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

ROAD TAPES - VENUE #2

Frank Zappa

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
5 stars Many Zappaphiles, including myself, consider "Roxy & Elsewhere" one of the finest of Master Zappa's catalogue. And for years, we have been teased with the hints and rumors of expanded editions of that amazing album, and even the accompanying video. Well, the release has been announced, orders have been taken, and of course, the release date has been pushed back at least three times now.

The Zappa Family Trust has seemingly made it up to us by releasing, as the second in the Vaulternative "Road Tapes" series, a concert that precedes the Roxy concerts by about a year, but contains a similar lineup (minus Chester Thompson and Napoleon Murphy Brock, but adding Ian Underwood and Jean-Luc Ponty) and some overlapping material.

In the liner notes, Joe Travers laments the uneven quality of the master tapes, which were taken from three shows in two days at Helsinki in 1973. But he has done a splendid job cleaning them up, so even though there is a bit of unwanted distortion here and there, the instrumental performances are captured with reasonable clarity.

The recordings add to the Zappa lore with some different material. There is a medley of songs that includes The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue, the rarely released Kung Fu, an early version of Penguin In Bondage, a few pieces from "Uncle Meat", and ends with RDNZL.

There is a very long version of Dupree's Paradise, with an opening renamed Your Teeth And Your Shoulders and sometimes your foot goes like this..., that includes a stripped down Pjama People in the middle. Following this is an improv, called All Skate, with a section where Frank add the audience into the piece.

But the second disk contains the better treasures. Villiage Of The Sun contains an intro and out I have never heard on any other official release. Echidna's Arf (Of You) appears in a slower, less embellish format, and Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?, with fantastic solos from George Duke, Ponty, Bruce Fowler, and Zappa himself goes on for almost tem minutes.

And it gets even better. There is an amazing rendition of Big Swifty, followed by the best Farther O'Blivion I have ever heard.

It's enough to make me forger how long I've been waiting for "Roxy By Proxy".

An absolute must for the Zappa fans.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#1078800)
Posted Monday, November 18, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars I love the warning you get when dropping 5 stars on something - well... this one is deserving of 6 stars in my book. This is my favorite lineup from any of the Zappa bands. That has swayed my love for this release but the music is nothing short of amazing. Many have been lusting after a release with JLPonty involved and here it is. The band is hot. Frank is on it. I mean ON IT. The guitar solos he lays down are nothing short of killer. RDNZL is where he hits us first blazing into a superb solo followed immediately by Montana with probably my favorite solo on the whole release. George Duke can put his mark on anything and he does repeatedly on all the tracks. Kung Fu is a rarely heard nugget and is represented here in fine fashion. This is probably one of the best Dupree's Paradise versions I've heard and I have to agree with Evolver's review - Farther O'Blivion is probably the best we've heard... alhtough the version on Imaginary Diseases is rather good too.

Tom Fowler is not to be overlooked either. He is holding the bass on some crazy tough songs with aplomb. He would never tell you he's that good (having met him before and discovered just how humble the man is) but he is so goooood.

Sound is more than good for a show in this era. Guerrilla 2 track and 4 track recordings. Some distortion on parts but nothing that would stop you from enjoying this immensely.

Essential Zappa. A must have.

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Send comments to Phlakaton (BETA) | Report this review (#1078944)
Posted Tuesday, November 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
darkshade
COLLABORATOR
Jazz Rock/Fusion Team
5 stars 20 years after Frank Zappa passed away, we are still getting new albums that rival some of the best ones released during his lifetime. This album is one of them. Recorded in 1973, in between the big-band, jazzy Wazoo era of Zappa's band, and the fusion/prog rock Roxy lineup. With names like Jean-Luc Ponty, George Duke, Bruce Fowler, Tom Fowler, and Ralph Humphrey in this band, you can expect the music to lean heavily on jazz-rock/fusion, and it does, and Zappa's music works well in the context of jazzier surroundings. Between this era, and the Wazoo era, you'll find some of the best (and most) jazz in all of Zappa's large output.

Ruth Underwood and Ian Underwood also return, and the former would stick around in Zappa's band, more or less, until '76.

This era of Zappa's music is all about the players. As there was no lead singer besides Frank in the band, and he hadn't become the cynical front man he would become after the Lather debacle, this left a lot of room for improv. If you're familiar with Jean-Luc Ponty's 70s jazz-rock albums, or some of George Duke's, you're in for a treat. There are plenty of Zappa's themes, and early versions of some classics, in fact, this version of RDNZL is my favorite, and is much more fusion-like than what it would become on Lather/Studio Tan (though the Piquantique version is better, or better yet, get the SBD of the show that that show comes from, which is from August 21, 73, only a couple of days before this album was recorded, from Zappateers.)

This is a lost classic. It's the equivalent of the first Lost Quintet of Miles Davis' band (eventually released as "It's About That Time" in 2001). A band that never got an official release until long after it ended. Over-nite Sensation features this band, but that album came out after these tours, and Zappa had tightened his music up by then, with the transition to the Roxy lineup completed later in the year. Road Tapes: Venue 2 shows this series will be a very good series for us fans, as this is one of the most interesting FZ albums in a long time, maybe since Wazoo, or Lather. Get it, this is for for casual fans and hardcore fans, or any fan of jazz-rock/fusion.

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Send comments to darkshade (BETA) | Report this review (#1090863)
Posted Monday, December 16, 2013 | Review Permalink

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