Hamburg ’88

Someone mentioned that they were expecting a 1988 show last week, so who am I to disappoint? Pat Buzby reminds us that this show features nothing composed after 1976, and calls it “a blessing, though it feels bad in a sense to say it”.

Well I don’t know about that, but any show that features Florentine Pogen, Andy, Inca Roads, Eat That Question and then Black Napkins, one after the other, is ok by me. Add the Black Page as an opener (you gotta love the ’88 arrangement), Dupree’s, Cleveland and Big Swifty among others, and you have the makings of one fine show.

Whether it is or not… well, that’s for you to decide. As always, I await your comments with interest.

The Venue: Congress Centrum, Hamburg, Germany
The Date: 6 May 1988

Frankfurt ’82

The Venue: Alte Oper, Frankfurt, Germany
The Date: 11th June 1982

There is one main reason to love this show (plenty of other reasons, of course, but one main one); The Black Page. I was listening to it just last week and experienced one of those “Jeez, this is good” moments (I then realized that Frank must have been pleased with it too, as you will find if you grab your copy of ‘Guitar‘ and give ‘Move It Or Park It‘ a listen).

Anyway, thinks I, the KUR aficionados have to hear this! So this week’s offering takes us back to June 11 1982, and the early evening show at the Alte Oper in Frankfurt…

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Frank Zappa Radio Spots

“It’s Halloween. Ding ding ding. Your doorbell rings. A chorus of small really weird voices yell “Trick or Treat”. Will you then turn the tables on your young visitors and offer them your own version of Trick or Treat? Will you give them teeth damaging cookies, candy and other sugary offerings – the trick – or the healthy treats of nuts, fruit, or popcorn maybe?”

This week something completely different… a veritable cornucopia of FZ album promos, anti-drug messages and weird stuff in general. So, Suzy Speedfreak, settle back and listen to the voice of your conscience

In Memoriam: David Walley

A reminder to one and all that it was one year ago today that we at KUR said a final goodbye to one of our regular contributors, a man who gave us some rare insights into the early years of the Mothers. I am, of course, referring to the late lamented David Walley.

He was a good friend to all of those fortunate enough to get to know him. I always remember, a few years back when he was invited to become a member of those reprobates over at The Big Note, he kept saying how honoured he was to be invited, and that he wondered whether he would be able to contribute anything useful to the discussions! I had to reassure him that the honour was entirely ours and that I was quite sure that his posts would find an interested audience, but it took a while to convince him.

He was a thinker; he had his opinions, and enjoyed expressing them , but in my experience he was always willing to listen to others’ viewpoints, always willing to offer encouragement and support. He was that kind of guy, and he is sorely missed.

Rotterdam ’84

Now why, I hear you ask, is that Magic Fingers deigning to give us a show from the ’84 tour this week? Particularly as this tour happens to reside somewhere near the bottom of his list of favourite tours. That’s not entirely accurate. This tour resides firmly at the bottom; indeed, many of the shows from this tour have their own special “Aw, spare me, please” category (which is, I expect, a cue for a “is a bad FZ show still better than most other stuff you are ever likely to hear?” discussion).

But not, it has to be said, this one.

Why? Well, although not exactly a standard ’84 setlist, I would hardly call it inspirational either, and there is certainly very little inspiration from Frank and the boys during the first half of the set. But be patient, boys and girls. Struggle through the first half until those little furry blue creatures from your youth (well, some of your youths, I’m sure) decide to take over, and your wait will have been worthwhile.

And if you don’t find yourself laughing your cotton socks off through the second half, then Barry and I, nice chaps that we are, will give you your money back, no questions asked…

Genoa ’82

Back in July 1982, Frank and the boys played a series of shows down in Italy that to my mind are as good a bunch of gigs as any you will find down the years. This week we feature the fourth of these shows, a dirty distorted evening in Genoa if ever I heard one. Yes, the sound isn’t perfect, but, as Pat Buzby once put it, “the somewhat distorted sound fits the music, as the Night of the Deadly Pizza is one aggressive show”. And so it is.

It starts with what is probably my personal favourite opening tune for any FZ band, the magnificent Mammy Anthem. The opening few bars still send shivers down my spine. From there on in, great FZ solos abound… yeah, I know, I always say that… but it just happens to always be true. Frank is at his most threatening and malevolent tonight, ripping his way through Easy Meat, RDNZL, Advance Romance, Drowning Witch, Tiny Lites, the Black Page (oh, that King Kong vamp) and the Enema Bandit. The band are, quite simply, top-notch throughout. 

This is one of those shows that may well necessitate a brief lie down afterwards. Following which, I suggest you go straight out and beg, steal or borrow the rest of the shows from Frank’s 1982 Italian adventure. Alternatively, you could simply holler, preferably from a nearby rooftop, a huge happy birthday to the President of the Chad Wackerman Liberation Front… the one, the only, the inimitable, (the very scary when she wants to be)… Dr. Sharleena!

Edinburgh ’77

Requests? REQUESTS? I suppose you’ll be telling me that we do requests next as well, Barry? Yes, well, once is too much as far as I’m concerned mumble mumble floodgates grumble hrrrrmph… ok, I’m heading back down to the dungeons… yes, I know, bread and gruel for a week… pah humbug…

Seriously though folks…

Pretty standard show this. Which is not to be disparaging in any way. I can happily listen to Eddie Jobson’s Black Napkins violin solos from this tour all day long. All night too. I always think it’s a shame that those Zappafans out there who only know the official catalogue will never have heard the real Black Napkins, whether it features Napoleon’s sax, Eddie’s violin, or whatever.

Anyway, as the Bozzio/O’Hearn rhythm section happens to be my favourite from all of Frank’s touring bands, there’s plenty for the likes of me to enjoy here. And if you are still amused by the occasional Titties ‘n Beer after all these years (of course you are), then this particular version is a hoot (you know you’ve always wondered what Ruth Underwood really thinks about Frank’s penis). The show ends with Frank’s anti-British journo Chris Welch diatribe.

Copenhagen ’79

“This week I is being mostly arbitrary.” There is no historical reason why you should own this show: Falkoner Theatre, Copenhagen, March 5th 1979. No premiers, no special guests, and pretty much the usual 1979 set list. So why offer you this show at all?

One reason, and one reason only. That guy with the moustache who occasionally plays a bit of guitar. Tonight Frank is clearly in the mood. Long guitar solos litter this show, and each and every one is a worthy effort. From the opening Deathless Horsie, through to a great Treacherous Cretins at the end, Frank is on tonight.

And that’s all you really need to know…

Kent Ohio ’73

Someone somewhere must have been extra nice to Barry this week; not only did I get bread with my gruel, but he also insisted that this week’s show should be May 1st 1973. And, as Barry always gets what he wants, May 1st it is.

Now, I don’t know many people who dislike the 1973 tour (actually, I don’t know anybody), and as this is one of the best shows from that year, it becomes essential listening in my book. This happens to be the final night of Kin Vassey’s short stint with the band. Interestingly, it’s also the one and only FZ show I know of that begins with the complete Yellow Snow Suite.

Highlights? Dupree’s Paradise, Big Swifty, and the Son of Mr Green Genes/King Kong/Chunga’s Revenge encore. Oh yes, and the rest of the show.

You’ll enjoy this one.

Princeton ’73

Ok, so you nearly got May 1st ’73, but then I figured that most of you will either have that show, or know a man who has. Instead you get 27th April ’73, which contains some important conceptual landmarks of its own. This is the first of only a very few shows to feature Kin Vassey on vocals, and features the world premiers of Pygmy Twylyte, the Yellow Snow Suite, and the cocktail version of Inca Roads (the first ever Inca with lyrics, as far as I’m aware).

It’s a long show, over two and a half hours, there’s some great jamming, some neat Frank solos, and a fabulous lengthy encore. There are also some microphone problems at times, for which the Management apologises profusely, but as this is the only known recording of the whole concert, that’s life. These guys could really PLAY. But you knew that already…

And for those of you who don’t own May 1st, nor know a man who does, be extra nice to Barry, and one day, who knows?