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1982 reviews

page one


May 5th, 1982

The first show of the 82 tour, a tour that would see some of the tightest playing ever from a band that probably tops all the others for sheer talent of the players. Since this is the first concert, they're not quite as presice as they get later, and Frank still has his usual first-show short-solo jitters, but it's still quite a good concert.

Treacherous Cretins starts off the concert, with a ferocious solo, but quite short. This would prove to be a theme for the evening. Dancin' Fool is going to appear regularly once again, but a) it's faster this time round, b) it's fun to listen to Steve hack at the melody, and c) tonight's performance features a bit more improvisation than the usual Fool ending.

While listening to RDNZL, I realized two things. One, it's very interesting to listen to FZ's solos this tour and see how influenced he's become by Steve Vai's playing. In 74, his laid-back solos fit very well with the laid-back band. Now, with the hyperactive Steve, Scott, and Ray in the hourse, Frank oozes heavy metal guitar fury. Second, this isn't really a tour for Tommy Mars solos. Perhaps it's the RDNZL vehicle itself, perhaps he just had an off tour, but Tommy isn't as inspiring here.

Not to worry, as Ray grabs Advance Romance, here for the first time since 76, and sings the hell out of it. Ray White can make any song sound great. And, despite what Mr. Gossard may say in later reviews, I'm glad it's here, as it never fails to provide nice solos. Doesn't fail here either. Disco Boy is also fun, not because it's a good song or anything, but because it's a chance for the bass player to go insane. Funky bass line.

First tour premiere, and it's a welcome one - Truck Driver Divorce, complete with the 'Turkey in the Straw' opening it had on this tour. The solo is short, but would expand as the tour went on. And please note that almost all live TDD solos are more interesting than the two really dull ones he chose to release officially.

The Blue Light is still around, though this is its last tour. It's also a lot more fun, as the middle portion lets Frank go off on anything he feels like talking about - in this case discussion of Nector's flanger, and all the trouble it took to fix. Packard Goose and Watermelon produce decent efforts, and Watermelon is particularly intriguing on this tour as its hard edge is a contrast with the soothing solos of 88.

I would like to nominate Watermelon/Doreen as the BEST rare segue FZ ever created. It just fits perfectly. Doreen is also especially nice to hear as it has an extended vocal outro, something that would sadly be dropped fairly soon. Moreover Goblin Girl has a lovely little vocal crash as Frank *and* Ray screw up the words.

Remember in our 84 reviews, where we remarked that we were tired of saying "Cleveland is the highlight of the evening"? I predict you'll be hearing that sentence a lot this tour for Black Page #2. Not only is it the longest solo of the evening, but it's also the best, quoting She's Not There, covering a variety of moods, and generally being the godlike guitar entity that can be heard on YCDTOSA5.

After that, the show gradually wends its way to a close. The last remaining highlight is Whipping Post, where the cool Danish air inspires Frank to remember Helsinki 74 and deliver his 2nd best solo of the evening. Sadly, he chooses to follow it with a tremendously dull Enema Bandit, so the show ends poorly. But for a first show of the tour, it's not a bad tape to get, and get ready, 82 fans, here comes The Black Page #2!


May 7th, 1982

This review is based on a tape copy of Realistic Dream, a vinyl boot from an excellent audience source. While the first show of '82 is unusually strong, this second show is a more typical example of a tour just starting to find its own identity. The setlist is closer to 81 than usual, including the only 82 appearances I could find of Dumb All Over (no solo) and Heavenly Bank Account (5/10 also- no solo also). Also, there are some mistakes and unrefined arrangements, Scott and Chad sound a bit restless, and FZ's solos tend to ramble.

Still, it's clear that this band has a great sound and lots of chops, and FZ is in an aggressive guitar mode for the last time on tour. The best solo is Truck Driver Divorce, where his feedback-heavy tone brings back memories of 10/13/78. The other highlight is The Blue Light - for whatever reason, FZ ditched this song a couple of weeks into the tour, but these final versions are the wildest. Tonight's features FZ's comments on Jimmy Carter's visit to Sweden - unfortunately, there is also a cut.

Not a mandatory tape, but it shows that this band was gathering the resources to challenge the 78 outing for best-ever Europe tour honors.


May 8th, 1982

Shows simply shouldn't be this good this soon. This is only the third show of the tour, and Frank's tours are notorious slow starters. And yet the band is on, the vocals are fantastic, and Frank is simply INSANE. This tour is gonna be a wild ride, folks.

After flirting briefly with reggae 4/4 in 1981, Treacherous Cretins has returned to the classic 11/8, and is all the better for it. Frank's solo is quite fluid and suits the vamp well - genteel and lovely. It'd be the last  genteel and lovely solo for the evening.

"Welcome to the Drammenhallen, with so many echoes you can't stand it!" It is a rather echoey place, though the tape quality is mostly unaffected. And then comes a surprise - a rare Society Pages quartet. It's really tight and nice to hear, and we get a mention of "schasigde!" that is the precursor of the 88 madness. Charlie's Enormous Mouth is also fun to listen to for Steve Vai's screams and shrieks.

City of Tiny Lites really comes into its own in 82. Frank is playing some really, really ugly notes, low and nasty, really squeezing the life out of his guitar. A lot of long, plectrum-wobbled notes this evening. Best of all, this is the monster 82 version, with Ray's vocal gymnastics and conducted improvisations at the end (weird keyboard during those). There is also a really awkward segue into Harder Than Your Husband. Frank would soon realize this, and stick Pound for a Brown back in its proper space.

HTYH has your sister's husband in the first verse, but really we should move on to Bamboozled by Love. My apologies to Ike Willis, but Bobby grabs this song and turns it into a monster. The band spots the extra energy and really get into it, making the crunching "I ain't the type for begging" bridge a minor highlight of each show for me. Oh, the solo is good too. ^_^

Young and Monde also debuts here, and though the solo hasn't quite reached 5/21/82 epicness, it's notbbad. And Bobby and Ray's Young and Monde vocals always sends shivers up my spine. Tinseltown is also still complete this early in the tour, though Approximate finagles its way through the second half as
backing music.

Sinister Footwear is gorgeous, but the solo isn't up to length yet. This is made up for by Stevie's Spanking, though - the girl has been renamed Rachel, and the metal duels have started to come into their own. Frank v. Steve, and Frank wins this time, though that might be due to his louder presence on my tape.

Truck Driver Divorce is the next noteworthy thing on the tape. Frank really has fun singing it this early in the tour - lots of tone to his vocals. This is Frank's 'blank canvas' solo of the evening (rather than over a vamp), and once again he just spews forth some nasty, frethappy, ugly notes. Unfortunately, a tape flip robs us ofthe end of this, as we come back in the middle of Tell Me You Love Me.

The ending is a bit more standard, with a nice, energetic Zomby Woof again getting cut off as it gets interesting. But Frank's guitar work is amazing enough to make tonight a real keeper, even this early in the tour.


May 10th, 1982

As soon as I stop drooling, I'll write the review……Okay…(author wipes chin)….

For many reasons, this show is a must own for any serious collector of Zappa music. Not the best sounding tape, not the best performed show, this tape nevertheless captures one of Frank's most interesting performances by one of his best bands in some of the most revealing sound quality I have ever heard on a Zappa tape.

The sound deserves an easy A-, but more importantly reveals a side to these songs that is not heard elsewhere in the FZ catalog. I lost track of how many times I scratched my head and thought "I never heard that before", referring to a particularly tasty percussion lick, drum fill, or guitar part. In almost every song, I found some new morsel in which to sink my teeth and savor as I had never savored before. Possibly because of the sound, but more than likely because the band is just ON tonight, there are also countless songs that have extra EYEBROWS all over them- little musical flourishes and extras that give the performance an extra push. The "orchestral" section of "Easy Meat" and the entirety of "Strictly Genteel" benefit greatly from these eyebrows. "Easy Meat" teases reggae and C&W with hilarious results, while "Strictly Genteel" runs the musical gamut from sinister to silly to bluesy to majestic. Both sound better than ever.

[SIDE NOTE: The "Easy Meat" solo is one of the more interesting solos I have heard. It starts off in a typical frenzy of notes, with Frank playing loud and fast in a very upbeat fashion. Several minutes into the solo, this fury quickly ceases, and Frank's playing enters a much more deliberate and reflective mood. The first part of the solo sounds like a celebration of the "Easy Meat" lyrics, with the second part coming across as a contemplative questioning of the values behind the "Easy Meat" lyrics. This introspective playing goes on for several minutes, with Frank delving deeper and deeper into this musical reflection. Shortly before the solo climaxes, you can imagine Frank going "Fuck! It's only a song!" as he concludes things with a final frenzy of celebratory yet still rather internal six-string expressions. I cannot put my finger on it, but something about this solo makes me feel that there is something deep going on here, and that Frank is not simply playing the guitar.]

Oddly enough, this is also a great tape because it provides ample opportunity to play "Find the Oops!" When the band is not busy wowing us with its inspirational precision, it is busy making more mistakes in a single Zappa concert than I have ever heard. Bobby messes up two key lines in "Heavenly Bank Account". Scott cannot seem to find the beat in "Advance Romance", while Ray forgets line after line. And "Drowning Witch" simply sounds a little awkward at times. But all of this adds to the fun, and only serves to highlight the strengths of the band when they are not fucking up.

THE HIGHLIGHT of the show, and its ultimate strength, is that despite being only the fourth concert of the tour, this show contains two possibly BEST EVER performances in "Advance Romance" and "Truckdriver Divorce". "Advance Romance", one of my least favorite songs, contains one of those ugly solos that makes your imagination scramble to figure out what Frank is doing to his guitar. At times, sheer noise. The song itself is a loss, thanks to Thunes messing up the bass and Ray forgetting his place in a couple verses. But Frank takes advantage of this scrappy performance, and churns out a scrappy, scraping, "somebody call 911 because that guitar is in trouble" solo. And as an unintentional garnish on the whole mess, the segue back into the final verses is practically non-existent- botched- and it works perfectly.

"Truckdriver Divorce", another not so favorite song, is the best thing I have heard in ages. This performance has it all- eyebrows galore, Frank screwing around with the lyrics, and a screaming solo that almost hurts to listen to. I was glad I was not in the presence of any women or children for this one. An X-Rated onslaught of pure six-string nastiness. God I love you Frank!!!

On top of all this, there is also some late in the show Secret Word madness- rare for an '82 show. For some reason, "Disco Boy" begins with Frank saying "Hur-neh hur-neh hur-neh", which marks the beginning of quite a few vocal antics. Just more eyebrows adorning the music.

I absolutely love this tape. --JG


May 11th, 1982

Almost a week into the tour, and we're back in Denmark again. Frank was not very fond of Copenhagen, something he expressed in interviews as well as here tonight. That did not stop him from playing some really great concerts here in the late 70s, but tonight he sounds outright bored. I will admit that the sound on my tape is of the kind that can make almost any concert sound boring (weak levels, very echoey), and I'm not sure I've been able to disregard that completely.

The show opens with Treacherous Cretins, one of the songs that would soon be dropped from the setlists. And well, FZ doesn't seem to find much inspiration in this beautiful vamp and the solo is over before it even really started. The Doreen/Goblin/Black Page suite is always great to hear, but although BP is ridiculously tight, the solo fails to ignite. Our expectations on this song are high this tour, and Frank seems to struggle to live up to them, but something's missing.Next song of interest is Truckdriver Divorce, which brings us the first really good solo of the evening. Frank mixes chords, clusters, beautiful melodies and nasty melodies to great effect, and tops it off with a great, frenzied burst. In The Blue Light, he tells the audience that it's no need for them to travel to bars; Copenhagen is so boring anyway, so they can just stay home and keep being mediocre. After Tinseltown/Approximate, it's Easy Meat. Right before FZ's solo, Scott has a little "soloette", where he quotes Sinister Footwear, 3rd mvt, which leads Frank to begin his solo with the same melody. The solo stays in a SF-ish mood, with one abrupt deviation, when FZ quotes the Light Cavalry Overture (to which Scott responds with the SFIII quote!). Good solo (and excellent comp), but we know Frank can do much better.

Dead Girls/Seriously/Baltimore/Moggio is another nice suite, one of this band's main characteristics, and the Baltimore solo is quite good. King Kong is a pretty tiny monster, with not too remarkable solos from Ed, Tommy and Frank. Next comes one of the treats with the first fortnight of the tour: Packard Goose/Watermelon In Easter Hay. PG, especially with this solo vamp, was a sadly underplayed song, and this band does it great , except for the "militant" rendition of the Mary monologue, which I don't like. For some reason, the sound gets better right in time for Frank's solo, which starts off aggressive and great, but cools down a little. Watermelon is as always a great set-closer.

The encores begin with Strictly Genteel, then Approximate (again), Cosmik Debris (with Stevie really showing off) and a really messed up segue into No No Cherry, and finally Illinois Enema Bandit - funnily enough, this last solo is the only one to exceed my expectations, a cool and unusually dirty blues affair. FZ doesn't even say a final goodbye to the audience - I don't know what the Danes did to annoy him so much, but he wouldn't come back here until 1988. This is not a bad show, but it never really takes off, due to a lack of humor and/or real musical highlights. It was one of the last '82 shows I acquired, and I suggest you
wait with it too.



May 12th, 1982

The first shows of 82 seem to flip-flop between bizarre, inspired sets and standard, still-getting-it-together concerts. The 82 band's inevitable stop at the Deutschlandhalle is one of the latter. It doesn't have the setlist or performance oddities of other shows from these initial weeks, but there is plenty to enjoy.

Black Napkins, opening the show, is one of those numbers that never quite found its spark with this band, but I love FZ's sharp tone and the sheer *sound* of the lineup, as always. FZ goes to the bridge too early on Dancin' Fool, the first of several minor flubs, most of them on the part of the man with the baton. However, the band already impresses on the intricate composed material, of which there is plenty. (Okay, I hear a few mistakes in Moggio and Sofa.)

An unusal guitar highlight tonight is Baltimore, still with the old vamp (after the new vocal chorus), where FZ apparently has equipment trouble at the start but fixes it and delivers an impassioned solo. He also scat-sings the chorus melody of this song in Tinseltown, although there is no other commentary in what would soon become the "grandma" section. Truck Driver Divorce (great Scott/Chad interaction) and Whipping Post also score. Oddly, Approximate appears twice, both as a component in Tinseltown and on its own in the encores. FZ plays it aggressive in the second Drowning Witch solo at these first shows - good, but he would hit paydirt by trying a different strategy a couple of times later this month.

The first iteration of a complaint which is likely to appear in many reviews : though this tour is much better than most in lacking setlist repetition, most nights (like this one) still have many numbers which are a chore for this reviewer to sit through. I am not especially looking forward to hearing Advance Romance, We're Turning Again, Dead Girls/Seriously or Cocaine/Nig multiple times in the next several weeks. Still, kudos to FZ and the band for displaying this much skill and invention in even a routine show.



May 14th, 1982

The first Zoot Allures of '82 opens this show, and the song has lost none of its power since the great late '81 versions. FZ and all of the band seem to be in a serious playing mood tonight, with FZ soliciting a girl for Scott during the intros, and though we get both a "move back/sit down" and a "if one more thing comes on stage the show's over," FZ delivers both of these in a relatively humorous fashion.

After Zoot we get a heavy dose of Joe's Garage with Joe's/Pee/Packard/Watermelon (all great), followed by some more standard '82 selections. FZ's guitar has a paint-peeling, feedback-heavy tone on *every* solo that again brings to mind 10/13/78 for this reviewer. Here I get to review my first '82 Black Page, where the solo always conjures image of FZ's guitar battling not to let the song end; he or the band may falter momentarily, but it's still a good fight.

Secret words arrive with Blue Light (why was this dropped?), with FZ introducing the "grandma" theme which continues through Tinseltown, and which would persist for a few more shows - very funny. On the second '82 King Kong, Ed offers the sort of spacy solo he would usually try in '82 and '88, while Tommy and the rhythm section hint at the fall 80-style keyboard extravaganzas to come, though they stay in a one-chord vamp tonight. Next is FZ over the twisted proto-Marqueson's vamp (That's Not Really A Shuffle), starting fairly laidback but ending up with some frantic Middle Eastern licks that ends up sounding like a loop, though it may not be. (There are no other loops here or in the other shows I've heard so far, though there is much abuse of the new whammy bar.)

There's some business during the encores which apparently has to do with an audience member defacing an American flag, and the show closes with an introduction of the "new" In France - better than the 84 versions, not as good as the Gary Numan 80 versions, but with another shredding solo. Could this be the best of the "early" (pre-5/21) 82 shows? I suspect so.



May 15th, 1982

This is one of those rare 1982 tapes that lacks any single, spectacular MUST HAVE musical moment. Frank fails to reach any truly astonishing heights during the duration of this show, but he and his Rockin' Teenage Combo do manage to produce a start-to-finish solid show.

The "Zoot Allures" solo pretty much defines the mood for the night. Frank's solo starts off with several low and ugly notes, but quickly lightens up and heads for more straight forward playing. Frank flirts with noise and feedback several times throughout the solo, but only for several seconds in each instance. The solo gives the underlying feeling that at any moment it could dive into loop/feedback madness, but Frank never gives the definitive push that takes us into these crazier waters. Each solo tonight is played that way, relatively straightforward with vague signs of madness bubbling underneath the surface. Restrained yet satisfying.

Of the 9 solos played, the reggae vamp "Bamboozled By Love" and the surprisingly emotional "Stevie's Spanking" are the standouts. "Bamboozled" finds the rhythm section dropping the ball about mid-way through the solo, but Frank is quick on his feet and works his solo to take advantage of the mistake. "Stevie's" finds Frank playing around with chords for most of the solo (in marked contrast to his usual heavy metal soaked diddlings), which colors this usually "simple" jam a whole new shade of intense. "Let's Move To Cleveland" finds the band slowing building to an exhilarating climax, while "Truckdriver Divorce" finds the band at its most experimental, running through a variety of textures before wrapping things up.

It may be the non-guitar solo moments, however, which contain the most interesting moments of this show. For some reason, Frank takes a long time to handle the intro's and get to the second song, and thus the band is forced to jam for a brief while on the post-Zoot vamp. Not too long, but a tasty little jazz jam nonetheless. Song #2 "Sofa" heads into Song #3 "RDNZL"- a segue Frank obviously never parcticed in rehearsal as it is HORRIBLE (but fun). Ed Mann is all over the place with percussive seasoning, injecting a little sci-fi madness at the most unexpected of times. Finally, "Tinseltown Rebellion" contains both a "Stop the music if one more thing comes on stage" threat, and a "Ground Control to Grandma Tom" reference.

The only real disappointment in the show is the entirely out-of-place set closer "Broken Hearts", and a lackluster duo of encores in "No No Cherry" (with a cold ending) and "Strictly Genteel".

Not a great show, but for all but the last three songs, it is a very solidly performed one.



May 17th, 1982

This one starts off slow, but once it revs up it starts cranking out quality moments, and the regular show ends on one of the biggest 82 highs ever.

You can tell what sort of mood Frank is in right off the bat with his Zoot Allures solo. Wwwwhaaaaaaang... rrrrwoooorrrrr... yes, it's feedback night at the Zappa corral. Frank can't seem to decide if he's playing whole notes or 64th notes, so he goes back and forth between them at whim. The other hint of what's to come is Chad doing some really weird fills after Frank completes his solo. Chad's in a mood to play...

Sadly, the next expected highlight, Easy Meat, is cut off right away by Frank doing the standard 'Don't throw things on the stage, get me someone here to say it in French' schtick. It seems to bother him more than most nights, as the solo afterwards is short and boring. The show's energy has stopped dead at this point, and despite decent solos in Baltimore and Bamboozled, we're at a bit of a lull.

Cleveland is getting there, again contrasting long stretches of held notes with short flurries of sonic frenzy. Tinseltown gets its first short Grandma mention, and is now cutting straight into Approximate without going back. There's also an odd setlist choice after Cosmik Debris, as Sofa makes an appearance. The band must think it odd as well, as there's a long held note before it starts, as if they were unsure what was next. (Perhaps they were.)

One of my favorite twosomes is up next. The band really sound like they're having a ball playing Packard Goose, with everyone doing little trills and cute inserts. Tommy's fanfare during the monologue is especially noteworthy. Great solo, too... going right into Watermelon, where you can feel Frank straining to break free of the sedate melody so he can rock out. Not the stately beauty of the album version, but still fab. Unfortunately, the segue into Doreen, one I personally love, is screwed up.

Black Page #2 is really getting to be Frank's 'let's experiement' song. It starts off slow with some low gronking, then off into fast and bulbous 64th notes again, then getting melodic and quoting Smoke on the Water and Cars. Throughout this weirdness, someone seems to have let Vinnie Colaiuta at the drumset - no, wait, it's Chad! And he's INSANE! Play this tape for anyone who might think the 80s drumming isn't as wacked out (pardon the pun) as its 70s counterparts.

Sadly, the segue from BP2 into Cocaine Decisions is always a downer... mostly as it means you now have to sit through Cocaine Decisions. Nig Biz is similarly uninspriring. However, now we hit paydirt. King Kong is here. And Ed is determined to try and get as much attention as Chad - he plays the marimba, he plays the timps, he plays the keyboard toys, he may play Steve Vai's head for all I know. It's a percussion extravaganza, and manages to be interesting too. Keyboards next, with Bobby (?) starting off on piano and then moving to synth, sounding very much like Peter Wolf. The handover to Tommy is nearly flawless, but it must happen sometime, as we're definitely into Tommy's synths by the end. Frank rounds things out on guitar with a wonderful fast, loud, brash solo around the Marqueson's vamp. In any other show, this would be the highlight.

This is not any other show. Sharleena starts out seemingly normal, a nice refreshing rest after KK's outre antics. "Where'd she go?" quips Zappa as per usual. "Hope it wasn't Brussels" is the reply. Then he opens up and gives us the longest solo of the night... and it's beautiful! After so much fast metal, this is melodic, and stately, and GORGEOUS. And Frank seems to realize he's on to a good thing, as he keeps playing and playing. The band have to force him back to the head. Incredible, perhaps the best Sharleena I've ever heard.

Strictly Genteel is the only recorded encore, keeping up the beautiful mood Sharleena inspired. The middle of the show may have to recover from Frank's disgust with the audience, but he warms up to them eventually, making this a tape to look for.

Oh, and somebody stop Scott playing My Sharona before he kills us all! :-D



May 18th, 1982

For the middle show in a rare '82 multi-night run, FZ mixes things up a bit. The show starts with Treacherous Cretins, and as on almost every 80's version I've heard, this vamp seems to truly resonate with FZ - too bad it wasn't played more often. Next FZ announces, "We're going to play two songs from the new album," and since they only played two songs from SATLTSADW on this tour, you know what that means. FZ tries some low whammy bar rumbling and staccato motives over the first Drowning Witch vamp, but it still sounds to me like he's running out of inspiration for this - the second solo, however, is a warmup to the inspired solos to come, starting almost identically to St. Etienne.

Next, Envelopes/Joe's/Pee, and then - nice surprise, a cold start to Pound For A Brown. But no, the band stops sheepishly after a couple bars, and I expect a "someone threw something on stage" announcement, but instead they start City Of Tiny Lites. Oops. The solo doesn't do much for me, although here and on some other songs, we get a view of the more straightforward, funky side of Scott Thunes, whose bass comes across better than most other instruments on the slightly muddy tape. However, the ending is great, and then comes Pound in its more standard slot. Not a standard version, though - Bobby starts with a keyboard solo, rare outside of '88. He uses a mini-moog synth sound and comes across not as crude as Andre Lewis but not as fusiony as Peter Wolf. Then there's an awkward segue into...the Outside Now vamp, with a death-march feel due to the slowest-ever tempo and Chad's tentative drumming. No vocals, of course, but FZ spills his guts for a few minutes over this.

At the end of this solo, FZ abruptly shouts a fast "One! Two!" and it's back to normality with the YAWYI medley, and then more weirdness as we get a rare RDNZL minus the Dancin' Fool lead-in. FZ delivers one of those sprawling solos typical of '82 versions, while Tommy gets some interesting interaction from Scott and Chad but doesn't sound as home over this vamp as George Duke. The setlist gets normal for a while (good T.D. Divorce solo) for a sequence ending with The Blue Light, sadly bereft of *any* unscripted FZ commentary in its last known version. Making up for this a bit, Zomby Woof follows to end the set.

Encores include a good solo in Illinois Enema Bandit with lots of weirdness, but there are speed fluctuations noticeable at the start of the tape and the problem returns in a more severe form during this final song.

Not the best '82 show, but worth hearing for the unique moments detailed above.



May 19th, 1982

The Paris run started with two very good shows, and should have ended with a 3rd that topped them. Sadly, with one or two exceptions, it ends up being one of the weakest shows of the 82 tour.

It doesn't start out that way. This Zoot Allures is excellent, with a melodic, crisp melody line running for a while until Frank starts in with the RRRROWWWRRR RRROWOWRWRRR noises. He then goes back and forth, staging his own one-man guitar duel until finally the melody is buried beneath a seething wash of feedback. Sweet. Frank's in a good mood, too, really getting into the band intros, including "A person who is not gay!", aka Vai.

This show SHOULD have lots of fabulous solos. It's filled with loop experiments, with Frank soloing, then turning his solo into a loop, then soloing over THAT. Easy Meat almost gets lost in multiple loops, with Frank bravely soldiering on in the background. Unfortunately, either the solos are far too short to get any momentum going, or they're just plain boring noodling. Baltimore, Black Page, Truck Driver Divorce - all good starts, and some weird soundscapes, but nothing really BITCHIN'.

There are, of course, one or two exceptions. This is the last 82 performance of Packard Goose and Watermelon in Easter Hay, and both of them give wonderful farewell performances. Packard's head israther ragged (perhaps that's why Frank dropped the sequence), but the band seem to enjoy singing it more than the 88 band did. Moreover, this is the one solo where the loops and feedbback pay off - a truly fascinating frenzy of guitar, with Frank abandoning the PG vamp for loop after loop. Then it's back into Packard (with a great 'imaginary guitar' bit), and into Watermelon, which manages to be loud and 82ish and yet still sound sweet. Farewell, guys, you'd never sound as good again.

The other highlights are the encores, oddly enough. We get the first appearance of all five 82 doo-wop songs in a row, from No No Cherry through Johnny Darling. And the sparser, more tenor-oriented vocals this band gives them are a treat to hear. The other surprise is In France, a rarity on this tour. It's still rather primitive, and Frank is still working on the lyrics, but we get a nice harmonica solo and, more importantly, a rocking effort from Frank, ending the show on a high note.

Unfortunately, there just aren't enough highlights to make this show a success. Get the other two Paris shows first.


May 21st, 1982

About 15 min into the show, FZ says "That's not safe, put it down!" to someone. The funny thing is, while listening to this tape, I felt an urge to yell back the same thing to Frank several times, in reference to his guitar. No folks, FZ does *not* play it safe tonight - fact is, he does things with his axe tonight that make Charles Manson look like a little school-girl in comparison. I hadn't listened to this show for quite a while, and though I remembered it was one of the better '82 shows, I didn't expect it to be this astounding. This is Zappa's night - 10 solos, while we only get one solo from another bandmember.

The show kick-starts with Zoot Allures, which gives a strong hint that Frank is having one of *those* nights tonight. The first part of the solo is "When No One Was No One", but the mix on Guitar doesn't do it
justice, in this reporter's opinion. On this tape, where Frank's Strat is crisp and cutting, the solo becomes much more touching. For the first three minutes, he keeps playing creative and beautiful melodies (including two nice "Squirm" teases), then he seems to be planning where to go next for a minute. The direction he chooses, is one he would follow for much of the evening: loop madness! For three minutes, Frank mangles out chords and noises, from which he makes loops, tries out various combinations and plays melodies on top (some of this can be heard on Guitar). Quite cool, and only the beginning.

The band plays nice versions of Sofa and Fine Girl, before it's time for the second guitar-tour-de-force: Easy Meat. The first lines in Frank's solo are so beautiful, we begin to believe he's about to compose a new Sinister Footwear. Then, abruptly, he kicks off one of his thunder-like loops, adds another one, and on top of this chaos, he reprises the great first melody. The rest of this great solo continues like this - a big variety of loops, mixed with neat melodies. The beauty and the beast in one!

Dead Girls Of London is nice, and even a song like Shall We Take Ourselves Seriously? is unusually interesting tonight. FZ tells the full story behind it, how German concert promotor Fritz Rau once made a fuzz about people eating asparagus. One Peter Eggers in invited onstage to translate Frank's words into German, and he also get to do Fritz Rau impersonations during the song, cracking up the vocalists (which is
probably while Bobby Martin sings some ugly out-of-tune harmonies). What's New In Baltimore?, a song that would rarely disappoint on this tour, comes with another great guitar solo, which deviates into a boogie
jam. Moggio is just as tight as we've come to expect from these guys, and leads us right into the next highlight of the show.

Drowning Witch brings us two awesome solos. Frank squeals out some typical Eastern-European-influenced melodies on the first one, utilizing his "Bulgarian Bagpipe" and feedback techniques to great effect. The second one is even better, much because some brilliant support from
Thunes. Frank used half of it on Guitar as "But Who Was Fulcanelli?", but he should have used it in its entirety. And once again, I prefer the sound on this tape.

This is one of the best years for Bamboozled By Love (in my opinion, nobody sang it better than Bobby, though I know I'm in minority here). The vamp, a groovy mix of blues and reggae, brings a short and good FZ solo. It feels like he was simply catching his breath here - we're just about to get another one of Dr Zappa's cruel guitar treatments. The Young & Monde solo (which can be heard on "As An Am") is...well, I can't think of a better word than "violent". For the first half it's a regular - though very nasty - solo, and for the second half, Frank once again freaks out with his loops. I'm trying to imagine the looks on the faces in the audience - this must have been quite a thing to experience live.

Tinseltown Rebellion gives us some comic relief, with another one of those weird, but hilariously funny Grandma Variations, and the equally weird segue into Approximate. In Cosmik Debris comes the only non-FZ solo of the show, a really good Vai solo. Doreen is always great to hear, and the Goblin Girl/Black Page segue on this tour is one of my favorites ever. However, the BP solo does turn out disappointing. Maybe my expectations were to high, and maybe my ears were saturated with nasty FZ notes, but this solo doesn't come near the heights the previous ones did. Frank is back in gear for Sharleena, though. This time he chooses a straighter R&R-approach, though he skillfully avoids becoming predictable - on the contrary, he uses the old blues scale in very creative ways, over Scott's bouncy bass.

The encores are of the unsurprising kind: Strictly Genteel, No No Cherry, Man From Utopia, and Whippin' Post. Frank's final solo is not one of his best of the evening, but good for a WP, one of the worst guitar vehicles of the 80s, if you ask me. Some loops near the middle, but not as deranged as the previous orgies. Well, there is actually one more surprise tonight, when WP ends on a big C major chord, instead of the expected Am. A strange ending to a sick show.

'Nuff said - this is one of the very best '82 tapes, and hence, one of the most essential of all Zappa tapes. If you don't already have it - go get it!



May 22nd, 1982

This is one of the few 1982 shows hampered by a poor set list. After a Hell's-on-Fire start that ignites fear into the hearts of all who are listening, the show turns ice cold four songs in and only manages to keep a medium sized bonfire going despite the explosive start.

The opening notes to "Zoot Allures" deliver the expectation that Frank is ON tonight, and for the first 25 minutes of the show, this assumption is wildly exceeded by the music performed. "Zoot Allures" is TIGHT, and Frank's loop-filled solo is one of those instantly engaging affairs that grabs you by the lapels and does not let you go until Frank has had his final say five minutes later. "Dancing Fool" already sounds years better than it did 12 days earlier and packs an unexpected punch, but still in no way prepares us for the monstrosity known as RDNZL. After a tight run-through of the opening theme, Frank takes the first steps into this improvisational smorgasborg with some ear catching riffs that practically cry out, "Forget that "Dancin Fool" shit- where were we?". We seemed to be headed down your typical intense but straightforward RDNZL street, when a series of loops enter the scene and herald the start of the real madness. Frank hits loop, solos briefly, hits new loop (on top of old), solos briefly, hits new loop (on top of both old), solos briefly. Frank stops soloing, loops continue, Mars initiates MAJESTIC SWELL on keyboards that leads to Frank soloing some more, hitting another loop. Then, Frank stops soloing, loops diminish in number, basic rhythm takes over, and Martin begins soloing. Good solo. Frank continues to play with loops. Thunes then steps up to solo. Great solo- one of Thunes' best. Frank continues to play with loops. Vai solos. Awesome. One of his more "Frank-like" efforts. Frank cuts loops, Wackerman solos, Frank reinserts loops. Things get crazy again, Frank whips off another brief solo, and the madness ends. Whew! This sounds crazy enough on my B+ sounding tape, but oh would I love to hear this sucker in clear, soundboard quality.

After Mars whips out one of his better RDNZL solos (I am not a fan of the keyboard solos in RDNZL on this tour- you just CANNOT compete with Duke), the show hits a hard freeze with the arrival of "Advance Romance". A dull song frequently saved by aggressive guitar solos, this time out the song and the solo fail to do anything other than take up space. Same with the mini-YAWYI medley which follows. Even "Alien Orifice", sandwiched between "The Meek" and "Harder Than Your Husband", sounds flat.

"Bamboozled By Love" injects a little life back into the show with an interesting "new vamp" solo, followed by "Let's Move To Cleveland" which marks the turning point of the show. The first time I listened to the tape, I was very unimpressed with the solo- an intricate effort lacking the emotional fire that this show desperately needs by this point. Officially released as "Is That All There Is?" on Guitar, the solo is actually quite good, and highlights some of the more subtle interplay between Thunes, Wackerman, and Frank. But after listening to the tape, I was left wondering "Is that all there is?", not satisfied with the reflective playing Frank was exhibiting. To make matters worse, the complete solo climaxes in an abrupt, "okay guys pick up the pace we're heading to the outro" build-up that sounds like one of Frank's poorer editing jobs. After going back to Guitar, and then relistening to the solo on the tape, I realized that this is the turning point of the show, and Frank seems to be saying as much with his solo. "Yes, the last batch of songs have been weak, but I am not all about feedback and loops and in-yer-face playing", Frank seems to be saying. "Appreciate this, why don't you? And if you cannot, well, is that all there is, you ask?" Of course, the answer is no. [Am I reading way too much into these '82 solos or what?]

Things immediately pick up in "Tinseltown Rebellion", with an amusing Grandma variation (this time she is going on vacation to Antwerp….imagine Frank having fun with the word Antwerp). "Approximate" is tight as always, and "Cosmik" is harmless. But with "Sinister Footwear", the intensity returns.

One of my favorite songs in its officially released version, I find that live, this song succeeds or fails depending on the solo. If the solo is on, then the song is a show highlight. Such is the case here. Waiting quite a bit longer than usual to start the solo, Frank sneaks his way into this vamp, slowly picking up intensity until he has set his feet firmly inside the vamp and then proceeds to tear it apart. Not as maniacal as the TOU version, but very satisfying. "Stevie's Spanking" continues the onslaught with some of the most beautiful solo ending noise of the tour, before "King Kong" delivers the Monster performance we have been waiting for.

Ed solos first, and his is a sci-fi freak-out that does for percussion what Vai does for guitar. The keyboard effort is rather lackluster, but does contain a nice Gershwin quote. Frank's solo, however, is a true monster. Over what would eventually be the "Marqueson's Chicken" vamp, this solo mirrors RDNZL in its form but highlights Frank's guitar playing only. We start off nice and straightforward, slowly leading into the Blizzard of Loops which obliterates the middle third of the solo. Loop upon loop upon loop until nothing but a Wall of Noise is audible. Frank manages to slither his way out of this storm bringing the solo to a more serious and "musical" conclusion. As much as I enjoy the "Cleveland" solo, this is the effort that should have been released from this show.

The show pretty much peaks here, with a standard set of encores adding nothing of real interest to the show. After listening to the tape, I found myself disappointed that the middle third of the show was as weak as it was. The opening trio of "Zoot Dancin' RDNZL" is simply explosive, and the closing trio of "Sinister Spanking King" is just as satisfying. I just wish the middle lull could have included one or two better song choices. A great tape to own, but not a consistently great listen.



May 23rd, 1982

After the opening (good but nothing special) Zoot Allures, Frank announces that he's really sick tonight. You can tell from his voice that he isn't lying, and that he's *not* in a good mood. And as usual, Frank's
condition affects the whole show - it's one of the shortest FZ concerts I've heard, and it feels quite tired compared to the last few nights. His solos aren't bad, but my expectations are high this tour, so I can't help
feeling disappointed by them. The best ones come in Baltimore and Black Page.

Highlights: the great Doreen/Goblin Girl/Black Page threesome and King Kong. The latter is however somewhat disappointing, as it only brings two solos - one by Ed, and one really good by Tommy, including a rare "I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth" quote. It is also in here that Frank tells the audience for the second time to stop throwing things onto stage. The crowd doesn't seem to get it (they just laugh and cheer), and seemingly, they keep up the souvenir throwing. So after KK, only 75 minutes into the concert, Frank does the band outros, and does not come back for any encores. A let-down for the crowd, of course, but for the tape-listener, it doesn't feel like a major loss. There are plenty of more inspired shows ahead.