Tuesday, June 20, 2006

100 Greats in 100 Days: # 002: Zappa: You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, vol. 3

Zappa led the most virtuosic, most responsive, most detailed, and funniest electric bands that ever existed. The complexity of the compositions and the casual facility with which the band tossed them off made the "art-rockers" seem like pretentious adolescents, the political and social critique made the MC5 sound like thugs, and the pure fun of the band made everybody else seemed labored and dour. Musicians played with Zappa (admittedly off-and-on) for decades, and even the new guys rehearsed 5 days a week for 3 months before they went out on the road.

The YCDTOS series (6 double discs) documents various permutations of the Zappa touring bands, from all eras and with all different kinds of characters. Vol #3 documents the '84 band (with occasional interpolations from other eras), which included a couple of fantastic technicians (drummer Chad Wackerman), a couple of absolutely distinctive and original instrumentalists (bassist Scott Thunes), and, most especially, perhaps Zappa's greatest cast of vocalists: keyboardist Bobby Martin, guitarists Ray White and Ike Willis (the latter especially a cornerstone of FZ's bands) and saxophonist Napoleon Murphy Brock. In turn, this makes for a fantastic series of vocal features, particularly focusing on the doowop, r&b, and electric blues styles on which Zappa cut his teeth.

Essential for understanding the genius of the live Zappa.

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