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1982 Reviews

page three

June 18th, 1982

This is probably the best sounding of the three Hammersmith 82 concerts, and it's a plus that the show manages to measure up. Zoot Allures is the opener, as usual, but while we would come to dread hearing that opening riff in 1984, it still maintains its power.

Frank mentions all through this European tour that this is the last time they'll play in Europe, but he never seems as happy about it as he does here in London. "This is our last European tour, and it thrills me greatly to know we will never have to come back to this place." The audience, naturally, cheers.

Broken Hearts pops up as the 2nd song a couple of times this tour, and in my opinion it's far too early for it to have any real energy. Marqueson's is finally starting to kick ass, with a lovely solo that's right up there with the Them Or Us version we'd get tomorrow night. Baltimore also has a good solo, but by this point in the tour, it's taken for granted that all FZ's solos are wonderful and worth listening to. The question is, are there any solos that are ESSENTIAL?

Yup. Cue Drowning Witch, in its new, shortened head instrumental-ish version. This doesn't actually make the song any shorter - Frank makes up for the loss of the vocals by extending his solos into a wondrous frenzy of guitar playing. The first solo is wild, as Frank's guitar is a crazed animal tearing through the woods, bringing down anything in its path. The second solo works even better as Frank increases the tension while calming the guitar - it's now a caged creature, crying for freedom. Finally Chad manages to tranquilise the guitar, finally giving us a tense, uneasy silence. Jaw-dropping. (Hah! Who says Jason's the only one who can write weird metaphors?)

Black Page #2 turns into another battle between Frank and Chad for the spotlight, and Truck Driver Divorce not only has better solos this tour, but a better arrangement as well, giving it a more playful, inspired feel. King Kong isn't as monstrous as it would be in a week or so, but Tommy's finally getting a groove going, thanks in part to Scott and Chad's heavy interplay behind him. Frank cues off some loop frenzy, then delivers a good if short solo.

The encores include a Stevie's Spanking with Dweezil, Steve and Frank Eddie Van Halening at each other, and a lovely Strictly Genteel. Frank must have loved it too, as he remarks afterwards that the London Symphony Orchestra played SG eleven years ago, then says, "Well fuck those guys - *they* [the 82 band]
played it better!" The show ends with the Closer You Are/Johnny Darling duet, sounding a lot tighter and more doo-wop with this band.

Good concert, B+ sound, and a Drowning Witch that must be heard - and they even come back for two more tomorrow!


June 19th, 1982  early

The '82 shows continue to satisfy. And this just may be the best one yet.

The show opens with the second-to-last '82 performance of "Zoot Allures"- one powerful beast by this point. The head is played with more passion and raw emotion than any "Zoot" since Winter '76, and the solo is a beautiful mix of early feedback, solid riffing, dramatic bends, and song ending loop madness. Once again, it is only ten minutes in and I am already satisfied.

"Montana" and "Easy Meat" reveal that Ed Mann is featured prominently in this tape's mix, which makes both these tunes shine much brighter. The "Easy Meat" solo is a bona-fide classic, another perfectly balanced performance that features strong motifs, loops, feedback, delay, echo, metal frenzies, and a chaotic ending that leaves us all breathless. "What's New in Baltimore?"- one of the more consistently disappointing solos in '82, IMO (compare these to the '81 solos)- features a longer than usual Frank effort that surprised me with its length both times I listened to the tape. Frank throws in a little YAWYI medley after "Moggio", which is a perfect breather after the preceding craziness. "RDNZL" continues the guitar mania, and while Frank continues to shine, it is here where Wackerman starts to make his mark. His rhythm work is truly inspired during this solo, exuding the manic energy of a Colaiuta, the controlled bursts of a Bozzio, and the killer precision of himself. He helps bring Frank's solo to a dramatic conclusion, and lifts Mars' effort into another realm altogether. This must be the longest Mars' "RDNZL" solo of '82, and is easily the best. Mars' is patient and slowly builds the solo to an inspired peak, while Wackerman twists the rhythm and the ear into all sorts of funky contortions.

"Advance Romance" rides this wave to one of its greatest heights, bending our ears with some intriguing rhythms and concluding with a feedback drenched climax. The "Harder Than Your Husband" that follows is placed perfectly in the set, and almost sounds sincere in its performance. "Let's Move To Cleveland" delivers the last great solo of the night, and may be the highlight of the show. Wackerman once again leads Frank and the listener through a maze of rhythmic twists and turns, keeping Frank on his toes and inspiring some unpredictable playing. The solo builds to a climax early in the song, and then settles down into a sparse, "Republicans"-esque vamp, creating an atmosphere unlike other '82 LMTC solos. Frank and Wackerman restrain themselves remarkably during this lengthy jam, flashing brief glimpses of frenzy but never letting loose. The solo does not really go anywhere from here- sort-of treads water for the final 2+ minutes- but the contrasted mood is a welcome and interesting change from the typical '82 aggression.

From here on out the show cruises along in rather rote fashion, but it does not really matter because the damage has already been done. Satisfaction has been achieved. Admittedly, a guitar solo somewhere in the last 25 minutes of the show would have been nice, but why complain?

This is a very good show.


June 19th, 1982  late

To start this review, it's worth noting that Scott Thunes mentioned the London '82 shows as his favorite to date in an '84 interview, and FZ evidently liked this particular show as well, considering that he released three solos from this evening ("Zomby Woof" on YCDTOSA 1, "Do Not Pass Go" on Guitar, "Marqueson's Chicken" on Them Or Us), as well as excerpts from "King Kong" on YCDTOSA 3. Unfortunately, this is a problematic show in terms of available tapes. A few years ago several of us net traders passed around a hissy copy with low levels that lacked the first two songs. More recently, I found a (nearly) complete copy with much better, though somewhat muddy, sound. Unfortunately, there were also problems here, on which more below.

It's always fun to hear the developing versions of Mammy Anthem on this tour. Tonight's version, opening "our last show in London ever" (not), includes minor train wrecks in both the intro and outro, but, as always, sports an aggressive FZ solo. A few standard selections (including a slightly oddball segue from Flakes to We're Turning Again), and then Drowning Witch, with a lazy, gnarled first solo over the new jazz vamp, and a typical second solo intro before we get to the distinctive opening chords of Do Not Pass Go. The vocalists forget the words at one point in Fine Girl, but the crowd cheers for the following Zomby Woof.

King Kong starts with a Mann solo similar to YCDTOSA 3 (minus the voices), but the "wanna garden" segment on that CD is only a fragment of the insanity that comprises Mars's episode, which includes a variety of quotes and dynamic shifts. FZ's solo, again, is laidback and bizarre at the same time. You can hear tonight's amalgam of loops at the start of Mars's segment on the CD, and FZ throws it in amusingly at the second pre-verse gap in Sharleena. Unfortunately, it never surfaces again.

The bad news is that this new copy of the show switches sources a few songs later (near the end of Joe's), leading to a new sound with heavier distortion than the first two sides. This obscures City Of Tiny Lites (with FZ cueing a swing feel under his solo) and Pound (a rare set closer containing one of Bobby's most aggressive keyboard solos ever as well as a more typically agitated FZ effort), and by the time we get to the No No Cherry encore the tape is barely listenable. It fades out, mercifully, during Man From Utopia. I suppose I'll have to dig out the old copy after all. Based on the evidence at hand, it must not have been easy to make a decent audience tape at the Hammersmith Odeon.


June 22nd, 1982

At the beginning of the show, FZ tells the audience how excited he is to play his last concert in France
ever, and near the end, he does the Church Chat as heard on YCDTOSA vol. 4. Between the insults,
however, Frank and the band makes the French audience their money's worth, delivering another fine

After a standard Mammy Anthem, we get Drowning Witch, which is not only odd to hear this early in
the show, but also takes a rather unusual shape. The first solo section starts out with the loose, jazzy
vamp, over which Frank plays some sick-sounding melodies - then Tommy gets to play a little solo,
before FZ mangles out some more hard-edged tones of his guitar. The second solo sounds more like
we're used to, with a very climactic build up than usual, especially from Chad and Scott. Excellent solo.

Envelopes/Fine Girl is a nicely bizarre combo, and Zomby Woof is its usual rocking self. King Kong
contains the "Blow-job!" section heard on YCDTOSA vol. 3, some good Tommy soloing, and a long, full-
blown Wilhelm Tell Overture passage. Zappa's solo is long and good, but not one of the very best of the
tour. The following guitar vehicles in the set, Black Page and Truckdriver Divorce fall into the same
category - very good, but not extraordinary solos.

A good version of Marqueson's Chicken closes the regular set, and the first encore section consists
merely of Camarillo Brillo/Muffin Man. When the band comes back onstage, it's time for Church Chat
and In France. At first, I wasn't sure if it's really Frank who plays the guitar solo here, but I think it must
be. A dirty pure blues workout, free from FZ-quirks, just the man showing where his roots were. Cool for
a change.

Apparently, the band ended the show with Whipping Post, but it's missing from my tape. Musically, this show is in the mid-echelon of '82 shows. Zappa is noticeably pissed, but delivers some fine moments nonetheless. The big problem with the tape is the poor sound quality, one of the 3-4 worst
from this year. For '82 fanatics only.


June 23rd, 1982

Whatever you may think about the actual performance contained on this tape, you have to admit that the set list is awesome. A second song "Sinister Footwear II", an early "Tell Me You Love Me", the only '82 "Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy" followed by a "Society Pages-> Charlie's" medley, followed by "Fine Girl" and "Zomby Woof" and "King Kong", only to be topped off by "Clownz on Velvet" and one of the first "Camarillo-> Muffin" in ages. The set list is unbeatable, especially considering that the other "more typical" songs performed contain a "Mammy Anthem" opener, a "RDNZL" stunner, and your typically fantastic "Sharleena". Imagine my pleasure upon discovering that the music actually performed meets all expectations, and even exceeds the pleasures of the songs themselves.

From the get-go, the band, especially Frank and his guitar, are hot. "The Mammy Anthem" delivers a ferocious opener, finding Frank and the rhythm section running in overdrive. The opening intros are immensely enjoyable thanks to a silly reggae vamp the band segues into post-"Mammy". "Sinister Footwear" sounds out-of-place at first, and the early feeling is that it has arrived too soon in the show. It just does not sound at all that sinister, especially following the silly intro vamp. But once the band hits the solo vamp, the scenery quickly changes. The band nails this vamp tight, and as soon as Frank plays his first note, he is off at 100mph. Deliciously aggressive, and quite surprising when we quickly realize that this is the solo from the "Them or Us" version (one of this reporter's all time favorite solos). But this is the full monty- no cuts, no notes left on the editing room floor-but Frank's full length effort that manages to tear an even deeper hole in my head than the TOU version does. Six minutes of pure, unreserved fury.

"Stevie's Spanking" brings up the rear of this early onslaught of guitar madness, making up in length with what it lacks in creativity. The simplicity of "Tell Me You Love Me" is a welcome relief next, yet manages to maintain the intensity with its over the top performance. "Dancin' Fool" is simply out-of-control. "RDNZL" returns some sense of order and delivers another aggressive, especially for "RDNZL", Frank solo. Mars manages to match Frank with an impressive keyboard outing, and finally seems to be "figuring out" how to solo in this song.

After a cut-on-my-tape "Advance Romance", the rarest treat of the show pops up- "Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy". Sounding more like the guitar heavy '75 version than the later, streamlined '84 version, this performance chugs along rather ungracefully, with the rhythm section sounding sluggish like it never has before. Frank cannot seem to find the inspiration either, and turns out a solo that is nothing more than heavy metal riffing. The "YAWYI" suite is much better though, ending in a ridiculously fast "Charlie's Enormous Mouth" that is conspicuously missing Steve Vai.

"Zomby Woof" introduces loops into the show for the first time, as Frank injects a little extra madness into an already insane solo. "King Kong" continues to up the insanity level with an opening saxophone solo (!!!) that reminds me a whole lot of Steely Dan's "Aja". Bobby turns out a long, relaxed, and very jazzy solo that is in marked contrast to all of Frank's solos, and works perfectly. The band switches gears to hyper-jazz for Mars' solo, which includes more loops and a juicy "Uncle Meat" quote. As Mars' slowly winds his solo down, Frank begins conducting Ed and other band members, resulting in a lengthy "Building A Girl"-esque performance. Mars' even throws in an "Everybody is Kung Fu Fighting" for no apparent reason. The concluding Frank solo covers typical "King Kong" territory, building to a nice frenzy and climaxing with an assortment of loops and effects.

"Sharleena" scales its usual heights, but it is "Clownz on Velvet" which delivers the most satisfying performance of the night. Over an exaggerated, drawn out solo vamp [my best description of this vamp would be to compare it to one of Monty Python's Silly Walks; for some reason, this vamp sounds like an audio interpretation of John Cleese's infamous high-stepping, slow-moving, ridiculously overdone walk- if that makes any sense], Frank takes a dramatic and gripping six-string journey that seems to go on longer than the usual COV solos, but with good reason. Intensely serious throughout, Frank's playing lightens up towards the end of the solo, and climaxes with a brief "I Love Lucy" quote that brings a little relief to the high tension of the playing. This is one of the best solos I have heard so far from this tour.

The show finishes with typical '82 encores, save for the recently revived "Camarillo-> Muffin" duo which closes the show. There is a little too much Vai in the "Brillo", but "Muffin" benefits nicely from the guitar hysteria.

I have not a single complaint about this show (other than the disappointing "Carolina", which I loved hearing anyway). Get this tape.


June 26th, 1982

Another in a long string of excellent German concerts from Frank, this time in Munich. We start off with the now-standard Mammy Anthem, not quite as powerful as it would get in a few days, but still good, with Frank's metal-tinged Vai-influenced chords. Frank's really in a hurry to get to the music today - there's almost no chatter in the Dancin' Fool outro.

RDNZL is simply fabulous, with Frank and Chad going one-on-one and seeming to forget anyone else exists. The fun even carries into the keyboard solo too, which is quite funky with lots of percussion. Likewise, Easy Meat is a wash of pure FZ guitar fury - one of those solos where after it finishes, he just stops, exhausted.

Black Page is long and weird, with the loop FZ would later use for Ya Hozna under the solo. I kept imagining FZ superimposed over a Warner Brothers cartoon during this solo...

King Kong has lately added Bobby Martin to the mix, usually on a horn - in fact, tonight it sounds like several horns. Bobby's definitely playing French horn, but was there a guest artist or was Tommy using patches? Tommy goes next in any cases, with his majestic 'da-da!' chords. Then comes the surprise of the evening - Moon Zappa, doing a long, hilarious Val schtick. This one is much funnier than the album version, with lots of jokes about touring in Europe. Back to Tommy for some scat and some full band conducted improv, then into a nice FZ solo, sadly cut by the tape flip. Still a wonderful King Kong, and worth it for Moon's performance.

The rest of the show is pretty standard, with some amusing bits in Stevie's Spanking as Bobby f's up the lyrics. The solo is good, but others are better. Still, another winner from Europe in 1982.


June 28th, 1982

The big surprise of the show comes in the opening number already - in a heavily Mammy Anthem-dominated part of the tour, Frank chooses to begin with The Encore Number, Strictly Genteel. It feels very weird, but it's well-played and the segue into Doreen is really butt-kicking. Predictably, we get Goblin Girl next, and just as predictably, we get a great Black Page. FZ starts his solo in the lower registers, using the whammy bar to produce some really fiendish sounds. He proceeds by building his solo slowly and patiently to a loop-drenched climax (Chad rules!), which ends abruptly with very tight return to the head. Boy, these guys could play!

Cocaine/Biz provides some nice contrast (yes, I hereby step out of the closet and admit to enjoying this combo!), especially with the one-time-only Nig Biz/Sinister Footwear segue, which works very well. The SF solo begins promising with a beautiful melody followed by some really sinister lines, but the rest of the solo disappoints a little, being "merely good". Another great segue into Marqueson's Chicken, with another good-but-not-really-great solo. Tell Me You Love Me and Broken Hearts bring some energetic R&R-relief.

Next, Drowning Witch. The first solo vamp is replaced by a very free accompaniment, which drifts into pure free-form. Frank's playing is far out (and spiced up with several cool "Squirm" teases), and the end result is a very challenging, great jam. The second solo vamp is the one we know and love, and the solo is very good. Bamboozled By Love and Young & Monde and Cosmik Debris all produce very "typical" solos.

No Ed Mann solo in King Kong - instead, FZ announces that Thomas Nordegg is about to play the world's first video camera solo, but what we get to hear is a French Horn solo by Bobby (would be interesting to know what really happened onstage here). The solo is pretty much a bore and the horn is slightly out of tune, so it's actually quite a relief when we move into the keyboard-mania section. Tommy is good, but Scott steals the show here with some great lines, heavy-handed slapping and cool flageolets. There's something missing in Frank's solo, although I can't put my finger on what. It's long and contains lots of cool, quirky little melodies, but like many of his other solos tonight, he doesn't come up with any of that magical finger-wiggling we know he was capable of this tour.

After a long main set, we get a rather short set of encores: Bobby Brown, Sofa and finally Stevie's Spanking, where Dweezil comes onstage to deliver a solo. The Vai influence on the young Zappa is very obvious, but it's a damn impressive solo for a 12-year-old, no doubt. FZ and Stevie also take one solo each, but we've heard better efforts from both.

90 min of this show are available in excellent quality, but the complete recording that circulates sound quite good too. The setlist is close to perfect, and we get some rather unique moments too - had Frank been
slightly more inspired in his guitar playing, this would be one of the really essential shows from this tour. Still, highly recommended!


June 29th, 1982

Throughout this tour, our reviews have been incredibly positive, but we've never come right out and say that a specific show is the best one of the tour. They've been excellent, but never the absolute best 1982 had to offer.

Until this show, that is. The others may disagree with me, as July 82 is famous for kicking ass, but I will go out on a limb here and say that this June 29th concert in Linz was the best of the tour and the best possible 82 tape to

Why? To start off with, we have a lovely mellow, relaxed Mammy Anthem, quite a change from the heavy metal fury we've gotten in earlier Mammys. Very melodic, and Frank pulls out the loops in the very first solo, which is a sign of things to come. Then comes a bizarre turn - instead of band intros, Frank tells a
long joke about a King and a Donkey. The joke is only mildly amusing in and of itself, but Frank tells it very well, and the band provides excellent backing. After the joke, straight into...

Cocaine Decisions?!? Oddly placed, and I've never been a fan of this song, but since it's not coming as an anticlimax after Black Page, it works better here. So does Nig Biz, which Frank dedicates to "the club in town that doesn't let black people in", and has some nice, energetic early-in-the-show solos. Truck Driver Divorcce features the return of the loops, and allows Frank to pull out the feedback that was missing from Mammy Anthem.

The setlist for this show is excellent, with lots of variation, and not just the 'this block of four, then this block of four' swaps we've gotten used to. That's why it's a treat to hear Clownz on Velvet, one of the few solos tonight with no loops, and Sharleena, with loud My Sharona accompaniement over Frank's Middle Eastern xenocrony. Listening to Frank try to play a sinister, menacing solo while Scott is bouncing along happily to his MS riff made me smile. The loops are back too, including what sounds like a sample of someone gargling. At least 5 loops during this song alone - it almost becomes complete chaos, but for Thunes holding everything together.

City of Tiny Lites has one of the more experimental Zappa solos of the evening, alternating between frenzied yowling and quiet St. James quotes. Chad Wackerman, realizing how Scott carried the song during Sharleena, does the same for Tiny Lites - he's simply incredible to hear. Ray comes back with one of his best post-solo vocal spots, tying in the "don't allow black people in here" line, the King and Donkey story, and It Ain't Neccessarily So in with the Tiny Lites outro and conducted madness. Can it possibly get better than this?

But wait, there's more! Where Tiny Lites goes, Pound follows, and this Pound is simply spectacular. Ray starts things off, and it's quite clear that he wants to *groove* - scatting along with his solo, you can't help but move your feet. Bobby Martin comes next on piano, and throws in some scat himself, as well as telling people that today is both his birthday and Marqueson's as well (complete with the Beatles' 'Birthday' quoted). Now it's time for Frank, who's noticed that the band is rocking out and keeping a danceable beat. "Hey, didn't you hear me with Flo and Eddie? I can rock out too!" he seems to be saying, and indeed he does, keeping the loops short and well-placed this time, and just bursting into straight ahead rawk guitar, complete with Sweet Leilani. From here, Frank can only go into the outros, crediting Steve Vai as the guy who 'had to take a piss in the middle of the show'.

And still the show keeps on coming. My tape is missing Bobby Brown, but I won't cry. We do get the outro, though. "Watch me now, because the name of this song is 'Nobody Really Wants To Know What They Put In The Hot Dog'. Did I mention Frank's in a wonderful mood tonight? The band totallytrainwrecks and Frank says, "What, you guys don't know that one?... YOUNG AND MONDE!"
Cleveland has lots of wacky side comments, and the usual excellent solo. Again surprising us, we continue into TinselApproxDebris, which features Vai playing Happy Birthday during his solo.

Finally, for the last encore, we get - no, not NRWTKWTPITHD - we get Black Page #2, one last final loop frenzy in the loop frenzy show. And what's this I hear? Yes, the concert is now officially perfect, we slide into a full band rendition of Louie Louie during the solo. This show is so incredible Frank doesn't even have to stop it to tell people not to throw things on the stage.

The best of 1982. If you don't have this tape, you have not lived yet


June 30th, 1982

My audience tape cuts in at the end of the Mammy Anthem head - typical brutal '82 solo. In the intros, FZ cites this as Chad's first appearance in Geneva, Ed's last, and Bobby's first and last, and as far as appearances with FZ, it turns out he was right on all three counts.

Montana follows, and then Easy Meat, with the solo familiar from YCDTOSA 5. As usual, though, it's worthwhile to hear the complete version, including a longer workout on the Mystery Rehearsal motives than you hear on the CD. Even on this somewhat muddy tape, it stands as one of the most "out" Easy Meat solos outside of fall '80. Much of the rest of the set is on CD as well, though the Baltimore solo/ending and the Dancin' Fool outro (immortal FZ onstage commentary : "I would ask what's a girl like you doing in a place like this but you don't speak much English so what the fuck") are certainly different.

The biggest surprise, though, comes after the RDNZL head, when the rhythm section suddenly springs into hyperdrive for a freeform Vai solo. A most unique musical event, it sounds like a cross between Mars and FZ's most bizarre '82 solos - the best solo you never heard in your life, because, after less than a minute, it's Geneva Farewell time, and the tape cuts after a minute of shrill audience noise and canned heavy metal. Too bad - this could have been one of the top nights of '82.