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Frank Zappa - Road Tapes - Venue #2 CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



4.35 | 54 ratings

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3 stars The mid-1970s lineup of the Mothers which existed (with a few tweaks here and there) from around 1973 (inaugurated on Overnite Sensation) to about 1975 (exiting on One Size Fits All) is already well-regarded in terms of its live releases. The Helsinki Concert of 1974 - released as volume 2 of the You Can't Do That On Stage Any More series - displayed the straight fusion fire they could conjure up, whilst Roxy & Elsewhere is a beloved mashup of wacky comedy and weird music.

Does this make Road Tapes #2 redundant? Not in the slightest. Recorded in Helsinki in 1973 - a couple of months after the Overnite Sensation sessions, but before the Roxy concerts or the more famous 1974 return engagement - it captures this incarnation of the band in a more formative state, mutating older cuts whilst workshopping material which would emerge in more polished form later on. (Indeed, the then-current Overnite Sensation album only briefly gets a word in, in the former of a version of Montana which suggests that even Zappa is already kind of tired of the song.)

Some of the more sedate, jazzy passages here sound positively like Hatfield & the North or National Health - a connection which sounds much less unlikely when you recall that Zappa once jammed with Caravan at a European festival, as a result of the rest of his band being caught up in work visa problems. Other parts, like the "Pojama People" prelude, deliberately delve into tasteless light jazz noodling. Fans of this period of Zappa's music will find this an interesting collection given the set list involved, but have probably heard better versions of a lot of this material already.

Warthur | 3/5 |


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