Little House I Used To Live In, Berlin ’78

One of the reasons Frank Zappa’s music has been so appealing to me throughout the years is because so many of his compositions like “Little House I Used To Live In” function as a canvas for his musical ideas (a microcosm of his musical universe you might say) in which a new song might very well emerge within them during each new performance.

As was the case with the February 15th, 1978 performance of “Little House I Used To Live In” at Deutschlandhalle in Berlin, Germany, in which the song “The Sheik Yerbouti Tango” emerged at the 9:22 point of the first video (above) and continued through to the 4:00 mark of the second video (below).

Whether or not there are entire concerts to be found in the Zappa vault, compositions like “Little House I Used To Live In”, “Pound for a Brown (on the Bus)” and “King Kong” inform us that entirely new compositions are to be found in much of Zappa’s recorded live work, and are just as worthwhile as a two hour concert (and such compilations are no doubt currently being compiled by the ZFT at this very moment).

My son, a college radio DJ, asked me once if there was ever a limit to the number of versions of Zappa songs I was willing to acquire. He thought for moment then said, “Sorry, stupid question.”

17 Responses to “Little House I Used To Live In, Berlin ’78”

  1. Matt says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! You made my night. Wow, incredible.

  2. Robert says:

    Thanks to the Tweezer Glint(TM) , the ’78 Berlin show was brought to my attention. Torrent-dl’ed it months ago and have been listening to it ever since without getting tired. An exceptional show indeed and Little House is one of the highpoints, together with The Torture Never Stops (incl. Rat Tomago), of course.
    There’s some nice video footage in the clip above. Looks post-1988-ish to me. Is there a version of this clip somewhere with the original audio?

  3. Thinman says:

    Frank probably didn’t release it because the arrangement is mainly a Tommy Mars effort.

    Th.

  4. xorg says:

    Your son’s comment says as much about you as it does about FZ!

  5. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from xorg:

    Your son’s comment says as much about you as it does about FZ!

    My son often tells me his friends are awed by his collection of Zappa on his iPod (that’s even before he mentions the Mother load that his father possesses). It gratifies me no end to learn how popular FZ is among my son’s generation (particularly among young women). Imagine it, listening to FZ being hip and cool and fashionable.

    A quote from Robert:

    Thanks to the Tweezer Glint(TM) , the ’78 Berlin show was brought to my attention. Torrent-dl’ed it months ago and have been listening to it ever since without getting tired. An exceptional show indeed and Little House is one of the highpoints, together with The Torture Never Stops (incl. Rat Tomago), of course.
    There’s some nice video footage in the clip above. Looks post-1988-ish to me. Is there a version of this clip somewhere with the original audio?

    Unfortunately, Robert, I’ve searched YouTube high and low and haven’t found any video footage of this version. What I have found, though, are fan made videos like the pair I posted. With the exception of certain live footage (Palladium, Paris, Spain, etc.) and FZ edited footage (200 Motels, Uncle Meat, Dub Room Special, etc.), these fan made videos make up most of what’s on YT (some of it interesting and very Zappa-esque, while others are barely beyond mediocre in their quality).

    A quote from Matt:

    Thank you so much for posting this! You made my night. Wow, incredible.

    You’re welcome, Matt. I’m glad it made someone’s night.

  6. Harry Barris says:

    I find Tommy Mars’ scat singing (and honestly, his keyboard tones) completely annoying!

  7. Robert says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    Unfortunately, Robert, I’ve searched YouTube high and low and haven’t found any video footage of this version. What I have found, though, are fan made videos like the pair I posted. With the exception of certain live footage (Palladium, Paris, Spain, etc.) and FZ edited footage (200 Motels, Uncle Meat, Dub Room Special, etc.), these fan made videos make up most of what’s on YT (some of it interesting and very Zappa-esque, while others are barely beyond mediocre in their quality).

    Sorry for being unclear, ug. I was talking about the original audio of the video that the fan used to go with audio of Little House. Must be some late 1980’s documentation. I’ve seen quite a few of those, especially the parts were FZ is working on the synclavier. What you see in this clip looks unknown to me and i’d like to have the audio to that one.

  8. Robert says:

    A quote from Harry Barris:

    I find Tommy Mars’ scat singing (and honestly, his keyboard tones) completely annoying!

    Well, then you need to skip quite a substantial part of FZ’s 1980s (and post-1977) stuff. I also feel annoyed at times by Tommy Mars’s singing. His keyboard work, OTOH, sounds just fine to me.

  9. Harry Barris says:

    Yes, you’re right about that, Robert. I find much of the post 1976/77 material to be a parody of earlier FZ performances, like the played for laughs, sped-up, throw-away versions of Camarillo Brillo, Dinah-Moe Humm, Yellow Snow, Muffin Man, etc., etc.

  10. Sterbus says:

    A quote from Harry Barris:

    I find Tommy Mars’ scat singing completely annoying!

    So you don’t like exactly the things that made him hired! 🙂

    “frank, i can’t think of anything so i’m going to improvise something.” so i just started playing the piano and singing. i have a style of scatting that is very definitely my own and it’s coordinated very basically and organically with what i’m playing on the piano. it totally knocked frank out. he called gail, his wife, downstairs and said, “listen to this guy blow.” and that saved me. my reading was only adequate for what he wanted but the improv saved me, i’m sure. then we talked a lot and he said, “i guess you won’t have to work many holiday inns any more.

    (from http://www.united-mutations.com/m/tommy_mars.htm )

    🙂

  11. urbangraffito says:

    Both Robert and Henry are correct, in a way, Sterbus. When Tommy Mars was hot, he was smoking, but when he was awful, man he was a stinker. That’s the risk one takes with musical improvisation.

  12. Thinman says:

    Compare what Tommy did soundwise to what other keyboard-players did from 1977 on: I never had a problem with what Tommy did.

    It never got cheesier soundwise than what Rick Wakeman did from Tormato on.

    Th.

  13. Jamez says:

    A quote from Thinman:

    Compare what Tommy did soundwise to what other keyboard-players did from 1977 on: I never had a problem with what Tommy did.

    It never got cheesier soundwise than what Rick Wakeman did from Tormato on.

    Th.

    Rick Wakeman has said that ‘Tormato’ sounded like it was mixed in a food mixer! Tellingly he left Yes after that..

  14. Sterbus says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    Both Robert and Henry are correct, in a way, Sterbus. When Tommy Mars was hot, he was smoking, but when he was awful, man he was a stinker. That’s the risk one takes with musical improvisation.

    That’s also true …

  15. Harry Barris says:

    I guess eventually FZ did tire(?) of Mars’ “schtick”(?) since supposedly(?) he wrote Yo Mama about him(?)

  16. nikita coltrane says:

    A quote from Harry Barris:

    I guess eventually FZ did tire(?) of Mars’ “schtick”(?) since supposedly(?) he wrote Yo Mama about him(?)

    Not that Tommy didn’t do five more tours after FZ wrote that song 🙂

  17. epistrophy says:

    Yo Mama was written about a roadie. FZ mentions this in an interview somewhere.

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