*

Offline Parsifal

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 5605
  • Professional computer somebody
    • View Profile
Frank Zappa 1979 tour 35th anniversary extravaganza
« on: February 12, 2014, 08:58:21 AM »
Yes folks, it's time for another full-tour listen-through with a review per show! This time, we jump back to 1979, a year when Frank spent unusually little time performing due to overseeing the construction of his home studio, the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen.

Nevertheless, he did spend about seven weeks on the road in Europe during the early part of the year, producing some of the wildest improvisation a Zappa touring bands has ever seen. Just listen to Shut Up 'n' Play Yer Guitar, Tinsel Town Rebellion and the rendition of the Yellow Snow Suite on You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, vol. 1 to get an idea of what this band could do.

Sadly, these insane performances were balanced by having almost exactly the same set list for every show, something that isn't really conveyed in the official catalogue. The result is a series of good shows that all sound mostly identical, except for the odd spot where somebody would get to do something spectacular, and then the stage would seem to come alive for one brief, joyous moment.

Looking on the bright side, this monotony should make it easier to keep up with reviews this time around, since there's much less variation to cover for each show.

At this time, Frank didn't yet have his own mobile recording equipment. Unlike the two tours I've reviewed previously, only the four London shows from this tour were recorded onto 24-track tape, so that's where most of the official releases are concentrated. It is also noteworthy that most of the guitar solos on the Joe's Garage album are from this tour, recorded onto 4-track tape with the guitar on its own track and later placed onto studio backing tracks -- a technique Frank called "xenochrony", meaning "foreign time".


Meet the band

Denny Walley (slide guitar, vocals)

Denny originally joined Zappa's touring band in 1975, during the short time that Captain Beefheart was a part of the ensemble. While most of that band stayed with Frank after he and Beefheart parted ways, Denny instead joined Beefheart's own band. He finally returned to tour with Frank in 1978, and is here with us again for the 1979 tour. This would be his last time as a regular performer in the band, though he would continue to work with Frank on occasion for years to come. His slide guitar shaped the sound of many songs for this tour that would lose something special in years to come.

Ike Willis (vocals, guitar)

A relative newcomer to the group, Ike joined up in 1978, but had to leave the band before the end of the tour. Evidently, Frank was impressed with his abilities, as he asked him to return here in 1979 as lead vocalist. Ike would continue to work with Frank right up until his last ever rock concert in 1988. As the vocal representative for this band, he does a smashing job: it says something about his abilities that Frank was happy to release plenty of vocal material from the last London show, when Ike had a sore throat.

Tommy Mars (keyboards, vocals)

Tommy joined the band in 1977, and thereafter made an appearance for every single tour up to 1982. One of the most dedicated and versatile keyboardists ever to decorate a stage with Zappa, his presence never failed to liven up a tour. Here in the late '70s, his vocals are also a much more prominent part of the band's sound than they would be in the '80s.

Ed Mann (percussion)

Ed joined in 1977 at the same time as Tommy, but would continue to work with Frank up until 1988. His contribution to the band's sound is subtle; the bands without him (both 1980 tours and 1984) are missing that bit of sparkle that flew from his various percussive devices. This band's sound would have been very different without him.

Peter Wolf (keyboards)

Peter Wolf was another 1977 newcomer, although this would be his last tour with Zappa. He and Tommy complemented each other to the point where it's sometimes not easy to tell which one is playing a particular keyboard part, and Peter had a real knack for improvisation. However, the two keyboardists seem somewhat underused on this particular tour, so it's no wonder that Frank would settle for just one hereafter.

Vince "Vinnie" Colaiuta (drums)

Vinnie is perhaps the most technically competent, the least sane and the most underachieving drummer ever to tour with Frank. He joined the band in late 1978 and accomplished a lot in a very short time, but left at late notice before the first 1980 tour. After making a comeback late in 1980, he departed the band forever in 1981, to be replaced by Chad Wackerman. Had he spent more time on the road with Frank, he could have achieved so much more. Nevertheless, his accompaniment to Frank's guitar solos on this tour (see Shut Up 'n' Play Yer Guitar) displays some of the most incredible musicianship I've ever heard.

Arthur "Artie" "Tink" Barrow (bass)

Arthur Barrow, the man of many nicknames, was one of Frank's personal favourite musicians. He initially joined the band in 1978 on a one-week probation period, but after hearing him play with the rest of the group, Frank told him he didn't have to wait until the end of the week. Initially hired as a bass player, he has also played keyboard and guitar parts for Zappa, as well as the occasional vocals, and served for a number of years as "clonemeister", the job of running band rehearsals when Frank was absent. As you might expect after such an introduction, the bass parts on this tour leave nothing to be desired.

"Sophia" Warren Cucurullo (guitar)

This is both Warren's first and last tour with Zappa, and as far as I'm concerned, he couldn't have departed too soon. It's not that he's a bad guitarist, he just doesn't bring anything special to the band. He can play the parts as well as any sequencer could, but when it gets to his solo spot in Cosmik Debris, he produces some of the worst meandering tripe my headphones have ever had the misfortune to reproduce. I generally think of his presence on this tour as a guitar-strumming robot. Perhaps I'm being a little unfair. He did do a pretty good poem recital at one of the London shows (which sadly got cut from the Stage release).

Frank Zappa (guitar, vocals, conducting)

The one and only guitar champion. Just listen to Shut Up 'n' Play Yer Guitar to understand why this tour holds particular appeal for me.


I am now listening to the first show of the tour and will post a review later. I'm also going to come back and post pictures of the band members once I've collated some that don't suck. This particular band is very difficult to find any promotional material for at all.
when you try to mock anyone while also running the flat earth society. Lol

*

Offline Parsifal

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 5605
  • Professional computer somebody
    • View Profile
Re: Frank Zappa 1979 tour 35th anniversary extravaganza
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2014, 10:04:43 AM »
Saturday-Sunday, 10th-11th February, 1979
Odeon Theatre, Birmingham, United Kingdom


(No known unofficial recordings exist for this show)


Comments:

Sadly, the first two concerts of 1979 were never known to be committed to tape (apart, undoubtedly, from Frank's own copy in the vault), so we can only speculate as to how this tour started out. Given the general monotony of the set lists this year, though, you can read the review I'm about to post for the first recorded show and probably end up with a pretty good idea of how these two sounded.
when you try to mock anyone while also running the flat earth society. Lol

*

Offline Crudblud

  • *
  • Posts: 1571
  • A Most Respectable Gentleman
    • View Profile
Re: Frank Zappa 1979 tour 35th anniversary extravaganza
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2014, 11:57:11 AM »
Short tour.

*

Offline Parsifal

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 5605
  • Professional computer somebody
    • View Profile
Re: Frank Zappa 1979 tour 35th anniversary extravaganza
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2014, 12:30:14 PM »
Yes.

I actually got about half a review written before giving up this time. I did listen to most of it, though. You didn't miss much anyway; aside from one or two guitar solo highlights per show, this tour was pretty repetitive.
when you try to mock anyone while also running the flat earth society. Lol

*

Offline Snupes

  • Planar Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 1829
  • I summon my love back to me
    • View Profile
Re: Frank Zappa 1979 tour 35th anniversary extravaganza
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2014, 07:09:29 AM »
Short tour.

I just like the thought that Parsifal is so devoted to the tour threads that he made a thread for a one-show tour for which no known recordings exist.
Quote from: garygreen date=1480782226
i also took an online quiz that said i was a giraffe.  and i guess you're dumb enough to believe that i must be because the internet said so.