The Torture Never Stops

Frank Zappa

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The Torture Never Stops Review

by Lindsay Planer

This DVD contains over two hours compiled from Frank Zappa's annual Halloween gigs on (appropriately enough) October 31, 1981 at the Palladium -- a venerable Big Apple rock venue that was formerly called the Academy of Music. If the tune stack looks familiar to hardcore Zappa enthusiasts, please note that much of the material has floated around from decidedly lesser-quality analog broadcast sources. Namely MTV -- who simulcast most of the '"late show" -- USA Network's mid-'80s Night Flight program and a 1992 Zappa-centric edition of the BBC's Late Show. The Torture Never Stops (2008) is the artist's own edit of the festivities. As noted in the full-color six-panel liner insert, the contents were "transferred...from FZ's original 1982 1" stereo video master" and to that end look and sound better than all that have proceeded it. Zappa (guitar/vocals/conducting) was working with a top-flight ensemble of Ray White (guitar/vocals), Steve Vai (guitar/vocals), Tommy Mars (keyboards/vocals), Bobby Martin (keyboards/vocals), Ed Mann (percussion/vocals), Scott Thunes (bass/vocals) and Chad Wackerman (drums). The set list is concentrated primarily on Zappa's latter '70s and early-'80s output. However, as always there are a few exemplary exceptions. Most notably, the stunning guitar solo "Black Napkins," perennial audience-favorite "Montana," and an update of the 200 Motels (1971) epic finale "Strictly Genteel." Having issued no less than five albums -- two of which were double LPs -- in 1981 alone, there was certainly no lack of concurrent material to choose from. The Tinseltown Rebellion (1981) tunes "Fine Girl," "Easy Meat," and "Bamboozled by Love" are joined by a sizeable representation from his most recent release You Are What You Is (1981). Namely. "Teen-age Wind," "Harder Than Your Husband," "Beauty Knows No Pain," "Charlie's Enormous Mouth," "Mudd Club," and practically the whole second half of the album beginning with the title track "You Are What You Is" through "Jumbo Go Away." The combo were ahead of their time, as the pairing of the '60s nostalgia-riddled "We're Turning Again" with the tricky instrumental "Alien Orifice" would not surface for another three years on Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention (1985). The extras include "Teen-Age Prostitute" and "City of Tiny Lights" -- from the same October 31 1981 gig, the "banned" MTV-style concept video for "You Are What You Is," and even a 24-image photo gallery. Concurrent bassist Thunes' liner notes can also be found in text form on the DVD as well as in the aforementioned booklet. Early pressings came with a sheet of removable tattoo transfers and a pair of NO-D [think: 3-D] cardboard glasses as part of the ephemera.

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