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1980 10 13 (L) Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix, AZ  
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Zappa Penguin
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Post 2006-03-05 04:26   [Quote] 
After another undocumented (sigh) set, we arrive at this - the second circulating show of the oddest band you probably never saw in your life, in their "odd" phase.

For this review, I shall adopt a slightly less formal tone, considering that this is a messageboard after all. So prepare yourself for emoticons and the first person tense!

Tonight's opening solo, the Deathless Horsie (the only known time this was performed this tour), takes the prize for "best opening solo of this tour - up to this moment". Expect to see that phrase recycled a lot. Despite being a mere four minute solo, it manages to take the listener on an impressive ride. Possibly Frank's second most beautiful vamp (nothing can compare to Watermelon in Easter Hay, though this, as an odd Watermelon derivative (or is it just me?) comes the closest), and always inspiring a worthwhile solo (even during the much-maligned 1984 tour). Of note is the beautiful segue from the solo back to the main theme - Zappa's bands tended to botch or fudge post-solo segues the worst of all, so might as well give these guys credit for not following tradition Smile

"Are you ready for number two", Zappa asks, and just as this reviewer starts crafting a pithy response, Zappa manages to further tease the listener - "How many people were at the first show?" (not I) "Well great, you're going to hear some different songs then!". Thankfully, this bodes true even for a disadvantaged listener - this is one of those "bizarro" late shows (c.f. 9/25/74L, 2/17/78L) where Frank busts out (to borrow a Phish term) some never-before-or-since-heard tunes (though this being the 1980s, don't get your hopes up for another Flambay, or even a Land of 1000 Black Magic Women).

After some more bantering, featuring a (one would like to imagine / hope) girl (as opposed to Drew51 or Teasea Very Happy ) holding up an "I wanna be a Crew Slut" sign, we're deposited in the early You Are Meek at the Mudd Club medley - featuring the hellishly overlong You Are What You Is (without anything to make the outro do anything but drag - come on, Frank, you have Ray White and Bob Harris, and this meek / boring little coda is the best you can whip up? Fuck you too, buddy!), which basically kills off what little momentum that this trio ever offered the listener. Mudd Club features some slight sprechgesang deviations, and touches on Steve Vai's blue mohawk, and for a brief minute or so, it almost becomes interesting - but to this non-rasta listener, three minutes of reggae is at least two minutes too long. As for The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing, I found myself accomplishing trivial computer maintanance, more amused by the walking definition of American parlance that one can overhear in this slightly distant AUD tape ("Hey man, what row is this here!?") than anything in the song proper. The Meek is a great, catchy little song, but I find myself not usually in the mood for this type of listening from my live Zappa - possibly because I'm too much of a music dork, or possibly because The Meek just sucks live. Razz

From this, we get another "subdued" (or is that "musically uninteresting"?) number - the second known performance of "The Dangerous Kitchen". Despite the world of good this song has inspired in Zappa Fans (such as LudzNL, Amnesiavivace, DLHotch, and other TDK-goers Very Happy), I must say that I never really got the point of this song. The most interesting thing about this performance, for me, is the bassline. Thankfully, three and one quarter minutes is but a blink of an eye to the Imaginer, and we are soon back in music land, courtesy of the Yellow Snow. The segue from this into Stick It Out ranks as one of the least successful in Zappa's typically carefully crafted canon - Yellow Snow without that descending bassline into Nanook Rubs It just feels (tastes?) wrong. Stick It Out is bouncy as ever on this tour, and I must profess it as one of my favorite Za"pop"a songs (though even Bob Harris can't quite do justice to the original (sadly never officially released, overlooking the limited-edition Beat the Boots II set) Flo and Eddie version). Still, at least I won't be gettin' no jizz upon my computer sofa. The "extended disco outro" here is notable as one of the few (only?) without audience singalong - quite refreshing to hear the drum-and-vocal solo measure without a bunch of stoned audience members completely butchering the "Ahhhhh-ahhhh-ah-AHHHHHHHHHHH-ahah" line. And from this, we go to...

Outside Now? While I can't really fault these last four songs for merely existing, their order (in fact, the order of the setlists on the entire tour up until now) is pretty chaotic at best. Not to harp on one particular issue, but it does seem like this tour is Zappa's "last minute homework assignment" - you know, the one you put off doing until the night before, and then realized that you had a prior obligation on that night that you couldn't get out of, so you ended up drinking a few six packs of Coke (Conehead style) the instant you got back home, and, riding a panic-fueled manic sugar high, pounded it out as the night slowly gave way to day - reading it over and declaring it a solid work of genius, then jumping into your car and nearly causing a ten car pileup on the drive to class to hand it in. Then, while in line to hand it in, you realize that you forgot to put your name on it, and have to hand-scrawl it on the cover page, John and Yoko NYC style. While the shows definitely got great quickly (in fact, this may be Zappa's fastest-starting tour ever, next to the 1979 European jaunt), and the musical meat (sprechgesang aside) is definitely solid high B / low A material, the relative spontaneity of the setlist presentation is either off-putting or a throwback to the chaotic unpredictability of the pre - Bongo Fury tours. Anyway. Outside Now. Great tone on the guitar here.

Lucille... exists, and we get another of the early straight-ahead Tinseltown Rebellions. Truck Driver Divorce makes its debut appearance, in a goofy (even for FZ) sprechgesang version, without the solos that would make this a regularly interesting listen. To cop a standard line that's been used elsewhere - interesting, but by no means great. The same goes for the only (recorded?) live performance of Luigi and the Wise Guys - the "bust out" of the night. Oddly, this is the most well developed of the sprechgesang songs played up thus far in the tour - we get good, suitably wacky guitar and drum fills here and there, and Frank has a "feel" for the pulse of this one. It's right about here, however, that the audience gets a little rebellious themselves (too much sprechgesang?). The best part is hearing Frank crack up on the outro:

FZ: "You are a double.... DORK..."
AUD: "OH MY GAWD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
FZ: "...butt... Laughing ...rash...."

And wham, into Pick Me I'm Clean - the best segue of the night. A jagged, nasty guitar solo is interrupted by an unfortunate tape cut (on my copy, at least), and we pick up in the midst of a drum solo. A bit of a surprise, considering that popular consensus (and his name is Jason Gossard Laughing) considers Pick Me I'm Clean to be relatively nonsense-free until the waning days of this tour. The drum solo... is. It leads into a pretty sick guitar rave up - I'm going to assume this is Steve Vai, as Zappa typically didn't have this much drum interplay in his solos (555 notwithstanding).

This leads into another song that was in its finest form on this tour - Dead Girls of London. After hearing the Bon Jour versions, the 1979 and 1982 versions seem woefully incomplete. Speaking of 1982, this leads into Shall We Take Ourselves Seriously (as well as some feedback problems - the theater or the equipment, one must wonder). No version of this song can compare to the Peter Eggers version on 5/21/82, so the less said, the better. And finally, the "also-played-in-1982" medley moves to the City of Tiny Lites.

This is another slow-starting version (c.f. Albuquerque), but "slow starting" is incredibly relative - after fifteen seconds of vamp, our ears are assaulted with a pyrotechnic solo that demands some sort of expletive be appended to it. I personally am a fan of "fucking" - the raw, "we've both had long days and are young and in love, so pardon me while I fucking fuck you completely" variety, naturally. Readers who have seen the film "Betty Blue" will know of what I am talking. Words don't really do this one justice - maybe not a top five solo, probably not even top 25 (this is Frank Zappa, after all), but after hearing this, I will never be satisfied with the mundane likes of Guitar or Trance-Fusion - sorry, Gail.

The guitar assault continues with the final song of the "also played in 1982" medley - Easy Meat. While neither as sinister as the 78/79 versions, nor as danceable as the 1984 version, this still contains some (allegedly) sinister footwear Very Happy It must have sounded even better live, with Zappa's "wall of guitar". On tape a lot of the sinister presence shrivels, but even so - it's one of the rare cases of a solo becoming a mini-composition of its own. And this concludes our Guitar half-hour in a fine way, as we go into the standard string of 1980 encores.

Drafted Again features an amusing audience-engineered call and response. The less said about Bobby Brown, the better. Ms. Pinky doesn't have much deviation in the outro, but is still enjoyable. The final encores are Love of My Life (Bob Harris was meant for this song) and Illinois Guitar-- er, Enema-- Bandit, which brings things to a satisfyingly freaked-out vibe.

While this is not one of the better tapes from this tour, and may suffer from a wretchedly dull first side (only the first and last song (Deathless and Pick Me) of which truly stand up to rigorous re-listening), it's still a tape from this tour. Fans of guitar needn't hesitate to grab this one, and the same goes for those interested in the dark and unpolished corners of the live catalog.

However, there's certainly better to be had.


Last edited by Zappa Penguin on 2010-01-02 21:31; edited 1 time in total
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WIU2B
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Post 2006-03-06 13:27   [Quote] 
Thanks for a great review. It inspired me to transfer this tape and I'm sorry to say that it sounds really shitty. I'll come back to this later.

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Zappa Penguin
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Post 2006-03-06 19:45   [Quote] 
Notwhatitused2B wrote:
Thanks for a great review. It inspired me to transfer this tape and I'm sorry to say that it sounds really shitty. I'll come back to this later.


Actually, you allegedly already transferred this tape:

a text file wrote:
Frank Zappa,
13 Oct 1980, Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix, AZ
late show

Zappabase: late show 99 min, Aud, B-

01 - Deathless Horsie
02 - You Are What You Is
03 - Mudd Club
04 - The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing
05 - The Dangerous Kitchen
06 - Dont Eat The Yellow Snow
07 - Stick It Out
08 - Outside Now
09 - Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up
10 - Tinseltown Rebellion
11 - Truck Driver Divorce
12 - Luigi And The Wise Guys
13 - Pick Me I Am Clean (tape flip)
14 - Dead Girls Of London
15 - Shall We Take Ourselves Seriously?
16 - City Of Tiny Lights
17 - Easy Meat (incl. Sinister Footwear!)
18 - Drafted Again
19 - Bobby Brown
20 - Ms Pinky
21 - Love Of My Life
22 - Illinois Enema Bandit (cuts)
23 - Watermelon In Easter Hay

This recording: late show 90 min, Aud B

Lineage 1st 90 minutes:
AUD>unknown mics>cassette>cassette(?)>TEAC W790R tape deck>Terratec DMX6 Fire soundcard>Adobe Audition 1.5>WAV>Waves L3 Ultramaximizer 16 bits mastering>Flac Frontend encoding level 5>FLAC

noisereduction was used to eliminate low noise rumble that was on the tape.

show recorded by: unknown
tape transferred: Notwhatitused2B

for the missing end of Illinois Enema bandit and Watermelon In Easter Hay:

Source: 98 min, Aud, B/B-
Lineage: Aud>?>tape>Audiophile 2496>wav CEP (tracked, slightly hiss-reduced)>CDR & flac
Taped by: N/A
Transfered by: walk

Some adjustments were made to make the difference in soundquality less dramatic. this included a slight bass cut and some more noise reduction.
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WIU2B
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Post 2006-03-07 03:14   [Quote] 
Hmm, yes I guess I did, but where is it???? Time for a short brake.

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Zappa Penguin
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Post 2006-03-07 03:26   [Quote] 
The original .flacs are archived by the good souls at TDK, and I can send you my copy if you've managed to ultra-lose them.

Or possibly seed them here Smile
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