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Frank Zappa - You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 1 CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



4.03 | 128 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In the late 80s Frank Zappa was wrapping up his final world tour (and he would really go out with a bang on this tour) as well as releasing an exceedingly impressive amount of live material ranging from every era of his career. This live material would be spread out over 12 discs and 6 collections and would be called You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore (appropriately titled volumes 1-6). In the liner notes of every edition there is information provided about essentially every song performed on the disc (including the lineup, where it was recorded, and the date it was recorded). The most notorious of these releases are the first two, the first being a very comprehensive look at Zappa's career from all eras (although a certain amount of focus is placed on his mid 80s career), and the second being a complete concert from 1972 in Helsinki. The first collection is also one of the best in the entire collection as some gems from throughout his career are played and some of the new pieces (ones that did not make it onto official albums) are superb gems.

The first disc opens and in the beginning has three straight tracks of songs from the Howard Kaylan/Mark Volman era of the group. These tracks mainly consist of dialogue, but the inclusion of the story behind the Sofa pieces (which would eventually wind up on 1975's One Size Fits All album) is quite humorous. The Mammy Anthem is a superb instrumental piece (and it features Zappa playing in a different guitar tuning) and the riffing and the majestic feel to it only heighten the atmosphere (it would eventually end up on the terribly ill-conceived concept album Thing Fish in the end but this extraction from it is brilliant at best). The pieces leading up to the conclusion of the first disc range from pieces from his 1979 touring group to a 1969 Mothers performance medley of Let's Make The Water Turn Black / Harry, You're A Beast / The Orange County Lumber Truck. The performance of Tryin' to Grow a Chin, though, pales in comparison vocally to that of Terry Bozzio's studio performance (Denny Walley gives it his best, but comes up short). The end of the first disc is a great performance of the opening song cycle of Apostrophe, from Don't Eat the Yellow Snow to Father O'Blivion with a bit of audience participation in between the pieces (Zappa has them reciting poetry and stamping up and down at points and the musicianship in the background is consistent and keeps the flow of the piece quite well).

The second disc is a less balanced affair and has a reliance on some live material from Zappa's mid 80s touring bands. The performance of The Torture Never Stops (from arguably my favorite Zappa lineup ever consisting of Terry Bozzio, Tommy Mars, Ed Mann, Adrian Belew, Peter Wolf, Patrick O'Hearn, and FZ) is quite stunning with Zappa really belting out a magnificent guitar solo and some solid riffing. The inclusion of The Deathless Horsie (an underrated instrumental from the Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar trilogy) is also quite nice and Zappa shows his versatility as a guitarist providing an emotive guitar solo while at the same time retaining his insane and unorthodox guitar phrasings. The instrumental version of Oh No (a song that Zappa would continually perform along with songs like King Kong and Trouble Every Day in every incarnation and era of his career) is also quite nice and you'll also be able to pick up on the little intricacies of the song (being that it is in essentially all odd times of 7/4 and 5/4). It ends quite nicely with the concluding Sofa No. 2 (this time played from the 1982 touring band), and although not really having the same power as the studio piece, has always been a fantastic live song for Zappa.

In the end, there are a plethora of live Zappa albums to choose from, but none are more comprehensive and have more sense of completion than the You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore! series. As for my rating for the first one, while it had many magnificent moments, there seems to be too much focus on his 80s bands on this one and not enough on the 70s groups (although they do get a lot of the spotlight as well). Still, though, it's a pretty solid collection that no fan of Zappa should really go without. 4/5

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |


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