"THE HELSINKI CONCERT - SEPTEMBER 22nd, 1974"
A Hermit | Southwestern Pa. | 02/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the 1974 line-up of The Mothers, so far removed from the original band that paved the way, clear back in 1965, but still a stellar example of how Frank Zappa's music is to be played on stage, per September 22nd, 1974. The music is complex, with lots of arrangements, and even though there are only six musicians on stage for this performance, it sounds at times like many more. There is silly interplay between the members of the band, and as I said earlier, there are no original members of The Mothers Of Invention on these two discs, but, as talented as they were, I believe most of this material does push itself past the capabilities of the original line-up. This is in no way to disparage the original band, I loved what they did, all of it, but the chops the members of this particular band display, are in a league all their own; the definitive jazz-fusion line-up. George Duke, Chester Thompson, and Tom Fowler are a complete jazz combo themselves, and when you add percussionist Ruth Underwood and lead vocalist Napoleon Murphy Brock, with his abilities on sax and flute, this is an intimidating roster of talent. Frank Zappa has always used outstanding musicians in his touring and recording ensembles, and as I have already said, this is no exception.
This volume of the series is unique, in the fact that this is the only installment in the whole series featuring one band, on one stage, recorded on one particular day. All the others feature various line-ups at different stages of Zappa's career. So you get to hear the momentum of the show (some say it's the best of two separate performances in one day; possible, given FZ's penchant for editing the best segments of various perfomances together).
The Mothers play Zappa's live standards such as Apostrophe's "Stinkfoot" with such ease, they make it sound like it's a mind-numbingly simple song to play. Not his most difficult, by any standard, but they show what true PROFESSIONALS they really were, because songs like "Stinkfoot" sound easy, and so do incredibly difficult arrangements such as "Echidna's Arf." Don't let the silly titles fool you; songs named "Tush, Tush, Tush," "Stinkfoot," "Cheepnis," and "Building A Girl," are only the names these selections have. They are incredibly intricate, complex arrangements that most bands, then and now, could not approach.
One priceless bit of FZ history is included here, the reason Zappa's band included "Whippin' Post" in their repertoire after this tour. Someone in the audience called out "Whippin' Post!" The band at this juncture didn't know this song, so Zappa toyed with the heckler, asking him to sing it, and cut him off after about one second. Some people really step into it when they don't know who they are messing with. This exchange is at the beginning of "Montana," and FZ changed the lyrics on the spot, to make references to the heckler's request for "Whippin' Post," and the rest is history. To hear the conviction that he covered this with, check out the last track on 1984's "Them Or Us." It's the 1984 touring band playing "Whippin' Post," and even though nobody can do it like The Allman Brothers Band, the arrangements played by Zappa's touring band at the time, are a phenomenal job. There is video of this song on "Does Humor Belong In Music?," the 1985 video, and it has some changes in the middle, but it all began with the guy in the audience at Helsinki, way back in 1974.
In all, this is the most consistent volume, as I have already said, because this is all one band, on one stage, on one day. It's many people's favorite, and I can clearly see why."
Bill Your 'Free Form FM Handi Cyber | Mahwah, NJ USA | 07/11/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When music went digital, Zappa realized he had a format to put out amounts he could never realese on vynal. The You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore series was one of the first dividends of this new format.
One thing Zappa said in issuing this series was that he hoped to dispell myth that the 1966-69 Mothers were the only Zappa band worth hearing. If You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Volume two does not do that, nothing will.
Volume Two is unique in that it showcases one concert, one band: the 1973-75 MOI in Helsinki, 1974. I love the jazzy improvosations of the first mothers, the spontainous, classical noddling, and the sixties edge the band had. There was no one like them.
BUT!! Hearing this has me sold that the Helsinki incarnation of the Mother's was, aruguably, Zappa's best unit. Listen to the funky bass of Tom Fowler, Ruth Underwoods percise lightening maramba. George Duke is the master of the warm, 70s sound of jazz Fender Rhodes.
Zappa wrote songs like Approximete, Montana. These were complex, symphonic pieces with exceedingly complex rhythms, some of which make Uncle Meat and Were Only In It For The Money seem simple. I saw a video of this band working once, and it is amazing how hard this music is to play, and how shockingly adept this band was.
And it is not just the ability that was amazing about this outfit. It is the soul. If you knew little about music and were listening to this concert in a blind test, you could swear this was a Funkadelic record from the same period. Napolean Murphy Brock's vocals are FAT AND JUICY, and work perfectly with Fowler's thick, room filling bass. If Zappa had wanted to play it straighter, this would have been one hell of a pure funk band.
The long improvosation, Dupree's Paradise, is amazingly funny. The music and the dialouge between Zappa and Duke are priceless. But more important, the topic, basically Duke's after hours misbehavior, give you a great window, albeit a mythical one, into a different time: before AIDS, before politacal correctness, before cell phone camaras. When being a rock musican on the road really meant being king, free to indulge in whatever you wanted, and be worshiped for it. It is no accident that Zappa included George Duke's exploits on most of these volumes. (Check out "Smell My Beard, vol 4)
Zappa had many great bands, but if you hear Vol 2, you'll never think he had a better one."
A must for any Zappa fan
hateater | 02/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a tight band and a great show. Definitely listen for the unedited "Inca Roads" improvised guitar solo that ended up on the studio cut- it is amazing. Another great moment is "Duprees Paradise". The opening with Napoleon's flute solo after George's odyssey opens the door to more great solos that need to be heard by all fans. This is a must buy, especially those fond of the Roxy & Elsewhere sound."