Call Any Vegetable – 1970 versus 2006

One of the fantastic advantages of the advent of current technologies such as YouTube and the Internet, is it allows one to compare and contrast particular songs – in this case, Frank Zappa‘s “Call Any Vegetable” – with particular groups and bands of completely different eras: FZ‘s 2nd MOI band’s vaudeville-style with that of Dweezil’s Zappa Plays Zappa. Merely just a cover? Or an improvement on the original? Zappa Plays Zappa‘s clip is from their DVD/CD released in 2006 of two shows filmed and recorded in Portland, OR and Seattle, WA, respectively. While the two Vaudeville Mothers clips (the complete audio) and the edited version, both from the “Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA, 6 Nov 1970” show. Personally, I’ll always have a bias toward the earlier versions. Still, Napoleon Murphy Brock does one hell of a rendition.

31 Responses to “Call Any Vegetable – 1970 versus 2006”

  1. Nick says:

    2006 was winning, until Dweezil spoke….

  2. Thinman says:

    The 2006 version is somehow lifeless.

  3. Matt says:

    The 1970 version destroys the 2006 rendition. I agree with Thinman. ZPZ plays the right notes, but in a robotic fashion with little zest and no eyebrows (except for NMB). It’s like a musical revue at Branson MO: plastic.

  4. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Matt:

    The 1970 version destroys the 2006 rendition. I agree with Thinman. ZPZ plays the right notes, but in a robotic fashion with little zest and no eyebrows (except for NMB). It’s like a musical revue at Branson MO: plastic.

    My only real criticism of the 2006 rendition lies in the length and pizzazz of Dweezil’s solo between 3:57 and 4:32 (a mere 35 seconds) as compared to FZ’s solo in the 1970 rendition between 3:47 and 7:32 (a robust 3 minutes, 45 seconds). It’s at this point Dweezil loses whatever intensity the song might have built up. This is unfortunate, because DZ has the chops to pull these solos off, as the following two clips – “Yo Mama” and “Ship Ahoy” from their Palladium Ballroom, Dallas, Texas, November 14th, 2007 show – respectively reveal.

  5. KnirpsForMoisture says:

    Got to be the early version for me – always thought this track was one of the highlights of “Just Another Band From LA”

    However, I do like the combined vocals of Napoleon Murphy Brock and Scheila Gonzalez in the ZPZ version – powerful stuff.

  6. Mezcalhead says:

    What movie or documentary does the first clip come from? Looks interesting….wonder if that entire show was filmed??

  7. exile says:

    The 2006 version lacks “eyebrows” – which is a pretty fundamental in FZ’s music.

    Concerning eyebrows and ZPZ – my god they sound like some lounge band going through the motions. Mere technical skill and rote learning doesn’t cut it.

  8. Feck's Rubber Girl says:

    It’s not that there is anything outwardly wrong with any of the Vaudeville Performances but from my perspective the clarity and dynamics of the ZPZ performances in this case is one of which are of a higher ambient domain of significant proportions of an extreme.

    The orchestral instrumentation of the ZPZ recording has so much more life where they had followed what the composer left as a performance model of a given arrangement of a given song. The original recordings will always be a model of the composers landscape. Some of the deep intricacies of some compositions are nearly impossible to replicate. ZPZ do not have a 100% cloning agenda but they do give a very high level or orchestral model approach to a basic arrangement and this song is one such example of just how good a set of talented musicians can sound when following FZs basic compositional and arrangement structure. Their shows are generally between 2 1/2 and 3 hours so there is so much to do these critical analysis on. As they move the DZPZ Project forward doing more an more tours and releasing more and more and more live projects we as fans will continue to hear how a composer left his work where a set of musicians follow the model of his intent.

    In conclusion when I put on JABFLA or LATF there is an extreme level of wanting to hear those albums sound better. My blow up doll can tell that those old live albums have extreme source limitations but got how she still digs it with a Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda . . . or a Cel-Ray! but finds no reason not to enjoy these ZPZ performances on a level of Unexpected perfection. Source tapes from 1971 that have lots of dead headroom at times can not even feed a bird suffering from oil spill regalia in The Gulf Of Mexico . These tapes from 2006 I can hear each instrument vividly with enough dynamics to feed Ethiopia.

  9. Thinman says:

    “Feck’s Rubber Girl” โ€“ Just Another Trendmonger Pseudonym

  10. exile says:

    Be that as it may Mr. Rubber Girl, the ZPZ cover band (albeit slick) still manage to drain any interest and enjoyment out of the music. IMHO. I really think they’d be happier doing Van Halen covers.

  11. exile says:

    Frank Zappa (for me, and only in my opinion) was nearly always moving forward, changing the rules, expanding the aesthetic (with the exception of some unfortunate blips in the 1980s). ZPZ (this is just my opinion now) is treading water… going nowhere… a mere commercial enterprise.
    Now, if they were to tour of a live version of Dance Me This, and simultaneously release Franks 1990s album of the same name, then I might need to revise my opinion.

  12. Thinman says:

    @exile: I agree 100% with what you say.

    I prefer the fiery performances and rough recordings of the ’71 band a million times against the clean, deep-frozen and dead ZPZ-versions.


  13. String Beans to Utah says:

    I just never get the hatred here. Comparing 1970 to 2006 is ludicrous. Look, the whole rutabaga here is ZPZ is for people who never got a chance to see FZ in person or people who are not hung up on it not being Frank Zappa. Period. Let me make an analogy. If Igor Stravinsky had a son and wanted to conduct his father’s music, do you think Stravinsky fans who never got to see or hear Stravinsky live would be interested and would want to experience the music even though it is impossible at this time to time-travel to Paris 1910? It’s simple. A question for some of you who called it plastic and robotic. Were you there? Did you in fact see ZPZ in 2006? I did. It was not Frank Zappa, but it certainly was not plastic and robotic. I can make an intellectual argument because I was there. Did I ever get to see Frank live? No. Would I if I had the chance? Most assuredly. Would I prefer the real thing? Of course! Have you ever seen the Mona Lisa? I’ve never been to Paris, but I have seen reproductions of the Mona Lisa. Does that somehow make it not beautiful in my eyes? Just because Dweezil is playing his father’s music does not and cannot diminish the work of Frank Zappa. That music will stand on its own. What better way for a child to show his love and appreciation?

  14. Matt says:

    I have seen ZPZ live. I saw Frank live. I stand by my comments.

  15. Harry Barris says:

    An oft-quoted saying about rock groups: “A band is only as good as its drummer.”

    And frankly, Joe Travers is NO Aynsley Dunbar! (Not even close, even though he’s trying to play the same beat. Too bad his feel is so ‘off’. He should stick to basic heavy metal with obvious 4/4 backbeats. Zappa music is WAY beyond his capabilities.)

  16. Thinman says:

    A quote from Harry Barris:

    An oft-quoted saying about rock groups: “A band is only as good as its drummer.”

    Though he is technically skilled and no matter how hard he is trying โ€“ in my opinion Joe Travers is the most boring drummer I’ve heard in a Zappa music situation.


  17. exile says:

    Mr. Beans to Utah,

    May I call you String?

    Just to clear up your apparent misconception – certainly if it applies to what I have written. My comments on the ZPZ vs FZ performances/recordings are NOT in any way based on hatred, rather on a sense of disappointment.

    Sure it’s my problem if I thought ZPZ might be aimed at me, (a Zappa fan since childhood. Interested mostly in the new and exciting records that were being released at a rate of 2 a year and were almost always surprising and stimulating). ZPZ is a tribute band and by definition that means there will be nothing significantly new. For that reason I didn’t go to see them when they played my town. If I want to listen to Zappa’s music I have all the definitive versions on vinyl and CD.

    What I would like, and this is part of the cause of my disappointment, is to hear the music Frank had recorded but not yet released. Somewhere there is “Dance Me This”. Somewhere there are, according to and interview he did (with Keyboard magazine, I think), about 100 Synclavier pieces. I might be wrong about the number, but it was a hell of a lot.

    And I do feel for the Zappa family in their loss. And I do appreciate the boy might be expressing love for his father.

    What better way for a child to show his love and appreciation? Off the top of my head I can think of many. Not least by facilitating the release of his father’s unheard compositions. Perhaps getting the Library of Congress involved in the conservation of the original tapes (they are the most qualified). I’m sure they’d be happy to contribute to the preservation of a most significant piece or American (hell, the world’s) musical history. He could start a band playing original compositions – new music – and maybe occasionally drop one of his dad’s pieces into a performance.

    And this all merely my opinions. Just a music lover.

    I’d like to joust with you about the Stravinsky analogy but this is not the place. But… he had 2 sons, and one surrogate-adoptee by the name of Craft, who did conduct, and tamper with the works of his beloved. Google it.

    BTW the Mona Lisa is a drab little picture. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  18. Theydon Bois says:

    A quote from String Beans to Utah:

    Comparing 1970 to 2006 is ludicrous.

    If comparing two versions of the same song is in any way a ludicrous activity, we may as well all just pack up and go home now.

  19. Phil J says:

    I like string just cant get the vitriol, I was just born when frank toured australia, and zpz played australia twice in the last couple of years 36 years later, ther is no wank wwith dweez he is a genuine great musician (have a look at how many places they play when they tour) ,who cuts it big time, and Joe is sensational, love to see these knockers get up and play 10 bars with Joe and see what they say then. Black page peice of piss ? yeah right try and clap the first 15 bars . I just dont get it! show us harry, show us how its done put it on you tube

  20. Dark Clothes says:

    Phil J – nobody could compare anybody to anybody if you require the skills of the bodies you compare to have a say at all. Who could talk about Vinnie Colaiuta if you had to have his skills to say something critical? I’ve enjoyed Frank Zappa live, and ZPZ, and the Grandmothers. It’s the ZPZ hype that’s annoying, because frankly they’re more of a substitute than the Grandmothers, who are still an original, creative collective of musicians. Travers is family now, but I doubt that he would have made it through an audition with Frank (as is the case with Garcia, but that’s another story).

  21. Thinman says:

    @Phil J: Having skill, playing the right notes and trying to recapture the original sounds doesn’t automatically make the music sound right.

    In German we have an expression for that concept:

    “Kunst kommt von Kรถnnen.”

    Totally wrong concept!


  22. metafunj says:

    I’m 27 and I never got to see Frank. I got into his music after he died. I saw Zappa Plays Zappa in Philly on their first tour. The first song was “Imaginary Diseases.” It was really exciting. But after that I wasn’t really impressed. The solo from Inca Roads wasn’t anything special. The performances of very technical, through composed pieces were spot on but some of Dweezil’s and Vai’s solos were boring. They just can’t “do” Frank. Sorry not even close. Dweezil is a very talented musician, but I think he is better in the heavy metal genre.

    His playing was way more intense on his 80s version of my guitar than what he is doing now.

    Even young fans like myself know that Frank’s music was about AAAFNRA. ZPZ lacks this. Like a previous poster expressed, if I wanted to hear an exact replica I can listen to my CDs and thats what I have done since seeing ZPZ.

    However I don’t see a point in the continual comparison with ZPZ to Frank’s music. Many of us are unimpressed with ZPZ so is it really necessary to keep complaining about it. We got plenty of boots to enjoy and many marvelous cover bands so the is no need to be negative. Oh and yeh, we do need to “Dance Me This.” ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. String Beans to Utah says: