Tuesday Mix: FZ in the 80s

Admittedly, there are some Frank Zappa fans who do not enjoy his 80s material quite as much as his music which came out of the 60s and 70s. That said, I really enjoyed compiling this mix together. At first, I thought I wouldn’t have enough tracks, yet, as you will soon see for yourself, Frank Zappa’s 80s set lists were just as varied as those from any other era of his career, and just as intriguing, both musically and satirically.

Click here to listen to the mixtape.

I’d like to thank our webmaster, Barry, for his help in uploading the larger tracks of this mixtape. Thanks.

Update 03/06: Added some Sinister Footwear to the Mix…

Note: If any of the tracks infringe on someone else’s copyright, let us know and we’ll remove them.

38 Responses to “Tuesday Mix: FZ in the 80s”

  1. Bálint says:

    I love the 80s… Huh, this on is loooong! Urbangraffito, you are my Joe Travers!!! 😀

  2. Harry Barris says:

    “Admittedly, there are some Frank Zappa fans who do not enjoy his 80s material quite as much as his music which came out of the 60s and 70s.”

    You got me there, UrbanG.!

    (wasn’t Ancient Armaments recorded in ’78?)

  3. potatohead Peccary says:

    I love the Zappa from the 80’s. Thanks

  4. Robert says:

    Yes! Here’s another one of the rare breed of 80s-FZ-afficionados! Thanks a lot for this!! Can’t get enough Drowning Witch versions anyway, and this version in particular kicks butt.

  5. punknaynowned says:

    I like this!
    thanx fer the word on the existence of this opentape.
    I will use it.
    great and varied selection of material UG!
    surprised no synclavier or orchestra pieces like in Berkeley.
    I do enjoy these extended playlists as evidenced here that aren’t in a regular setlist lineup,in toto, but do go on for hours.

  6. A Tinseltown Aficionado says:

    ,,,but add Marqueson’s Kitchen please! 🙂

  7. LRonHoover says:

    JESUS THINKS YOU’RE A JERK

    best track on here – if only frank could’ve witnessed the past 8 years.

  8. metafunj says:

    one of the things I dislike about the 80s tours is that there are often a lot of covers that don’t fit the zappa sound like “johny darling” and “the closer you are.” Others like “stairway” were better adapted to fit the sound of the band. Also many of the songs from “YAWYI” album don’t have much room for variation and are pretty simple and sometimes have spoken parts that get boring after hearing them a lot like “mudd club” and “Dumb all over”

    Also Franks chops started to go on the guitar for the 84/88 tours and the sometimes stale rhythm sections didnt’ seem to inspire such great outings as on previous tours. We’re only in it for the polyrhythms!

  9. SOFA - Philostopher/Chef says:

    Meta! Long Time, Dude!
    [quote comment=”4420″]one of the things I dislike about the 80s tours is that there are often a lot of covers that don’t fit the zappa sound like “johny darling” and “the closer you are.”[/quote]
    Aw Man, c’mon… Those ‘covers’, and their harmonics, helped shape the PO; they’re an integral; part of FZ’s compositions… What I liked best about the ’84 band (and Frank did also, if you believe his interviews), was that they could DO Doo-wop
    But then, I’m a vocalist – of course I love that band…
    I can’t help but wonder, Barry: what’s the difference between an excellent mixtape like this, and the Friday Boots?
    Enlighten me please?

  10. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    [quote comment=”4422″]I can’t help but wonder, Barry: what’s the difference between an excellent mixtape like this, and the Friday Boots?
    Enlighten me please?[/quote]
    Urbangraffito has been doing an excellent job compiling mixes. The Friday Boots hardly ever were compilations; they consisted of a full “field recording”, once a week, warts ‘n all. Oh, and of course you can’t download Urb’s mixtapes 😉

  11. Robert says:

    [quote post=”1180″]Oh, and of course you can’t download Urb’s mixtapes ;-)[/quote]

    I’ll try anyway this evening and report back if i succeed.

  12. Jamez says:

    [quote comment=”4415″]I love the Zappa from the 80’s. Thanks[/quote]

    So do I!! P.S. Is there any existing live recording of ‘Teenage Wind’ with Bob Harris on vocals, Urbangraffito?

  13. urbangraffito says:

    [quote comment=”4414″]”Admittedly, there are some Frank Zappa fans who do not enjoy his 80s material quite as much as his music which came out of the 60s and 70s.”

    You got me there, UrbanG.!

    (wasn’t Ancient Armaments recorded in ’78?)[/quote]

    Technically, you’re right. Yet since it was on the same EP as “I Don’t Wanna Get Drafted”, released in 1980, I thought I’d squeeze it in as material from 80s Zappa:

    http://www.discogs.com/Frank-Zappa-I-Dont-Wanna-Get-Drafted/release/884850

  14. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    [quote comment=”4424″][quote post=”1180″]Oh, and of course you can’t download Urb’s mixtapes ;-)[/quote]

    I’ll try anyway this evening and report back if i succeed.[/quote]
    In the interest of future mixtapes, I suggest you do not report back…

  15. PropellerKuh says:

    URBAN G!
    PLEASE! MORE! UMRK Outtakes, 1980-1982! These tracks are fantastic! I take it these outtakes are especially rare, never-in-that-version played pieces. I don’t that much care for the ump-tenth version of, say, “Down In France” as delightful as that might be, but this version of “Mo’s Vacation” in the disguise of “The Black Page” played by bassoons and other weird winds is utmost fun!
    Thanks again and again!

  16. Roland says:

    Nice muxtape, urbangraffito. The 80´s music and bands of FZ had their ups and downs imho, but here we find versions Í´ve never heard before.

  17. Jamez says:

    Nice Muxtape Urbangraffito. I’m a bit fan of the early ’80s Zappa line-ups, so this is manna from heaven for me!

  18. Thinman says:

    My opinions about the ’80s tours change from time to time. Lately Sometimes the ’84 incarnation seems to be one of the best to me despite the questionable sound-approach. They all had fun on this tour – including Frank.

    The 81/82 tour was more interesting musically but rather stiff. Maybe to many frightened youngsters in the band at that time ;-). And Frank seems to have not too much fun.

    The 1980 tour had one of my favourite rhythm sections: Vinnie and Arthur. Though David Logeman did a good job too as interim drummer. The combination of Ike and Ray was exceptionally good on this tour.

    The ’88 tour suffers the most from my point of view over time: too many missed chances for new material, Circus-style arrangements, too many Synclavier sample gimmicks, bad mood in the band, plinky-planky FZ guitar style, an over-perfectionof the performances that didn’t leave room for things in-between.

    Th.

  19. Robert says:

    [quote comment=”4436″]plinky-planky FZ guitar style[/quote]

    If by this you mean FZs crystal-clear, undistorted guitar sound during the ’88 tour, then i must say that i actually *liked* this sound. I agree with your observation of over-perfection, though.

  20. Thinman says:

    He often had a clean sound when horns were present. It worked much better on Grand Wazoo and Zappa In New York in my opinion.

    And I really think his solos were not so interesting in ’88.

    Th.

  21. moggio's moldy Oreos says:

    Never try to get your d__k s__ked in France.

  22. Peter says:

    Great mix! The 88-band was at times fantastic. Just try the BBYNH-versions of Inca Roads, Son of mr green genes, Eric Dolphy. That horn sectio could sure be (in the words of Mike Keneally) outrageous. On MAJNH there are ferocious guitar playing on Cruising for burgers and the my favourite version of Strictly Genteel.

  23. metafunj says:

    WOW Sinister Footwear 2nd mvt no where to be found!

  24. Sunrise Redeemer says:

    Thanks Urban G. Can’t get enough of any Zappa band, and I happen to like the 80s (particularly 80 – 82). Had not heard an 88 version of Peaches – and I like it.

    Listening to the juxtiposition of the two Drowning Witch solos – I’d give Frank the “MVP” award for doing it all. Amazing how quickly he can switch gears on that song, and I’ve never heard two solos more in contrast to each other on another Drowning Witch. Any chance for an all Drowning Witch/Baltimore mixtape? 🙂

    Also have to give Alan Zavod props for his keys solo in Let’s Move to Cleveland (I’ve never been a big fan of his but WOW). Imagine being in that crowd.

  25. Alex says:

    Never heard the Texas Motel Medley before, after first hearing of it waaay back in my innocent teen years in 2002. It’s been a while since I’ve heard latter day Zappa (these things happen when you’re doing a senior thesis on The Kinks), but dammit, Ike is a beautiful singer! He and Ray make the ’84 stuff listenable, though it’s otherwise stale and sterile…makes me think of a chilly hospital room.

    Thanks for posting this – hours of listening fun to follow!

    Also, I’ve never heard the straight story on this, what happened with Vinnie that Mr. Logeman filled in for a few months?

  26. Gavo says:

    This is awesome, thanks so much for this!

  27. metafunj says:

    Thanks Barry/Urban for the strong movements.

  28. Robert says:

    Let me chime in on Drowning Witch here: Did anybody else observe that FZ’s second solo on almost any version of DW out there is of outstanding quality? Maybe by having two solos in one piece, he is able to explore totally different musical languages. A DW “I” solo would often be of lesser quality, but then in the second solo (DW “II”), he would just pull it off and reach highest soloing levels. Check out St. Etienne (my all-time favorite FZ solo) or check out the DW II solo on SUNPYG (forgot the name of the title, but you know it’s there). Both are easily identifiable as DW II solos by the listening to what’s going on in the rhythm sections.

    So, yes, please provide more DW versions!

  29. Hugh says:

    Now that was the mother lode (without the Mothers, of course)!
    The 80’s were my core concert years for seeing Frank, so thanks for so many memories!
    I was at the Ritz concert with Al Dimeola. It was a midnight to 3AM show. I was 3 feet from the stage and it was the best Zappa show I ever experienced! It was great hearing Clownz on Velvet again. Thanks again.

  30. urbangraffito says:

    [quote comment=”4443″]Never heard the Texas Motel Medley before, after first hearing of it waaay back in my innocent teen years in 2002. It’s been a while since I’ve heard latter day Zappa (these things happen when you’re doing a senior thesis on The Kinks), but dammit, Ike is a beautiful singer! He and Ray make the ’84 stuff listenable, though it’s otherwise stale and sterile…makes me think of a chilly hospital room.

    Thanks for posting this – hours of listening fun to follow!

    Also, I’ve never heard the straight story on this, what happened with Vinnie that Mr. Logeman filled in for a few months?[/quote]

    The closest that I can approximate, Alex, is that Vinnie preferred to record rather than just tour at the time, as he states in the following sample from Modern Drummer Magazine, 1982 (source: United Mutations):

    from: vinnie colaiuta:
    modern drummer magazine

    november 1982

    rf: why did you leave frank?

    vc: i was going through stuff like, “wow, i’m on the road all the time and when i get off the road i can’t work.” i wanted to get into the studio.

    rf: why?

    vc: because i like recording a lot. i love playing in the studio; i love the way it sounds and feels in the studio. when i was back east, there were three studios in town and it was something that always fascinated me and something i wanted to do as a musician. even though i enjoy going out on the road, after a while i said, “i want to be at home and i’ll never work in the studios if i’m not around long enough for people to call me.” just because i can go out live and play my ass off, doesn’t mean i’m going to be able to go into the studio and play well, unless i go in there and do it and work for different people and be able to please all kinds of different people.

    In 1980, Vinnie recorded on albums by Gino Vannelli and Philip Aaberg, and in 1981, with Pages, Richard Perry, and Tiger Okoski, before appearing on FZ’s 1981, Tinseltown Rebellion.

    (source: http://www.vinniecolaiuta.com/discography.aspx)

  31. Hugh says:

    [quote comment=”4443″]what happened with Vinnie that Mr. Logeman filled in for a few months?[/quote]
    The word on the street was that Vinny & another band member tried to weasel some extra money out of Frank right before the ’81 tour and Zappa dropped them (There is a interview with Frank discussing this). Since Frank is dead, I guess you’ll have to take Vinnie’s version.

  32. PropellerKuh says:

    What do you guys think: Is “Porn War jam (Warner Theatre, Washington, DC, 10 Feb 1988)” in the Eighties-playlist played by FZ? Not in my book, really … methinks it’s Ray White …

  33. Robert says:

    [quote post=”1180″]s “Porn War jam (Warner Theatre, Washington, DC, 10 Feb 1988)” in the Eighties-playlist played by FZ? Not in my book, really … methinks it’s Ray White …[/quote]

    Mike Keneally, i’d say. Definitely not FZ, you’re right.

  34. Robert says:

    Argh, fuck the quoting. Going home now.

  35. PropellerKuh says:

    [quote post=”1180″]Mike Keneally, i’d say. Definitely not FZ, you’re right.[/quote]
    What was I thinking! Of course it’s MK!

  36. Bálint says:

    I just cant get bored of Barrows playing in spring ’80! Rich, exciting, fresh. Only his bass part would be enough reason to put out an official release from that period.

  37. urbangraffito says:

    [quote comment=”4524″]I just cant get bored of Barrows playing in spring ’80! Rich, exciting, fresh. Only his bass part would be enough reason to put out an official release from that period.[/quote]

    I definitely agree, Balint. Listening to Barrows bass part in many of these recordings makes one wonder why there weren’t more official releases from that period.

    On a side note, though, I think it’s quite obvious that in the 80s it wasn’t so much that FZ “had lost his chops” but rather grew bored with the guitar as an instrument generally. Where else do you go when you have reached the pinnacle of expertise on your particular instrument? Certainly the 1970s were a decade of much achievement and improvisation for FZ on the guitar. I can appreciate why he switched to the synclavier in the 1980s (for the challenge and the control it offered, which the guitar had obviously ceased to do for him, imo). Perhaps that’s why the 1988 band was so large: it gave FZ the freedom to fulfill his role of bandleader and conductor, more than the guitarist from decades past. Indeed, in interviews at the time, he did suggest he was “getting too old to be slinging a guitar” for a living. Anyway, I find the horns and reeds alone great reasons for listening to the 88 band (especially that of the late Kurt McGettrick). And Mike Keneally guitar playing was certainly up to snuff (in my opinion), and even more so as stunt guitarist when FZ decided to sling on the guitar for one of his really inspired solos…

  38. metafunj says:

    I don’t think frank should have slung his guitar on then if he wasn’t into it just to please the crowd. I’ve heard Trance Fusion and I still haven’t bought it cuz nothin grabbed my attention. Keneally’s playing was alright. Are there any recordings of mike from that tour where he’s jamming over something other than atonal synclavier stuff? Its sad he didn’t get a solo on the MAJNH Stevie’s Spanking.

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