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


Frank Zappa



4.06 | 156 ratings

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4 stars Just as the title says, this is volume 1 of a large project put together by Frank Zappa that consisted of 6 volumes of live concerts and performances plus one sampler that collected the best of the series. This was quite a major undertaking done towards the end of his life. All of these recordings are top rate, much better than the Beat the Boots collections that gathered some of his bootlegged albums together with all of their flaws and production problems. These collections are top rate and polished so that they are highly listenable and enjoyable.

Most of the volumes follow a theme or concentrate on specific concerts. This first volume, however, is a collection of bit and pieces from concerts throughout his career from 1969 to 1984. Even with this mishmash of performances featuring various line-ups from his bands, the collection flows quite well and the quality of the recordings stays consistent throughout.

Like most of the reviewers have already stated, the first disc is the best, but both have some worthy highlights. On the first disc, "The Mammy Anthem" is a terrific instrumental that is from the horrible "Thing-Fish" album, but this recording was done before the release of that studio album and features great guitar work from FZ. "Diseases of the Band" is Frank conversing with the audience and telling them about all the sicknesses the band had at the time yet they were still there performing to their utmost as is proven by the following stellar version of "Tryin' to Grow a Chin". Then there is an enjoyable medley from an older concert of some instrumental gems. The thing that makes this collection a must-have for FZ fans is the inclusion of "Ruthie-Ruthie", which is a take on "Plastic People" which is in turn a take of "Louie-Louie" (a double take :P ), a funny little aside about Ruth Underwood who was the amazing percussionist of the time and this is followed by another track not available anywhere else called "Babette", which is definitely worth checking out. But not only that, the rest of the CD continues with amazing tracks with a version of "I Am the Slime" with a killer guitar solo. Then you get the amazing "Big Swifty" which in it's original form is a long longer on the album "Waka/Jawaka" but just knowing that this band could take this song on live is nothing short of miraculous. The song is structured as "Theme 1 - Improvisation - Theme 2" so that you know when it is starting and ending because those sections are always somewhat similar, but the improv part is always different every time it's performed. The miraculous part is the 2nd theme where a very complex melody is played by pretty much the entire band with Ruth Underwood following the lead guitar note for note on the xylophone which is something everyone should hear. Simply outstanding and worth the price of the CD on it's own. But that's not enough.....the entire 20 minute performance of "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" is here with a lot of audience participation (you can hear for yourself how much fun a Zappa concert was) and also the rare coda for that entire suite (called "Rollo") is included and it was left off of the studio version of the suite which was on the album "Apostrophe".

The 2nd disc has less to offer as far as surprises, but there are some there and a few tracks that are still great. You get a 15 minute version of "The Torture Never Stops" with a great guitar solo, and the rest of the disc is shorter songs, some from the religious suite that was on the "You Are What You Is" album (but they are performed better here). You still have a few great instrumentals in "Oh No" and "Sofa #2" but nothing as stellar as on the previous disc. The faux lounge singing on "The Deathless Horsie" and "The Dangerous Kitchen" isn't too overwhelming this time and actually works better because of the brevity of the performance which helps increase the humor factor. The collection is tied together by the bookends of the album, namely Sofa #1 at the beginning and Sofa #2 which closes the collection. This adds to the continuity, which is a factor that Zappa pushed for in his music.

So, this is a great collection, and those looking for great live performances by Zappa and the band should examine this series of albums. This volume is definitely safe and would be a great purchase to help give you a good idea of what the FZ band line-up sounds like in its different incarnations. If you love a certain sound, then you will have a better idea which live albums from Zappa would appeal to you more. There are some weak points in this Volume 1 collection, but not enough to get too worried about because they don't take up much time out of the 2+ hours of music that is contained on the collection. This is essential for FZ lovers, but might not quite be to the 5 star standard for all prog lovers, but it is close. If you do get a chance to purchase this one, I wouldn't hesitate.

TCat | 4/5 |


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