Frank Zappa

Hammersmith Odeon

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By 1978, Frank Zappa's live concerts easily eclipsed those by any other rock band, due to his demanding rehearsals (in the case of this band, they worked for three months prior to touring), which not only enabled him to segue continuously from one song to the next, but also to change things with a few hand signals in the midst of a concert. This posthumously released three-CD set compiles the best performances from several early 1978 shows at Hammersmith Odeon in London, edited in the same seamless fashion as his live performances. His septet including guitar Adrian Belew, keyboardists Tommy Mars and Peter Wolf, bassist Patrick O'Hearn, percussionist Ed Mann, and drummer Terry Bozzio. Much of the music would appear in different form on the album Sheik Yerbouti (mostly live performances from the same period but with lots of overdubs), but these cuts stand on their own merit. Among the highlights are the pseudo-punk anthem "Tryin' to Grow a Chin"; the extended workout of the early instrumental "A Pound for a Brown"; the hilarious "I've Been in You" (making fun of Peter Frampton's insipid "I'm in You") complete with Zappa's sidesplitting spoken introduction to set up the song (omitted from the earlier issued version); "Flakes," a song guaranteed to offend morons and union members (complete with Ed Mann's on-the-money Bob Dylan-like vocal and harmonica); a new look at "Little House That I Used to Live In" that focuses on its introduction; "Disco Boy" (the funny portrait of a young man trying to pick up a girl); brilliant interpretations of the instrumentals "King Kong," "Watermelon in Easter Hay," and "Black Napkins"; plus a rousing take of "San Ber'dino" to send the London audience home satisfied. Frank Zappa fans will be very pleased that this edition of hidden treasures in his massive stockpile of recorded concerts has finally seen the light of day.

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