Archive for November, 2010

While waiting for my pre-order…

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

While waiting for my pre-ordered copy of a book, I do a search on some related terms; the 3rd result is a full PDF download of the book.

Frank Zappa – Hammersmith Odeon [2010 ZFT Release]

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

I haven’t had the time to give this a complete listen yet, so my review is only just begun. For those who still don’t know the track lists and some of the vital stats, I’m posting this as is until I have some time to digest it… First pass through 1.5 of the “set” is positive! Enjoy!

Dave

Frank Zappa 2010 – Hammersmith Odeon (Spring 1978)

3 hours over 3 discs, culled from a series of 4 concerts played at the HO, arranged by Joe Travers to fit into the format of a single complete show with encores. First 4 tracks were compiled and edited by FZ himself for a King Biscuit Flower Hour radio show.

Vital Stats:

CD1
01 Convocation/The Purple Lagoon
02 Dancin’ Fool
03 Peaches En Regalia
04 The Torture Never Stops
05 Tryin’ To Grow A Chin
06 City Of Tiny Lights
07 Baby Snakes
08 Pound For A Brown

CD2
01 I Have Been In You
02 Flakes
03 Broken Hearts Are For Assholes
04 Punky’s Whips
05 Tittie’s ‘N Beer
06 Audience Participation
07 The Black Page #2
08 Jones Crusher
09 The Little House I Used To Live In

CD3
01 Dong Work For Yuda
02 Bobby Brown
03 Envelopes
04 Terry Firma
05 Disco Boy
06 King Kong
07 Watermelon In Easter Hay [Prequel]
08 Dinah-Moe-Humm
09 Camarillo Brillo
10 Muffin Man
11 Black Napkins
12 San Ber’Dino

Personnel:

FZ
Terry Bozzio
Patrick O’Hearn
Adrian Belew
Tommy Mars
Peter Wolf
Ed Mann

CD Contents and packaging:

Liner notes: A small reminiscence by Peter Wolf about his experience getting hired to play with Zappa. Similar to the one Bianca Odin did on the Philly ’76 ZFT release. (I love these stories!) On the other side are some deets about the recording, some particular detail about recording mediums are included. I found it boring, but recording gearheads might like it. Hit me up if you want more info. There’s also a marijuana leaf with some various Latin terms for words on/around it, same goes for a picture of a poodle.

There is a photo I’ve never seen. It’s likely from the famous (from the posters and t-shirts) “Zappa Crappa” photo shoot of his sitting on the toilet bowl. This one has him on the pot with an acoustic guitar of indeterminate make and model (some type of dreadnought perhaps? I’m not that hip on acoustics.) guitar in hand.

“Party pack”, for FZ’s “birthday” Halloween (I don’t know, that’s a ZFT thing, and the CD didn’t show up until November 23rd, so … maybe that explains the marijuana leaf in the liner notes), replete with a balloon (has FZ mustache logo on it), and a paper hat.

Listening review…

CD1

Track 1: (Nice and uptempo) Purple Lagoon (short though) with FZ spoken intro
Track 2: Dancin’ Fool, no big surprises. Nice performance. Harmony vocals are a little loose sounding at the end
Track 3: Peaches, a lot closer to the version on Tinseltown. Is that an Adrian Belew solo I hear after Frank’s? Uptempo, nice performance, nice goofy vocalizations
Track 4: Torture, we’ve heard this so many freakin’ times, it’s really _almost_ not worth mentioning except for the fantastic, extended solo by Frank which has his spectacular tone and playing, which is very reminiscent of Rat Tomago from Sheik Yerbouti. (As we all know, this band is the one on Sheik Yerbouti, though these recordings are not from that album, as the liner notes insist.) These extended solos may seem self-indulgent to modern listeners with their lost generation attention spans, but I have to say that they are such a crucial part of what makes Zappa so great to me. I mean, the guy could write, could compose, could orchestrate, could conduct. But he could also play his “mini compositions” on guitar, and keep it interesting over a long period of time. Not many players can do this. And considering Frank didn’t come out of a jazz background, it says a lot.
Track 5: Tryin’ to Grow a Chin nothing remarkable here on my first listen.
Track 6: City Of Tiny Lights … nice FZ solo, Belew’s singing seems different from the versions we’ve heard on SY and on the Baby Snakes video. It’s hard to explain, it’s more subdued somehow. I theorize that it’s early enough that he was still a bit more shy about acting weird. But it could be just that Joe Travers (or whoever) mixed him differently. You decide.
Track 7: Baby Snakes, “Suck My Pee-pee Towards the End”? 😀 Fun performance of this one. Sounds like it’s fairly early in its evolution.
Track 8: Pound For A Brown, now this is the kinda’ shit I’m talkin’ about! I like Tommy Mars’ scat singing a lot (in general, and on this track). Hello lydian modal jam with keyboard and percussion solos. Very nice interplay with Terry and Ed Mann during Ed’s solo (Very nice sinister chords too, Ed!). Considering how Peter Wolf talks about being a jazzer, and how Patrick O’Hearn was too (and who knows about Tommy Mars? — I would like to know more!) I wonder how they felt about doing modal jams instead of stuff with lots of harmonic rhythm. Of course Peter Wolf mentions being into fusion bands too, so it’s not a big stretch. Great fusion-y jam overall, replete with ’70s fusion keyboard sounds/playing (which I love! So much better than the keyboard sounds that happened in the ’80s and ’90s!), pitch modulation toggle dial anyone? (What is that thing called, anyway?) Experimental sound effects jam toward the end of the track (~15:30/20:39), sounds like it was ad hoc conducted by Frank.

CD2

Track 1: I Have Been In You, funny FZ rap in the beginning, “The universal gesture of greeting”. It’s familiar because he’s told it before. But this take is pretty funny. The song itself sounds like it’s still evolving, though pretty close to how it winds up on SY. FZ does another rap in the middle of the song.
Track 2: Flakes, nothing exceptional here except for early hints at Matte Kudesai type stuff from Adrian during a nice solo he takes
Track 3: Broken Hearts Are For Assholes …
Track 4: Punky’s Whips “Pouting for you, you freakin’ sailor? Eat chain, buddy!” Nice performance. Long jam toward the end.
Track 5: Tittie’s ‘N Beer … No comments
Track 6 Audience Participation … No comments
Track 7 The Black Page #2 … nice brisk tempo for this track.
Track 8 Jones Crusher … No comments
Track 9 The Little House I Used To Live In …Cool track!

CD3

Track 1 Dong Work For Yuda … early incarnation of this tune
Track 2 Bobby Brown … explains the origin of the song
Track 3 Envelopes … Tommy Mars singing the melody
Track 4 Terry Firma … drum solo
Track 5 Disco Boy … kind of a decent-sized ad-hoc orchestration piece at the end.
Track 6 King Kong … first “encore” piece. Solos: guitar, keys, scat (Mars). Very nice guitar solo/tone on this one.
Track 7 Watermelon In Easter Hay [Prequel] … Same time sig, different feel overall, a lot faster. Solo is kinda’ cool, but nowhere near the impact it had in the version that appeared on Joe’s Garage.
Track 8 Dinah-Moe-Humm … (AKA Frank –and now the ZFT– paying the bills) This track is required on every ZFT release. Nice half note triplets, Terry!
Track 9 Camarillo Brillo …
Track 10 Muffin Man … cool Belew solo
Track 11 Black Napkins … “bogus frenzy” pretty rippin’ version.
Track 12 San Ber’Dino … speedy! Nice Belew vehicle.