Archive for the ‘folklore’ Category

Frank Zappa, Road Tapes, Venue #3 | Tyrone Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, MN | 5 July 1970, Vaulternative Records, May 27, 2016

Frank Zappa, Road Tapes, Venue #3 | Tyrone Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, MN | 5 July 1970, Vaulternative Records, May 27, 2016

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In today’s rapidly changing world, ziblings appear almost every day with some new promotional device.
Some of these devices have been known to leave irreparable scars on the minds of foolish old consumers.
One such case is seated behind this pages, yes, The Resentment Listener.

There is only one possible relief for scars such that: music. And I do hope there will be a lot of music from now on, before that Jabberwocky day when some sordid lawyer will suggest a cease and desist whatchamacallit that will silence the Big Note.

In the hope of a truly different outcome, let us get some blessed relief with a little known live period: Flo & Eddie, the 1970 embodiment.

Mark Volman & Howard Kaylan by Michael Hodsdon

Mark Volman & Howard Kaylan by Michael Hodsdon

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The Flo & Eddie Band, the so called FZ’s Vaudeville Band, is mainly known for two early 70’s releases (Fillmore East – June 1971, and Just Another Band From L.A.). For those who are familiar with the whole official discography, the body of such works grows with Playground Psychotics (a 1992 release). Also, you may want (and you should) consider posthumous releases, hence Carnegie Hall (a 2011 release). To complete the picture some tracks from YCDTOSA Vol.6 should be mentioned. However, with some very little exceptions (one of them strictly related to this release, later on this), all official recordings are from the 1971 Flo & Eddie Band, that was slightly different from that of the previous year: in 1971 Jim Pons and Don Preston replaced Jeff Simmons and George Duke.

The Mothers 1970, photo by Barrie Wentzell

The Mothers 1970, photo by Barrie Wentzell

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Charles Ulrich’s “FZ’s Vaudeville Band” pages are a good place to focus on differences between 1970 and 1971 in terms of repertoire. As it can be seen in the “repertoire by tour” chart, in 1971 vocal numbers increased (Magdalena, the Sofa suite, Billy The Mountain, etc.) while listening to concert tapes you will realize that in 1970 instrumental material had larger room and included one grand instrumental more: Chunga’s Revenge (originally known as The Clap). Mudshark is an example of a piece of music that in 1970 was an instrumental section of Little House, while in 1971 become a Vaudeville number (Fillmore East – June 1971). Flo & Eddie 1970 should be seen as a transition period, the missing link between the 60’s Mothers and Billy the Mountain, with echoes of the short lived Hot Rats Band (Feb-Apr 1970).

Until the release of Road Tapes, Venue #3, the only way to appreciate such 1970 live shows were the zappateers archive (sing praise to them) or the following titles from the Beat the Boots series (all of them with fair to good audio quality):

Freaks & Motherfuckers (BTB I, Fillmore East, NYC, November 13, 1970)
Tengo na Minchia Tanta (BTB II, Fillmore East, NYC, November 13, 1970)
Disconnected Synapses (BTB II, Palais Gaumont, Paris, France, December 15 1970, featuring Jean-Luc Ponty)

As for concert tapes, go for instance for 18-Jun 1970, Uddel, Netherlands (Live at the “Piknik” show, VPRO, Dutch Television, good audio quality).

So this Tyrone Guthrie Theater, 5 July 1970, set is highly welcome to fill such a gap.

The Mothers, Tyrone Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, 5 July 1970

The Mothers, Tyrone Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, 5 July 1970

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Road Tapes, Venue No. 3

Disc One

Show 1
1 Tyrone Start The Tape… (1:59)
2 King Kong (3:37)
3 Wonderful Wino (Zappa/Simmons) (4:47)
4 Concentration Moon (2:34)
5 Mom & Dad (3:25)
6 The Air (3:46)
7 Dog Breath (2:01)
8 Mother People (2:06)
9 You Didn’t Try To Call Me (4:10)
10 Agon – Interlude (Stravinsky) (0:36)
11 Call Any Vegetable (7:59)
12 King Kong / Igor’s Boogie (20:25)
13 It Can’t Happen Here (3:05)
14 Sharleena (4:59)

Show 2
15. The 23rd “Mondellos” (3:13)
16. Justine (Harris/Terry) (1:46)

Disc Two

Show 2, continued
1 Pound For A Brown (5:07)
2 Sleeping In A Jar (3:37)
3 Sharleena (5:49)
4 “A Piece Of Contemporary Music” (7:03)
5 The Return Of The Hunchback Duke (incl. Little House I Used To Live In, Holiday In Berlin) (10:00)
6 Cruising For Burgers (3:44)
7 Let’s Make The Water Turn Black (1:42)
8 Harry, You’re A Beast (1:29)
9 Oh No / Orange County Lumber Truck (11:01)
10 Call Any Vegetable (11:29)
11 Mondello’s Revenge (1:46)
12 The Clap (Chunga’s Revenge) (13:01)

Frank Zappa: guitar
George Duke: electric piano, vocal drum imitations
Aynsley Dunbar: drums
The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie (Mark Volman, Howard Kaylan): vocals
Jeff Simmons: bass, vocal
Ian Underwood: alto sax, electric piano

The Mothers at Newport Jazz Festival, Newport, June 1970

The Mothers at Newport Jazz Festival, Newport, June 1970

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The perfect instrumental trailer for this Vaulternative Records release is The Nancy and Mary Music from Chunga’s Revenge: a patchwork from show 2 recordings. Thanks to zappateer Ed Organmax, here is the deconstruction (RT3 timings):

King Kong 8:12-9:51 (sax + drum solos)
The Clap (Chunga’s Revenge):
7:20-8:21 (guitar solo)
King Kong:
10:06 – 13:09 (more drums, slightly more sax, second guitar solo)
15.19-19.04 (electric piano solo, vocal-drum and assorted screams)

Reasoning about King Kong, one more from Ed Organmax:

The two minutes in King Kong/Igor’s edited off “The N&M” between Guitar Solo 2 and the Electric Piano Solo (13:09-15.18 or so) are really driven by Aynsley who swings like a bad motherfucker! Stick in some horns and it would have sounded like The Grand Wazoo! So Dunbar had the chops from the outset!

Aynsley Dumbar drumming is in fact one the most remarkable elements of this recordings, also because drums are often clearer than other instruments and quite in front of the mix (especially in show 2). The overall audio quality is fair as the other Road Tapes releases. The Nancy and Mary Music is a good reference, even though show 1 (most of cd 1) audio quality is not as good as show 2, because of tape quality. Liner notes states that the first 35 minutes have been recorded over a previous used tape. During some songs (The Air and Call Any Vegetable) some other sounds can be heard far back in the mix.

As stated by zappateer pbuzby:

I can only guess that FZ may have thought of the first half hour of the first show as time to check the mix and perform material from the albums, before using better tape for the rest.

A huge thanks should be given to the persons at the control knobs, audio source often changes, there should had been a lot of mixing work behind this release.

Audio quality apart, this double set has a lot of appeal of course for the Vaudeville era fans, but also for those who are not in the mood of groupies entertainment.

(Almost) full instrumental numbers as King Kong (3:27+20:26), Pound for a Brown (4:57), Sleeping in a Jar (3:37), The Return of the Hunchback Duke (10:00), Oh No/Orange County Lumber Truck (11:01), Chunga’s Revenge (13:01) amount to about half the program (about 1h:12min of 2h:26min) and include fiery solos by Zappa, Underwood (especially on woodwinds), Duke and Dumbar.

In the rest of the program there still room for further Zappa solos (Wondeful Wino, Call any Vegetables (2 takes), Sharleena (a short solo in both takes)).

As for Sharleena, interesting to note that in his intro to the song Zappa explains (at about 1:05 into It Can’t Happen Here): “a song that we recorded in London a couple of weeks ago […] it will probably be released under the pseudo-name of Bognor Regis”. It should be a reference to the Chunga’s Revenge recording sessions. On the other hand Bognor Regis became the b-side of the unreleased Sharleena single.

Bognor Regis, from the Hot Rats sessions, August-September, 1969)

Back to the instrumental side of Road Tapes, Venue #3, “A Piece Of Contemporary Music” is a conducted improvisation episode that sounds like the 60’s Mothers of Invention (with a funny quote of Duke Ellington’s Caravan).

Moreover, Agon – interlude and Igor’s Boogie are brief nuggets also reminiscent of the MOI.

All the other Zappa songs feature great vocal performances of the Flo & Eddie duo, namely:

Concentration Moon
Mom & Dad
The Air
Dog Breath
Mother People
You Didn’t Try To Call Me
Cruising For Burgers
Let’s Make The Water Turn Black
Harry, You’re A Beast

They all are from the 60’s catalog, no groupies on the scene!

The surf/rockabilly number Justine, and the Mondello routines are that bit of previously unreleased folklore that gives further interest to the set.

Adrian Lloyd & the Sunsets, Justine (Harris/Terry)

Zappa told about the Mondello folklore in an “interview happened in Minneapolis on Sunday, July 5, 1970. The Mothers had gigs in Indianapolis in July 3 and 4, and then two shows in Minneapolis in July 5 at the Guthrie Theater”

HF: Didn’t one of them used to be on “Leave it to Beaver?”

Z: That’s the ‘Larry Mondello case.’ [2] They’ve been both mistaken for Larry Mondello for six years. It used to be Corky, the fat little kid that took care of Lassie between Jeff and Timmy. [3] At every concert for six years one of them has been mistaken for that kid on Beaver. Their real names are Mark Volman and Howie Kaylan.

“Frank Zappa Speaks” by Hundred Flowers, Hundred Flowers, July 10, 1970

Finally, tough posthumous, this album includes the first official release (not counting Beat the Boots) of Holiday in Berlin with lyrics, here as a section of The Return of the Hunchback Duke.

Live long and prosper, Road Tapes!

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We’ve been recording our shows here, at Tyrone Power Theater, and put them in a time capsule.
Frank Zappa, Tyrone Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, MN, 5 July 1970 (The 23rd “Mondellos”)

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Panty Quilt, Emily Alana James, circa 1982, commissioned by Zappa and constructed of ladies' undergarments thrown on stage during the Tinseltown Rebellion tour

Panty Quilt, Emily Alana James, circa 1982, commissioned by Zappa and constructed of ladies’ undergarments thrown on stage during the Tinseltown Rebellion tour

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Mark Pinske was a recording engineer for Frank Zappa from 1980 until 1987. Mark is also one of the featured voices on Drafted Again from from You Are What You Is.

On January 2003 Chris Michie interviewed Mark Pinske for Mix magazine: an extensive account on Mark career with a lot of Zappa insights. It is divided in 4 sections and available on line:
The Complete Mark Pinske Interview – Day One
The Complete Mark Pinske Interview – Day Two
The Complete Mark Pinske Interview – Day Three – part 1
The Complete Mark Pinske Interview – Day Three – part 2

In these very days Mike has been really kind to share through his web site two Zappa songs and a Panty Rap from the November 18, 1980 St Paul Civic Arena Bowl concert. A nice treat for Zappadan 2015!

City of Tiny Lights – 10:38

Love of my Life – 2:16

Panty Rap/Band intro – 4:33

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He have informed Zappateers of such good news, giving some comments on the two songs.

City of Tiny Lights
A song taken from an FZ show off of my board that has some very interesting live effects like the Ursa Major Space Station and octave divider on Franks Guitar.

Later around 6 minutes Steve Vai and Frank play together and some other thrills like Frank changing to a reggae tempo at around 9 minutes.

The line up was. FZ, Steve Vai, Tommy Mars, Arthur Barrow, Vinnie Colaiuta, Bob Harris, Ray White, Ike Willis. Isn’t that enough?

Love of my Life
Here is the live version of Love of my Life (short song) from the same show that features my dear friend Bob Harris using his wonderful falsetto that he used on the audition for the Tinsel Town Rebellion album and got him a place in Franks music.

I have a whole story that goes with that. (one little feedback screech near the end from the onstage monitor, my apology).

THANK YOU MARK!

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December 30, 2015 update
On December 26 Mark uploaded yet another number from the fall ’80 Colaiuta-drummed tour. Judging fron the file name, it should be from the December 11, 1980 show in Santa Monica, the last date of the fall ’80 tour, actually a two shows deal.

Outside Now!


During the intro rap FZ mentions Sand Diego as a two days ago panty bonanza experience, then at 1:15, after a quite abrupt cut towards the song, Joe starts to sing and lay the foundation for a great Zappa solo!

Again, thank you Mark, I do hope it will be a monthly thing!

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February 5, 2016 update
On February 4 Mark uploaded another 1980 file, this time from the Logeman-drummed tour:

Here is a little mix off my board from London Wembley Arena on 06-17-1980 just for fun.

It’s Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?, and features “Ray – Night of the Living Dead – White”!


Thank you Mark, it’s really monthly!

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September 17, 2016 update
Yet another Markman upload from the ’80s post-prodution laboratory, a Dub Rum Special mix outtake, just magnificent!

Something funny for today. I found a Beta Hi-Fi work tape from many years ago when I was working on the Dub Room Special with FZ. I did this ridiculous mix for the song StinkFoot and Frank said that he thought it might be a bit over the top. So I said to Frank that we need to make some of these things so they can hold up for the future because 20 years from now everything will be more outrageous. So Frank just started laughing hard and said “I tell you what Markman, you hang on to this work tape and then 20 years from now you can pull it out and see how well it does.” Well it has been more than 20 years so, see what you think. (This was my first headphone stereo Low frequency experiment) Oh yes on Franks guitar solo I used a 5 tap Ursa Major Space station, a Dynamix Flanger and a few Lexicon 240 reverbs.

 

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What’s next?

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The Movie

Posted: November 14, 2015 in album review, folklore, zappa, zappology

Roxy_Invite

On October 14, 2015 the Roxy Eon eventually found his way to the closing when Roxy: The Movie had his world premiere at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, California. As an old European Zappa hard-core fanatic, I had to wait a couple of weeks more to get the Eagle Rock DVD (the DVD + CD version) and when The Movie at last started, I could hardly believe my eyes.

In the meantime I kept watching the trailer.

As can be readily seen through this taster, the shooting is sometimes slightly out of focus but in spite of its venerable age, it gives intensely back the power and the fun of one of the best Zappa bands. Although the aspect ratio of the original film is 4:3, the production decided to crop it to 16:9, the modern day audience loose something but they say they did it to bring the Movie to contemporary standards.

It is possible to compare the result with the 4:3 Montana-Dupree’s Paradise footage available on the Internet since 2006.

As it would have been clear few days later, strangely enough this 32 minutes sort of Short Roxy has not been included in the Roxy: The Movie release, as well as the Dummy Up Roxy episode (featuring special guest Jeff Simmons) presented into The True Story Of 200 Motels, a 1988 Honker Home Video.

Finally, I put my hands on this long awaited audiovisual and my first hour or two into The Movie has been rather erratic, I couldn’t help going around here and there looking for the visuals of what I knew deeply by hard (Roxy & Elsewhere) or simply by hard (Roxy by Proxy), watching for instance at the Be-Bop Tango dance (featuring Carl Franzoni and Brenda the Stripper!), or discovering that it is Ralph Humphrey playing timpani on Cheepnis – Percussion towards the end, living the one and only Chester Thompson on drums. Then I started looking for new material, in terms of different takes if compared with the Roxy recordings included in the albums (Roxy & Elsewhere, Roxy by Proxy, YCDTOSA) and I realized that new stuff is mainly in the extras even though there are plenty of nice little differences scattered around.

Frank Zappa made as usual a lot of post production work, such differences are often due to the fact that The Movie is a no-overdubs view over The Roxy concerts. As clarified by Joe Travers, five performances: “one soundcheck/invite-only type show on the 8th. Then two shows on each night after.” Probably followed by at least one day of studio sessions at Bolic Sound.

Relevant on this matter is the following excerpt of a 1977 interview by Tony Bacon (Zappa, International Musician And Recording World, March, 1977):

“A good example of all this is the “Be Bop Tango” (from the “Roxy and Elsewhere” live album). On that, the drums are original, the bass is original, the piano is original, the trombone is original and most of the tenor is original, but the rest of the synthesizer stuff was put on at the studio. There’s also some stuff that sounds like trumpets in there that are actually Bruce Fowler playing at half speed. He can play the thing up to speed on the trombone, it just comes out an octave lower.”

However, beside the new material (more on this subject later), the main difference between all sources concerns the mix and the overall sound. The sound of The Movie (and of the soundtrack CD of course) is near to the one of the Roxy & Elsewhere album, however the mix is slightly different, George Duke for instance is on a lower level on The Movie and sometimes other instruments are also low in the mix, with the exception of the percussion section. My feeling is that R&E sounds better balanced, but it also true that The Movie mix emphasizes the percussive nature of the music. Speaking of that, every time the camera leaves the dynamic trio (Ruth, Ralph & Chester) you are going to say “No, bring them back”!

On the other side, Roxy by Proxy (a UMRK 1987 Digital re-mix by Bob Stone) and the Roxy YCDTOSA recordings (a mix from the same era) sound much more drier (I would say “digital”, as Gail also does in the liner notes) and differently mixed than The Movie and the original album (as Gail too, I would call this ones “analog”). George Duke for instance is much more in front in the digital eighties realm than in his analog seventies incarnation. Compare Inca Roads, in Roxy by Proxy George is drier and more in front than in The Movie, both voice and keyboards.

The following table shows the main Roxy recordings available through various official sources, from the point of view of The Movie contents. It is useful to quickly see if a certain piece is available in more than one album or video. For a precise comparison between all Roxy sources please refer to “The Roxy Performances” page at IINK, a fantastic place to push forward any FZ knowledge.

The Roxy official recordings (for the sake of brevity it does not include Dummy Up from The True Story Of 200 Motels)

The Roxy official recordings (for the sake of brevity it does not include Dummy Up from The True Story Of 200 Motels)

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As shown in the table, The Movie also includes further material as: end credit features, three extra tracks and two hidden pieces. Unfortunately all such extras are not included on the soundtrack CD that it is also a subset of The Movie itself (see table).

End credits flow first over a (16:9) Bolic Sound Studio short footage of Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow, interleaved with video only fragments of The Movie presenting the musicians. Credits end over an audio only Bolic fragment of Father O’Blivion.

The three extra tracks suffer of a low-fi mono audio, nevertheless they are more than needed: two of them are new and Zappa takes a great (unreleased) solo on Pygmy Twylyte, that also features some innocently lascivious dancing by Pamela Miller De Barres.

One of the hidden tracks (search zappateers for menu tricks) is Cheepnis, a “tiny film”, iTunes only 2013 release. It is a 4:3 ratio film and it is presented as follow:

“Outside of a segment included in “The True Story Of 200 Motels,” the following tiny film is the only edited piece by FZ from the Roxy footage identified from the Vault thus far.”

 

Cheepnis, December 17, 2013, iTunes

Cheepnis, December 17, 2013, iTunes

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Cheepnis, Debbie Wilson and Linda Sims

Cheepnis, Debbie Wilson and Linda Sims

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It has been filmed and recorded at The Roxy & Bolic Sound in December 1973 and features Debbie Wilson and Linda Sims. An absolute must that once again focuses on the monster movies topic as the DVD cover does, as promptly noticed on the killuglyradio Roxy: The Movie page.

theatrical release poster for It Conquered The World

theatrical release poster for It Conquered The World

Roxy: The Movie cover

Roxy: The Movie cover

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The other hidden feature is a 4:3 mute accelerated footage of the Roxy stage, probably a sound check or a technical session of some sort, over a speeded up bass/guitars version of Uncle Meat. Yet another lost episode to be revealed.

Said that the great three extras are inexplicably low-fi audio, the Dummy Up episode has been permanently confined to The True Story Of 200 Motels, and that the Montana-Dupree’s Paradise (4:3) short film has been left floating around in a low 2006 Internet quality, this, folks, is a veritable feast of lore, and you will enjoy every single minute, in spite of the fact that image quality is sometimes far from perfect.

To reach such a fantastic result the production had to resolve an audio/video synchronization rebus, dramatically depicted by John Albarian (who edited the footage) in the liner notes, an issue that could have been solved only through digital technology.

In the liner notes Gail Zappa tells about the frustration of Frank who “mixed and mixed and mixed away (analog quad in ’74, digital stereo in ’87, with Roxy & Elsewhere in between) but the mad cocktail was too big for the beakers of ancient algorhythmic machinations”. She must have been particularly happy for this result.

However Frank Zappa did not show to the public his technical nightmares, rather, in line of the Penguin in Bondage preamble, he once again used to say that a movie like this would not have commercial potential.

Thanks to the IINK “The Roxy Performances” page we have this quote form the lecture at the Gifford Auditorium, Syracuse, 04/23/75:

“Can you tell us if anything is going on with your ‘Live at the Roxy’ movie?”

“Well, I wish there was…The status of that film is this: I spent about $30.000-40.000 trying to get the thing on film, and I got it on film, and there’s some things that happened down there that were absolutely fabulous. However, they’re too weird to show on television, and I don’t think there’s really a market in the theaters for a straight concert film like that.. So right now, it’s sitting in my shelf, being an expensive piece of home movie. Maybe one day, when TV loosens up a little bit, we’ll be able to show the lovely Brenda, doing…(FZ and George Duke laugh)…that was a real nice piece of film, that Brenda…(more laughter).”

Such “loosen” moments are now forever part of The Movie!

But there’s another quote that resonates with The Movie:

“It’s like yelling through the wall of the time capsule of your reader’s mind.”
From “A Conversation With Frank Zappa
By Dave Rothman
Oui, April, 1979

Actually FZ was in a line of reasoning concerning his sixties, however if you replace “your reader” with “the watcher” such a time image precisely describe the feeling of a bunch of old hard-core fanatics sited in a dark video room highly pumped with The Roxy volume.

An experience hopefully to be repeated soon in a cinema near them!

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Credits

Roxy, Los Angeles, CA
December 8-10, 1973

Produced by FZ, GZ, Ahmet Zappa & Jeff Stein
Edited & co-produced by John Albarian
Digital Restoration by Ben Satory
Post Production Coordinator Sid Patel

Film and Sound Crew: Camouflage Productions
Hand-held Camera: Barry Feinstein

Original 16-Track recordings produced by FZ with Kerry McNabb
Sound truck: Wally Heider Mobile
Mix and mastering by Bruce Botnick
Vaultmeisterment & music transfers by Joe Travers

Art of packaging by GZ, Michael Mesker & Ahmet Zappa
Liner notes by GZ & John Albarian

Frank Zappa: lead guitar, vocals
George Duke: keyboards, synthesizer, vocals
Tom Fowler: bass
Ruth Underwood: percussion
Bruce Fowler: trombone, dancing (?), vocals
Napoleon Murphy Brock: tenor sax, flute, lead vocals
Ralph Humphrey: drums
Chester Thompson: drums

Special Appearances by:
Pamela Des Barres
Carl Franzoni
Brenda
Joan Sloatman
Carl, Rick, Jane & Lana

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More information, lyrics, dialogues at the Roxy: The Movie page at IINK.
Lyrics and dialogues also on the Roxy & Elsewhere album are printed in red.
Lyrics and dialogues also on previous CDs are printed in light grey.

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Frank Zappa, The Man from Utopia, 1983, cover art by Tanino Liberatore (back and front)

Frank Zappa, The Man from Utopia, 1983, cover art by Tanino Liberatore (back and front)

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Gil Chaya has a collector page at comicartfans.com: “I collect Liberatore, Ranx, and Bisley from 1990 to 1994, I have a very big collection of artwork to trade or buy”.

He has a nice collection of Tanino Liberatore sketches, including some from The Man from Utopia cover art, that shows Zappa as RanXerox, the cyborg-punk character created by Stefano Tamburini and drawn by Liberatore.

Tanino Liberatore, Frank Zappa, The Man from Utopia, front cover sketch, posted by Gil Chaya at comicartfans.com

Tanino Liberatore, Frank Zappa, The Man from Utopia, front cover sketch, posted by Gil Chaya at comicartfans.com

Tanino Liberatore, Frank Zappa, The Man from Utopia, back cover sketch, posted by Gil Chaya at comicartfans.com

Tanino Liberatore, Frank Zappa, The Man from Utopia, back cover sketch, posted by Gil Chaya at comicartfans.com

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On the left side of the sketch above, note the placeholder for a six sides tracklist!

Tanino Liberatore, Frank Zappa, The Man from Utopia, cover trial, posted by Gil Chaya at comicartfans.com

Tanino Liberatore, Frank Zappa, The Man from Utopia, cover trial, posted by Gil Chaya at comicartfans.com

Tanino Liberatore, Frank Zappa, The Man from Utopia, cover trial, posted by Gil Chaya at comicartfans.com

Tanino Liberatore, Frank Zappa, The Man from Utopia, cover trial, posted by Gil Chaya at comicartfans.com

Tanino Liberatore, Frank Zappa, The Man from Utopia, cover trial, posted by Gil Chaya at comicartfans.com

Tanino Liberatore, Frank Zappa, The Man from Utopia, cover trial, posted by Gil Chaya at comicartfans.com

Tanino Liberatore, Frank Zappa, The Man from Utopia, cover trial, posted by Gil Chaya at comicartfans.com

Tanino Liberatore, Frank Zappa, The Man from Utopia, cover trial, posted by Gil Chaya at comicartfans.com

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Here is an excerpt of a 2012 interview given by Tanino Liberatore to Pubblico (November 20, 2012, clippings available here) :

The cover of The Man from Utopia is Zappa as RanXerox!
It was him who wanted it, he liked the idea of Frank Xerox.

It was him who told you about the stories depicted or did you witness all those scenes?
I was at the Naples and Rome concerts where nothing special happened. After the Naples concert we went dining together to discuss the cover. In the beginning it should have been a six pages comic strip, but the project was later reduced. Since I don’t like covers with a lot of details or messages, and I prefer a strong drawing to leave a powerful impact, I proposed to draw the front cover according to my approach, leaving to him any decision concerning the back cover. Frank accepted. So in the back I drew the promoters who worry only about sniffing cocaine, The Pope, the gal who let Zappa know about RanXerox. Also, the famous “3-1 Vaffanculo” banner (referred to the 1982 FIFA World Cup Final, editor’s note), the infamous Palermo tear gas riot and the sun with the face, because he loved an Italian olive oil with a similar logo.

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The astral object on the right top corner of the back cover looks more the moon to me, there must be a misunderstanding here. Anyways, a six pages comic strip seems to get along perfectly with a three lps set: Frank Xerox live in Italy, 1982?

In another interview given to the Italian Magazine XL (n.80, October 2012), also documented in video on the XL blog, Tanino explains that it was a young woman who showed a copy of RanXerox to Zappa after the 1982 Rome concert.

XL, n. 80, October 2012, "Frank Xerox"

XL, n. 80, October 2012, “Frank Xerox”

The Man from Utopia back cover detail, a woman holding a copy of Frigidaire

The Man from Utopia back cover detail, a woman holding a copy of Frigidaire

She said she was a Frigidaire (the Italian magazine that first published the adventures of the cyborg-punk hero) journalist and showed the freshly published album fully devoted to RanXerox. Zappa was so amused by the comic album that asked his friend Massimo Bassoli to put him in touch with the authors. And here they are in 1982, with a copy of RanXerox.

Stefano Tamburini, Frank Zappa, Tanino Liberatore, Rome, 1982

Stefano Tamburini, Frank Zappa, Tanino Liberatore, Rome, 1982

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IRCAM (Paris) by Arnfried Zerche

IRCAM (Paris) by Arnfried Zerche

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An intense but little known interview conducted in Paris,
and how Frank Zappa got to know “Uncle Sal” from Bitti
(Barbagia, Sardinia, Italy)

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Landscape of Barbagia, Sardinia, Italy

Landscape of Barbagia, Sardinia, Italy

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There has been a thread connecting Paris and Bitti via Rome. Frank Zappa at IRCAM (for the Pierre Boulez recordings) and Salvatore Bandinu (bass voice for Tenores di Bitti “Remunnu ‘e Locu”), via Riccardo Giagni.

Giagni is a musicologist and composer who had a very peculiar relationship with Frank Zappa, started in January 1984, when he managed to interview him. As it will be clear soon, their relation was based on a common enthusiastic inclination: the music from the traditions of Bulgaria, India, Arab Culture and Sardinia, and probably from other territories too. Giagni told this story in Frank Zappa Domani, an Italian book published by Castelvecchi in 2000 and now out of print. “Frank Zappa Domani” was also a conference held in Tivoli in 1999 and organized by Gianfranco Salvatore, who was the editor of the book too.

In 1984 Riccardo Giagni was working for RadioTre (an Italian public radio channel), for “Un Certo Discorso”, a radio show rather relevant at that time, from a cultural point of view. Riccardo proposed to go to Paris to meet Zappa and interview him at IRCAM while he was working with Pierre Bolulez. Luckily RadioTre agreed, so Riccardo asked Massimo Bassoli to help him to get in touch with Zappa, who at first accepted a five minutes talk. They met at the composer Hotel suite in Paris, and eventually the conversation become very extensive, it lasted the whole afternoon.

In the book Riccardo tells that the interview took a good path, probably because he did not ask details concerning forthcoming releases or about his use of wah-wah, he addressed the core of his compositional strategies instead. “I think of composition as a process of decorating time” was one of the statements that hit Giagni most. Later in 1988 he gave more or less the same statement in The Real Frank Zappa Book: “A composer’s job involves the decoration of fragments of time.” The composer fills his time as the painter fills his canvas.

They also discussed music of ethnic tradition and discovered a common ground in Indian classical music, traditional Arab music, but most of all, in the music of the Bulgarian tradition. So they started chatting about then obscure singers and players, now a little more known given that ethnic music later become a recognizable category. Valya Balkanska (FZ of her: “terrific!”), Philip Koutev, Nikola Ganchev or The Pennywhistlers were some of the names, they were both fond of the rhythmic structure of the Bulgarian music, with its typical odd figures. And here is where it all started, Riccardo promised to send a tape with the best of his collection of Bulgarian music. The Berlin Wall was still up, and such material was very difficult to reach from the US, but Giagni had good contacts at the Italy-URSS association, so he managed to gather a nice Balkanton vinyl collection. Zappa appreciated the Bulgaria tape a lot, to such an extent that he later used it as a warm up before his concerts.

Some interesting time decorations passed by fast, and in 1990 the composer and the musicologist with a taste for odd times in Bulgarian music, were still in touch. In a phone conversation in May, an already hill Zappa told Giagni about his project of a big world traditional music festival to be named “The Monsters of Folk” (an obvious pun with a famous heavy metal event). At this point Giagni told about the great Sardinia tradition of the “cantu a tenores“, a style of polyphonic folk singing from Barbagia, a mountain area of inner Sardinia. Zappa replied that he already knew about some Sardinia traditions through a tape given by the Italian promoter Claudio Trotta (of Barley Arts). Giagni insisted and presented Tenores di Bitti “Remunnu ‘e Locu” as the best group for the “cantu a tenores”. They have a real tight sound, they practice original harmonic solutions and the single voices of the quartet are beautiful, he said. Zappa asked for a tape with the single voices, Giagni went to Bitti, recorded and sent a DAT tape to LA, where it found the enthusiastic reaction of our time decorator, who asked for digital recordings of the single voices singing single notes to be sampled, and demanded for a full album to be produced by Riccardo Giagni. All the requests from California were accepted in Italy. Zappa received the single voice recordings and was again enthusiastic of the “Barbagia cowboys”, so he called the “Remunnu ‘e Locu” singers, and he was particularly thrilled by the bass Salvatore Bandinu (now retired), “the cowest of them all!”, FZ entered his voice into the synclavier as “Uncle Sal”.

To have an idea of how “Uncle Sal” could have sounded, play the following sample linked form the mp3 page available through the Tenores di Bitti “Remunnu ‘e Locu” web site. It is a recording of a single “bassu” voice.


Bassu singing fragment

–       ;- {=      –

And here comes some time and space for a digression (not so long, please be patient). Given the Ensemble Ascolta performance in Berlin in 2007, where they played Overture to Uncle Sam, Part I as an unreleased Synclavier composition, I am wondering if Uncle Sam is actually a misspelled Uncle Sal!

A 2:24 min version of this unreleased composition is available through the Ensemble “Ascolta Plays Zappa” page and linked here:

Overture to Uncle Sam, Part I by Ensemble Ascolta

A source (kulturkalender.faz.net, reported by IINK) reported that in the Ensemble Ascolta program, for Overture to Uncle Sam, Part I it was specified: “planned as an overture to an opera for La Scala in Milan”.

Moreover, in The Real Frank Zappa Book Dio Fa is depicted as a project for an opera to be premiered at La Scala. Describing the stage set details it says: “The musical accompaniment will include full orchestral settings, chamber music settings, ethnic choral and instrumental setting (executed via digital sampling and digital tape playback)”.

Finally, listen carefully to the throat vocals in Dio Fa, my guess is that “Uncle Sal” voice melts into a tuvan Huun-Huur-Tu voice.

–       ;- {=      –

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Back to the Zappa requests to Giagni, an album has been recorded and issued in 1990 by Tenores di Bitti “Remunnu ‘e Locu”, entitled In Tonos.

A statement by Frank Zappa appears in the back cover of the cd booklet.

Tenores di Bitti "Remunnu 'e Locu", In Tonos, 1990 (New Tone), cd booklet, first and last pages

Tenores di Bitti “Remunnu ‘e Locu”, In Tonos, 1990 (New Tone), cd booklet, first and last pages

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Here is a fragment of Muttos, a song from the album, linked from the already mentioned mp3 page from their web site.


Muttos (fragment)

In the following, some images from the booklet, and the back cover of the cd.

Tenores di Bitti "Remunnu 'e Locu", In Tonos, 1990 (New Tone), cd booklet, credits

Tenores di Bitti “Remunnu ‘e Locu”, In Tonos, 1990 (New Tone), cd booklet, credits

Tenores di Bitti "Remunnu 'e Locu", In Tonos, 1990 (New Tone), cd booklet, about the "a Tenores" singing

Tenores di Bitti “Remunnu ‘e Locu”, In Tonos, 1990 (New Tone), cd booklet, about the “a Tenores” singing

Tenores di Bitti "Remunnu 'e Locu", In Tonos, 1990 (New Tone), cd booklet, about Tenores di Bitti "Remunnu 'e Locu"

Tenores di Bitti “Remunnu ‘e Locu”, In Tonos, 1990 (New Tone), cd booklet, about Tenores di Bitti “Remunnu ‘e Locu”

Tenores di Bitti "Remunnu 'e Locu", In Tonos, 1990 (New Tone), cd back cover

Tenores di Bitti “Remunnu ‘e Locu”, In Tonos, 1990 (New Tone), cd back cover

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Back to the ’80s and forward to 2013, the Paris interview has been broadcasted in 1984 by Rai Radio 3 into the “Un Certo Discorso” show, and partially transmitted again by Radio 3 on December 9, 2013 into “La Grande Radio” show, to pay a tribute to FZ, 20 years after his passing. The 2013 radio program included extracts form three shows the Radio3 devoted to the music of Frank Zappa: “Zappa in Testa” (2003), “Un Certo Discorso” (1984), “Storyville” (2002).

Here is the December 9, 2013 podcast, the “Un Certo Discorso” fragment starts at 10:45.


La Grande Radio, December 9, 2013 podcast

The interview has been translated into Italian, the voice of Zappa is always in the background. Only a short bit has been left without translation, it’s from 33:28 to 35:43 into the podcast.

Here is the transcription (please correct):

If you have a regular pulse, and you offend it with a very irregular phrase that goes over it… But that phrase has to be played exactly, it can’t be played as if it were an improvisation, it has to be an exact… it has to be a blasphemy against the original rhythm concept.

I like the idea of music where you can tap your foot to the basic pulse of the bar, and against that hear things that are very tense, and the tension of the rhythm of the melody, versus how those notes affect the chords, is what is going to determine how tense the whole composition is going to be.

In very traditional diatonic music there are stupid types of tensions, like dominant 7th chord and variations on that, which eventually resolve to a tonic.

And in jazz there’s two, five, one, which is the most offensive thing that you can deal with, it’s like you know it’s going home any minute now.

All things for the western hear that are costumes, they become a costume to hearing things presented that way.

They know that if something is really academic and nice it’s going to go back to the tonic after a certain period of time.

And the hear is come to expect that. By denying that, constantly… it’s like sleep deprivation torture, in a way. Have you ever been without sleep for a long time? You begin to see and hear things that aren’t really there, but they’re actually quite interesting.

You can do the same thing in a composition by presenting it in such a way that the psychological results of what you are doing are known in advance, you build this into the composition.

Because of what the listener expects to hear, by denying that to the listener, you are going to create a sensation for the listener that he wouldn’t get ordinarily.

So that is part of the composition.

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It is a truly significant statement that anticipates what Zappa will write in his autobiography:

The creation and destruction of harmonic and ‘statistical’ tensions is essential to the maintenance of compositional drama. Any composition (or improvisation) which remains consistent and ‘regular’ throughout is, for me, equivalent to watching a movie with only ‘good guys’ in it, or eating cottage cheese.

Frank Zappa, The Real Frank Zappa Book, page 181, Frank Zappa and Peter Occhiogrosso, 1989 —

Which is also quoted in the Harmony wikipedia article.

Riccardo Giagni was able to set the right climate for the interview: Frank Zappa felt free to express his own firm beliefs concerning composition, and to discuss other topics, as traditional music, as if he knew the interviewer since a long time. And it was also seminal for an important album of traditional music from Sardinia. I do hope this interview will be published in his complete form soon!

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Finland & Elsewhere

Posted: January 14, 2014 in folklore, zappa
Kulttuuritalo (Culture house) concert hall, Helsinki, September 22, 1974. Ruth Underwood, Chester Thompson, Matti Koskiala, George Duke. Tom Fowler and Frank Zappa. Matti Koskiala, a veteran Finnish drummer and percussionist, is teaching the band to play a Finnish tango, Satumaa.

Kulttuuritalo (Culture house) concert hall, Helsinki, September 22, 1974. Ruth Underwood, Chester Thompson, Matti Koskiala, George Duke. Tom Fowler and Frank Zappa. Matti Koskiala, a veteran Finnish drummer and percussionist, is teaching the band to play a Finnish tango, Satumaa.

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Matti Laipio, the author of the article about the Helsinki 73 concerts published on the Finnish magazine Intro, had a lot of further contacts with FZ in the years to come. In 70’s Matti was in touch with Antero Virtanen who has read the post about Road Tapes #2 and contacted this blog informing that some other stories about Frank Zappa and Matti are included in the Finnish edition of Barry Miles’ “Frank Zappa” (in the US: Barry Miles, “Zappa – A Biography”, Grove Press, Oct. 2005). Also, on the Zappa Books web site, Antero found an article from another Finnish magazine about the Shashlik events mentioned on the book. Here is his contribution.

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There is some knowledge about Matti Laipio and Frank Zappa in the Finnish edition of Barry Miles’ “Frank Zappa”. Actually the translation includes a 10 pages long bonus text “Zappa and Finland” by Esa Kuloniemi. Here’s a shortened version of such text.

Matti Laipio became the PR manager of record company Scandia Music in 1971. That year he met Zappa in the Stockholm concert and made a radio interview on him. In August 1973 Zappa arrived straight from Australia to Helsinki to arrange a two nights’ concert in September. The two sold out concerts happened in the Finlandia house.
The most interesting thing outside the concerts was that Zappa was taken to a Ladies afternoon dance in a Helsinki restaurant: Vanha Maestro. We used to have these dance happenings, where only the ladies were allowed to pick up men of their desire for a dance. At the dance Frank heard the Finnish version of tango for the first time. The Finnish tango is something like Argentinian flavoured melody with German march beat.
In Autumn 1974 Zappa and Dick Barber were here to arrange his concerts. This time Matti Laipio took him into Shashlik, a Russian restaurant where Frank had negotiations with Finnish bass and violin player Pekka Pohjola (Wigwam) about a recording project in Caribu Ranch studios in Montana. the project didn’t finalize, though. In Shashlik they met also a bunch of young Finnish ladies, who were celebrating a bachelorette party, because one of them was getting married – actually in the same weekend when The Mothers were about to perform in Helsinki. Zappa was invited to join the wedding party. Zappa immediately ordered Barber to change their arrival earlier so he and Gail could participate in the wedding party in the same Hesperia hotel the Zappas would stay. And they joined the party. Zappa got acquainted with the married couple so well that he visited the couple two years later at their home.
After the Hesperia hotel wedding party Matti Laipio asked Zappa if he would like to amuse his Finnish audience with a special number of Finnish tango. Frank thought that was a brilliant idea. So Matti got the notes for a Finnish tango “Satumaa” and took them next day to the rehearsals in the Kulttuuritalo. George Duke was fast to learn the melody, but Chester Thompson couldn’t figure out the rhythm, so Matti called a Finnish drummer Matti Koskiala for help. The Kulttuuritalo has a recording studio down stair and Zappa asked to book it for recording. This is how the guitar solo for “Inca Roads” was recorded. The rest of the concert was published on YCDTOSA vol 2.
If I can recall correctly Matti Laipio was mentioned as one of the producers. Matti Laipio visited Los Angeles in 1976. Frank asked him to come and live with his family on Woodrow Wilson Drive. He was accommodated in a small guest cottage. He tells that the main house was a blue, plastered wooden house with a work space down stairs. The actual studio was built only later on, but in the workspace he saw mountains of archive reels and R&B & Doowop records.
One day Matti’s wife visited the residence and she was given a welcome party where Moon Unit performed a dance and played a small harp. Ahmet was only two months old. At that time Zappa was working in Record Plant studios to complete his assignment with Warner. According to Matti Laipio he was mostly playing guitar solos on basic tracks, but in the studio there were on call also some of his musicians. Laipio met there at least Eddie Jobson and Patrick O’Hearn. During his stay in the studio Laipio remembers that at least “Lemme Take You To The beach” with Davey Moire’s vocals was recorded. Zappa defined it to be his summer hit single.
In Los Angeles Laipio was coaching a Finnish rock singer Jussi Raittinen for his Nashville album and they had negotiations with Capitol Records for the details. When they went to Capitol Records they bumped up to Frank Zappa. He was there to sell his summer hit, but without success.
Matti Laipio kept on his relationship with Zappa up to the finale and visited him in LA again in the turn of the years 1989-90. He tells about their discussions on Zappa’s participation in politics and businesses in the East-European countries. Laipio also tells that Frank had an interest in the Soviet Union market and had connection with a Moscow concert arranger Stas Namin, whose grandfather was Anastas Mikojan, one of the Soviet leaders. They had plans for a big media center.
Since Matti Laipio had plans to visit Hungary and was to visit the Hungarian president Matias Szyros, Frank got a business idea also with him. When Laipio got back to Helsinki, he got some 20 pages of fax to take with him to Matias Szyros. Matti also arranged Zappa’s visit for financial negotiations with the Troika Bank in Moskow.
Last time Matti saw Frank in 1992 in Los Angeles. At that time Frank was editing his old tapes with London Symphony Orchestra and correcting the poorly played parts. Laipio was on his way to New Orleans Jazz festival and when he was leaving the Zappas, Frank pointed out:” I wonder, why you like New Orleans. I find it disgusting. However, now, Moon (26) would also like to go there.” Laipio arranged that Moon could stay in the same hotel as he was and the parents were relieved. In the same afternoon, however, the Rodney King riots started and the airport was closed. Laipio regrets that he was that close to be a babysitter for a grown up Zappa daughter.

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I also found an article about the Shashlik events with very nice pictures, from the family magazine Apu (available here).

The first picture is Zappa with the reporter at Shashlik,  the fourth picture is Zappa with M A Numminen an underground veteran in Finland, the fifth is with Kirka Babitsin a late rock vocalist and the sixth with one of the girls at Shashlik. Then there is a picture of Gail and Frank in the mentioned wedding party with bride and groom Eva and Christian von Alfthan and a smaller pict of Eva’s sister Hannele Helkama-Rågård and aunt Maria Helkama.

Gail and Frank in the wedding party with bride and groom Eva and Christian von Alfthan

Gail and Frank in the wedding party with bride and groom Eva and Christian von Alfthan

As a wedding gift Zappa and the Mothers performed an improvisation of “Approximate” with words telling about Eve and the apple and boosted up with vague jumps.

There is a rumor, that very funny pictures were taken during Zappa’s visit to family von Alfthan’s home two years later, but they haven’t been published anywhere to my knowledge.

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Thank you Antero!

Some of these, and more stories from Finland are told in “Frank Zappa in Finland”, an article by Esa Järvi, available at the moment here.

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Leter one night, slime.oofytv.set sent another photo from the wedding party (as a comment here). Are they performing Approximate for bride and groom?

at the weddding party, performing Approximate? (photo by Reijo Porkka)

at the weddding party, performing Approximate? (photo by Reijo Porkka)

at the wedding party, back, mark of the photographer

at the wedding party, back, mark of the photographer

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thank you slime.oofytv.set, for shedding new light on the episode!

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