Further Comments on Stage IV

Scott Maykrantz' comments on Volume Four.

LITTLE RUBBER GIRL: 1/2
Half a point for being a great opener to the album. Not the greatest song, but at least the musical style serves as a contrast to the lyrics.
STICK TOGETHER: 0
A big zero of a song. I cringe when I hear this.
MY GUITAR WANTS TO KILL YER MAMA: 0
Could be half a point because the song is pretty good, but instead of doing something creative with it, the band just plays it straight.
WILLIE THE PIMP: 1
I know most fans will hate the fact that the giant solo is gone, but I really enjoy this one. A unique version of a cool song, with a different vocal arrangement and a brief, effective burst of soloing. And the little "Montana" lick at the end? I love that!
MONTANA: 0
I can't tell where the cut is from one band to the next. And I don't care, either. This song never did much for me, and this version doesn't help. Halway through this, I thought "Are they still playing 'Montana'?"
BROWN MOSES: 1
Is all of "Thing-Fish" this good? I had to hear this five or six times to get into it, but I'm glad I did. Subtle and effective. A perfect prelude to . . .
THE EVIL PRINCE: 1
The best track on this volume --- and that's saying something. From out of nowhere, a very dramatic, almost operatic song, complete with goofy Ike Willis Ebonics and Ray White belting out "What's happened to Broad-WAYYYYY?!!" Great solo, too.
APPROXIMATE: 1
Could have flopped, but it follows "The Evil Prince" with just the right amount of contrast. It would be half a point if it was any longer. Even the jokes on this one work.
LOVE OF MY LIFE: 1/2
Again, in the wake of the last few songs, this is enjoyable. A prelude to the songs that close out this YCDTOSA volume, recorded in an audibly low-tech fashion. Close to a zero, but I'll give it half a point.
LET’S MOVE TO CLEVELAND SOLOS: 1/2
This was once a full-pointer, but I've heard this enough to lose interest. It has no legs, you know? When Zappa introduces Archie Shepp, I feel like something special is coming up. Instead, I hear seven minutes of solos with no distinguishing characteristics. (This sounds even worse if you've recently heard "Let's Move to Cleveland" from TBBYNHIYL.)
YOU CALL THAT MUSIC?: 1/2
Half a point for being just plain weird. This is the stillborn twin of "Revenge of the Knick Knack People." Between the previous track and the next one, this serves as a strange little interlude.
POUND FOR A BROWN SOLOS: 1
This song brings out the best in Zappa's bands. It's the best track on "Saarbrucken," one of the best on "The Yellow Shark," and one of the best on this volume of YCDTOSA. Makes me want to go out and buy "Zappa in New York" and YCDTOSA #5, just to hear a few more verisons.
THE BLACK PAGE: 1/2
Could have been a full point, but that annoying clanking sound throughout drives me nuts. Is "You Call That Music?" dubbed into this? Half a point for being a great song, one of Zappa's more interesting and complex instrumentals. Warmer than the version on "Lather," with an impressive solo.
TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME: 1
I still can't get over this. Love the color commentary, and the band actually plays the tune beautifully. Not just a joke. Should have been re-sequenced to close out the disc.
FILTHY HABITS: 1
Wow. Hard to improve on this great song, but the horns do it. That was the great strength of the 1988 band, in my opinion: rearranging songs to make use of five horns. Simultaneously beautiful and sinister.
THE TORTURE NEVER STOPS: 0
Just too damn long and repetitive. I like Captain Beefheart and I like this song, but I can't handle both of them together. CB is playing it straight here. He's great when he's spazzing out, like on "Debra Kadabra" on "Bongo Fury." This stinks.
CHURCH CHAT: 1/2
Each YCDTOSA disc should start with Zappa adressing the audience. Half a point for that. But only half a point because this does nothing for me unless it immediately segues into . . .
STEVIE’S SPANKING: 1/2
I hate this song but I like the giant guitar solos. He should have paired a Filthy Habits-sounding guitar against a clean-sounding one, so I could easily figure out who is playing first, who is playing second, and when they are playing together. As it is, it sounds a little sludgy. Half a point for being huge and loud.
OUTSIDE NOW: 0
I agree with you. Nothing special here. The only good version of this is the machine-music piece at the end of "Perfect Stranger."
DISCO BOY: 1/2
"Doodie. Never go doodie." Ha ha! Yeah, it's a semi-retarded song, but very funny and fast. You thought listening carefully to the lyrics of "Bobby Brown" was rewarding. How about this?
TEEN-AGE WIND: 1
This is quick, harmless, and sung with just the right amount of sarcasm.
TRUCK DRIVER DIVORCE: 1
Like "Stevie's Spanking," this one comes in two parts: a few minutes of pointless verses followed by several minutes of soloing. And the soloing is excellent here. One of my favorite tracks on this volume.
FLORENTINE POGEN: 1/2
Fantastic song, but only half a point because the band doesn't do anything unexpected with it. Just a note-for-note rendition.
TINY SICK TEARS: 1
One of Zappa's best raps. Usually, when he gives the audience and little lecture or tells a story, it's a head-scratcher. This is very entertaining and almost disturbing. By the time he says "past your sister's room," you start to wonder where he's going with this. The audience feels it, too. The reference to "The End" is subtle. That little bit of chaos in the final minute makes this even more impressive.
SMELL MY BEARD: 1/2
Funny, but knocked down to half a point for two reasons. (1) Just too damn long. Four-and-a-half minutes! (2) The sequence kills it. This doesn't work after "Tiny Sick Tears."
THE BOOGER MAN: 1
Rockin'! I want to know how Zappa got a co-writing credit for this. Sure, Frank.
CAROLINA HARD-CORE ECSTASY: 1/2
Worth hearing once or twice a month. You know, the 1984 band just wasn't very good. The solo is okay and I like the song, but this is kind of flat.
ARE YOU UPSET?: 1
Love this one. Seriously. A blast of noise, a little audience interaction, and it's over. (Does this remind you of the final minute of "Little House I Used to Live In"? Me too.)
LITTLE GIRL OF MINE: 1/2
Tasty little tune . . . Shouldn't these last five tracks be indexed as one song? I think they should. Rating them separately is difficult.
THE CLOSER YOU ARE: 1/2
Shades of YCDTOSA #3, with the band cracking up at the expense of the song. This is almost a zero.
JOHNNY DARLING: 0
After the previous track, this is inconsequential.
NO NO CHERRU: 1
Quick and fun, with lyrics that make you go "Oh, I see. He's singing about a hymen. How nice."
THE MAN FROM UTOPIA: 0
After four similar songs, this Fifties style is getting old.
MARY LOU: 1/2
Almost a zero, but I like the squeeky backing vocals. An unexpected album closer, ending a volume of YCDTOSA with a non-FZ song.

Total Points: 19 1/2

OVERALL REVIEW:

Why did Zappa quit writing liner notes? This album needs it, and there's NOTHING here.

This is one of the most satisfiying of the first four YCDTOSAs (I don't have #5 and #6 yet). It covers almost every Zappa style. If it had an orchestra, a little Synclavier music, and some sort of Lumpy Gravy-style collage, it would be the single most comprehensive FZ album. The bands are good (love the 1988 selections) but the strength here is in the song choices. "Brown Moses" to "Filthy Habits" is the longest string of non-zero tracks on any YCDTOSA album.

SONGS THAT GO ON THE "BEST OF THE YCDTOSA SERIES" LIST
The Evil Prince
Pound for a Brown Solos (1978)
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Filthy Habits
Truck Driver Divorce
Tiny Sick Tears
The Booger Man

Back to Stage IV Main Page

1997 turtlestew@compuserve.com