[ Home ] [ f75 Review 1 ] [ f75 Review 2 ]
Fall '75 Reviews
September 27th, 1975
Just over a week after the UCLA "Orchestral Favorites" shows, this tape finds
FZ at another California university introducing the stripped-down rock combo for the fall.
The setlist is about as good as it gets for the U.S. leg, but since most of the same items
appear on the definitive Vancouver tape from four nights later, I will save my remarks on
this subject for that review.
There's no indication of any opening-night jitters aside from a few timing mistakes
here and there, but there are a couple of setlist oddities : the WOIIFTM medley leads to
Swallow My Pride, rather than Chunga's Revenge, and two rarities appear. Both Lucille
(with FZ, Brock and Estrada all getting solo vocal bits) and Any Way The Wind Blows, in
what might be its last performance ever, are pleasant. Most of FZ's solos are a bit on the
short side, but otherwise they display the same qualities that they will on all subsequent
shows with this band - energetic, but rather one-dimensional most of the time.
This tape is a good item to obtain if you're looking to flesh out your list, but if you
want only the essentials from this tour, skip this in favor of the easier-to-find
October 1st, 1975
This band occupies an odd place in FZ's touring history for many reasons, but one major
one is that both of its touring legs peaked near the beginning and wound down from there.
Less than a week into the tour, we get a superb show, but few of the later ones will match
it due to the combination of questionable setlist decisions and evident on-the-road
Like Santa Barbara, this show opens with a great, laid-back blues jam. Andre and
Napoleon open with a few capable solo choruses, with Bozzio providing some dynamic support
(although, as usual for this tour, what he gets to do hardly scratches the surface of his
capabilities). Then FZ appears on stage for a few more choruses, after which there is a
segue into Apostrophe, which seems to explode out of the sedate intro. Good Jack Bruce
impression from Estrada, good FZ solo, and a great, fiery coda, before things taper off
into a haunting vamp for the band intros. It's a shame that FZ quickly decided to ditch
this show opener in favor of the dull Stinkfoot jams that would prevail for the rest of
the year, in this reporter's opinion.
Next are skeletal versions of Honey Don't You Want A Man Like Me and Illinois Enema
Bandit and a speedy Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy, and then it's time for the WOIIFTM medley,
one of this listener's favorite moments in FZ's entire live ouevre. Lonely Little Girl is
poignant, Take Your Clothes Off is fun. However, the thought of FZ, in 1975, launching
into the "All your children are poor unfortunate victims" verse is as close to
tear-jerking as any composed vocal Zappa moment could ever get. Gives me chills just
thinking about it.
This leads to Chunga's Revenge, with another round of entertaining (though not
amazingly virtousic) solos including a rather long one from FZ. Then, after a pause,
Swallow My Pride. Not one of FZ's most profound songs, and it's not hard to hear why it
remained unreleased, but it's a fun listen with a good riff. Next is Any Downers, with a
massive FZ solo. Again, in this listener's opinion, FZ started on a steep upward incline
to the guitar-playing peak that he reached in 78-81 with this tour, and this song offers
the best evidence of that on this tape.
Some mildly amusing comedy follows, then the bizarre reworked T'Mershi Duween, and then
the set finishes with a Zoot Allures/Sleep Dirt/Black Napkins medley. That might seem like
any guitar fan's fantasy, but none of those three songs is at its peak at this point -
however, FZ turns in some interesting musings on the tentative Zoot and builds Napkins up
to a satisfying climax after a relatively tepid, twangy beginning. Advance Romance (which
cuts in near the end of the solo) and I'm The Slime are encores.
No one would mistake this for a first-class FZ band, but they had a lot of energy on
this night, and that, combined with a good setlist, makes this show as enjoyable an
experience as you're likely to find on most tapelists. Get it.
Before I tell you why this tape (which is, I am lead to
believerelatively rare) is such a disappointment, you should take note of its origin, as
passed on to me by my trading correspondent. It seems that the taper was a reporter for
the Eugene Daily Emerald, a Free Press-type weekly newspaper. He came to the Paramount
Theater equipped with one C-90 tape. He was saving Side 2 to tape an interview. There's
The intro blues jam opens with some squiggly synthesizer lines from Andre. Frank walks on
a couple minutes in, checks out his guitar, and we head into the show proper. Happily,
it's early in the tour; we
haven't jettisoned Apostrophe yet. Sadly, Frank's bluesy guitar workout is vanishingly
short and almost buried in the echoey bass that is this tape's sonic hallmark. The
briefness of the solo is mitigated somewhat
by some tasty delay effects right before the band intros.
With no Freak Out suite to spare us, it's immediately into the new material:
"Honey", this tour's mproto-"Enema Bandit", and "Carolina
Hardcore Ecstasy". Frank's "Enema Bandit" solo is short but violent, a
living thing whipsawed by Terry's monstrous backbeat. One and a half minutes of noodling
on "Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy" creates nothing meaningful.
Onwards to the WOIIFTM suite, and I can honestly say that I like the dub-reggae "Take
Your Clothes Off When You Dance." Andre's little synth solo suits it. And then
"Chunga's Revenge" arises from the ashes of "What's the Ugliest Part of
Your Body", lumbering and swaggering like
the monster it is.
After typical solo turns from Nappy and Andre, Frank starts inside the muscular groove
Chunga adopted for this tour. Quickly boring of this, he devises strategems to undermine
Terry, tossing flurries of notes here
and there to lead the cute little drummer astray. Terry gets excited and speeds things up
-- so Frank naturally, perversely, turns it down several notches. Terry pauses as if to
listen, and commences a
call-and-response with Frank's guitar, entirely deconstructing the beat.
And just as it's getting REALLY interesting, the tape ends. Fucking reporter.
-- (The Duke)
The show opens with one of the main characteristics of this tour, a
blues jam over the Stinkfoot vamp. And though these jams would very seldom offer any
surprises, I must admit I enjoy them. Andre's and Nappy's solos are pretty nice, and the
Stinkfoot vamp has never sounded dirtier. Really good solo by FZ too - this might be the
best year for Stinkfoot ever!
At this point in the set, FZ would soon throw in Dirty Love plus a
medley of Freak Out songs. I will probably find many occasions to complain about that
decision later in the tour, so for now, let's just say that I'm not crying as we land
directly in another staple of this band: the Honey/Enema/Carolina medley. The first two
are rookies that would eventually end up in the top-10 of most frequently played songs, so
FZ must have liked them better than I do. While CHCE, my favourite of the three, would
remain highly underplayed. Oh well, two good solos by Frank we get.
Next, another medley and perhaps *the* main characteristic of the tour:
the WOIIFTM songs. Now, this is a fine one, bringing us the "lost" bridge of
Lonely Little Girl as well as many other memorable things - my fave is Napoleon's
"muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muuuuh" in WTUPOYB? And things get even better, as the
opening power chords of Chunga's Revenge come bursting out. Terry is excellent in the
background, making this a really high- energy affair. Mighty fine playing by Brock, Lewis
and Zappa too.
A very good show so far, but it's the encores that makes this show
really worth having, in this reporter's opinion. This is where the real rarities come:
first The Mudshark, in what might be its final performance (fittingly enough, considering
the location), then Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up (quite nice, similar to Jeff Simmons's
version) and then the highlight of the show - Sleep Dirt/Black Napkins!
This is one of the very few performances we have of this wonderful
combo, which is quite a shame. As FZ starts playing the Sleep Dirt arpeggio, the audience
is chanting for Dinah-Moe Humm, but they soon get quiet as the beautiful theme comes
through. Napoleon takes a very good solo, Andre takes a decent, while FZ's is too short to
lead anywhere. This is soon compensated for though, as his Black Napkins solo turns out to
be his longest and best for the evening.
The contrast, as they burst from this beauty into what I consider to be
Frank's worst song ever, is almost comical. This is definitely the best version of Swallow
My Pride I've heard though, as it actually turns into a mini-monster. After the dreadful
verses and choruses, FZ bursts out into a short, energetic solo, followed by a little drum
solo, then a little portion of Ship Ahoy, some improvised madness and back to the SMP
head. Weird, but really cool! We get a second encore too: Advance Romance, with another
good, dirty solo from Frank.
Great show, probably one of the best of the tour. The predictable
setlist and the Freak Out songs which we've come to associate with this band aren't there
yet - instead we get some rare songs that would soon disappear from the setlists. The
dirty sound quality on my tape might infact be to its avail, as dirtiness is just what I
want to hear from this band.
As I sat listening to the "Zoot Allures" which occurs
approximately one hour into this show, I acquired a sense of gravity-free floating- the
sense of being in outer space, unrestricted by the confines of gravity but still helpless
against the weightlessness of space. Frank's skeletal sketching of "Zoot
Allures" coupled with his every-which-way-but-loose guitar meanderings exhilarated
me, and imposed a sense of freedom that I seldom receive from music. Extending this
analogy with respect to the performance I was experiencing, I realized that the Space
Metaphor could encapsulate the entire concert. And so it does, as we prepare to blast off
The first 15 minutes of this show represents the excitement of hearing
that you, for the first time, will be blasting off into outer space. The opening jam and
the "Apostrophe" that follows are nothing short of amazing. Lewis and Brock solo
over a bluesy vamp, with Bozzio sounding many times more confident (and talented) than he
did on the Bongo Fury tour. Frank eventually steps forward with a short little solo of his
own before tearing into an "Apostrophe" for the ages. Frank and Roy are simply
monstrous here, stretching the middle solo and outro jam into an epic length that this
song unfortunately never before or again received. An early peak is reached here, with the
short instrumental rendition of "Duke of Prunes" providing a soothing and much
Unfortunately, before entering outer space, you must undergo a
strenuous training regiment, some of which is enjoyable but most of which you would rather
do without. The Freak Out! Medley, Honey Don't You, Illinois, and Carolina are all part of
this training regiment, and while they do have some enjoyable moments, most of these songs
are exercises in patience more than anything else. As the training winds down, and you get
into better shape, the WOIIFTM medley pops up, heralding forth an excitement for the
actual journey into space.
With "Chunga's Revenge", we light the rockets and lift off
into the stratosphere. Brock, Lewis, and Frank all solo here, with Frank's rhythm work
during Lewis's solo being the highlight of the bunch. Frank's solo is interesting, rather
mellow with lots of dark, melodic lines, but it is not until the very end that any real
energy comes across. "T'Mershi Duween" is simply crazy, almost unsettling after
the straightforwardness of "Chunga's Revenge". It finds us finally entering
"outer space", with our bodies and minds somewhat out-of-sync as we adjust to
the differences of zero gravity.
With the arrival of "Zoot Allures", we find ourselves suiting
up and taking the giant step out of the spacecraft and into empty space. We still have our
life line loosely securing us the spacecraft, but that is all we have, and for the most
part we find ourselves drifting freely in a whirlwind of melodic guitar lines, sparse bass
parts, and rolling waves of percussion. Undeniably musical, and quite soothing at times,
this musical journey is still somewhat intimidating, as we are never quite sure what will
And then, things get really interesting. The "Any Downers"
rift slowly coalesces into a powerful force, sneaking up out of the fringes of "Zoot
Allures". We get the sense that we are not alone. There is an alien presence near us,
and fear grips our hearts as we question whether this other being is good or evil. As the
music begins to hit an angry peak, our fears confirmed and not denied, Frank tears into
"She's a Lady", playing huge chunks of this Tom Jones classic, offsetting the
ferocious bite of this guitar monster with Vegas-style familiarity. This alien force turns
out to have a sense of humor, something the listener now needs as Nappy steps forth and
chimes in with some unneeded improvised lyrics, yelling "She's A Woman" and
other nonsense. After an early peak, Frank and company entertain us with a variety of
alien jams- strange latin grooves surrounded by frantic outbursts of guitar and calm
intervals of spaciness. "She's A Lady" eventually reclaims the main stage,
hailing a return to familiar territory and marking the climatic and satisfying end to our
journey in space.
The remaining two songs send us home, maintaining the thrill of this
exhilarating journey, but also giving us time to calm down and adjust to the impending end
of this excellent tape- one hundred and thirty-five minutes of music and one of the best
journeys Frank has ever sent us on.
October 12th, 1975
This show gives us the debut of "Dirty Love" and marks the beginning of
Frank's "same set list after same set list every single night" tendency. Up
until this point in his touring career, the only tour with which Frank had decided a
nightly set list beforehand was the Grand Wazoo outing (for obvious logistical reasons)
and even then, he didn't stick with that set list. It is here- on the Fall 1975 tour- that
Frank finally goes lazy and falls into the habit of performing the same set list each and
every night on every tour. While their were still variations within this structure, the
repetitiveness of the shows hindered many a tour, and it would not be until Spring of 1980
that Frank would break from this somewhat disappointing habit (and even then, the break
was not that great).
However, I digress. This tape- the first show we have after the inspired 10/4 outing-
is another rather inspired affair, weakened only by the echoey and hissy sound that
dominates most of the more aggressive jams. The show opens strong, with Lewis and Brock
soloing over a frantic and at times seemingly chaotic blues jam. The sound on the tape is
nothing but noise at times, which is probably why it sounds chaotic, but interestingly
enough, at this point in the show the noise adds to the music, and does not hurt it. Same
with the well-jammed "Apostrophe", which is overpowered by bass and drums
throughout, but nonetheless sounds great in this usually annoying mix. My only complaint
early on is that Frank does the band introductions between the Opening Jam and Apostrophe
(instead of after Apostrophe), and thus halts any momentum built up by Lewis' and Brock's
solos. I shouldn't complain, however, since Apostrophe would be dropped altogether after
tonight. This is a shame, as this is another lengthy Apostrophe, with Frank soloing at
length during both the middle and outro jams.
The World Premiere of "Dirty Love" follows, sounding rather feeble but also
lost in quite a bit of tape noise. "Stinkfoot" is great. Sci-fi nonsense
emanating from Lewis' keyboards and a screeching solo from Frank further force me to
accept that this song is an EXCELLENT show opener. The "Freak Out" Medley
contains some interesting FZ rhythm work, but "How Could I Be Such A Fool?" is
just WAY too long, and Brock butchers "I'm Not Satisfied" beyond recognition.
"Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy" contains one of Frank's two weak solos of the
night, which he would soon make up for in "Chunga's Revenge". Lewis and Brock
deliver their standard goods, paving the way for Frank's tour-de-force. Frank is all over
the map with this solo, starting off slow and deliberate, then whipping it into a frenzy,
then going mano-a-mano with a soloing Bozzio, and finally concluding the affair with some
spurts of "Ship Ahoy" weirdness. Not the longest or the most explorative
"Chunga's", but satisfying nonetheless.
This tape closes with a HORRIBLE sounding "Lucille". A heavy guitar intro is
completely out-of-place, Nappy's vocals seriously mess up the listener's mind, and the
sound quality paints the music a horrible shade of PLOD. There is an interesting piece of
pre-written music in the middle of the song (i.e. the middle section of "Why does it
hurt when I pee?") but it was not interesting enough to save the song. Finally,
"Advance Romance" concludes the whole affair already sounding like it needs to
There are some well-performed moments on this tape, and Frank turns out several
inspired guitar solos. The poor sound quality, however, considered with the fact that this
is a Fall '75 tape, pushes the desirability level of this tape down quite a bit. I enjoyed
my time with it, but I doubt I will be returning to it anytime soon. This tour has better
things to offer.
While this is not one of the better performances of the Fall tour, the
show captured on this circulating tape is a must have for a couple reasons. First and
foremost, the sound is excellent. This is not one of the best available in the Frank live
tape library, but probably the best from this tour, and good enough to survive close
scrutiny and loud playing. The vocals are at times muddied, but the individual instruments
come through nice and clear, providing an excellent picture of this band, especially in
the lengthy solo vehicles "Chunga's Revenge", "Zoot Allures", and
"Any Downers?". Secondly, only the last 70 minutes of the show are here (there
is a cut into the Carolina solo, no?), and thus we do not have to sit through some of the
more annoying aspects of this tour.
After a "Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy" tease, the tape gets
going with the awesome "We're Only In It for the Money" medley. This is easily
one of the greatest unreleased treats sitting in the Zappa vaults, with this "Lonely
Little Girl" arrangement (and closing guitar solo) winning my vote as one of Frank's
all-time pop masterpieces. "Chunga's Revenge" heralds forth some energetic solos
from Brock, Lewis, and Zappa, and while nothing here is simply "must hear", the
solid performances, clear sound, and pounding drum work of Bozzio make this an
entertaining 16 minutes. "Zoot Allures" showcases the growing guitar
experimentation of Zappa, and while it is one of the shorter '75 performances at just over
6 minutes, it still manages to throw a little bit of everything into the mix. Another
unreleased gem sitting in the vault, the "Swallow My Pride-> Any Downer"
combo brings the show to its musical climax, with the latter containing some stupid but
funny Joe Cocker impersonations, and a heavy metal guitar freak-out. Again, not the best
"Any Downers" (10/1 or 10/4?), but a worthy mini-Monster in its own right.
The remainder of the show delivers pretty much as you would expect
given the songs, with Frank demonstrating his excellent understanding of song placement
more than anything else. Special note must be given to the "Chunga's Revenge->
Advance Romance-> Zoot Allures" combo, which finds the middle song benefiting
greatly by this placement (though unfortunately Frank would not repeat this). This is not
a consistently great show, but there are several highlights, no dull moments, and
start-to-finish excellent sound. I recommend it.
Here we find the fall 75 band making its stop at a venue (Boston Music
Hall) which consistently yielded great tapes. And, qualitywise, this one is certainly not
an exception - a very clear and balanced AUD
recording which I'll bet isn't much worse than the tape in FZ's vault, if there is one.
Musicwise, this tape shows the band getting closer to the routine it got into by the
winter, which is not such a good thing. There are a couple of oddities (no Poodle Lecture,
and Advance Romance follows I.E.
Bandit), and let me go on record as saying that I *like* the Freak Out medley [This author
does not represent the opinions of this page or its other contributers :-)]- it's a nice
look back at FZ's early songwriting, and I find it fun to imagine Brock and Bozzio
frenzying out while FZ endures his
nightly workout on rhythm guitar.
However, aside from some cool '75 style FZ blowing on the usual numbers, this tape offers
nothing surprising until near the end of side B. In Chunga's, FZ can't hold himself to the
restrictive vamp and ends
up teasing Sy Borg, and he goes on a couple of interesting tangents from there.
Unfortunately, the levels drop on the tape for a while around this point, and we also end
up missing most of the drum solo. After
this, we get another one of those loose early versions of Zoot Allures, where FZ even
throws in a few surf/blues licks towards the end. During Any Downers, FZ freaks out
briefly on guitar and then recites the first verse of Packard Goose, which here ends with
the immortal lines "Well, fuck all you people, 'cause it ain't no use/Because love is
where it's at."
Aside from that, this is nothing more or less than a typical, energetic fall '75 show (as
usual, Bozzio sounds especially pumped), with good sound.
The Fall '75 shows have been hard shows to review for the majority of the FZTRS
ensemble [except for Naurin, who is strange anyway]. Apart from the "Chunga's->
Zoot" guitar orgies, and the occasional "Black Napkins" and "Any
Downers" classics, this tour does not offer much that gets us too excited about
sitting down and listening to 135 minutes of Brock and Estrada and Lewis butcher Frank's
songs. So we sit and endure the more painful moments in hope that the payoff will be
huge once Chunga's and Zoot show up. Funny thing is- there is no payoff in this late
October show, but there is plenty of inspired guitar playing in the songs that normally
make us cringe. Fast forward through this tape and you miss all the good parts.
"Chunga's Revenge", "Zoot Allures", "Any Downers" and
"Black Napkins"- the four songs which I would predict would be the definitive
highlights of any given Fall '75 show- are all disappointments on this night. "Any
Downers" lacks the heavy metal guitar hysteria which makes the early October
performances essential listening, and consists of nothing more that inane FZ rantings
about gurus. The other three songs feature quite a bit of guitar, but are all particularly
mellow, quite predictable, and at times, uninspired. "Black Napkins" sounds like
a "Pink Napkins" outtake, but without the airy delicacy nor the slow build-up to
something meaningful. "Chunga's Revenge" finds Frank going solo- acapella- for a
good couple minutes to start his solo, but again, he does not use this platform to build
to any cathartic or exhilarating peak. He does throw in some "T'Mershi Duween"
quotes and a couple "Ship Ahoy" flavorings, but this is stuff that has been done
before, and done better. Finally, "Zoot Allures" is its typical skeletal self,
with some FZ deviations serving as a "solo", and that's about it.
Where all the guitar excitement comes in is during the songs I normally find myself
snoozing through. "Advance Romance" and "Illinois Enema Bandit" are
both GREAT!- long and varied and passionate and so full of energy that at times Frank
seems eager to stop but apparently cannot find the brakes. "Illinois Enema
Bandit" is particularly tasty, with Frank dipping into a hippy-dippy style of playing
I associate more with Jerry Garcia that anyone else. This solo is at times very melodical,
with short "looped" phrases that dance around the fretboard- light and airy-
weaving in and out and through the percussive stylings of Bozzio. This contrast with
Frank's typically aggressive and straightforward playing is awesome. Yes, my Grateful Dead
sensibilities taint my enjoyment of this, but they are not making a mountain out of a
molehill. This is a good solo.
Everything else about this show is standard Fall '75. "Stinkfoot", as always,
contains an energetic and entertaining solo. The WOIIFTM medley rocks while the Freak Out!
Medley sucks (sorry Buzby!). The remainder of the songs are what you expect them to be,
which in my case are Yawn! Overall, this is not a great show, though it is not bad. Frank
fails to do anything special with his usual monster showcases, though he does pull out two
surprises elsewhere in the set. Finally, it's not that great of a sounding show- there are
worse from this tour, though there are also better. I give this tape- performance-wise- a
Strange start of the show: Napoleon enters the stage and just starts groaning into his
beat him!" yells a guy in the audience, but Nappy is soon forgiven as he delivers a
cool, dirty solo in the
blues intro. Apart from that, the first part of the show is pretty dull - FZ's solos in
Stinkfoot and Napkins
are a little disappointing, and the songs in between do not appeal to this reviewer.
The first noteworthy solo does instead come in Advance Romance, a dirty, inspired solo.
But after that,
it's down to disappointment level again, as neither The Illinois Enema Bandit nor
Ecstasy produce solos of the standard we've grown used to. The show is saved from
mediocrity by the
last two songs, though. Both Chunga and Zoot give some tasters of the guitar extravaganzas
come within the next few days. Not everything Frank plays here is great, but it's really
cool to see how
his experimental guitar playing side has started growing.
Not a bad show, but there are many better examples from this month.
Ahead to Fall '75 Review Page 2
Back to Fall '75 Review page
Back to Main Review page
© 1997 email@example.com