Frank Zappa

You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 2

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In his contract with Ryko, Frank Zappa had to put together 12 CDs worth of live material for the series You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore. The fact that he decided to devote two of them (all of Vol. 2) to a Helsinki concert from 1974 illustrates how good and representative he thought it was -- and he was right. This two-CD set features the 1973-1974 band (Napoleon Murphy Brock, George Duke, Ruth Underwood, Tom Fowler, Chester Thompson) near the end of their tour, in a concert in faraway Finland on September 22, 1974 (there were actually two concerts performed that day and, as usual, Zappa edited the best moments together). The set list comes mostly from the Roxy & Elsewhere repertoire, except that here the songs are taken at a faster tempo and free of the overdubs found on the original album. "Echidna's Arf (Of You)" and "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?" are very exciting, but without the vocal overdubs "Cheepnis" feels empty. But the treats lie elsewhere, as in the playful "Inca Roads" (Zappa used the guitar solo from this concert for the One Size Fits All version); "RDNZL," still a work-in-progress at the time; the unreleased "Approximate" (including hilarious stage craziness); and "T'Mershi Duween." The band is in great shape, Zappa being particularly witty and good-humored. When a member of the audience requests the Allman Brothers song "Whipping Post," he spontaneously rewrites the lyrics to "Montana" -- and backup vocalists Brock and Duke have to adapt! For fans of the man's complex, progressive rock-tinged music of the mid-'70s, this is a must-have, even though it also contains very average moments ("Dupree's Paradise," for instance). Sound quality is very good, superior to any bootleg from this period.

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