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Frank Zappa - You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 2 CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



4.48 | 250 ratings

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5 stars The second volume of this 6 volume series is the best of the set. It consists of the best performances of a 2-day, 3-show concert far away in Helsinki, Finland. It is not one continuous concert as many have thought, but it is culminated from those 3 shows on September 22 and 23, 1974. The working title of the collection was originally (and more appropriately) sub-titled "The Helsinki Tapes". However, the fact that the entire 2-disc collection is devoted to those shows only proves the fact that Frank Zappa found them to be very well representative of his best concert work. He has stated that this particular line-up was his favorite because the band worked together and played off of one another so well. I know it is my favorite line-up.

This is also my favorite volume of the set. It is very cohesive, most of the tracks are excellent and well produced. The first two tracks are not bad and work well as a warm up of the band, but the music suddenly gets better by the time it hits one of my personal favorites "Inca Roads". The band hits their mark during this performance and it pretty much continues throughout both of the discs (except for the not so great version of "Cheepnis"....I think the band was probably ready for an intermission when they performed it). The band plays tightly through all the crazy rhythms and improvisations and flows right into an early version of "RNDZL", which at the time wasn't completely developed and hadn't been recorded on a studio version yet. Next, the band double times the song "Village of the Sun" and speeds right through it at an amazing pace. The excitement and tightness of the band continues and it seems nothing can go wrong at this point. It's amazing how so many musicians can work so well off of each other and a lot of this credit belongs to FZ and the way he would conduct the band with hand signals and how the band knew exactly what he wanted from them. He always worked to let them show off their incredible talents and also gave plenty of time for his own guitar work to shine through. "Room Service" also appears here and had previously only been available on "Dub Room Special". This version has a lot longer instrumental introduction than it did on "Dub Room" that proves this song to be a lot more complex than originally thought. It even gets funky in the beginning and morphs into the spoken word humor that eventually follows about halfway through the track. Not only does this track show the improv on the instrumental sections, but demonstrates the comedy improv that was utilized in the shows to make each concert special. These extras were what FZ called "eyebrows" and he encouraged this practice in all of his shows along with audience participation. This kept performances exciting, unique and memorable.

The 2nd disc continues to be exciting and top notch as they dive into "Approximate" which is a very difficult piece. The band starts out playing the theme on instruments, then they try singing it with nonsense syllables, then they try playing it with their feet. After that bit of fun, they dive into the piece itself. This particular composition always varies in length and sound. FZ composed it so that there was a score for C and F instruments, another score for Eb and Bb instruments, a bass part and a drum part. The rhythms were basically the same across all parts. However, the tones were only suggestive in that instead of notes, everything was notated in range. The various performers could play any note in the range of notes that were on the score. Thus, you always got a different sounding performance each time, and that is why this piece always sounds so random. Once you understand what is going on here, the track makes a lot more sense. This is a great example of one of FZ's favorite styles of composition "Randomization".

Next is a 24 minute performance of "Dupree's Paradise" which had not been recorded live before this performance. At this point, this particular composition was only a basic framework, or a set of notes that comprised a short 8-note melody that was improvised upon by the band. This was another example of how FZ let his musicians show off. The actual composition was later completed officially and became a full-blown orchestral piece which was debuted on "The Perfect Stranger" album. Zappa wanted this piece to represent a busy bar on Avalon Boulevard in Watts during a jam session and the way the customers in the bar are conversing with one another and separate from the rest of the world. This version has a long drum and percussion solo that starts at the 14 minute mark that is excellent and does not wear out it's welcome. The two tracks that start out this 2nd disc are nothing short of amazing.

After this, the concert continues with a request of what I believe is some traditional song of sorts. The band had never heard the song and FZ comments that they have to bring up the lights so that the band can read the music. Holy cow, it is amazing how they can play this track and they had never seen it before. Then there are several short instrumental tracks that continue to amaze, these songs never get tiring because the band is so great. Soon, another request is taken, the song "Whipping Post" popularized by the Allman Brothers Band. FZ doesn't know the song and jokes around with the audience member, but ends up incorporating new lyrics based on the song title into his own "Montana" song and the entire band adjusts accordingly. This entire collection is FZ and band at their top-notch best. There is the customary great guitar solo at the end of "Montana" and this flows into a shortened version of what is usually a lengthy improvised song called "Big Swifty" (an 8 minute version appears on Vol. 1 of this series). The band plays the 1st theme of the song and FZ closes the show.

This is an excellent representation of a FZ concert and should be considered one of his best live documents. As such, it is an essential masterpiece in his discography and a masterpiece of progressive music. It is one thing that he composed these complex compositions, but to actually have a recording of a band that could play these compositions is simply amazing. This is how it is done folks. Brave, visionary, and top-notch musicianship equals a masterpiece of a live progressive performance. 5 stars.

TCat | 5/5 |


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