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Frank Zappa - You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 4 CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.65 | 121 ratings

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3 stars Volume 4 of the "You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore" is another mish mash of concert recordings and venues, sort of like what volume 1 was. However, this one seems to concentrate more on unique and novelty sessions. There are a lot of "not available anywhere else, at least not in this kind of sound quality" songs on this one, and that factor may entice a lot of hardcore FZ fans. But, the album is not very cohesive like volume 1 turned out to be. It is all over the place, though the sound quality throughout remains steady, the songs are enjoyable at best and boring at worst. The venues are also all over the place as well as the dates. Not much makes sense here, but there is a lot of strange performances that don't have a lot of explanation as to why they happened or what the circumstances are, and there isn't a lot of information about the performances either.

Disc 1 starts out with "Little Rubber Girl" which is a song similar to most tracks off of the first Mothers album "Freak Out!" It is also made up on the spot. It was recorded at the Palladium in NYC on 10/31/1978 and offers nothing new other than the only official recording of the song. We then go to Vancouver and jump ahead in time to 12/18/84, a whole different band line up, but a similar sounding song from "The Man from Utopia" called "Stick Together". This one is straightforward pop for the most part. Then we travel to California a few days later....12/23/84 for a performance of "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama" and "Willie the Pimp", again fairly straightforward but more of a hard rock sound. "Pimp" is a very shortened version of the song without Captain Beefheart singing and it actually loses it's original charm without him. It's basically just another track now. Except for a short edit in "Montana" we remain in California through "Brown Moses" which is a boring track from "Thing-Fish" and not much is added to it live either. The next track is also from the same studio album and called "The Evil Prince" but it is recorded this time partly in Vancouver (same date as the previous Vancouver recording) and partly in London on 9/24- 25/84. Again, this is not a great track, however, there is a bit more drama and life to it than there is on the studio recording. It sounds just like a Broadway tune with lots of drama in it and the singing is actually very well done.

For the rest of this disc, the venues are constantly changing and the excitement of the live shows suffers for it. It is interesting that the excitement generated from hearing a concert in one venue can be lost when the venue constantly changes, but that is what happens here. We get a very short version of "Approximate" which was so well represented on Volume 2, but consider this another example of how that song can work. You get another short song in "Love of My Life" but then you get the excitement of some instrumentals, but they are solos taken from various places and mashed together in sequence. There are two solos on the track "Let's Move to Cleveland" and these are fairly decent with a tenor sax solo from Archie Shepp and an amazing piano solo from Allan Zavod (and I mean this guy is amazing). The excitement from these solos is soon brought down by the track "You Call That Music?" which is a bizarre sort of avant garde minimalist improvisation that just doesn't fit here, stuck between these solo tracks. Next comes "Pound for a Brown Solos" which doesn't live up to the previous solos, so the excitement is short lived. "The Black Page" is decent and has a great guitar solo that was edited in between the thematic passages that bookend the track. It is an impressive track, but it is available in many other varieties on other albums. "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" is a vocal routine that has lost it's meaning over time, at least that's what I assume here. It is simply two band members imitating some sports announcers and not very funny. "Filthy Habits" has another FZ solo and the disc is finished off with a version of "The Torture Never Stops". This version is unique from the many other versions in that it came from the "Bongo Fury" live sessions and is sung by Captain Beefheart. But it was left off of the "Bongo Fury" album, so it was not previously available, and I can understand why. His singing freshens up the song which is done as a blues number with some of CB's killer harmonica solos, but the background is a repeat of a Howlin' Wolf blues riff that gets repeated ad nauseum for almost 10 minutes.

Disc 2 starts out with "church Chat" which is simply FZ doing a vocal routine as a preacher asking for money. Next comes "Stevie's Spanking" which is a staple from that era featuring a naughty story of one of Steve Vai's sexcapades and a very long guitar solo by him first, followed by Zappa, followed by the both of them together. That's pretty awesome, but the solo is from a different show than the lyrical part of the song, and it's a show that is otherwise available elsewhere performed in Rome, Italy. After that you get several tracks performed in various places of some standard and straightforward songs, these are recording available on other live collections and really offer nothing unique. You do get a decent rendition of "Florentine Pogen" which is a rather challenging progressive rock song with changing meters and rhythms throughout. However, it is still a straightforward performance, but it is a marvel that it can be performed so well in a live setting. Now you get into some original material here with "Tiny Sick Tears", the funny "Smell My Beard" and the childish humor of "The Booger Man", but other than being performances you can't find elsewhere, there is nothing special about them except the humor. Another standard comes next with "Carolina Hard Core Ecstasy" and it is also quite straightforward. The remainder of the album though is actually the highlight in my opinion. There are a series of previously unavailable performances that, even though they are all short, are very fun songs that are well done. There is some funny audience interaction in "Are You Upset?" and then the rest of the album slips into the doo wop style from the 50s and 60s that Frank loved so much. This section makes up 6 songs under 3 minutes each that are played in this style and you can hear how much fun Frank and the band had making these. Just this section alone raises the bar from a collections only album to a good, but non-essential album.

The main reasoning behind the lower rating here is in the inconsistency of the music, the level of excitement that does not remain throughout the album and stays on the low side of that level more than anything. Most of the tracks don't have a lot of new material or "eyebrows" to offer like what we have seen from volumes 1, 2, and 3. Get one of those, and if you become a hardcore fan or collector, then you might want to wait until then to get volume 4. 3 stars.

TCat | 3/5 |


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