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Frank Zappa - You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 5 CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.67 | 86 ratings

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4 stars Volume 5 (out of the 6 volume series of collected concert highlights of Frank Zappa's career) is once again a 2 disc set of over 2 hours long of music and hijinx of the band. This volume has a lot of music and field recordings that previous to the release of this collection, were not available except for a few of the tracks which were on bootlegs, not even on studio recordings. The two discs really don't have much to do with each other as far as band line-ups and music stylings. But the discs individually are focused on specific eras of the band, which was not the case in the haphazard 4th volume.

The first disc centers around performances from 1966 - 1971, most of which are in 1969. Typically, I am not a fan of the Flo and Eddie years, but fortunately, their obnoxious antics are reigned in for the most part and some of the field recordings are funnier than the concert skits. The disc has 25 tracks, so don't expect any long improvisational solos here. But you can expect all previously unavailable tracks and a lot of the material is completely original to this collection. The sound isn't too bad either considering the years that this material was recorded.

The disc starts out with an original song performed at the Fillmore in San Francisco in June of 1966. It is a good track that would have fit well on the "Freak Out!" album. It sounds similar to "Trouble Every Day" but it is not a copy. Next is sort of a avant garde instrumental track that has some audience participation called "Charles Ives". This was previously available from "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" but as a different version. Then you get a really good r&b song that was recorded at NYC in 1969. This song is called "Here Lies Love" and it was originally a b-side for "WPLJ" and when Lowell joined the band, it became a concert staple, but before this recording was not available on a studio album. This is probably one of their best normal songs from that decade. After that you get a short guitar and electric piano duet from The Ark in Boston from 7/8/1969. Then you get Ian Underwood soloing on piano playing "Mozart Ballet" and doing an awesome job, but while he was playing, the band was doing some silly ballet act on stage that apparently was quite funny from the audience reaction. All I know is that a rubber chicken was involved. This takes place in London on 6/6/1969. After this you get more on stage hijinx while the band plays a jewish/middle eastern sounding song while Lowell and George sing like a couple of operatic swamis. As you can see, the quality of the songs have suddenly begun to suffer because of the silliness. These things would probably be more meaningful if we could see what was going on on stage.

Frank Zappa loved recording almost every show and even secretly recorded conversations that the band would have with one another and then he would surprise them by putting these conversations on an actual recording. Needless to say, some band members would get pissed off about this. The next track is recorded while the band was travelling on the tour bus and features Jimmy Carl Black and Kanzus singing an old song called "Lovesick Blues" by Hank Williams. The rest of this disc continues in this same manner with some short fusion or avant garde type instrumentals, some stage hijinx, and some field recordings and skits. There are some great highlights but also some very strange additions. However Zappa fans tend to want to collect everything, so this disc does have a lot going for it in this respect. For Zappa beginners though, it would probably be very confusing and off-putting, so this is not one for the masses. Beginners would enjoy the version of "Trouble Every Day" and "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama" which are both often heard on other concert recordings. The Zappa-philes however would appreciate the original songs at the beginning of the disc and also the hilarious skit "German Lunch" which features the band acting out going through customs in Germany. Very funny. There is a great drum duet featuring Frank Zappa and Jimmy Carl Black soloing together (sounds like an oxymoron....soloing together). There are plenty of great instrumentals and vocals and crazy field recordings spread throughout these 25 tracks that run for 70 minutes. I enjoyed it very much which is saying a lot for someone that typically doesn't like the concerts from this era.

The 2nd disc in my opinion is the better one as far as musicality is concerned. It, like volume 3, focuses mainly on the 1980s ,but specifically the line-up from 1982 for the most part. This particular lineup was not featured very often before the release of this collection, so, once again, this disc also has a lot of value for the Zappa fan. All the tracks on this disc are pretty good and proves that this lineup did a great job on their better days.

It starts out with a great version of "Easy Meat" that features a great heavy guitar solo from Frank and the track has been edited between three venues through it's 7 minute run time. A great song that was not available before this collection called "Dead Girls from London" comes next. Since the release of this collection, it became available also on the album "Buffalo". Next is another unreleased almost lounge sounding song done by Ray White called "Shall We Take Ourselves Seriously?" bemoaning the choice of eating asparagus.

About half of this disc is recorded in Geneva, Switzerland on 8/1/1982, which turned out to be an ill fated concert (we'll discuss that later). The first verse of "What's New in Baltimore?" is the first of many of these tracks recorded at this concert. There is a nice instrumental in the middle and then the venue changes for the 2nd verse. If you listen closely, you can usually tell when Zappa would edit another venue into a track to make it more interesting. This usually worked well for Zappa's concert recordings in that Zappa always wanted the best representations of his concerts and would also explain why he was always recording everything. We stay in Geneva for the instrumental track "Moggio" and for a straightforward version of "Dancin' Fool" and then for the first part of the amazing rendition of "RNDZL" This version includes a rousing guitar solo from FZ recorded from Palermo, Italy on 7/14/82 and then a great keyboard solo (electric piano and synth) from Rome on 7/9/82. You can hear the edits, but they still flow as well as they can considering the change in venues. Ray White does "Advance Romance" justice and you don't even miss Captain Beefheart singing it this time around. The guitar solo is also stellar in this version.

Next comes "City of Tiny Lights" which is a personal favorite. This performance is culled from 4 venues throughout it's 10 minute run time and it works really well. This was always a great song to improvise off of and the band does great here. During the 2nd vocal part, you can witness (at least with your ears) how the band would follow FZ when he would conduct them with hand signals. This is apparent when you hear how the notes are held out for long durations by the vocalist and how the band always knew when to follow. You can picture Frank conducting this and all members of the band watching him closely. And they are all right on cue. This performance is amazing and the song alone is a essential FZ recording just for the fact of how the band followed him. The disc continues with a great jazz fusion version of "Pound for a Brown", a short unnecessary verion of "Doreen", a stellar version of "The Black Page" recorded from several venues and it finally ends up back in Geneva.

"Geneva Farewell" documents when FZ had to cut a great performance short because the audience kept throwing items on the stage and this was endangering other audience members and the band. FZ had previously warned the audience to stop doing this, but they continued. Finally, Frank stops everything and tells them that if they don't stop doing this, they were going to end the concert. The French interpreter relayed this message to the audience, however, he instead said that they needed to find the person that was throwing cigarette butts at the stage. He didn't say anything about the warning to stop the concert, and when more stuff ended up on the stage, FZ commanded to bring up the house lights and that the concert was over. This created a small riot which is what you hear the beginning of before the sound fades away. This is an important recording for Zappa collectors and raises the rating of the collection for that fact alone.

So overall, this is a pretty decent volume in the series. It is not the best and some of the tracks on disc 1 are not really great while others are. The 2nd disc however is pretty good all the way through even considering it was done in the 80s, it was with a great lineup that wasn't documented very often. There is a lot of value to the Zappa collector here, but I wouldn't recommend the 1st disc to those starting to listen to Zappa. Instead, from this series, I would recommend volumes 1 or 2 over this one. However, since this does have a lot of interest to Zappa fans and has some great recordings among the not so great ones, it still manages to get an excellent review. I quite enjoy this volume. 4 stars.

TCat | 4/5 |


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