BAND MEMBERS- FZ, Adrian Belew (guitar, vocals, wild love), Patrick O'Hearn (bass, vocals, broken hearts), Terry Bozzio (drums, vocals, teen idolatry), Ed Mann (percussion, harmonica, mystery words, Dylan), Tommy Mars (keyboards, high-pitched vocals, blaster), Peter Wolf (keyboards, german)
SPECIAL GUESTS- Roy Estrada (certifiable insanity, gas mask), Phil Kaufman (human trombone), Thomas Nordegg (10/30 magic trick), the New York crazies (dancing)
DATES- September 8th through November 20th, December 31st
COUNTRIES- 2 (US and Canada)
# OF DIFFERENT SONGS PLAYED- 39
AVERAGE SHOW LENGTH- 120 minutes
AVERAGE # OF FZ SOLOS PER SHOW- 7
SONGS THAT FZ WOULD SOLO IN- Black Napkins, City of Tiny Lites, Conehead, Illinois Enema Bandit, I Promise Not To Come in Your Mouth, King Kong, Muffin Man, Pound for a Brown, Punky's Whips, Road Ladies, Stinkfoot, The Torture Never Stops, Wild Love
COMMENTS ON FZ SOLOS- Frank's guitar playing may not be at its peak by this point in his touring career, but these are without a doubt some of his best solos. The combination of excellent song choices and an outstanding rhythm section (the best he ever had?) make for some simply sick guitar. Not only that, but when Frank picks up his guitar to solo, he does not mess around, pulling out some epic length solos almost each time. "Black Napkins", "Pound for a Brown", "The Torture Never Stops", and "Wild Love" are all quite lengthy Frank affairs, somehow never managing to bore despite their length. The instrumental "Conehead" solos are a nice surprise, sounding quite different than they will once the tune gains lyrics. "I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth" is Frank at his most restrained, yet still inspired, while "Muffin Man" and "Punky's Whips" give Frank a chance to rock. But more than anything, it is the rhythm section, most notably O'Hearn, which really makes the difference in these solos. Especially during the "Conehead" and "Wild Love" excursions, O'Hearn is all over the place, essentialy soloing in his own right, yet still propelling Frank's playing to new heights. Why do you think Frank invited him back to be the second bass player for Halloween '78? It's because the kid is SICK!
SONGS FZ USUALLY SOLOED IN BUT DID NOT ON THIS TOUR- None
NEW SONGS ON TOUR (performed for 1st time live)- Baby Snakes, Bobby Brown, Conehead, Dancin' Fool, Envelopes,Flakes, I Have Been in You, Jewish Princess, Wild Love
MONSTER SONGS ON TOUR- King Kong, Pound for a Brown, Wild Love. Talk about Monster Songs. These may not be the craziest of Monster Songs (the '88 tour wins that honor), but these are without a doubt the sickest performances. Filled with solos galore, Mystery Word sections, certfifiably insane Roy Estrada rantings, human trombones, inspired Frank guitar solos, and the grooviest rhythm section to ever rock this Teenage Combo, these tunes thrust this tour into the upper echelons of great Frank tours. The "King Kong's" and "Pound for a Brown's" are crazy enough, but musically speaking, the "Wild Love" extravaganzas may be some of the most intense improvisation that Frank and his boys ever created.
OVERVIEW- Without a doubt, this is one of Frank's greatest tours. While the setlists are rather predictable from night to night, and the repertoire rather small, there is so much absolutely incredible playing on this tour, that you could listen to show after show after show without getting bored. To begin with, Frank's guitar solos are excellent. The combination of first rate song choices, the best rhythm team Frank ever played with (you might disagree about Bozzio, but O'Hearn should be unanimous), and some lengthy and well-developed guitar playing results in an endless series of very satisfying Frank solos. The remainder of the band also displays their talents frequently throughout each show, with Mars and Wolf fighting it out with the rhythm section, Mann subdueing us with his mesmerizing talent, Belew creating noises we did not know guitars could make, and O'Hearn proving that bass solos do not have to be boring. As I mentioned above, the setlists are rather limited, but when looking at the songs contained within those lists, there's hardly any reason for complaints. We get early, unreleased versions of "Conehead", "Envelopes", "Flakes", and "Wild Love"- all of which are arguably better than their officially released versions. We get a handful of Monster Songs, a handful of short-lived pieces ("Lather", "Punky's Whips", "Jones Crusher", "Big Leg Emma"), and enough contrast and relief within the sets to keep everyone happy. This last factor, more than anything, seems to me one of the most important factors in the success of this tour. Frank does such an excellent job of composing the sets, juxtaposing vocal oriented tunes with guitar solo vehicles with Monster jams. The best example of this is the standard "Pound for a Brown-> Bobby Brown-> Conehead" trio, which perfectly exemplifies the balance Frank successfully strikes on this tour. A great band, some great songs, great playing by everyone involved, and an undoubtedly great tour.
AULD LANG SYNE- Whipped out one-night only on this tour- that's right, you guessed it, on New Year's Eve, of all times. At the end of his "Black Napkins" solo, Frank tears into what can only be called a heavy metal version of this tune, which is quickly picked up by Bozzio, O'Hearn, and the very majestic sounding keyboardists. They play this song for about a minute, before Frank makes the closing introductions (?), and the concert, and the tour, ends.
BABY SNAKES- Essentially performed as on "Sheik Yerbouti". While this tune was being rehearsed since at least 10/30 (see "Baby Snakes" the movie), it did not premiere until New Year's Eve. I figure it is Frank's gift to the new year, sort of like a "Baby New Year's".
BIG LEG EMMA- Essentially performed as on ZINY, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentaton.
BLACK NAPKINS- Quite an awesome way to close a show, I must say. This tune pops up sporadically thorughout the tour, raising its passionate head at the tail end of certain concerts, sending the lucky audience members home with smiles plastered across their faces. I just finished listening to the 10/2 performance, and man, is Frank on for this song. I have yet to hear a disappointing "Black Napkins" from this tour. The tune starts off nice and calm, with the standard opening vamp setting the scene for Frank, who plays an understated version of the main theme. Deceptive almost, this restrained playing by Frank, who, upon finishing the head, would pour forth a torrent of notes and noises that would make even the most ardent of "Dinah-Mo Humm" fans numb with awe. Simply Frank at his best, playing guitar as if nothing else in the world matters, or even exists.
BLACK PAGE #2- Essentially performed as on "Baby Snakes", with the standard deviation coming in Frank's introduction and explanation of the tune. Of course, we get the occasional audience participation, with certain brave souls attempting to dance in the face of these complex rhythms.
BOBBY BROWN GOES DOWN- Essentially performed as on "Sheik Yerbouti", which is excusable this time around being as this is the first tour the song appears.
BROKEN HEARTS ARE FOR ASSHOLES- Essentially performed as on "Sheik Yerbouti", with the standard deviation coming in O'Hearn's middle-of-the-song remarks. Several instances on tour, Patrick manages to highly amuse Frank and several other band members, rendering them unable to successfully sing their lines. Interesting to hear, but a bad omen of things to come 7 years later.
CAMARILLO BRILLO- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume VI, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation. This is the version with the fast first half, and the arena rock slow second half.
CITY OF TINY LITES- Essentially performed as on "Sheik Yerbouti", with the standard deviation coming in the solo section. Over the course of the tour, we get a variety of solos, ranging from nothing-but-O'Hearn bass solos in the early days of the tour, to the standard Frank guitar outings in the remaining shows.
CONEHEAD- Performed as an instrumental this time round, containing a Frank guitar solo and some outrageous O'Hearn bass playing. When it first rears its pointed little head, it essentially serves as the vamp for Frank's guitar solo during the "Pound for a Brown" extravaganzas. After several instances of this, the tune is separated from the Monster tune, and takes on its own identity, though still remaining an instrumental. The main theme as it is played on this tour- a short bass and guitar riff- can be briefly heard during the "Baby Snakes" movie. This main theme sets up the guitar solo, but is eventually lost as Frank and the rhythm section stake new musical territory. Upon finishing his solo, Frank and the band then return to this theme, before segueing into the next song. Some of the best guitar playing of the tour- and of the seventies- comes right here.
DADDY DADDY DADDY- This appears once on this tour, on 9/29, as part of a medley consisting of "Road Ladies", "Would You Go All The Way?", this, and "Do You Like Me New Car?"
DANCIN' FOOL- Thankfully, it was only performed twice on this tour. It debuted on 10/30 in possibly the most interesting performance this tune has ever presented. The basic structure of the song is the same for this premiere performance, but the tune has quite a different feel due to the hesitancy of both Frank and the band. The opening music (and pre-verse section) is not as abrupt, missing the crashing guitar chord and consisting of only the repeating keyboard and bass riff. Frank messes up the second verse during this performance, and has the band go back and do it again. The "Beat goes on..." section is a lot more chaotic, and the ending simply consists of the "I may be totally wrong..." section, and a closing train crash. Without a doubt, this is the most interesting performance of this tune as it is the only one which sounds different from the "Sheik Yerbouti" version. The only other performance on this tour is on 12/31, and unfortunately, the band had a chance to practice it by then.
DINAH-MO HUMM- Essentially performed as on "Baby Snakes". Thankfully, though, we do not get a "Frank Zappa sing alike Contest" in the majority of the performances, thus shortening the length of time we have to spend listening to this tune.
DIRTY LOVE- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume VI, though quite a bit slower, and allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation. Frank decided to whip out the "Stinkfoot-> Poodle Rap" for the 10/30 concert and video recording (the first of three known performances on this tour, the other two being 11/11, and the "Stinkfoot" a la carte 12/31 rendition), and "Dirty Love" comes along for the ride for the first two.
DISCO BOY- Essentially performed as on "Baby Snakes".
DONG WORK FOR YUDA- Not quite the production we would find on "Joe's Garage", this song on this tour was essentially a bare bones musical number with emphasis on the harmonizing and vocals of the band. As on "Joe's Garage", Terry Ted has the meat of the vocals- uttering all Bald Headed John's linguistic mutilations. Essentially performed the same each time.
DO YOU LIKE ME NEW CAR?- This song appears once on this tour, on 9/29, as the last part of a medley consisting of "Road Ladies", Would You Go All The Way?", "Daddy Daddy Daddy", and this.
ENVELOPES- Essentially performed as on SATLTSADW, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation, but with vocals! Yes, this instrumental ditty originally had vocals, sung by, of all people, Tommy Mars. Essentially, the song is about sex (surprise!), with the most ridiculous line being "Squat on my blaster". Now, for your reading enjoyment, the lyrics (as I hear them)- You are my desire, you come to me in dreams thru a garden wall, Its covered with a lot of dew, I suppose you're covered too, Just slightly wet, better yet, you're my stew, You are my ?, You come to me in a ?, Covered with a lot of dew, I supposed you're covered too, Just slightly wet, Better yet, Let's go screw, I'm screwing you (x4), Oh boy I'm doing it, I'm really neat (x2), You're really sweet (x2), In and out (x4), It's divine, you are mine, You're so fine, Squat on my blaster, make it go faster (x2) Drum solo
FIND HER FINER- A New Year's treat (sort of), essentially performed as on "Zoot Allures", allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation. Not quite as tedious as the album version, but a far cry from the upbeat number that the '88 band frequently performed.
FLAKES- The majority of this tune is essentially performed as on "Sheik Yerbouti", namely up through the Bob Dylan section. From this point on, however, the song differs, and the degree in which it differs depends on where in the tour you encounter the song. For the majority of the tour, the song essentially ends after the Bob Dylan verses. There is a short instrumental take on the Dylan theme, followed by a return to the opening vamp, and then the end. For the New Year's show, however, the post-Dylan section has attained the instrumental portion of the "Sheik Yerbouti" version, minus the lyrics. In place of the lyrics, Belew takes a restrained yet intense solo, employing excellent use of his volume pedal throughout. The "1,2,3,4" chant is still in place, but instead of heralding the arrival of new lyrics, it serves the purpose of intensifying the Belew-led jam. Listening to this live version, and comparing it to the studio version,one feels inevitable disappointment when one realizes what an overactive imagination and too much time in the studio can do to a song. Essential listening for the die-hard Zappa fan. The Bob Dylan portion of this tune is also used as an instrumental vamp to open the shows (an example of this can be heard on the "Baby Snakes" video).
I HAVE BEEN IN YOU- Essentially performed as on "Sheik Yerbouti", with the "Is This Guy Kidding or What?" bit thrown in from Stage VI. This song premiered on 10/20, and was performed again on 10/30. For these first two performances, this tune is rather skeletal, missing the high-pitched backing vocals, and without the slowly building ending. The third and final performance is on 12/31, and by this time the band had practiced the tune enough to play it as we know it. Frank opened this song with the monologue about the teenage girl meeting and seducing the "pop star of her choice". Like "Billy the Mountain" years before, Frank changed names and slightly altered the story depending upon where the concert was taking place, but for the most part the story was the same.
ILLINOIS ENEMA BANDIT- Jon Naurin's got the full scoop on this one- "Played at least twice this tour, as an encore of the 9/23 show and directly after intermission on 9/29. Before the latter, FZ explains that they would ordinarily play Envelopes at this part of the program, but he figured that a weird song with a drum solo would not be a good opener of set 2. So instead he announces that they'll play a song of the forthcoming Lather album, and that it should be sung by someone with a very high voice. Nevertheless he sings it himself, which makes the song lose a bit of energy. Adrian sings the final lines, and I think he should have sung the whole song.Interesting choices of soloists: Belew goes first ("take it away, Bob!) with a slashing solo, and Peter comes next on the moog, before FZ delivers his solo, which seems to be played on the three lowest frets for 90% of the time. Apart from this; EPAOZINYAFODII & WDSDCITS (you figure it out!)" Excellent acronyms, Jon.
I PROMISE NOT TO COME IN YOUR MOUTH- Essentially performed as on ZINY, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation, and with the standard deviation coming in either Frank's or Pete's solo.
ISN'T IT ROMANTIC- I figured this was simply someone mistitling "Punky's Whips", but Jon Naurin has this to say about this title- "UCLA, 11/20/77: So what is "Isn't it romantic?"? Well, at the beginning of the first encores, Adrian (I think) starts noodling on his guitar. This leads into a melody, which I believe is "Isn't it romantic?" - it's the same melody that's whistled in "Punky's Whips". After a while, the rest of the band starts playing along. In total maybe a minute or so, and I'd say it qualifies as a setlist entry.
JEWISH PRINCESS- From what I can tell, this song was only performed live once- ever. It premiered on 10/30- right after the world premiere of "Dancin' Fool"- and several minutes later, disappeared from our touring lives forever. This is a pretty complete rendition of this tune, with the only elements missing in comparison with the studio version being the kazoo parts and the backing vocals. [Patrick Buzby astutely points out that this IS the performance found on "Sheik Yerbouti", minus the massive overdubs.]
JONES CRUSHER- Essentially performed as on "Baby Snakes".
KING KONG- For this tour, this song debuted on 10/30, the performance of which can be seen on the "Baby Snakes" video. We get the fast version of the song this time around, with a Mann percussion solo, Phil "the Human Trombone " Kaufman, keyboard solos, some genuine Roy Estrada gas mask insanity, and the improvised "Toy police car" jam, which consists of Frank pushing the button on a toy police car while the band vamps behind it. In the weeks following this performance, this tune occasionally rears its ugly little head, appearing in the set lists where the instrumental "Conehead" would typically appear. The performances I have heard have both been guitar solo only vehicles, and I am assuming that they are all such vehicles since they appear in what is typically an FZ guitar solo spot.
LATHER- The name that some of us are now giving to "I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth", thanks to that Ryko release. I refuse to follow suit, out of respect for the commitment made in the original title.
MUFFIN MAN- Essentially performed as on "Bongo Fury"- the live part only- allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation, and with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo.
PEACHES EN REGALIA- Essentially performed as on "Hot Rats" (the Peaches I version), with Tommy's voice being used as an additional instrument at key moments in the song.
POODLE RAP- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume VI, which represents the single performance of this tune on this tour. Whew!
POUND FOR A BROWN (ON THE BUS)- An excellent outing for this perennial Monster Song. The main theme is played as always, with some Tommy vocal accompaniment throughout. The solo section starts off with some very uncommon and well-played rhythm guitar, setting the scene for the keyboard freak-out that follows. Wolf uses quite a funky sound, Mars scats for much of his solo, and the rhythm section- particularly O'Hearn- is outright insane. Early in the tour, an instrumental version of "Conehead" essentially serves as the vamp for a Frank Zappa guitar solo, though this situation would only last about a week. Once "Conehead" became its own tune, the Zappa solo is dropped from this tune, and it becomes a keyboard/bass fest only.
PUNKY'S WHIPS- Essentially performed as on "Baby Snakes", allowing for obvious differences in Frank's solo.
ROAD LADIES- Jon Naurin writes: "Just performed once to my knowledge, on 9/29. Quite similar to the Chunga's Revenge version with a short solo, and Belew screaming the lines that Mark Volman would take originally."
SAN BER'DINO- Essentially performed as on OSFA, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation. Belew does a more than adequate job of filling Watson's shoes for the end-of-song ravings.
STINKFOOT- Essentially performed as always, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. Frank whips this song out three times on this tour- on 10/30, 11/11, and on 12/31- apparently considering it a special treat.
TITTIES 'N' BEER- Essentially performed as on "Baby Snakes", with the standard deviation coming in Frank's and Terry Ted's middle-of-the-song bargaining session.
TORTURE NEVER STOPS, THE- Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume I, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. This is consistently one of the highlights of the tour, with some incredible Frank playing and some even more incredible bass playing from O'Hearn. While Frank frequently falls into the same mode of playing during these extended solos, O'Hearn is continually messing with the bass lines, and creating interesting textures to which Frank responds. Did I mention that this kid is amazing?
TRYIN' TO GROW A CHIN- Essentially performed as on "Sheik Yerbouti"
WILD LOVE- A true Monster Song, and possibly the only one to ever have lyrics (I do not know the significance of this, but I thought I would point it out). For this tour, the first half of the song is essentially the same as on "Sheik Yerbouti", with the only difference being that the the tune now begins with the vocals (i.e. no opening instrumental segment). Once we run through the "official" version of the song, things begin to get a little strange, and it is here where this Monster tune truly raises its powerful little head. After the conclusion of the song as we know it from the album, Belew's chorded guitar riff is played again, and this lead us into The Solos. The keyboard players typically go first, accompanied by a very active percussion section and some intense bass playing. Ocasionally throughout the tour, Ed Mann gets his chance to solo, and his percussion workout follows the keyboardists. Belew goes next, and for his solo, a disco vamp is introduced (which sounds remarkably similar to a song I heard on VH1), along with a short theme that Belew toys with for the duration of his solo. Belew employs liberal use of his volume pedal for his rather manic solo, with O'Hearn once again providing some exceptional bass support. Frank then picks up his guitar and concludes the festivities. Early in the tour, Frank's solo would evolve out of the disco vamp, with O'Hearn diversifying the sonic landscape by slowly mutating the established groove. At some point in the tour, however, Frank's solo is set apart from the disco jam, and essentially begins with the drum beat that would later be used to open "Yo Mama".
WOULD YOU GO ALL THE WAY?- Jon Naurin writes- "Also played as part of an oldie medley at the 9/29 encores. Essentially performed the way the 76/77 (and the Flo & Eddie bands) played it." The oldie medley consisted of "Road Ladies", this, "Daddy Daddy Daddy", and "Do You Like My New Car?"