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YCDTOSA VOLUME II

the Helsinki tapes


NUMBER OF TRACKS- 20

NUMBER OF OTHERWISE UNRELEASED TRACKS- 3 (Room Service, Satumaa, Building a Girl)

NUMBER OF DRAMATICALLY DIFFERENT ARRANGEMENTS OF RELEASED TRACKS- 4 (Tush Tush Tush, Pygmy Twylyte, Cheepnis, Approximate)

YEARS COVERED- 1 ('74)



DISC ONE


TUSH TUSH TUSH (A Token of My Extreme) (1)- This song opened every show for both the European dates and second set of US dates. Thus, it is an essential part of the Fall '74 outing. This is a good performance of the tune, catching Brock and Duke in high spirits, and containing some tasty Fall '74 conceptual continuity clues.

BETTER SELECTION:  No.



STINKFOOT (1/2)- "Stinkfoot" appears as the second song in every show for both the European dates and second set of US dates. This performance is not much different than the "Apostrophe" version, and on its own, does not merit being released. Since Frank chose to release an entire concert, however, this song earns half a point by default. While the early US performances of this tune are much rawer and more interesting, Frank's decision to release a European show forces a tamer "Stinkfoot" into the fold. A good performance, but not one of the best of the tour.

BETTER SELECTION: Yes.  The first couple "Stinkfoot's" performed in July of '74 were quite raw and much looser than every subsequent performance.  One of  those would have been nice.



INCA ROADS (0)- I love this tune, but considering that Frank already released the solo from this performance on OSFA, this tune fails to earn a point. Yes, the solo here is the full-length version (no edits), but Frank could have released another show, thus giving us an altogether different solo.

BETTER SELECTION: Yes.  Any performance from this tour other than this.



RDNZL (1/2)- Not much different than the "Studio Tan"/"Lather" version, but because the guitar solo is so damn good, this inclusion earns half a point.

BETTER SELECTION: No.



VILLAGE OF THE SUN (1)- This is an altogether different version than the previously released "Roxy" performance, and highlights the manic saxophone playing of Nappy.

BETTER SELECTION: No.



ECHIDNA'S ARF (OF YOU) (0)- Yes, this band could supposedly play this song blindfolded, but apart from this, there is not much here to offer that cannot be found on "Roxy and Elsewhere".

BETTER SELECTION: No.



DON'T YOU EVER WASH THAT THING? (0)- No Bruce Fowler? Need I say more?

BETTER SELECTION: Yes.  Several concerts prior to this one, Frank fooled around with the end of this song and included some "Zoot Allures"-esque guitar meanderings as a coda to the drum solo.  A performance with a little more spontaniety would have been a surprise.



PYGMY TWYLYTE (1)- This is the "Roxy" version on Quaaludes, with a big fat rock 'n' roll heart. Dramatic and intense, with one of Frank's best slowly building guitar solos, this version (and specific performance) is one of the true revelations of the Stage series.

BETTER SELECTION: No.  This selection is excellent.



ROOM SERVICE (1)- By the Fall tour, the "Pygmy Twylyte" jam had become its own song, complete with a Brock/Zappa routine/improvisation.  An integral part of "Pygmy Twylyte", and this is a fine version at that.

BETTER SELECTION: No.  This is one of the funniest versions of this regular routine.



THE IDIOT BASTARD SON (1)- The creamy filling in the excellent "Pygmy-> Cheepnis" sandwich. For me, this version redefines the way I think of this song.

BETTER SELECTION: No.



CHEEPNIS (1)- For over a year, this tune inhabited set lists, continually evolving and solidifying its underlying funk groove. This is "Cheepnis" at its peak, with all the pieces in the right place, showcasing the delicious funk jam occurring in the middle of the song. This song shows us why the Fall '74 band was so damn good.

BETTER SELECTION: No.  The lyrics Nappy sings midway through the song ("I bought a hot dog") were improvised nightly, and this version captures some of Brock's best.

DISC TWO


APPROXIMATE (1)- The monster in three parts. This performance has an entirely different flavor than the Stage 4 version, and contains a hyper, somewhat out-of-control jam essential to the '74 performances.

BETTER SELECTION: No.



DUPREE'S PARADISE (1/2)- The only reason Frank receives any points for this is simply because he released it. A great tune, do not get me wrong, but I have yet to hear a "Dupree's Paradise" performance from this tour that is not better than this performance. This song is the monster of this tour, and contains some of the sickest music the Mother's would ever perform. This version does not clue you in to that fact. Seek out live tapes.

BETTER SELECTION: Yes.  This song is easily the highlight of the Fall '74 tour, something you would never know that from this performance.   Every performance other than this one would be an improvement.



SATUMMA (1)- A one time only event. Excellent choice.

BETTER SELECTION: No.



T'MERSHI DUWEEN (1)- Even considering the release of this tune on MAJNH, this song still gets it's full point because nobody performed it better. This song, and the two that follow, radiates the ensemble magic of this touring unit. They were as tight as a drum, and had the funkiest sound of any Zappa band. And Ruth!!

BETTER SELECTION: No.



THE DOG BREATH VARIATIONS (1)- See above.

BETTER SELECTION: No.



UNCLE MEAT (1)- See above.

BETTER SELECTION: No.



BUILDING A GIRL (1/2)- This is Frank conducting the band through spacey nonsense as the energy from "Uncle Meat" fades into oblivion.  There is not much to this "song", but because it served as the coda to most "Dog Meat" performances, its inclusion is somewhat unavoidable.

BETTER SELECTION: No.



MONTANA (1)- As is the case with "RDNZL", this arrangement is essentially the same as the officially released album version. But this performance has three things going for it that makes it inclusion here essential-> the hilarious "Whipping Post" lyrical sabotage, the "so slow it's a ballad" tempo, and an incredible guitar solo. The success at which the band responds to Frank's guitar meanderings at the tail end of his solo convey the musical cohesion that this band had developed by this time. No other Frank band worked together as well as this one.

BETTER SELECTION: No.



BIG SWIFTY (1/2)- Not much to offer here, but this shortened performance (the closing theme only) offers an interesting look at this otherwise monster song.

BETTER SELECTION: Yes.  Frank did perform this song several times in glorious Monster style, and one of those performances from this band would be a very juicy release.



TOTAL SCORE- 73% (14.5 out of a possible 20)

Songs earning a 1= 12

Songs earning 1/2= 5

Songs earning a 0= 3


I personally find this to be the most satisfying collection in the Stage series. Because Frank chose to release an entire concert, the odds of him releasing material that was not already released, or that was markedly different than other released versions, decreased greatly. Thus, songs like "Echidna's Arf" and "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?" fail to receive any points despite the solid performances contained therein. The simple fact of the matter, however, is that these versions do not offer anything much different than the previously released versions. The only real criticism I have of Frank in releasing this show concerns "Inca Roads" and "Dupree's Paradise". We already have the majority of the "Inca Roads" solo on "One Size Fits All", and the "Dupree's Paradise" is probably the worst of the tour. Frank could have done better with regards to these selections. Nonetheless, I highly recommend this Volume, since it showcases the best band Frank ever had the pleasure of playing with.  

 


Diseases of the Fans

-who they are and what they are thinking

#1) Sean Gaffney rates this volume a 65.0% (13 out of 20)

Songs earning a 1= 10

Songs earning 1/2= 6

Songs earning a 0= 4


Sean and I do not completely disagree (a full point difference) on any of the songs on this volume. While he gave 1/2 points to the more standard fare ("Dog Breath", "Uncle Meat", "Stinkfoot"), I gave full points. This volume is also Sean's highest rated volume.

#2) Jon Naurin rates this volume a 60.0% (12 out of 20)

Songs earning a 1= 8

Songs earning 1/2= 8

Songs earning a 0= 4


Despite the somewhat low score, this is Jon's highest rated volume, as is the case with the other two scores.


CUMULATIVE SCORE: 65.83%


Onward to Volume III

Back to Main Stage

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