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1984 Reviews

page eight


November 30th, 1984  early

When we were doling out the reviews for this third leg of 1984, Jason asked which tapes we had and then added, "And who's the lucky bastard who gets 11/30?". Well, by an incredibly fortuitous happenstance, I am that lucky bastard.

This early show is one of the best this tour has to offer. It only has one really incredible WOW moment, but unlike most other 84 shows it has no dull, dragging points. The setlist is picked out carefully, all the performers are on tonight, secret words are used liberally throughout, and FZ's guitar sounds great. Oh yes, and the one fabulous moment 2/3 of the way through. But first things first.

A Black Napins 84 solo that's interesting and well-played. Yes, you heard right. In France gives you the first sign that FZ is going to let things stretch tonight - our harmonicist gets twice the solo time to fool around in. Brown Moses, of course, always sounds wonderful - I wish we'd heard more of this.

By Cocaine Decisions and Nig Biz, we've got our secret word - 'knuckle'. No idea what it means. Nig Biz sounds the same, but the band make the most of their blues solos. Perhaps they knew they'd get a better spotlight later...

Outside Now has a very good solo, but even more surprising is Advance Romance, not a stellar performer in 84, with an excellent solo, long and great. The shaken-up setlist makes even older songs sound fresh, so my ears listened to Baltimore with a 'ah, a sentimental classic' feel instead of a 'why isn't this played like it was in 81?' motif.

I've never liked FZ's arrangement of Easy Meat in 1984, and I still don't. But the solo is enjoyable, if short, with a very sparse, minimalistic feel.

Then...Drowning Witch. Things start off as normal, with lots of banter in the vocal sections, and a few more knuckles. FZ's first solo is normal, and quite good. They roll into the second vamp, FZ starts in with a few licks... then madness ensues! A vamp starts up, and it's really cool! Frank, then Scott, then Ray, then Bobby, all with long, non-regimented solos! Scott in particular is wonderful! And then, to cap things off, the band fucks up the final melody! Marvelous, a surprise Monter song, and easily the show's highlight.

Now to say the show then peters out. We get three more good to great FZ solos, a second Secret Word, 'broccoli', that will stick around for a few weeks, and a band in a great mood. And it's only the early show? What will the late show bring...?


November 30th, 1984  late

You would expect, looking at the setlist, for this show to be less great than the early show was. After all, here's Honey, Don't You Want a Man Like Me?, Dinah-Moe Humm, and the YAWYI medleys all present and accounted for. It even opens with the cliched Zoot Allures. What can you expect from a show like this?

You can expect Frank and the band to be in a wonderful mood, an audience that's wild and out there without turning nasty, a band that's totally on tonight, lifting all of Frank's solos to a higher plane. It has Frank taking those solos and creating sculptures out of them, masterpieces ranking with anything he did from 82 or 88. It has tons of humor with 4 or 5 secret words, yet the band never lose it enough to totally go off the rails.

To start, Zoot Allures, a song I had totally grown tired of, is wonderful, with Scott, Chad, and Alan doing so many things behind Frank I almost forgot to listen to him. It helps that the sound quality of this tape is A/A-, with every instrument sounding clear and balanced. After that, surprisingly, we get a 1980 flashback by going right into Keep It Greasey, which benefits from an early placing.

The audience is really starting to get raucous by now, and apparently some girl wanders by, because Frank starts off Honey with a rambling 4-stanzxa monologue in one breath that made me laugh out loud. We get 'Glove' as an early secret word, but it's clear that they're still searching for the magic combo.

We get it in Bamboozled by love, with the name "Sammy!", as in Sammy Davis, Jr., shouted out in an approximate imitation of his voice. Bamboozled has really clicked on this tour, and is peppier than it's ever been. Frank delivers another great solo, and is even more on here than the previous concert. Tiny Lites, a perennial dull 84 event, was so good it made me wonder if an 82 solo had been spliced in by mistake.

Back to vocal numbers, but Mudd Club is filled with gloves and Sammys and Speigels and manages to amuse. After The Meek we head straight into King Kong, perhaps the weakest guitar track of the night, meaning it's merely really good.

The audience helps to make this concert sound great, too. They welcome songs such as Tinseltown, and laugh at the dated jokes that were funnier in 84. Frank adds that it's making fun of Hollywood, California, rather than Florida. He even refs Lunt and Fontanne! The Trouble/Penguin/Hotel medley contains 2 great and one fucking amazing solo, Hot Plate's, with loops and feedback-drenched chords and Scott apparently trying to play a solo of his own when he's not supposed to.

Chana serves as a reminder that no one's perfect, not even Frank - the band go back to the verse and get about halfway through it before Frank remembers the words. Something visual must happen at this point, because Frank starts talking about breakdancing, then goes back in with more Sammy refs - Sammy
comes closest to being the secret word, getting used a lot throughout.

Ah, but whither Cleveland? For once, it actually *is* Let's Move to Cleveland, a choice that amuses FZ and leads to later Cleveland refs. Alan and Chad both play well tonight, giving nice solos. Then, to my surprise, Scott solos, giving a fluid, Sleep-Dirty type of sound similar to what he used on Drowning
Witch earlier. Scott fans will love these shows, he is ON. And then, as if that weren't enough, we get Frank's solo, familiar to Guitar listeners as Sunrise Redeemer, but in its full version here. To everyone who says that Zappa's playing lacked any emotional power, play them this.

Encores come with another request for underpants, more Cleveland and Sammy refs, and the Doo-Wop Trilogy. During No No Cherry someone attemtps to storm the stage and throw something on there, but is quickly disarmed. Frank and company find this amusing (another sign of a good show) and use it to drench
Cosmik Debris and Dinah-Moe Humm in secret words, making the humor building through the show hit a lovely climax. Then, as an ending, we get a totally un-humored Whipping Post. Just Frank, the Mannish Boy riff, and Bobby Martin singing his heart out, inciting the audience into a frenzy.

Have I used enough superlatives yet? One more. This, and the early show, make 11/30/84 the best night of the 84 tour, bar none. If you listen to no more 84 ever (and you do have reason not to), listen to these shows and remember what they could do.


Decmber 1st, 1984

November 1984 was a very fine month, culminating in yesterday's excellent concerts, and we're now eager to find out if December will be even better. But no, things don't start out well. I don't know if the guys gave their all yesterday, but they do seem a bit unfocused tonight. It's not a bad show, though - like so many other so-so concerts, it does have some really high peaks, and the final 30 minutes are really entertaining. And while the secret word usage is rather sparse, at least until the encores, there's another sick theme permeating the performance - more on this below.

My tape starts with I'm The Slime, another song this band shouldn't have touched. None of the original groove of this song is present, though I will admit that the bass line in the verse is cool. The solo, like the following two in Baltimore and Truckdriver, is rather perfunctory - aggressive, but lacking any really interesting content. Then comes the what-happened-to-this-song-in-November Trouble Every Day, with another quirky and good solo, consisting of many little funny, disjoint melodies, tied together by a quote I couldn't identify at first. It sounds like...no it can't be, can it?...Laura Branigan's Self Control. Bobby Martin plays the same melody in Penguin In Bondage, and it sounds even more like Self Control. Oh well, Hot Plate Heaven comes with a fine solo, over a vamp which is more and more becoming a "non-vamp".

Average solos in Drowning Witch, meaning that they're good but nothing spectacular. I do not like the new Ride My Face To Chicago (wasn't there already enough reggae?), though the solo ain't too bad. Brown Moses still sounds fresh, and In France shows how much a song can gain from being relocated in the setlist. Bobby once again plays that little quote (this time on harmonica), and it sounds more and more like Self Control.

After a rather bland Bamboozled, Let's Move To Cleveland takes the stage, and removes all doubts. After Alan's and Chad's solos, Scott gets a brief moment in the spotlight, which ends up in an outright Self Control jam, with some of the members singing the woh-woh-woh line. Sick!! The contrast as FZ triggers a gloomy, slow loop and starts playing an even gloomier, slower melody on top, is incredibly cool. But things would get even weirder, when another loop (similar or even identical to the very successful Ft Lauderdale one) starts. Scott immediately starts playing Self Control as bass line, and Chad chooses a happy, jumpy drum comp. Frank seems to love this twisted backdrop, and goes on for a long time. A very worthy candidate for Guitar or Trance Fusion. For the outchorus, they sing "ho-ho-ho-hoo-ho", the secret word for tonight.

Advance Romance is the first encore number, and now the band is in great spirits. FZ even sings "I lose my self control" at one point, and the solo is pretty good. At this point the "hey hey hey" and "ho ho ho" theme has evolved into true secret word abuse too. We recognize much of the Closer/Johnny/Cherry medley from YCDTOSA #4, with the "no, well do it straight...it could be hard though" comments, showing how deranged (in a positive sense) the show has become. The concluding Whipping Post has an unusually good FZ solo, and Bobby Martin throwing in a couple of Self Control woh-woh-wohs.

It's hard to give a definitive opinion on this show. On one hand, many expected musical highlights turn out disappointing, on the other hand, the second half of Cleveland and the encores are great. Check it out if you're into twisted '84 humour and/or Laura Branigan, or try to get Cleveland as filler somewhere.


December 3rd, 1984  early

This is a show of ups and downs and disappointments and surprises that, in the end, manages to persevere and deliver a good time.

The "Teenage Truckdriver" combo opens the show, and despite the seeming awkwardness of this as an opener, it usually manages to inspire some inventive playing from Frank early, and set the stage for an experimental and satisfying six string show. No such luck tonight, as Frank's TDD solo goes nowhere, as does his "Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy" endeavor. "Advance Romance" delivers the first surprise of the night, with a long and passionate blues workout that finds Frank putting far more thought into this AR solo than is usual. "Baby Take Marqueson's Chicken" looks to continue the parade of surprises, but both deliver such ridiculously short solos that Frank should not have even bothered. But then, in of all things, "City of Tiny Lites" delivers a wallop- a HUGE solo that leads me to echo the suspicion that someone spliced an '82 solo in here. HUGE!

But then the YAWYI medley comes along- minus Secret Words- and boredom slowly begins to creep back. "Bamboozled By Love"- of course!- reestablishes the right vibe (this is THE most underrated song of Frank's touring career- the "Owner of a Lonely Heart" version of "Bamboozled"), before "He's So Gay" threatens to hammer home the final nail. As the song fades away, however, and Ike and Co. get in their "Do you really want to Smurf me?" (has anyone pointed out that this has been the final line- smurf instead of hurt- for some time now?), and this sends Frank off on a Secret Word frenzy.

Smurf goes first, but Frank quickly tires of this (been there, done that). He then takes up a Secret Theme based on something he said before the show. Apparently, a roadie nicknamed Jabba asked Frank to ask a woman in the audience to meet him backstage after the show (or more likely, Frank got wind of their meeting and made a joke out of it). Starting with "Bobby Brown", this becomes the Secret Theme of the night, with "loadout" and "Jabba the Hut" becoming the main words of choice. Things quickly get out of control, and "Chana" details the life of this roadie (even names him) and becomes "Jabba on the Crew Bus".

Unfortunately, the Secret Word madness stops here, "Cleveland" delivers an okay Zappa solo, and the odd trio of encores (possibly from another show?) do nothing. This is not a great show, but it does have its moments. "City of Tiny Lites" is pretty HUGE though.


December 3rd, 1984  late

Frank has a pretty good success rate with regards to early/late show performances. For some reason, the task of putting on two shows in one night usually brings out the Guitar Maniac and The Setlist Surprise side of Frank. On this night in New Orleans, however, Frank unfortunately cannot live up to this hype.

The first 30 minutes of the show represents the Setlist Surprise side of Frank, but with not all that thrilling results. The songs in themselves are not that bad- "In France", "Baltimore", "Stinkfoot" (in '84), and especially "Brown Moses". But played back to back so early in the show, they develop no continuity or flow, and sound like a mix tape put together by someone with no idea about contrast and relief. While "Camarillo-> Muffin" are the first two songs on the tape, they are probably the 2nd and 3rd songs actually performed, being that there are no Band Intro's anywhere in these tunes. But if this is the Opening Combo, then it is a fucking brilliant choice, for reasons too numerous to name. (No, really, I am serious…a brilliant fucking opener).

Strangely enough, it is not until the extremely overplayed "Tinseltown Trouble in Bondage Hotel" sequence that the show picks up some life. Frank is unable to do anything interesting on guitar until "Hot Plate Heaven", but at least the band seems to be kicking up their heels a little more. "Lucille" follows and serves as the perfect breather, before "Cocaine Biz Joe's Pee" ends the show by lulling us (boring us) to sleep.

The encores are made interesting by some Cajun/Gumbo Secret Word nonsense, and while there are some truly funny moments, it- once again- amounts to too little too late. A noble effort, but Frank unfortunately fails this time out.


December 4th, 1984

The King lives, at least tonight in Memphis. The performance tonight is good, but this tape is a keeper because of several refs to Mr. Presley that enliven the proceedings.

Not to say that the rest of the show is predictable. It starts off with Dinah-Moe Humm, in what may be it's only performance as the opening number. We get the start of the secret words here as well, with Dinah saying she could use a little Graceland, and FZ asking if she has any souvenirs in there.

Let me risk Jason firing me from the group and say that I have a sneaking like for the 84 Willie the Pimp.[That's it- you're fired!] It's bouncy, it's fun, and tonight at least, the solo isn't that bad. Speaking of solos, it's surprise number 2. After the first two verses of Montana, the band seem to stop dead, start up a hesitant vamp, and then Frank, bless him, starts to solo. For December only, this song once again has it's guitar. It's not a marvelous solo, but it works OK.

As always, the 84 Easy Meat solo is very nice, while the 84 Easy Meat vocal arrangement is a crime against man and God. Luckily, Brown Moses reminds you that Frank could write brilliant vocal arrangements as well. There's a lovely crash in What's New in Blatimore, where the entire band falls off the melody except for Scott. The secret words pop up again, with Graceland becoming 'Faceland', and some mention of church furniture. Perfunctory solo.

Truck Driver Divorce not only has a nice solo, but the first of several musical Elvis quotes, with Heartbreak Hotel. Penguin in Bondage finds Bobby joining in on Blue Suede Shoes on his sax, and more refs to giftshops and souvenirs. As per usual, Hot-Plate has the best solo of the More Penguin Hotel threesome.

The end of He's So Gay has its usual Smurf Me quote, and FZ smurfs again in Bobby Brown. Clever segue, too. "Watch me now, because the name of this song changes every night." We know what that means, it's time for Cleveland. And FZ comes through once again. The start of the solo is very dark and menacing, with a minor key quote of Heartbreak Hotel. When the loop comes in, things pick up, and those who have copies of Trance-Fusion will recognise that Good Lobna comes from here. "Sit on My Faceland" is the title of the evening, by the way.

Standard encore with FZ introducing Marqueson to the audience before going into the 50s medley. Bamboozled ends the tape, but cuts just seconds into the solo.

Very good tape, worth getting for the Elvis, the Lobna, and the start of the Montana solos.


December 6th, 1984

Another good show, with as many secret musical themes as secret words. FZ starts off by reading out the entire setlist, not even giving the audience a chance to cheer. He also uses the intro familiar to DHBIM fans, saying there will be no smoke machines, no laser weapons, etc.

The first 50 minutes of the show are good, but typical of December 84. Good, solid FZ solos, a setlist that's finally getting interesting, and a wonderful capper in Black Page #2, which gets a long, emotionally charged solo, the best of the evening.

Nig Biz, though, is where things start to really perk up, as we've finally got our secret word - "Harold Farb". It's a doozie, too, bringing not only lots of Farbs, but mentions of condos and real estate. Nig Biz also gets inspiring for another reason - Scott quotes the theme from The Odd Couple in his bass solo. It looks like a one-off, but wait till the encore...

By the time of Joe's Garage and WDIHWIP the Farbs are thick and heavy, and we close the show on a typical note. It's not quite over yet, though... for one thing, a fan in the audience wants to hear Caravan with a drum sola, and Frank, after checking to see if Alan can play it, is quick to oblige them, with a 30-second long hyper-Caravan.

The More Penguin Hotel trilogy is an encore this time, so the solos aren't all that long. But they're made up for by the motifs and themes found within. Frank gives us a quick It Ain't Necessarily a King Kong Vamp in TED, and Bobby gives the hometown crowd a treat with the theme from Oklahoma on the sax. Penguin in Bondage is wonderful, With Farbs, condos, Frank not only quoting Surrey with the Fringe on Top in his solo, but actually basing the entire solo around its melody. Alan and Bobby quote it as well during their breaks. Wonderful stuff.

The rest of the show is fairly standard, with "Miltie" popping up as a late secret word in Dinah-Moe. But the shows highlights are really Black Page (for Guitar) and Penguin in Bondage (for musical and lyrical mutation). A very good December show.


December 8th, 1984  early

My early show tape cuts into the Willie The Pimp solo - it might be that only two songs (Stick Together & My Guitar) are missing. The following Montana is one of the first this year to include a guitar solo, though not an extensive one. An even nicer surprise is the segue into Easy Meat, with a fairly well-explored solo.

The rest of the setlist and performances are fairly mundane. In Nig Biz (nice downward run from Alan in his solo), there is some hubbub with panties being thrown onstage, and this sidetracks Ike, who cracks up after the first line of Outside Now and restarts. There's some other sporadic joking, mostly not intelligible (despite a good-sounding tape) or comprehensible. FZ gives his best on each solo, as the band does, but nothing makes me sit up.

Perhaps the nicest thing I can say about this tape is that it reminded me how flexible the setlists this year are. On most pre-'84 tapes, even those from tours where FZ didn't use the same list every night, you can tell once you hear one song what the next three or four will be. Not here. As Fogz mentions on the touring page, though, the problem is that what's being shuffled here isn't especially memorable.


December 8th, 1984  late

Once again, FZ delivers a second show considerably more interesting than the first show. In fact, it's a bit odd how many of the best items from the '84 repertoire made it into this show, while only a few substantial songs appear in the first.

As well, FZ delivers the goods on guitar. Zoot Allures and Tiny Lites (where FZ plays a loose version of the old post-solo melody to end his solo) are two of the better versions of the year - sort of spacy and lyrical, like the meditative style of some of the more interesting '88 solos, but with the '84 hard electric tone. Both solos in Drowning Witch are good as well, while in Black Page the rhythm section falls into an unsually relaxed, Sharleena-style groove, which makes an interesting contrast with FZ's spiky playing.

In the first few songs there is more Secret Word play left over from the early show about balloons, but soon "tantrum" becomes the main theme. FZ gets completely lost in space in his Penguin and Advance Romance solos - the first at least adheres to the usual two-chorus twelve-bar format, but Advance ends up with several bizarre quotes (including one I remember from the Stockholm 73 Dupree's). Both of them leave the audience noticeably bewildered, and FZ cuts off the Green Hotel solo in between those two after something gets thrown onstage.

Standard Alan and Chad solos in Cleveland, but FZ's is good - the same loop as Sunrise Redeemer, but in D rather than E. The solo ends up in the same space as other solos in D around this time (cf. In A Gadda Stravinsky, Fire And Chains), moving between hymn-like playing, blues, and a quote from the Hawaiian song referenced in Cruising For Burgers. The title tonight is Let's Throw A Tantrum, and FZ does so on the guitar at the close of the set. Strangely, all but the last few bars of the first encore (Sharleena) are missing on my tape, but the second encore closes with Whipping Post, with FZ quoting his own Willie The Pimp solo from the studio.

Lots of good stuff in here - maybe not in the top 10 for '84, but a good tape to flesh out a collection.


December 10th, 1984

"Were We Ever Really Safe In San Antonio?" is the name of the only released music from this
show. And after listening through the concert, the question is easy to answer: yes you were safe, Frank - way too safe! The guys take very few risks tonight, deviating only minimally from the norm, both musically and verbally. The onstage humour is kept to a minimum - the funniest thing I heard on the tape was a clueless San Antonian (they do exist, though it's hard to believe when you browse these pages) who keeps yelling for "It's the Slime".

Musical highlights do exist, but they pop up in unexpected places. The first half of the show brings disappointing solos in Truckdriver, Drowning Witch, Bamboozled and Black Page, but really good solos in - who'da thunk? - City Of Tiny Lights and Advance Romance. Having rambled his way through the Secret Carlos Santana Chord Progression for most of the tour, Frank has suddenly found inspiration and - like he's done for the past few shows - delivers a long and varied COTL solo. The rhythmic support is excellent. The Advance Romance solo starts out typically trying-to-be-as-bluesy-as-in-the-mid-70s, but he soon gives up and starts moving in new directions. Scott joins him into a new, exciting mode, while the rest of the band stays in the static AR vamp, and the contrast makes way for a very intriguing listening experience.

The rest of the solos bring back memories of August/September, with Scott and Chad (especially the former) drawing attention from the guitar playing. WWERSISA?, the second Drowning Witch solo, is one of the better, though I've always found it to be one of the weaker tracks on Guitar.

What about Cleveland then? Well, it's FFWDable up until Frank's solo, which starts out promising. The loop is unusually "specific" and gives us a very cool vamp, but FZ fails to deliver anything of interest in his solo. They sing "Kreegah Bondola" in the out chorus, showing the lack of inspiration they were having

The show ends with five straight guitar vehicles, and the solos range from bland all the way down to bad. As if Frank hadn't butchered Montana badly enough this tour, he's now added a solo vamp that actually makes things even worse. The vamp is not exactly bad - the chord progression is rather interesting - but (a) it shouldn't be placed in Montana, and (b) Frank seems uncomfortable with it.

Oh, and the sound is unusually bad for '84 too. Blearrhg.


December 11th, 1984

"Seriously, Jason, you generate more bad reviews than the rest of us put together. You're getting a reputation as the Zappa gourmand. :-D"

I received this little comment in my e-mail today just prior to sitting down and writing this review. It caused me to hesitate a little, and entertain the notion of going back and reevaluating this show. You see, another bad (well, not exactly bad) review was going to result from this show, and I was not sure I was willing to further entrench the above reputation into the minds of everyone. But then I thought "Fuck it", and proceeded to write the following:

This is another routine show consisting of routine performances resulting in a routine listening experience highlighted by Two Standout Guitar Solos that ruin the whole "this is a bad show" write-off and thus cause the listener to actually thank themselves that they got this tape though they also wish that there were more than just Two Standout Guitar Solos in the entire 90 minutes. Typical for an '84 show, though, no?

Cutting straight to the chase, "Let's Move to Cleveland" (how did you know?) is the obvious highlight of the show. Frank's solo starts off over an oft-played loop (single chord repeated in rapid succession) that finds Frank in an aggressive mood but not making any real interesting noise. After approximately a minute of this frantic noodling, Frank hits a second loop (single but different chord repeated on every fourth chord mentioned above) that immediately lights the band afire. Frank's solo is instantly engaging. Thunes' bass is instantly funky. Zavod's sci-fi noises are instantly musical and no longer distracting. The band goes at it for several minutes, with Frank whipping out some of his most delicious phrases while Thunes' slowly steers the jam into a Hyperactive Strut Funk. When the main theme returns and the band eventually concludes with a puzzling "Je Suis Je Suis" as tonight's title, the listener is left wanting more, but still quite satisfied.

The other highlight- a surprise!- is Frank's "Stick Together" solo. When it first begins, you expect a short "Why even bother" workout, but by the time Frank wraps things about two minutes later, you are thinking "Damn! That may be the best solo of the night! Easily the biggest surprise!".

Apart from these Two Standout Guitar Solos, the show is rather bland. "Stinkfoot", "Muffin Man", and "Truckdriver Divorce" do not live up to their guitar solo potential. "Montana" is outright horrible. "Marqueson's Chicken" plays "where's the vamp?" and fails to ignite any fires. "Bamboozled By Love" sounds as good as always, but does not take it to the next level as it has so frequently. The only other interesting mention is Bobby's "In France" harmonica solo, which is not exactly like every other solo he has played so far.

This is in no way a horrible show. Frank gets points for an interesting set list, and extra credit is given for the effort in "Stick Together." But since we have come to expect excellence in "Let's Move to Cleveland", and since it really only occurs in one other song, this show falls to the run-of-the-mill '84 pile.


December 12th, 1984

Here we find a sunny picture of the band shortly before the tour's end. The tape cuts in shortly before the Trouble Every Day solo, and each FZ solo in the Trouble/Penguin/Hotel trilogy is adventurous. Penguin is especially CD-worthy, with some nice sprawling FZ phrases. This is the first non-blues Penguin solo I've heard, but Chad plays a straight beat, which makes it seem less divorced from the rest of the song.

Perfunctory solos in Evil Prince and Willie, but FZ sounds inspired in Montana for once, and deservedly gets a loud round of applause. Before the second Drowning Witch solo, FZ receives a note asking him to "play some Pomona;" perhaps in response, the solo is more explicity bluesy than usual. Offering two late '84 anomalies in one, Stick Together offers another good solo and leads to the keyboard-heavy Marqueson's, with the "non-vamp" which I (agreeing completely with Fogz for once) find uninspiring, rather than the My Guitar medley.

Another '84 show, another Song With A Different Name Every Night. Alan and Chad's solos are a bit different than usual, but nondescript anyway. FZ's solo is perhaps a less focused statement than the ones that made it to CD, but still testifies to how interesting a fall '84 Cleveland solo could be. He starts by quoting Let's Make The Water Turn Black, and I get a hunch that he's trying to make this the foundation of the solo, but it doesn't pan out. The loop consists of the staccato chord also heard in Sunrise Redeemer with two strummed chords on top. After floundering for a bit, Scott and Chad fall into a steady 4/4 groove with the two chords on beats 1 and 4. At one point they loss the tempo and the sequenced chords end up a 16th note off the beat. Chad notices this and starts playing off it, and for half a minute or so I tune out FZ and listen only to Chad. Eventually FZ also picks up on what's happening, and he and the rhythm section get entangled in some fun ways, before resolving the groove and riding it out to the conclusion.

The closing vocal chorus is Watch Harold's Footwork, referring to Harold Farbe (spelling?), an entertainer/condo salesman (hard to tell from the evidence at hand), who ends up as a late-blooming Secret Word for the night. Not a lot of joking otherwise, but this tape shows the '84 crew at the top of its game. Good sound, too, and low gen versions are common.


December 13th, 1984

The tour is winding down, and this has a tendency at times to provide unspectacular shows. Tonight is a good example. However, their is one highlight that makes this tape interesting.

Starting off in the middle of My Guitar, we get the typical 84-medley that we know and are beginning to get a little sick of. After reading the reviews of my fellows ripping on the Montana solos in December, I listened to this one with a keen ear, wondering if I was being too easy on it? But no, it's still a very good solo for 1984. Just get the seventies out of your head.

The rest of the show can be summed up easily: "Decent solos, far too short." Drowning Witch's first solo is wonderfully Middle Eastern, and Black Page gets a really good showing, but both are cut off before they can go all out.

As usual these days, the band seems to wake up and come alive for Cleveland - or rather "Don't Use Your Elbow". Frank's solo is very Tango-ish, but again too short - was there an imposed time limit to this concert?

The encores start off generic, though Dinah-Moe is made amusing with a small secret word - "Chicken" - and FZ shouting out his own requests. After that, though, we get the big surprise and highlight of the show - Sleep Dirt! Not heard since 1975, the two-chord vamp returns in all its glory. Frank's solo is (say it with me, gang) too short, but manages to impress, and the sheer novelty of this song makes up for it, and for Whipping Post following it.

Good show, but get some others first. Try to get Sleep Dirt as filler, though.