Frank Zappa

Our Man in Italy

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Bootlegs featuring Frank Zappa in concert are rather numerous; this LP has cover photos taken during the videotaping of Zappa's 1971 film 200 Motels, but the music is from a 1974 concert in Bologna, Italy. The songs are fairly standard for Zappa during his 1974 tour, and all of them are better heard on Zappa's commercial releases. Highlights include "Dog Breath Variations" and "Inca Roads," which have stood the test of time better than "Stinkfoot" and "Cosmik Debris." "David Bowie Soundcheck" is a forgettable number that Zappa probably came up with during the tour. His fiendishly difficult "Approximate" makes considerable demands upon his band, but they succeed. Zappa's piercing guitar solos are all enjoyable, even considering the mediocre sound quality and occasional tape dropouts. Although the source seems to be an audience tape, the sound is relatively free of noise from the crowd, though it is rather compressed. Zappa's sextet includes Napoleon Murphy Brock on sax, flute, and vocals; George Duke on keyboards and vocals; Ruth Underwood on percussion; Tom Fowler on bass; and Chester Thompson on drums. Recommended only for the most die-hard Zappa fan. (Take the cover's statement of a "limited edition of 300" with a grain of salt.)

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