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1984 Reviews

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August 22nd, 1984 early

The Vogue Theater is the smallest venue FZ has played since 1962, he tells us at the beginning. And you can tell that from the recording, which really has the feeling of a club gig. The boys in the band seem to enjoy these conditions, and we get one of those happy 1984 shows. The special atmosphere is the best thing about the tape though, otherwise it's pretty much your average Aug 1984 show. The highs and lows come exactly where you expect them.

In other words, OK - good solos in Green Hotel, Dumb All Over (really good!), Outside Now, Sharleena (a little disappointing) and Easy Meat, while Zoot Allures, Trouble/Penguin and Enema Bandit range between so-so and mediocre. The most noteworhty solo comes in Easy Meat, which starts out promising, has some cool loops and good playing by Chad & Scott. But FZ loses inspiration and ends the solo surprisingly soon.

But while the music is not too much to write home about, I still enjoy listening to this show. Maybe because it was one of my first '84 shows, but also because of the good humour and nice "club feel". I seem to recall that the late show was better musically - over to our man in Arizona...

--JN

August 22nd, 1984 late

FZ greets the second shifters in the tiny Vogue with a terrific Heavy Duty Judy opener. The tape quality is a bit different from the first show, either the taper moved to a different part of the club or it's a different taper. But still a decent tape.

Highlites of this club show are the City Of Tiny Lites solo, Mudd Club lyric mutation that includes insertion of "the Vogue" instead of "Studio 54" and Craig Pinkus instead of Al Malkin was looking for a virgin with nice breath. Craig was in attendance - he once toured around with the Mothers in 74 keeping a road diary and chronicaling in in the Mothers Home Journal. Listen to 12/31/74 - he's the secret word.

Truck Driver Divorce contains a mini-monster with FZ soloing extensively using loops, Bobby, Alan and Ray all taking nice solos followed again by Frank - my tape cuts near what has to be the end. Secret words include alot of Prince references and Scott gets a razzing during Keep It Greasey (Scott gets greasey). Kreega offers up more nice soloing - Alan and his big volcano and Frank with more loop induced madness.

Both of these Vogue shows have a special club quality and I suggest getting them both. Possibly the smallest venue Frank played in since the 60's.

--BL

August 23rd, 1984

This show is in dire need of a good Secret Word or two. Thanks to two long series of "no-guitar-solo" songs, this concert is prevented from exhibiting any prolonged excitement. Frank's guitar solos are quite interesting, running the gambit from straight ahead "rock" to "what the hell is going on?" experimentation. Unfortunately, Frank does not solo that often in this show, and thus the show suffers from long droughts of routinely performed songs of which we are all sick.

"City of Tiny Lites" starts the tape off well (the "Zoot Allures" is caught towards the end, and in less than bearable sound), containing a classic "choke-strangle-abuse" your guitar type solo. The energy is strong at this point, but not strong enough to survive the YAWYI medley which follows. By the time Frank whips out his next good solo in "Hot Plate Heaven" almost 40 minutes later, I have almost given up on this show. But the "Heaven" solo is good- long, energetic, with touches of swing and Santana's secret chord progressions. "The Deathless Horsie" arrives next, and boy is this a welcome sound. Contrasting the good-feeling solo that preceded it, Frank takes this effort to darker and more introspective places, creating a nice conflict with the happy sounding keyboard arpeggio.

At this point, the show hits another long dry spot with a "He's Brown Greasy Like Me?" medley, which not even the usually enjoyable "Carol" and "Chana" can redeem. "Let's Move to Cleveland" finally brings intensity back to the show with a rhythmically scattered Frank solo. Thunes starts things off with a "My Sharona" based riff, which he shortly abandons for a spacey, harmonics-based feel, which he shortly abandons for a bouncy "Sharleena"-esque groove, which he shortly abandons for a….well, you get the picture. Frank, meanwhile, simply solos away, apparently oblivious to whatever Scott and Chad are doing. While the end result sounds like 5-plus minutes of the rhythm section trying to find the guitarist (and failing), there are several instances in which the two entities converge and briefly form a whole greater than their parts. Unfortunately, they then veer off and lose the brief magic they created. Not a great solo, but this "Cleveland" effort is definitely an interesting listen.

On the whole, I would say that this is an average '84 show, but falling on the weaker side of average. Apart from a couple good Frank solos (including the always enjoyable "Crew Slut", which is the penultimate encore of the night), this concert has nothing going for it. As a said above, a couple juicy Secret Words could have redeemed the more vocal oriented parts, but sadly, no.

--JG

August 25th, 1984

This is the first of two nights which yielded the Does Humor Belong In Music? video. Evidently, most of the material from this stand to be released on either video or audio came from the second night, which may or may not have much to do with the fact that this is not one of the tour's most exciting shows.

The night gets off to a good start with Zoot Allures, featuring some bizarre jazzy Zavod and Thunes support behind FZ's solo. It's also nice to have City Of Tiny Lites as the second number, but most of FZ's solos from here on out are solid but unsurprising, as is the bulk of the show in general. There is almost no secret word action, probably because FZ wanted straight versions of the material for the video, and little else other than the usual '84 fare.

The one startling exception comes halfway through the show, when FZ directs the band to "fart around" while the camera operators change tapes. The result is some cool, monstrous improv, with Bobby doing a good impression of the '88 saxophonists and Zavod sounding like Tommy Mars in an '82 King Kong solo, while the rhythm section skids from free jazz to reggae and back. Too bad this didn't happen more often - we could have had a Yuppies from '84. Two other highlights appear in close proximity to this jam, as Dumb All Over and Honey Don't You Want A Man Like Me are two numbers that rocked harder this year than any other, in this reviewer's opinion. The latter is also the video/CD version in which Twisted Sister replaces Helen Reddy. (It's preceded by an amusing moment in which Zavod mistakenly goes into Bobby Brown - I imagine several of us would want to be at a show where FZ refuses to perform this song.)

Aside from this, the other moment that catches this writer's attention is FZ's Cleveland solo, a frantic ride. Much of it is slated to appear on Trance Fusion, but FZ shaved off some good stuff at the beginning, including an Isn't It Romantic? quote. Otherwise, not much to write home about at this show. Also, the noisy, unfocused AUD recording I have makes it even harder to enjoy this music - are there other masters out there?

--PB

August 26th, 1984

    The second night in front of the videocameras lacks a bit of the wildness of the first, but it is a stronger example of what the tour has to offer nonetheless.  Again, it's a quite straightforward outing, although "mine the harbor" appears as a secret word, but the show achieves a high level of quality mostly on the strength of FZ's solos.     

Zoot Allures once again finds Zavod nudging FZ into jazzy altered-scale territory, something this reviewer enjoys although one suspects that FZ himself had mixed feelings about it.  The remaining solos are uniformly strong, displaying the energetic four-way interplay between FZ, Zavod, Thunes and Wackerman that could emerge when they were in the right mood.  Two of the better examples from this night, Black Page #2 and Deathless Horsie, will be familiar to YCDTOSA listeners.     

The main set, despite an effort to avoid repeats from the previous night, offers a standard list, aside from FZ's impromptu Dangerous Kitchen, and concludes with a Cleveland where FZ offers some startling screams to conclude his typically-for-this-leg-of-the-tour frantic solo. The encores begin with Crew Slut, featuring audience participation, and Thunes botches the intro to Cosmik Debris but compensates by getting highly involved with FZ's solo.  A five-song second encore of crowd pleasers finishes out the night.

--PB

August 27th, 1984

Another exceptionally fine audience recording - August 1984 is one of the best months ever in terms of high quality FZ tapes. Now, if only the same could be said about the music. This is not one of the worst shows, but there's a risk that some of my frustration from listening to too many of these stereotype shows will be ventilated here.

We kick off with Heavy Duty Judy, probably the best show opener of the tour. While the more out-there Zoot Allures spawned some really fine solos, it caused some dreadful ones too. The HDJ solos all sound similar - harmless, but pretty swinging and nice. City Of Tiny Lights sees FZ struggle to make something interesting out of his solo, and after two minutes of noodlings he comes up with some memorable bursts near the end. One reason I dislike this song on the '84 tapes is that it forebodes the YAWYI suite, while it normally would forebode Pound For A Brown.

I was close to pressing the fast forward button here, but I'm glad I didn't. We do get a healthy dose of that famous '84 humour. In Mudd Club, FZ comes up with a new secret word theme: Ronald McDonald. "Did you know that Ronald McDonald is down there right now looking for a McNugget with nice breath?" really cracked me up.

The only surprise of the set is The Deathless Horsie. One of my favourite vamps from the 78/79 touns, but I can't help sighing at the reggae beat and all those cheesy sounds that permeate this version. Not a bad solo, but a mere shadow of its old self. It's followed by two other badly butchered songs: Montana (I prefer not to talk about it) and Easy Meat. It took FZ's bands 4 years and 5 tours of hard work to turn the mediocre EM we heard in 1978 into the heavy rocker we have on YCDTOSA #5, just to see it ruined again by this band. But OK, beyond the vocal- drenched verses and the phony ska chorus, they do a nice version of the classical section, and it's still a reliable solo vehicle. Quite good solo here. Scott and Chad have some really cool collaboration in the background, while Alan seems to be in his own world.

FZ gives a funny little wink to some of his ex-alumni in Honey Don't You Want: "her favourite group was Missing Persons". The humour continues throughout the usually pretty bland Gay -> Chana suite - I don't get the jokes, but it's always great to hear FZ crack Ike & Ray up. Alan starts his Cleveland solo with some weird but quite cool chords, continues with some more daring playing, before it's time for the usual stuff. Oddly enough, Chad gets to play a short solo before Zavod can conclude his volcano. FZ's solo turns out to be the highlight of the show, one of those solos where it feels as if he's made a sketch of it in his head before, and fills it out with notes as he plays. He begins with the Treacherous/Inca theme, and returns to it twice during the solo, which gives a thematic feeling to it. In between he delivers his most inspired lines of the evening.

Dinah-Moe Humm has a funny polka-feel to it, otherwise the encores are boring. The Syracuse Enema Bandit closes the set, with FZ at his noodling worst. Overall, it's FZ's guitar playing that's the biggest let-down of the night. With 3-4 more good solos, this would have been an above-average show, but no - 5 out of 10 at best.

--JN

August 29th, 1984

A fair quality recording (one of the first tapes I ever got from this tour actually), fortunately it doesn't appear to be big in the tomfoolery department so I'm not having TOO much trouble discerning what's going on. I probably enjoy the shows from this tour more than most of my colleagues, but this show...there just isn't that much to say!! It comes and goes rather unobtrusively and it's a good way to kill time late at night while waiting for your wife to come home from work. In any case...FZ opens things with a rippin' solo on "Heavy Duty Judy", the solos from which are definately my favorites from this tour, due mostly to the energetic vamp the band lays down. We then get what to me is the most interesting section of the show. It's nice to hear Montana NOT played out of Willie, although the band plays it somewhat mechanically here the audience reaction alone makes you somewhat more excited about the performance (if that's possible!!). We then get a relative rarity, Easy Meat which is actually played very well here (although FZ cuts his solo just as things really get going). Now, it's certainly true that TWO keyboardists here do not make up ONE Tommy Mars, but the effort is valiant anyway (perhaps FZ didn't think so though, as this song would become even more of a rarity after this performance!!). The remainder of the show is fairly standard '84, with
Joe's/Why Does It... still sounding out-of-place so early in the set, and special recognition to Frank's "Truck Driver Divorce" guitar-mangling effort. This time he actually develops it to it's logical conclusion!! Maybe it took a lot out of him, as his "Cleveland" solo is possibly one of the least inspired of the tour (is that blasphemy?).
--SP

August 30th, 1984

While there are a number of positive things about this show, on the whole, it is not a very satisfying affair. On the plus side, the set list exhibits Frank's more creative side, with an interesting run of mid-show songs ("Slime-> Video-> Chicago-> Dinah-Moe"), and a couple rare encore treats ("Stinkfoot", "What's New in Baltimore?"). Also, Frank turns in a pair of interesting guitar solos, and the rhythm section is excellent throughout. On the negative side, however, none of the interesting song choices are good for any reason other than their relative novelty (in fact, "Baltimore" is missing the entire instrumental beginning- sheesh!); and with the exception of the two songs referred to above (except for the "Chicago" solo possibly- short but good), Frank's solos are your standard '84 solos.

Easily, the highlights of the show are the "Truck Driver Divorce" and "Easy Meat" solos. The former solo is a "let's experiment with the rhythm" affair. Starting off in an aggressive, straight ahead rock 'n' roll fashion, the solo soon takes an interesting detour as Frank pulls the plug on everything (several seconds of silence) before starting up a loop. The remainder of this rather lengthy solo consists of Frank using various loops, Thunes and Wackerman responding to the respective loops, and Frank trying to solo over each new landscape. The effort is not completely successful, but it is, at the very least, interesting. The second noteworthy solo is the "Easy Meat" effort, which contains some out-of-control rhythm work and one of the more satisfying solo climaxes of the tour.

Apart from this, the show is rather dull. The other solos are aggressive yet non-descript, the Secret Word usage is kept to a bare minimum (and only involves some already stale "panty" references), and the set list, while interesting, contains too many routine, no-room-for-deviation type songs. While the concert contains a couple good YCDTOSA-type candidates, the show on the whole is worth missing.

--JG

August 31st, 1984

The first hour of this show is enjoyable. Not great, mind you, but entertaining enough to keep my attention. Frank's guitar solo vehicles dominate this portion of the show, with 7 solos arriving in the first 9 songs. The first couple solos are typical, by-the-numbers affairs, and seem to bode poorly for the rest of the show. But by the time "Hot Plate Heaven" rolls around, Frank starts to experiment a little more and begins creating some more interesting sounds. His "Black Page" solo is particularly exciting, with Frank working the high-end of the fret board at length, and getting good mileage out of his whammy bar. The show hits a dry spot with the mini-YAWYI medley, before peaking with the always enjoyable "Ride My Face to Chicago" and the surprise post-Chicago jam. As soon as the song ends, Frank continues with some heavy chords and Scott follows his lead with a bass-line that resembles the first track off Santana's "Abraxas" album, titled "Singing Winds, Crying Beasts". This leads to a short Frank solo, a short Zavod solo, a short Wackerman solo, and then a short closing blues jam lead by Frank. The rarity of this event (especially considering the tour) makes this impromptu jam more enjoyable than it is actually is, but nevertheless, it is probably the highlight of the show.

After this, the show is all downhill. Only one more guitar solo ("Cosmik Debris" anyone?), and no Secret Words, and thus we have nothing but overplayed songs and tired encores. On the whole, this show delivers an okay first hour, and nothing else.

--JG

September 1st, 1984

And so the 1st leg of the 1984 US tour winds to a close, in Saratoga, with one of the best soundboard recordings of any year. Easily A+/A sound. It's also one of the more widespread bootlegs I've come across, called Kreega Bondola and available, as far as I've seen, in every second-hand record store in the country.

Frank is finally starting to mix up the setlists a bit, even going so far as to split up the Honey, Don't You Want a Gay Greasy Bobby? medley. And the band seems in a good, if workmanlike mood.

It's a shame, then, that this concert did so little for me. I racked my brain trying to come up with highlights or really awful stuff to talk about, and didn't find anything. It's well-played, Frank's solos are energetic - it's just bland. I'm the Slime had a very good solo. What's New in Baltimore? was missing the instrumental opening. Bobby comes in late on the intro to Keep It Greasey. Frank gives an intro to Camarillo Brillo that is incredibly sexist. The secret word only comes into play in the last song, far too late to really have an impact.

I'm grasping at straws here. It's not a BAD show. The band is good, the setlist is varied, the playing is high-energy. But...I dunno, I wanted more. Oh well, Europe is next, and the shows would definitely start to get better.

--SG

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