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April 24th, 1974

Only 5 (somewhat) complete shows are available on tape from the 20 show, 10th Anniversary tour Frank undertook in the spring of 1974. Several performances from the tour are included on "Roxy and Elsewhere" (as the Elsewhere), and even this small glimpse of this rather short tour has caused people to drool for more. Unfortunately, of the 5 shows available, one has quite dismal sound, and another- namely this one- has sound that leaves quite a lot to be desired.

This is only the 5th show of the tour, and one can tell. Even though we may wish to blame the sound quality for the fact that this show never quite takes off, a close listen reveals that the music clearly lacks something- inspiration, passion, confidence, something. The opening "Pygmy Idiot Cheepnis" medley plods along, and the "Dummy Up" funk-jam in the middle of "Pygmy" is outright boring. The double duo of Fowlers on the horns makes for some great arrangements- both here and throughout the show- but they are nothing more than seasoning on poorly prepared meat. "Inca Roads" still suffers from a horribly awkward opening vamp that runs through the guitar solo, and "Cosmik Debris" parades forth its usual suspects of boring "its my turn now" solos.

While I genuinely enjoy the "Freak Out!" medley on other tapes, this performance seems to contain WAY TOO MUCH Nappy screeching, and at times I thought I had fast-forwarded into a Winter '76 performance. The show finally begins to get interesting when "Oh No" rolls around, and as we head into "More Trouble Every Day", one gets the sense that Frank is going to whip out a monster guitar solo. He doesn't. Bummer.

The encore deliver an interesting trio of "Penguin-> Andy-> Camarillo" and it IS here where the music finally begins to entertain. "PIB" is its usual bluesy self, and "Andy" delivers the most impassioned playing of the night. "Camarillo Brillo" is one of the most underrated live gems of 1974, and once again, it ends the show in a riotous fashion.

If you absolutely love this tour, get this show simply for the Fowlers' horns and the triple encore. Otherwise, stick to the three better sounding, more entertaining tapes.


May 1st, 1974

This is probably my favorite tour of the 73/74 bands. Frank and company are consistently in a good mood, Jeff and Don add a wonderful dynamic to everything that makes up for Ruth's absence, and the setlist is extremely well-chosen with chances for everyone to shine. This Binghamton show isn't the best sounding
tape, or the best concert, but is a personal favorite as it was my first Anniversary Tour tape.

The hall is large and the crowd is small. "Even though there are only 25 of you here tonight, we're going to whip it on you and give you the works!?" Frank says, and boy, do they. The first 40 minutes of this concert provide the absolute best versions ever of several Zappa standards. Cosmik Debris is a solofest here, with hot riffs from Napoleon, Don, Jeff (on harmonica), Duke, and Frank, with an especially fiery guitar solo. All that and Jeff singing the outro make for a genuinely exciting version of what was to become an incredibly
overplayed song. "You could make more money working at IBM!"

Pygmy Twylyte, The Idiot Bastard Son, and Cheepnis have spent over six months growing, percolating, and evolving, until they reach what we have here. (Well, OK, Cheepnis would hit perfection next tour). Pygmy is tight, chaotic, the instruments sound great, even Nappy's mid-song pattered improv works wonderfully. He even mentioned "Featuring your hurt". Idiot Bastard Son is one song Nappy's vocals can't ruin, and Cheepnis is filled with secret words, as the monster is Don Preston. "Extra-large chicken heads can't stop it!"

The fun carries over into Penguin in Bondage, in perhaps the most secret-word oriented performance I've ever heard outside of the 84 band. Frank also makes the song essential with a sweet solo. "There comes a time in every man's life when he *must* receive a dried apricot in his fruit salad!" After that is RDNZL, which is not as essential as Fall 74, but has nice Bruce, Frank, and George solos nevertheless.

Frank gets the audience to sing along with the end of Montana, and they're quite audible on this tape. This whole show has the feel of a small, intimate little concert. Dupree's starts off with George's "alien planet" synths, and the audience might be a tad taken aback, as Frank has to interrupt. "This is
artistic, don't talk through it." As always with these Dupree's, the band takes the opportunity to jump in with whatever George leads them into, which for this performance is a rendition of Lohengrin, then a Bebopish riff with Nappy vocals. The band improvs to death, but George is always on top. We finally get the theme (hyperactively fast this tour), and then into the solos, with Nappy on flute (is that Jeff scatting behind him), then into a boogie-ish bass solo which turns into Can't Afford No Shoes - the music, at least, with Jeff harmonica over it. Bruce's solo afterwards is more fluid and relaxed, and sounds great. Unfortunately, the one drawback in this performance is Frank's solo, which only gets going for about a minute before we go back to the theme. Perhaps there was a time limit.

After that comes the Freak Out medley, which other reviewers may like better than I do. In my opinion, Napoleon had no right to sing these songs ever, not merely on the 75-76 tour. Though I do admit to liking the Wowie Zowie arrangement. ^_^ Unfortunately on my tape, there's a big cut from WZ straight into the start of Orange County. Fortunately, the solo isn't cut, and Trouble Every Day is complete. Both these solos serve to let the listener wind down after a frenzied concert. And Camarillo Brillo, still by itself as an encore,
is even welcome as a finale.

Despite the lack of a really good Dupree's solo, I highly recommend this tape and this tour.