name is Swaggart
I am an asshole ...
"Trouble Every Day," fresh and invigorating, as Zappa and Ike Willis seem to be improvising the lyrics:
Wednesday I watched Jimmy Swaggart
Watched him weepin' all over the place
An' I watched him weepin' an' weepin' an' weepin'
And that shit rollin' down his face
(Oh . . . I sinned!)
An' then I watched him weep some more
An' he kept on weepin' again
(Oh, forgive me, Assembly O' God!)
And they smacked him on his little hand
And he went out makin' more money
and "Penguin in Bondage":
You know it must be a Penguin bound down
When you hear that terrible weepin' and there ain't no other
all get special treatment in honor of the infamous televangelist's sexual escapades and subsequent teary apology.
Finishing with yet another cover, the band belts out the Zep tune, "Stairway to Heaven" with real zest and energy.
56. Make A Jazz Noise Here (2CD, Barking Pumpkin D2 74234, June 4, 1991)
The title comes from an actual line Zappa says during "Big Swifty." As the head winds down in anticipation of the solos, Ike Willis makes an "ooowwww" type of noise -- FZ gets the audience to sing along -- and at the exact moment when the last note of the opening melody is being held, he says:
Make a jazz noise here ...
This double-CD set -- the final document of the '88 band -- is an impressive release of mostly instrumental charts.
And the 12 musicians in this band make it seem like a walk in the park.
After a slinky guitar solo on "Stinkfoot," Zappa proceeds to politely embarrass Ed Mann.
"When Yuppies Go To Hell" (13:28) is a fascinating piece, stitched together from seven different performances. Before you know it, the sampled vocal "goin' to hell" is being repeated over and over, leading to a Walt Fowler trumpet solo in five which melts into a Synclavier/drum duet (Wackerman never sounded better). Bruce Fowler joins in, leading to another complete breakdown with bizarre synth noises ("make one here!") ... long improvised section with a few quasi-magical moments -- frankly, a few moments of excessive bullshit -- but those things happened, and Frank documented them -- with glee!
and Paula Hawkins screeching out
fire and chains and ...
all under a fast-moving jazz background.
The actual track "Fire and Chains" is a magnificent guitar solo stripped from "Pound for a Brown" -- from February 9th, Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C.
The next five tracks are all "oldies," a continuous segue taken from the same gig (Rotterdam, May 3rd, except for the beginning of "Oh No"). Finally, under a funky 5/4 beat, Zappa takes off with one of those low-E string moaning phrases, gradually rising up into a slippery, angular modality ...
... listen to what Scott Thunes is doing underneath FZ's solo. One of the best bass players around, he is one of the major reasons this band is so good and unfortunately also the catalyst for the premature break-up of the band and the tour.
That's Mike Keneally playing the George Duke lick on "Eat That Question." [If you don't know MK's own music, I cannot recommend it highly enough! Hit the previous link and try "Dancing" or "Dog" (or anything)].
"Black Napkins" gives nearly everyone in the horn section a solo.
For some reason, "King Kong" (13:04) has always tended to yield some very bizarre solo blowing, ever since its Side Four incarnation on "Uncle Meat." Here, at the first edit (4:07, March 5th, Cleveland), Bruce Fowler plays a lovely solo, which ends with the rhythm section grooving away in a fast 7/8. He puts his horn down and delivers a very funny rap to his Cleveland audience:
You know, you know that reminds me of a real sad story. It happened right here in ... lovely Cleveland a long long time ago, 'bout, about three hundred and thirty million years ago in fact, in the Upper Devonian. There was a really nice intellectual kind of a placoderm type of a fish, and he was, he was real creative, and he was a-just having lot of fun living, living his life gently along here in the Upper Devonian Peninsula you've got here, and suddenly, out of nowhere, came a band of religious fanatic sharks. And they organized themselves in crazy, fiendish groups, and just ate everything, leaving nothing for this talented creative placoderm type fish, and ... it just brings tears to my eyes that you may let this happen again, in 1988. I don't know what to do about it! It's driving me wild! I can't hardly stand it no more! I might have to play an out-of-tune note or something! I JUST CAN'T STAND IT ANYMORE! OH GOD! OH GOD! OH GOD! OH GOD!
Disc Two delivers a real smorgasbord of tasty musical morsels.
"The Black Page (new age version)" (6:46) is one of seven separate and distinct performances of this minor masterpiece. (The other six are on Releases #23, 37, 57, 58, 65 and 89.)
The introduction here (always with that floating vibraphone lick) was a standard concert opening for many years as an intro vamp for whatever was to follow. This is a unique arrangement, beginning in augmentation, filled with tiny details -- when suddenly the piece explodes into its normal, fast tempo (2:03).
2:23 to 2:30 is unique to this arrangement. From Philly to Grenoble, France for the blazing guitar solo, and finally to Modena, Italy for the magnificent coda (including a melodic segment set over a the beat of a tango!
This Dupree's Paradise (8:34) is one of three performances in the canon. The first was the rock-band version from Helsinki (#52) and the other is from the Boulez album (#39). This version may be the best of all of them, with precision playing and a pumped-up, fiery interp.
The sixth "City of Tiny Lites" (8:01) [#26, 58, 80, 86 and 89]. An interesting exercise in musical CC occurs at 2:24 when the band begins a vamp identical to the one on "Variations on The Carlos Santana Secret Chord Progression" (#32, also taken from "City"), as Zappa launches into one of best solos from the '88 releases -- three-and-a-half minutes of exploratory composition; ripping his way into brave new musical territory, using every trick at his disposal, creating live air sculptures.
(It probably goes without saying -- and therefore needs to be said: Frank Zappa gave 100% of himself before an audience, no matter how large or small. You can hear it in these guitar solos. Naturally, his devotion to the music rubbed off on his employees ... making moments like the above eternal treasures.)
Stravinsky and Bartok get some FZ time ("Royal March from 'L'Histoire du Soldat'" and "Theme from the Bartok Piano Concerto #3 [which he told Nigey Lennon "made him cry").
A very exciting "Sinister Footwear" (6:39), with plenty of blowing time -- even for the likes of Kurt McGettrick on baritone sax! Ed Mann is kept very busy throughout!
"Alien Orifice" (4:15) -- check out Scott Thunes' contribution here. Beautiful. Nice solos.
"Cruisin' for Burgers" (8:27) in a brand new arrangement (other releases: #07, 23, 60 and 91) crushes the air out the room. Zappa's solo (3:05) is both inventive and lyrical.
"Advance Romance" (7:43, one of six versions: [#21, 54, 58, 70 and 86]). Bobby Martin sings the lead vocal. Zappa solos in the middle. "Strictly Genteel" (6:36) ends this super set.
57. You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 4 (2CD, Rykodisc RCD 10087/88, June 14, 1991)
Eleven previously unreleased tracks ("Little Rubber Girl," "You Call That Music?," "Pound for a Brown Solos," "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," "Church Chat," "Tiny Sick Tears," "Smell My Beard," "The Booger Man," "Are You Upset?," "Johnny Darling," "No No Cherry").
Two dramatically different arrangement of previously released tracks: ("The Evil Prince," "The Torture Never Stops").
Nine years covered: '69, '74, '75, '78, '79, '80, '82, '84, and '88.
As stated above, "The Evil Prince" does indeed get a "dramatically different" treatment than its original version from Thing-Fish (#41). One of the great aspects of this massive "Stage" series is how it gave Zappa the opportunity to feature so many different eras -- and this '84 band was somewhat poorly represented in comparison to other incarnations -- it was never better than it is here, and this "Evil Prince" really does have an undeniable energy to it.
58. You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 5 (2CD, Rykodisc RCD 10089/90, July 10, 1992)
Twenty previously unreleased tracks ("Downtown Talent Scout," "Here Lies Love," "Piano/Drum Duet," "Mozart Ballet," "Chocolate Halvah," "JCB & Kansas #1," "The Little March," "Right There," "Where is Johnny Velvet?," "Proto-Minimalism," "JCB & Kansas #2," "My Head," "Meow," "Where's Our Equipment?," "FZ/JCB Drum Duet," "No Waiting for the Peanuts to Dissolve," "A Game of Cards," "German Lunch," "Shall We Take Ourselves Seriously?," "The Geneva Farewell").
No dramatically different arrangement of previously released tracks
Five years covered: '65, '67, '68, '69, and '82
59. You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 6 (2CD, Rykodisc RCD 10091/92, July 10, 1992)
Eleven previously unreleased tracks ("MOI Anti-Smut Loyalty Oath," "Madison Panty-Sniffing Festival," "Farther O'Blivion," "Lonely Person Devices," "Make A Sex Noise," "Tracy is a Snob," "Emperor of Ohio," "NYC Halloween Audience," "Thirteen," "Lobster Girl," "Lisa's Life Story").
One dramatically different arrangement of previously released tracks: ("Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance").
Eleven years covered: '70, '71, '73, '76, '77, '78, '79, '80, '81, '84, '88
60. Playground Psychotics (2CD, Barking Pumpkin D2 74244, October 27, 1992)
Perhaps the 94th album you should buy, this one would seem to be for hard-core fans only! It consists of secretly-taped conversations between certain band members, particularly Flo & Eddie, Aynsley Dunbar and the unhappy Jeff Simmons (who quit the group and the movie [200 Motels], but was later welcomed back by Zappa with open arms and no hard feelings. He joined the Roxy [#19] band) and even got a co-writer's credit on Zoot Allures (#22) with "Wonderful Wino").
But a second version of "Billy the Mountain" makes this package worthwhile. This chart helps keeps things straight, especially as a third version will appear on Release #91.
61. Ahead Of Their Time (CD, Barking Pumpkin D2 74246, April 20, 1993)
Over the years, bits and pieces of this infamous concert at Albert Hall made it on to various releases -- the first probably being "Louie Louie" from Uncle Meat (#07).
Here -- in one of his final projects -- he shows his obvious love for the original Mothers, despite all the acrimony, all the lawsuits -- and presents the entire show, with few edits.
Cal's cover is a classic.
62. The Yellow Shark (CD, Barking Pumpkin R2 71600, November 2, 1993)
Let's get serious here, folks. Frank Zappa was an American composer who wrote some of the most glorious music of the late 20th century.
Recorded in mid- to late-September, 1992 -- primarily in Frankfurt, I believe -- the "Yellow Shark" concerts produced exciting new "classical" Zappa music, sending some academics scurrying back to the LSO and Boulez recordings to check this guy out...
It is all serious shit -- and it was all recorded live! -- no overdubs -- by the incredible Ensemble Modern.
1. "Intro" (1:43). You can hear that Frank's voice is somehow different -- you can almost hear the pain and fatigue.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you and thank you. I understand there is a sign in the audience that once again says: 'What's the secret word for tonight?' The secret word for tonight is ... [musical noise] ... Now, let's get serious, ladies and gentlemen, I know you came here to see really FINE performances by a really FINE modern music ensemble, conducted by a really FINE conductor. And here comes the FINE conductor now, Peter Rundel, ladies and gentlemen! (beat) And if you feel like throwing underpants onto the stage, put 'em over there.
2-3. "Dog Breath Variations" (2:06) / "Uncle Meat" (3:24). Zappa's fatigue is evident with yet another, more subtle, observation: he hired Ali Askin to arrange this older music for this new group -- something he would have insisted on doing himself in earlier times ... I have always found parts of this Uncle Meat merger to be rather plodding -- but I do admit that scoring the beginning of the "Uncle Meat" line for high-register bassoon was ingenius.
4. "Outrage at Valdez" (3:27). If you have never heard the "classical" side of Frank Zappa, I urge you to listen to this magnificent composition. Buy it on CD, download it, listen to it on Huhu, or Sulu, or Rhapsody or Fantasy or wherever you can find it!
Originally part of the Synclavier score Zappa wrote for a Jacques Cousteau documentary called "Outrage at Valdez," this arrangement is a masterpiece of sonic organization and tightly controlled orchestral timbre and color. You can barely hear the shaker that starts things off ... a sinuous, complex melody over a barely-heard 4/4 ... and at 0:30 when that English Horn comes in ...
Tears Began to Fall
5. "Times Beach II" (7:30). Woodwind quintet. Flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French Horn.
Zappa's earliest "classical" compositions (up to and including the music in 200 Motels ) -- although always highly original in every aspect -- occasionally tended to show their obvious debt to Frank's love and influence of the music of Edgard Varèse -- some more obviously than others (#04, for example).
But as his self-taught skills continued to advance over the years, and as he obviously began to find his own unique voice with an unusual musical vocabularly culled from so many disparate sources since his childhood!
This tightly organized piece moves through many musical layers, keeping the ears constantly engaged and challenged -- right up until the final chord, which includes a disgusted-sounding human voice.
A magnificent work of art.
6. "III Revised" (1:44) String quartet; but Zappa hated to see the bass player just "sitting around," so he added a bass part, making it a quintet. Here's a halfway decent performance on YouTube by another quartet.
7. "The Girl in the Magnesium Dress" (4:33). This composition -- originally for Synclavier (see #39) -- is typical of the way Zappa worked with this group. Always hungry for something even more difficult to play -- FZ game them "transcriptions" of stuff that poured out of the Synclavier's notation program -- stuff not meant for human performance!
But perform it they do. Since then, others have tried and (at least partly) succeeded.
8. "Be-Bop Tango" (3:43). I find Ali Askin's arrangement interesting, perhaps provocative.
In any case, compare to the original (#19) and in particular compare tempi. As cool as this sounds, that '74 band played this music with an ease somewhat lacking here.
I have never understood why Zappa (Frank? Gail?) felt the need to give us a full one minute and four seconds of applause following this track.
9. "Ruth is Sleeping" (6:06) -- Synclavier composition arranged for piano, four hands. Astonishing music.
10. "None of the Above" (2:06). String quartet + bass. One of Zappa's most piercing, exploratory works, it is nevertheless extremely well organized (compare 1:21 and 2:06, for example).
11. "Pentagon Afternoon" (2:27) is for the full ensemble. Check out the "lion's roar" at 0:45.
12. "Questi Cazzi di Piccione" (3:02) -- or Those Fucking Pigeons -- is another terrific string quartet (plus bass, here). A burst of machine-gun type sound ends the piece -- I guess the pigeons "got it."
13. "Times Beach III" (4:25) -- more woodwind quintet. This one is filled with silent spaces and leisurely moving strangeness. It is thick like molasses, sometimes ... other times, the music moves up and down in irregular rhythms, creating a sense of disorientation. The fact that you can a hear a pin drop indicates that the German audience must have been transfixed!
14. "Food Gathering in Post-Industrial America, 1992" (2:48). [see intro to my initial post: Part One, above]
15. "Welcome to the United States" (6:41) is Hermann Kretzschmar reading a United States visa application, while Zappa conducted the group with pre-rehearsed noises and moments of musical madness:
Immediately after Kretzschmar pronounces the letters A, B and C (part of the application's questions), Zappa scores a loud bang, brilliant scoring. Must be heard to be believed.
Letter "C" gets a little uncomfortable, perhaps.
16. "Pound for a Brown" (2:12) -- never more beautifully and accurately performed, with the 7/8 sounding so natural throughout. Listen for "new" music in the last 30 seconds!
17. "Exercise #4" (1:37) is actually a section from "The Uncle Meat Variations" (#07).
18. "Get Whitey" (7:00) has nothing to do with race. From Frank's liner notes:
The title originally came because the first version, the prototype "Whitey" that was rehearsed in '91 when the group came to Los Angeles (see #69), dealt only with the white keys on the piano. But this version is more chromatic. I was thinking about changing the title to something else, but the general opinion of people in the group was they liked 'Get Whitey'.
19. "G-Spot Tornado" (5:17). Synclavier composition from #47. I am personally not thrilled with Askin's arrangement.
This release is a MUST-HAVE!
63. Civilization Phaze III (2CD, Barking Pumpkin UMRK 01, December 2, 1994)
As one of my three "desert-island" discs (+ #08 and #20 -- a multiple selection which can change from time to time) -- I find it difficult to write about the high, spiritual mountaintop which Frank Zappa ascended in this -- his final masterpiece, finished only shortly before his death. Some sections -- notably "N-Lite" -- had been worked on for many years.
Most Zappa fans would probably not put this on their Top-Three lists (let alone Top Ten or even Twenty) -- for the simple reason that there is no "rock band"; no "songs" in the traditional sense; and even the dense, exotic music from the Synclavier (plus some short sections which feature the Ensemble Modern) is frequently interrupted by the "piano people" -- both from #04 and contemporarily (including Moon, Michael Rapaport, etc.)
The slick, glossy booklet -- containing the lyrics of the spoken word portions, as well as the stage directions for this "opera pantomime" -- is stitched into the package. Six pages of Uri's incredible drawings are reproduced on thin, high-quality onion-skin-type paper.
In two-and-a-half pages of GENERAL NOTES (in tiny print), Zappa expounds upon the Project. Always the mother of his own invention, it is interesting to note his explanation for using the 1967 "piano people" tapes here:
Because all the dialog had been recorded in (to borrow a phrase from EVELYN, A MODIFIED DOG [#20] 'pan-chromatic resonance and other highly ambient domains', it was not always possible to make certain edits sound convincing, since the ambience would vanish disturbingly at the edit point. This severely limited my ability to create the illusion that various groups of speakers, recorded on different days, were talking to each other. As a result, what emerged from the texts was a vague plot regarding pigs and ponies, threatening the lives of characters who inhabit a large piano.
Zappa's stage directions are quite entertaining. This is his description of what happens during the 18-minute instrumental "N-Lite," which closes out Act One:
This dance shows the exterior world crushed by evil science, ecological disaster, political failure, justice denied, and religious stupidity.
I. Negative Light
The left tableau is now a mad scientist's laboratory. He has invented negative light and is murdering an assortment of caged animals with it.
II. Venice Submerged
The center tableau shows us dancers dressed as Venetian landmark buildings, vanishing beneath waves of childishly grinding 'stage water'.
III. The New World Order
The right tableau is a dark city with ragged citizens moving in lines from place to place, supervised by squadrons of uniformed ponies.
IV. The Lifestyle You Deserve
The left tableau is now a courtroom. Pigs are suing each other and dragging away bags of money.
The center tableau is now a cubistic collage of badly imagined Bible stories, including the Garden of Eden, Noah's Ark, Sodom & Gomorrah, etc. Pig and Pony dancers re-enact these scenes, but interweave them, resulting in an incomprehensible finale.
VI. He Is Risen
JESUS pops up in the middle of all this like a baffled jack-in-the-box. The dancers attempt to worship him, but he casts them away. After examining the mess they have made of his parables, he disposes of them with a holy hand grenade, and leaps into the piano.
And now -- unless you are waiting for the actual Broadway production -- I will spoil the ending by quoting Frank's final stage direction:
ACT TWO ends with a large model of a crop-dusting plane, spraying the audience with a toxic sustance.
Another track -- "Amnerika" (3:03) -- features music first heard as part of three different tracks on Thing-Fish (#41) and which apparently had lyrics at some point. Click towards the bottom of this page to hear a short sample with the lyrics.
Few fans or critics really took the time to appreciate this great masterpiece (I know, I'm repeating myself). David Fricke was one of these few, who wrote a review which actually gets what this music is all about. Read it here. In addition, Kevin Courrier has an intelligent take on the work in his terrific book, "Dangerous Kitchen: The Subversive World of Zappa."
64. The Lost Episodes (CD, Rykodisc RCD 40573, February 27, 1996)
Zappa had been working on this compilation right up until his death, taking it seriously enough to tell a journalist that:
" ... I've built three versions of it, but I haven't settled on which one to put out yet." (All my notes here come from this brilliant subpage on Roman's lyric site.) Note the fantastic cover art by Gabor Csupo.
The 30-track rundown:
1. "The Blackouts" (0:22). A group conversation recorded in 1958, when Frank Zappa was a very young 17 years old!
2. "Lost in a Whirlpool" (2:46). FZ, his brother Bobby, and Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart) in one of the very earliest recordings ~ 1957, according to the frequently unreliable Zappa -- others say '58 or '59. Best not to think about the lyrics too carefully.
3-5. "Ronnie Sings?" (1:05) / "Kenny's Booger Story" (0:33) / "Ronnie's Booger Story" (1:16) are all from '61 or '62. Once you stop laughing, you can check out the awesome CC here ("Let's Make the Water Turn Black" [#03])!
6. "Mount St. Mary's Concert Excerpt" (2:28). This recording from 1963 is the earliest example of Zappa's "classical" music. He paid $300 to hire this pick-up orchestra from the college.
7. "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance" (3:51). This slick sounding recording was made in 1961 at Studio Z when Paul Buff still owned it (Zappa took over the studio around '63 or '64)...
8. "Tiger Roach" (2:20). Beefheart, FZ & Company. Don is improvising from a comic book he was reading.
9. "Run Home Slow Theme" (1:25). After several years of setbacks, Run Home Slow was eventually shot (starring Mercedes McCambridge, released in 1965), and Frank's score was finally recorded by a small pick-up orchestra in 1963 at Art Laboe's Original Sound in Hollywood, with Paul Buff engineering.
Be sure to check out the other version of this on #68.
10. "Fountain of Love" (2:08). From '63 -- Ray Collins, and Buff on fuzz bass.
11. "Run Home Cues, #2" (0:28). Important because of the music which eventually became "Oh No" (#04, 10).
12. "Any Way the Wind Blows" (2:14). Same session as track 10.
13. "Run Home Cues, #3" (0:11). Short but oh how sweet!
14. "Charva" (1:59). Another Studio Z recording from '64 with FZ doing goofy-sounding vocals, a distinctive musical trademark in the years to come. Zappa actually discusses the construction of this song on "The Uncle Frankie Show" on #75.
15. "The Dick Kunc Story" (0:46) is one of those feel-good stories from a band or crew member that is verbal grout between two tracks. It's a great story, though.
16-17. "Wedding Dress Song" (1:14) and "Handsome Cabin Boy" (1:21) are both from '67-'68. Art Tripp is on pitched percussion.
18. "Cops & Buns" (2:36). Did Zappa tape every single moment of human history? This is pretty funny.
19. "The Big Squeeze" -- 41 seconds of celesta, kazoos, snorks and a sped-up wordless vocal all to the video images of a Luden's Cough Drop commercial. See it here! Frank made certain that Ed Seeman got credit here; but when this was released on #94, Gail sorta forgot, it seems ...
20. "I'm a Band Leader" (1:14) is more verbal grout, as Beefheart seemingly reads the lyrics. The thing is hilarious, however, if you've ever played in a band with that kind of "leader."
21. "Alley Cat" (2:47). From right around the time that Zappa produced Trout Mask Replica, this was recorded in Frank's basement.
22. "The Grand Wazoo" (2:12) -- the track, not the album (#16)! Here, Zappa ingeniously overdubbed a very cool Synclavier track over this 1969 recording of Beefheart.
23. "Wonderful Wino" (2:47) is a previously unreleased track from the '72-'73 period.
24. "Kung Fu" (1:06) -- a long sought-after jewel from the "Roxy" band. Quite a lovely 66 seconds.
25. "RDNZL" (3:49). How fortunate we are to have five different performances of this extremely cool tune (#24, 52, 58 and 65)! Bruce Fowler:
" ... Tom and I worked really hard and set up games for ourselves. We had to get the parts right or we couldn't smoke or something ... we would just play it over and over again until we were exhausted but we had it down. Then we'd walk in and Jean-Luc couldn't play it and then George and Jean-Luc would say 'Wow, how come you guys can play it?' but we practised, you know!"
26. "Basement Music #1" (3:46). Circa '77-'78: FZ:
" ... At the time Warner Bros. made it impossible for me to record anywhere. I had a 4-track and decided to record in my basement. That's me wasting time with a very primitive rhythm box, a Rhythm Ace, fed into a flanger. The music was done on a synthesizer called a Synkey. It was all played live, with no overdubs."
A nice piece of buried treasure.
27. "Inca Roads" (3:42). Same session as track 25. You can never have too many Inca Roads. See also #20, 52, 55 and 81. Fascinating to hear at this slower tempo. Beautiful solo by Bruce; and a rare pleasure to Ian Underwood on flute
28. "Lil' Clanton Shuffle" (4:47). Yet another (terrific) leftover from the Hot Rats sessions!
29. "I Don't Wanna Get Drafted" (3:24). I'm pretty certain this is the mix that went on the single.
30. "Sharleena" (11:54). Earliest of six versions (#11, 40, 54, 60 and 91).
65. Läther (3CD, Rykodisc RCD 10574/76, September 24, 1996)
Läther is a sprawling 3-CD set of mostly previously released material which was originally intended for a 4-LP set in 1977.
A potent mix of the many different styles and combinations of FZ's music, this endurance contest begins with the elegant "Regyptian Strut," followed by the full-orchestra version of "Naval Aviation in Art?"
Many hours later, the third disc ends with "Time is Money." (On the newest 2012 release, the bonus tracks have been removed, so the disc ends with "The Ocean is the Ultimate Solution" and "Greggery Peccary.")
After Warners rejected the 4-LP set, Zappa played the entire thing over the airwaves of a Pasadena radio station:
FZ: Well, there it was, all eight sides of the Läther album. This has been Frank Zappa as temporary bogus disc jockey and, ahh, good-bye!
The behind-the-scenes stuff is just as fascinating as the music here.
For a look at the 4-LP theory, etc. see my buddy Biffy the Elephant Shrew's shrewd analysis, here.
Best of all is this chart showing where all the little "grout" between the tracks is located!
Also, the new 2012 release has a new cover:
66. Frank Zappa Plays The Music Of Frank Zappa, a memorial tribute (CD, Barking Pumpkin UMRK 02, October 31, 1996)
A touching posthumous tribute from Dweezil with three guitar-solo tunes getting a paired-up treatment; each song is presented in two versions: one, an early working out of the tune; and then the "album version."
"Black Napkins" from Ljubljana on November 22, 1975 and the "album version" from Osaka on February 3, 1976.
"Zoot Allures" from Tokyo on February 5, 1976 and the "album version" from The Record Plant, LA, c. May-June 1976.
"Watermelon in Easter Hay" from Eppelheim on February 24, 1978 and the "album version" from Village Recorders, LA, April 1979.
An additional track, "Merely a Blues in A" is pretty funny as you picture how cold the band might be! What pros!
67. Have I Offended Someone? (CD, Rykodisc RCD 10577, April 8, 1997)
Have I? We certainly hope so. It makes things so much more interesting.
Here, the "offending" songs are almost all presented in new, or remixed form (only three are simple re-releases).
"Dumb All Over" is a new, live version from the '84 band (The Pier, NYC).