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1975 04 19 (L) Passaic, NJ  
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Zappa Penguin
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Post 2008-02-01 20:09   [Quote] 
1975 04 19 Late Passaic NY 107.46 Aud MC (Grape-BengoFury) ZTLS#184

After a brief snippet of bona-fide sound-checking, a cut takes us to some tribial Bozzionian drumming that kicks off the proto-soundcheck opening improvisation. Things start off very avant-jazz, and quickly coalesce into... well, they don't exactly coalesce at any given point, but we get some very groovy, bluesy slide guitar, so as far as these improvisations go, it's not all that bad. Frank welcomes us to show number two, introduces the band, and then - headline font here, folk - informs us that they have some new tunes, and will start off with something weird - and, in fact, scratch that, it will be even WEIRDER, for he will change the arrangement right there, on the spot. With no further ado, Frank kicks directly into the "Indian lick" from Debra Kadabra, and though it takes them a beat, the band falls in right behind him. This results in the first "verse" (that is to say, everything from "Debra Kadabra / say she's a witch" to "shoes too tight and pointed") being omitted. The rest of the song is smokin' as ever, and throws us straight into the nastiness that is the opening riff to Florentine Pogen. Much like Carolina Hardcore, it takes six minutes before we get a brief solo, but that brief solo is very, very worth it. Frank's guitar is going places - this is another one of those solos which is fun to listen to simply because it places Frank's oeuvre in context - providing the transition from the groove-days of the early 1970s to the more dissonant solos of the late 1970s and beyond.

Things virtually fade out after Florentine - fear not, it's not a case of digital trickery - the band simply decides that now would be a good time to take a drink and re-tune. A good place for a disc change, if nothing else. Frank decides he'll explain to us exactly what the upcoming (spoiler forthcoming) country/western (end spoiler) song is about, and we get a slightly expanded version of the preamble that begins the album version. Poofters leads into Echidna's - as it nearly always does - and Echidna's either contains a lot of tomfoolery, or leads to a lot of tomfoolery (as it usually did). Enter our second improvisation track! Very much like the George Duke prologues to Dupree's Paradise, we get a little bit of funk, a little bit of sample-and-hold, some jazz, and then TOTAL SCI FI FREAKOUT - I swear the sound actually moves from one ear to the next in this nice-but-certainly-not-perfect audience recording (taped, if I am correct, by the Grape). Things even get a little Peter Wolf fusioney before, why hello, Debra, isn't it? Yes, Debra Kadab-WHOA HOLY NUT-BUTTS THIS IS CERTAINLY DIFFERENT - a very distorted, lurching, grungey take on the Indian lick. Sounds like Andre Lewis - or even Add N to (X), for those of you into that sort of stuff. Very, very nice. Then a little more "weird noises" - kinda like what Terry Ted would pull in a 1977 Envelopes solo - and then a little Tommy-Mars-operatic-style build-up before melting down into a much more Georgey jazz - no wait, sci-fi - no, make that jazz-funk - George is definitely bouncing around here, and the results make for better listening than re-telling.

After all that, Don't You Ever Wash That Thing is almost anti-climatic. We get a Don solo for the guy, right over there, who has been saying, all throughout the show, "let Don play!" - it takes a while, and the overall effect isn't quite as show-stopping as the sickness that took place in Claremont, but it's still good Don. Cute one brief drum solo and one sloppy rendition of Louie Louie, and now we're dumped into Advance Romance.

Those of you well acquainted with later Zappa tours may have an almost subconscious ability to tune this song out. There's certainly no guilt in admitting so - this song was played a lot, and released a lot, and... well it certainly wasn't a bad song, but it tweren't no Torture, you know? Anyway, it might be wise to delve deep into your subconscious, working your way through the labyrinth and fighting whatever demons may lurk within, hopefully doing your best to avoid an encounter with a permed-up David Bowie, and emerging with a new ability to -not- tune this song out. Ladies and gents - holy DARN is this song ever smoking. Part of it may well be the lead singer - no offense, Ray and Ike, but this song was made for Nappy. Or maybe Nappy was made for this song? Whatever - the composed section of this song is as alive and exciting as it ever would be, and the guitar solos - yes, solos, one on what is almost definitely a pedal-laced slide guitar, one on what is almost as definitely Frank's guitar - are both downright sick, much like what would transpire in the City of Tiny Lights four years later. The vamp shifts, going from blues to boogie to a minimalist take on the blues, and through it all the guitar keeps going. And going. And the vamp returns to something much more Advance Romancian, and somebody starts playing a quick chord over and over again - very much like one of those proto-minimalist 1984 Cleveland loops, and my golly gosh it's neat to hear. In short, we get nasty, sick slide, then dirty swamp guitar, with experimental interludes in between. Nearly eight minutes long, and worth every second of chrome oxide. The grand rave-up finale, which would - to my knowledge - be dropped after this tour, really helps hammer this song home. Nice.

There's a digital fadeout between this and Orange Claw Hammer - but fret not, no music is missing. It takes the band a bit to get their tune on, but once they do, they plow forth into what may well be the most beautiful song of the tour. Zappa said he "defiled" it by adding a musical backing. I beg to differ - the music is perfectly fitting, and adds a more accessible emotional core to what is already a very majestic lyric - not to mention that the jams that would flow out of this song are some of the most honest-sounding music that Zappa would ever be involved in. No meltdowns, no rotating solos, no need for eyebrows or any of that conducting stuff - just five minutes of genuine heart and soul, those things Zappa did his best to avoid when in his stage persona. Come to think of it, it's no small wonder he called this a defilement.

Anyway, moving right along, Zappa decides that it would be best if they would make something up. In fact, he decides that he and George will start off, and from there, we - the collective listeners - will see what happens. Zappa improvisations tended to start off in one of two distinct ways - either chaotic meltdowns, or something eastern. This particular improvisation starts off nearly acoustic, very reflective, and very eastern-sounding - which can only bode well. We get a gentle, playful, Michael Feinstein version of Uncle Meat on electric piano, and our third Debra Kadabra quote of the night. Eventually, Frank decides it's time to move on, and leads things into the main "Token of My Extreme" riff - which results in a sleepy, lazy, and very very pretty version of this short-lived workhorse.

But wait! That's not all, folks! We get that song about Captain Beefheart's life in a trailer in the desert - better known as "The Torture Never Stops", and as if that's not enough, yes folks, the previously-agreed-upon Willie the Pimp, complete with some smoking, dirty fretwork.

Easily the most consistent show yet, and the first show of the tour that's best described as "pretty darn good", rather than "solid, with the following pretty darn good highlights". And the hour between the swirling madness of Echidna's and the final fart-arounds of the post-Orange Claw Hammer improvisations is beyond mere "pretty darn good"-ness.
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pbuzby
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Post 2008-02-02 04:16   [Quote] 
Nice to see the start of a detailed llok at this strange, uneven but fascinating tour, and interesting how the impressionistic approach contrasts with the more dry style we used on my 88 site and the FZTRS pages.

This late show is in my mental notebook as the tape featuring not one, but two freeform FZ/Duke duo improvs. Glad Grape was in attendance (and produced one of the better recordings available from spring '75).
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mustwerock
Joined: 2006-06-27
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Location: Rochester, NY
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Post 2008-02-24 20:42   [Quote] 
Well that certainly whet my appetite. Now to download it! sibbz Hopefully there's a seeder... (insert praying smily guy here if there was one)
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