Stage I
Stage II
Stage III
Stage IV
Stage V
Stage VI


the Way Too Much '84 Band tapes


NUMBER OF OTHERWISE UNRELEASED TRACKS-5 (Ride My Face to Chicago, Carol You Fool, Chana in da Bushwop, Hands with a Hammer, Nig Biz)


YEARS COVERED- 6 ('71, '73, '76, '81, '82, '84)


SHARLEENA (1)- This performance comes from the last show of the 1984 tour, and finds Dweezil stepping up and sharing the solo spotlight with Frank.   Dweezil goes first, then Dad joins in while Son continues playing. While I take exception with the fact that Frank chose to edit out portions of both solos, this performance still rocks. Dweezil is not the most original guitarist in the world, but when he and Dad start dueling it out, there is simply no room for complaints. A lil' slice of guitar heaven.(1984)

BETTER SELECTION: No. Frank chose well here.

BAMBOOZLED BY LOVE (1)- The '84/'88 version of this tune was a hyper-active, over the top run-through highlighted by a Frank guitar solo over the opening riff to Yes' "Owner of a Lonely Heart". This performance is different enough from the "Tinseltown Rebellion" release to warrant official release, and hey, admit it, the "Owner of a Lonely Heart" guitar solo vamp is pretty cool. While I would have preferred an '88 performance, as I love his solos in this song from that tour (one of his few consistently good '88 outings), this '84 version manages to please.(1984)

BETTER SELECTION: Yes. The '88 tour heard some much better solos, but this one satisfies.

LUCILLE (1/2)- Frank achieved perfection with this song on "Joe's Garage", and simply cannot top that version. I take great pleasure in Frank's use of contrast-and-relief in his set lists, however, and this tune fits that role perfectly. Hence, half-a-point.(1984)

BETTER SELECTION: Yes. One of the performances from the Fall '75 tour would have been more interesting than this "recreate the studio version" performance.

ADVANCE ROMANCE (0)- How many versions of this do we need, Frank?(1984)

BETTER SELECTION: No.  Frank played much better solos than this one, but there is no need to release another version of this no matter how good the solo.

BOBBY BROWN GOES DOWN (0)- Towards the end of this '"same as always" performance, Ike starts up some "Hi Ho Silver" secret word nonsense which gives Frank some serious giggles.  Thus, the only positive thing I have to say about this release is that thanks to Frank's laughing so hard, we don't have to hear all the lyrics.(1984)

BETTER SELECTION: Yes. Any perfromance with more Secret Words.  Some May '88 contenders?

KEEP IT GREASY (1/2)- The Secret Word nonsense begun in "Bobby Brown" continues here.  I hate to reward this any points, but the Hi-Ho Silver stuff is kind of funny, and Thunes' "Lone Ranger" quotes are really cool.(1984)

BETTER SELECTION: Yes. This is pretty good for what it is, but one of the skeletal versions performed by the Fall '75 band would have been a Stage highlight.

HONEY DON'T YOU WANT A MAN LIKE ME? (0)- This song should lose points for being included twice in this series.(1984)

BETTER SELECTION: No. Some rampant Secret Word use could have made this more interesting, but would not have earned it any points.

IN FRANCE (0)- Frank frequently (always?) played a guitar solo in this song on the '84 tour.  For this release, he chose to edit out the guitar solo, thus making it exactly like the "Them Or Us" version, minus Johhny Watson's cool vocals. Why? (1984)

BETTER SELECTION: Yes. Any version with the guitar solo intact would be an improvement.

DROWNING WITCH (1/2)- I love this tune, but considering that there are tons of amazing solos from both the '81 and '82 tours screaming to be released, I cannot understand why he would choose to release these two lackluster efforts. Ike, again, is pretty funny, though.(1984, 1982)

BETTER SELECTION: Yes.  Any performance that contains better solos- and there are many to choose from.

RIDE MY FACE TO CHICAGO (1)- An excellent choice, and a nice guitar solo This is one of the handful of songs only found on the Stage CD's.(1984)

BETTER SELECTION- No. Frank makes his second undisputable choice of Volume III.

CAROL YOU FOOL (1)- Oh, could the '84 band sing. It is because of stuff like this that this band manages to retain some respect in the FZ community. This is another of the tunes that can only be found on the Stage CD's.(1984)

BETTER SELECTION: No.  Frank is on a roll...#3.

CHANA IN DE BUSHWOP (1)- This is another excellent release from the '84 tour, though I wish Frank would have released a version that contained a guitar solo. I am sure the "volcano solo" bit was kind of funny, but we cannot see it, can we? Again, this is another Stage-only release.(1984)

BETTER SELECTION: No. A guitar solo would be nice, but no great loss.


JOE'S GARAGE (1/2)- Hey, I kind of like this, and as this was an staple of the '80's touring bands, its release is rather inevitable. So let us accept that fact, and enjoy this harmless little number.(1984)

BETTER SELECTION: No.  The '84 band's version pretty much sounds like everyone elses.  Or maybe an '88 version would be better? Horns anyone?

WHY DOES IT HURT WHEN I PEE? (1/2)- Can that Bobby Martin sing or what?(1984)

BETTER SELECTION: Yes.  The only band who performed this song any differently than the album version was the Fall '78 band.   Their early arrangement of this song was essentially the same but with a harder edge and a mini-guitar solo. A release of one of these performances would have been another highlight of the Stage series.


DICKIE'S SUCH AN ASSHOLE (1)- One of the truly great releases of the set. And like Keneally said, the '73 band does such a better version than the '88 band.(1973)


HANDS WITH A HAMMER (0)- A drum solo? (1976)

BETTER SELECTION: No.  Just don't release any more drum solos.

ZOOT ALLURES (0)- This multi-year track contains the original skeletal arrangement of this song as played in Winter '76, followed by an '82 guitar solo from the then much more full (and predictable) '82 version. A disappointing edit, for sure. Didn't we get enough of these type of solos on "Guitar?" With the release of FZPTMOFZ- which contains a complete, 15 minute "Zoot Allures" from '76- this track becomes not only disappointing, but pretty inconsequential.(1976, 1982)

BETTER SELECTION: Yes.  The full "Zoot Allures->Ship Ahoy" madness from Winter '76 which FZPTMOFZ eventually contained.   If not one of those, then the awakward 11/1/81 performance which marked "Zoot Allures" '80's debut.

SOCIETY PAGES (0)- Do you care that this was broadcast live on MTV? (1981)

BETTER SELECTION: Yes. If you have to release this song, at least release the bare bones version that the Spring '80 band debuted.

I'M A BEAUTIFUL GUY (0)- Have you heard the interview Nina Blackwood did with Frank before the show? Ouch. (1981)

BETTER SELECTION: Yes. See "Society Pages".

BEAUTY KNOWS NO PAIN (0)- Without a doubt, the worst interview I ever heard. (1981)

BETTER SELECTION: Yes. See "Society Pages".

CHARLIE'S ENORMOUS MOUTH (0)- Think of all the other stuff from this show Frank could have released. (1981)

BETTER SELECTION: Yes. See "Society Pages".

COCAINE DECISIONS (1/2)- During the middle of this routine run-through of one of Frank's worst songs, the exploding of tear gas canisters can be heard in the audience as a riot erupts at this Italian concert.  The band stumbles over the lyrics, pleas are made to the audience to stay calm, and the song then segues into "Nig Biz".  This track earns its half point simply for documenting the begnning of the riot.. Otherwise, you have to admit that the song is one of Frank's weakest.(1982)

BETTER SELECTION: No.  This is the best that "Cocaine Decision" gets- half of it missing.

NIG BIZ (1)- A standard blues song amazingly well sung by Ray White. Another of the tracks long overdue to be released. Imagine how well Ray White sings this song when he's not choking on tear gas. This is another of the songs that only appears on the Stage CD's.(1982)


KING KONG (1)- 24 minutes of madness.  1982 main theme followed by a Mystery Word section.  Jump to 1971 for an Underwood sax solo and a Frank guitar solo that must be heard to be fully appreciated.  Then back to 1982 for some keyboard madness, some memories of shows past, and then a kick-in-the-ass Frank solo.  This track really should earn four or five points. I mean this is huge- a true Monster performance. While I am not a big fan of Frank's mix-and-match editing techniques, the end result here is staggering. For me, the most satisfying aspect of this release is Frank's two solos- spanning 11 years, as different as night and day, and both of them good beyond description. (1982, 1971)

BETTER SELECTION: No.  You can argue for a complete, single performance.  But fuck that- this piece is staggering.

COSMIK DEBRIS (0)- I actually enjoy this song, but I understand that another version is not really necessary.(1984)

BETTER SELECTION: No.  You just cannot improve on "Cosmik Debris".  Maybe a '73/'74 version with lots of solos, but that is just prolonging the agony.  And I like this song, so hey....

TOTAL SCORE= 44% (11 out of a possible 25)

Songs earning a 1= 8

Songs earning 1/2= 6

Songs earning a 0= 11

Despite the handful of enjoyable material found on each disc, I find this Volume to be one of the hardest to listen to simply because the rest of the material is filler of the dullest sort. The middle third of disc one makes me long for anything other than the '84 band, and apart from "Dickie's Such An Asshole", "Nig Biz", and "King Kong", disc two dishes out a series of songs which I would rather enjoy on their other releases. The main problem with this Volume, however, is that four of the songs found here can only be found here ("Ride", "Carol", "Chana", and "Nig Biz"- I'm not counting the drum solo "Hands"), and thus, for the true Zappa fan, these CD's become a must-have. Just program your CD's and avoid the the filler that occupies the remainder of the disc space.

Diseases of the Fans

-who they are and what they are thinking

#1) Sean Gaffney rates this volume a 46.0% (11.5 out of 25)

Songs earning a 1= 8

Songs earning 1/2= 7

Songs earning a 0= 10

The only song we completely disagreed on (with a whole point difference) was "Hands with a Hammer", which he felt deserved a whole point.

#2) Jon Naurin rates this volume a 48.0% (12 out of 25)

Songs earning a 1= 9

Songs earning 1/2= 6

Songs earning a 0= 10

Despite being the harshest scorer so far, Jon rated this volume (arguably the worst of the 6) higher than either Sean or I. The difference was only a 1/2 point, but nonetheless, Jon found more to like here than either of us did.

#3) Scott Maykrantz rates this volume a 34.0% (8.5 out of 25)

Songs earning a 1= 7

Songs earning 1/2= 3

Songs earning a 0= 15

For Scott's individual song ratings and comments on each song, follow This link


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