Sunday, July 26, 2009

Playground Psychotics

I am somewhat surprised by the fact that the All Music Guide gives “Playground Psychotics” three of five stars. Even with all the caveats mentioned in the AMG review – that it’s a recording only for true Frank Zappa fans, and more specifically, fans of the Flo & Eddie era – I find this recording barely listenable.

“Aficionados of this particular period will find most of this album amusing; others will get profoundly bored,” states the AMG entry on this album. I fall within the latter camp. I like the concept of a sort of audio-documentary of the bizarreness of life on the road; I just believe that “Playground Psychotics” fails miserably in its execution.

Mark Prindle in his review of the album also is generous, in my opinion, in his review, rating it with a six out of 10. Despite that, Prindle provides an excellent explanation backing up his discourse on the recording’s merits. Prindle is uncharacteristically persuasive with his remarks.

Musically, there are some very interesting items on this double CD set. Perhaps the most intriguing is the set performed with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, including the Lennon number “Say Please,” which includes Yoko’s bizarre caterwauling that reminds me of a psychotic Olive Oil (remember Popeye’s girlfriend?) in the throes of narcotic withdrawal, and “Scum Bag,” which ends with Yoko still on stage wailing her gibberish. Zappa more than sufficiently fills in during the Lennon song with an outstanding guitar solo, able to smoothly adjust to the song just on listening to Lennon going through a single sequence of the 12 bars in the progression. Those two songs alone almost make the double-CD bearable. But there are others.

The eerie “Mom and Dad” is outstanding, the prescience of this song all the more impressive when considering it was written prior to the Kent State shootings. And “The Mudshark Interview” provides fascinating background to the “Mud Shark,” recorded for the “Fillmore East” LP. And the apparent “secret recording” of a conversation among the band members found on “It’s a Good Thing We Get Paid to do This” provides an amazing glimpse into what the band members thought about Zappa’s bizarre peccadilloes as well as their reaction to Zappa’s obsession with what they were up to.

But there’s no getting around that it’s boring and repetitious; even the performance of “Billy the Mountain,” somewhat longer than the version recorded for JABFLA, cannot pull this recording out of the depths of awful mediocrity.

I rate this two out of five stars. Add your own rating below.

Recorded at various locations from September, 1970, through Dec. 10, 1971; released Oct. 27, 1992 through Barking Pumpkin; re-released May 30, 1995 through Rykodisc.

Track listing:

Disc One

1. Here Comes The Gear, Lads (01:00)
2. The Living Garbage Truck (01:21)
3. A Typical Sound Check (01:19)
4. "This Is Neat" (00:24)
5. The Motel Lobby (01:21)
6. Getting Stewed (00:55)
7. The Motel Room (00:30)
8. "Don't Take Me Down" (01:11)
9. The Dressing Room (00:25)
10. Learning "Penis Dimension" (02:02)
11. "You There, With The Hard On!" (00:25)
12. Zanti Serenade (02:40)
13. Divan (01:46)
14. Sleeping In A Jar (01:30)
15. "Don't Eat There" (02:26)
16. Brixton Still Life (03:00)
17. Super Grease (01:40)
18. Wonderful Wino (04:52)
19. Sharleena (04:23)
20. Cruising For Burgers (02:54)
21. Diphteria Blues (06:19)
22. Well (04:43)
23. Say Please (00:57)
24. Aaawk (02:59)
25. Scum Bag (05:54)
26. A Small Eternity With Yoko Ono (06:08)

Disc Two
1. Beer Shampoo (01:39)
2. Champagne Lecture (04:30)
3. Childish Perversions (01:31)
4. Playground Psychotics (01:08)
5. The Mudshark Interview (02:39)
6. "There's No Lust In Jazz" (00:55)
7. Botulism On The Hoof (00:47)
8. You Got Your Armies (00:11)
9. The Spew King (00:25)
10. I'm Doomed (00:25)
11. Status Back Baby (02:50)
12. The London Cab Tape (01:24)
13. Concentration Moon, Part 1 (01:21)
14. The Sanzini Brothers (01:34)
15. "It's A Good Thing We Get Paid To Do This" (02:45)
16. Concentration Moon, Part 2 (02:05)
17. Mom & Dad (03:16)
18. Intro To Music For Low Budget Orchestra (01:32)
19. Billy The Mountain (30:26)

The True Story Of 200 Motels:
20. He's Watching Us (01:21)
21. If You're Not A Professional Actor (00:23)
22. He's Right (00:15)
23. Going For The Money (00:12)
24. Jeff Quits (01:34)
25. A Bunch Of Adventures (00:56)
26. Martin Lickert's Story (00:39)
27. A Great Guy (00:30)
28. Bad Acting (00:11)
29. The Worst Reviews (00:21)
30. A Version Of Himself (01:00)
31. I Could Be A Star Now (00:36)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

You Are What You Is

Many Zappa albums are built around a musical theme or concept and carry this structure through from start to finish successfully. Among the better examples of this is probably the avant-garde and jazz fusion album series that included “Burnt Weeny Sandwich,” “Hot Rats,” “Waka/Jawaka“ and “The Grand Wazoo.” “Rueben and the Jets“ is another example that was an homage to a particular musical style. The best was probably “Jazz From Hell.” Of course, there are others.

And then there were the concept albums built around content themes. The first three releases of “Freak Out!“, “Absolutely Free,” and “We’re Only In It For The Money“ are probably the most successful examples. Not until “200 Motels“ does Zappa deliver this type of album again, and then the lapse before another true concept album is produced is eight years when “Joe’s Garage“ is released.

Zappa comes close to another full concept album built around a singular content theme with “You Are What You Is,” but it’s probably more effective to think of this double album as one with two, somewhat related themes. There is the overt theme of race, anchored by the title song. But interwoven throughout this is the secondary theme dealing with religion, a favorite target of Zappa’s for lampooning, particularly televangelism. Because often at the center of our racial and ethnic identities is a religious style that enables this identity to exist. And yet, Zappa broadens this concept to include other cultural hegemonies around which we build our identities, whether it be the drug culture or the empty commercialism that is constantly telling us we must have things that we don’t need.

Stick with me on this please; I am going out on a limb here by positing that with “You Are What You Is,” Zappa is putting right in front of our face the notion that we have no real identity because everything we use to create what we think is the “me” in all of us is an ever-changing concept that is outside of us, rather than inside. This delusion propels us to continue to chase this ephemeral self, but instead of finding fulfillment, we continue to feel empty and unhappy. While this may sound all very depressing and a particularly melancholy theme for Zappa to build an album around, the entire notion was laughable to him. We get what we deserve in Zappa’s perspective, because most of us are too stupid to recognize that we create our own misery. Hence, you are what you is.

How does this alienation from self start? The explanation begins with the first track, “Teen-Age Wind.” The notion that our education system pushes us into the vapid emptiness we are constantly trying to escape is a theme that goes all the way back to “Freak Out!” The pip-squeaky character in “Teen-Age Wind” sings about parents who don’t love their children, teachers that deliver unimaginative curriculums (a common theme with the early Mothers albums), which gives rise to the desire to escape it all: “Nothing left to do but get out the ‘ol glue.” It also feeds the false notion of what freedom really is: “Freedom is when you don’t have to pay for nothing/or do nothing!/We want to be free!”

Our delusion carries into adult life where many follow the path of meaningless love affairs, as portrayed in “Harder Than Your Husband.” It’s not that Zappa was a puritan by any means: rather, the woman that Jimmy Carl Black’s character is saying goodbye to in this song is an unhappy married woman who thinks she’s going to find happiness by sleeping with this peripatetic cowboy. Expertly delivered, by the way, in a country style (With this song, we also get a bit of project/object in that Zappa has an Indian singing the character of a white cowboy, as he did in “200 Motels” with “Lonesome Cowboy Burt”).

The tables are turned in the next song, “Doreen.” This time it is the man dependant on Doreen to come make him feel good. The theme remains, however: someone seeking fulfillment through another. This song has a great ending and is among my favorite tracks on the album.

“Goblin Girl” is probably the weakest song on the album in terms of sticking within the overall theme. It’s a song that doesn’t appear often in live shows, as it would be pretty difficult to perform live given all the studio effects that were used in its production. “Theme from the 3rd Movement of Sinister Footwear” is an instrumental that was often played live and also shows up on “Them Or Us,” “Guitar,” and “Make a Jazz Noise Here.”

People often create their own sense of self-importance, not just for their own benefit, but for the promotion of that pretension among others. However, anyone who does that must eventually face how fragile the fa├žade is when some event or person comes along to screw things up. That’s the scenario we get with the next series of songs on the album.

With “Society Pages,” we get a clever little song about the self-important matriarch of a small town that Franks sings, “didn’t appeal to me.” The old lady in the song owns the newspaper and is involved in a variety of civic projects, but her motivation for such philanthropy is self-promotion, as evidenced by her always being on the society pages of the paper she owns.

But she brings forth a son who believes that he is “a beautiful guy.” With the song, “I’m a Beautiful Guy,” we have a self-centered egoist who charms all the vacuous ladies, who also are so infatuated with maintaining their beauty and presentation that they will go to any lengths to preserve it, even painful ones. Hence, along comes the song, “Beauty Knows No Pain.” This delicious little ditty succinctly clarifies that the pursuit of beauty (“Beauty is a pair of shoes that makes you wanna die”) is, of course, “a lie.”

The next musical vignette on the album centers around the demise of a girl named Charlie. With “Charlie’s Enormous Mouth,” we learn of a girl with an enormous mouth about which, “we can only assume how she’s been usin’ it.” Charlie also has a very large nose, and we get a bit more information about how she’s been using it: snorting cocaine. Her demise is foreshadowed by the line, “Kind of young/Kind of dead.” We get a glimpse into her disgusting brain, as well as meet her stupid friends who were either too indifferent or too ignorant to see that Charlie was headed for a train wreck. And when she does die, her stupid friends at the funeral can only inquire whether anyone has “Any Downers?” We’re all “Coneheads,” Zappa implies in the next song. Everyone else is strange or odd or screwing up their lives, but not us!

The title track comes on side three of the LP release, an up tempo number that has some outstanding vocals from Ray White. It tells the hapless tales of a white man trying to be black, and of a black man trying to be white. Zappa’s sage advice is simply, “Do you know what you are?/You are what you is/You is what you am/A cow don’t make ham.” Yet we continue to wear whatever costume is demanded by the tribe we want to identify with, and then drag ourselves to places like the “Mudd Club” to find whatever we’re looking for: sex, recognition, a sense of belonging, whatever.

There are those among us, however, who believe they are above all that hedonism; they are following a higher calling. But those who seek solace in religion are just following a different delusion, as Zappa opines that “The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing.” As an alternative to blindly following an austere doctrine promising you something that it cannot deliver, Zappa offers something simpler: “Do what you wanna, do what you will/Just don’t mess up your neighbor’s thrill/’N when you pay the bill, kindly leave a little tip/And help the next poor sucker on his one-way trip.”

Sage advice, but there’s always someone who thinks they know better and want to dictate to you how to live your life. To Frank, they’re just “Dumb All Over.” And not to mention, “a little ugly on the side.”

This song, which is really a spoken-word piece set to a driving beat that adds to both the seriousness of Zappa’s thesis and the pseudo-seriousness of the doctrines he criticizes. Right down the line, Zappa spells out how monotheistic religion has been a root cause of all our troubles throughout all of history. It isn’t a faith in god that screws things up; it’s doctrine, as doctrine is simply a different form of politic.

Among Zappa’s favorite targets are televangelists, whom he goes after in the next song, “Heavenly Bank Account.” After being exposed to all this charade, this chicanery, Zappa recognizes that some folks might feel a bit helpless and depressed. So with his typically terse delivery, he suggests the option of bailing out, which would make one a “Suicide Chump.” All of this is really quite harsh, and might be over the top for some listeners. But Zappa’s message is clear: if your life is a mess, you made it that way, and suicide is just a chicken shit way of avoiding personal responsibility. If you screwed up your life, you can unscrew it. Suicide is so chicken shit, in fact, that Zappa suggests that anyone going through the theatrics often associated with suicide just might “want a little attention.”

Our sorry suicide chump is saved by a girl “with a head like a buffalo,” leading to the next song, “Jumbo Go Away,” the tale of a girl who has an insatiable appetite for giving head. The vignette moves into “If Only She Woulda,” which begins to stretch the thematic glue of the album. Our suicide chump gets saved by Jumbo only to be drafted. The last song, “Drafted Again,” was written at a time when reinstating the draft was under consideration during the Reagan administration, a notion that resulted with a requirement that all men of draftable age register, and that subsequently, anyone who turns 18 must register. It’s a situation that continues today.

Granted, the thematic notion I present at the outset for “You Are What You Is” requires a few interim songs to sort of string some of the concepts together. And one has to wonder if Zappa had intentionally set out to construct such an album, or was it serendipity that he had the base material available and all he had to do was write material to bring it all together.

Don’t be too harsh with me in your own personal assessment. But I am inclined to think it was serendipity. Had Zappa intended to write such a concept album, I think it would have been constructed differently with compositions that blended seamlessly, rather than finding filler material to bring the sort of ad hoc material together.

And yet, if you read the liner notes from the album, you have to wonder.

I rate this four of five stars. Add your own rating below.

Released: Sept. 23, 1981, Barking Pumpkin Records.

Track listing (from original double LP):

Side one
“Teen-Age Wind” – 3:02
“Harder Than Your Husband” – 2:28
“Doreen” – 4:44
“Goblin Girl” – 4:07
“Theme from the 3rd Movement of Sinister Footwear” – 3:34

Side two
“Society Pages” – 2:27
“I'm a Beautiful Guy” – 1:56
“Beauty Knows No Pain” – 3:02
“Charlie's Enormous Mouth” – 3:36
“Any Downers?” – 2:08
“Conehead” – 4:24

Side three
“You Are What You Is” – 4:23
“Mudd Club” – 3:11
“The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing” – 3:10
“Dumb All Over” – 5:45

Side four
“Heavenly Bank Account” – 3:44
“Suicide Chump” – 2:49
“Jumbo Go Away” – 3:43
“If Only She Woulda” – 3:48
“Drafted Again” – 3:07


Tommy Mars – Keyboards, Vocals
David Ocker – Clarinet (Bass), Clarinet
Mark Pinske – Vocals, Engineer
Motorhead Sherwood – Sax (Tenor), Vocals
Allen Sides – Engineer
Craig "Twister" Stewart – Harmonica
Denny Walley – Vocals, Slide Guitar
Ray White – Guitar (Rhythm), Vocals
Ahmet Zappa – Vocals
Moon Unit Zappa – Vocals
Jo Hansch – Mastering
Dennis Sager – Digital Engineer
Santi Rubio – ?
Amy Bernstein – Artwork
John Livzey – Photography, Cover Photo
Thomas Nordegg – Engineer
John Vince – Artwork, Graphic Design
Ed Mann – Percussion
Jimmy Carl Black – Vocals
Ike Willis – Guitar (Rhythm), Vocals
Bob Stone – Remixing, Digital Remastering
Arthur Barrow – Bass
George Douglas – Assistant Engineer
Frank Zappa – Arranger, Composer, Vocals, Producer, Main Performer, Guitar
Bob Harris – Boy Soprano, Trumpet
David Logeman – Drums
Steve Vai – Guitars, listed as "Strat Abuse" on album cover

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Moby Gym, 1980

This bootleg from a Dec. 2, 1980 show at the Moby Gym in Fort Collins, CO, has three really outstanding tracks that make this rather mediocre concert recording worth having. Like many of the 1980 shows, and many from 1981 as well, the band drew heavily from material that was released on “Sheik Yerbouti,” and “You Are What You Is,” with a few songs that appeared on “Tinseltown Rebellion,” which became the release in Zappa’s catalog representing this tour.

The Fort Collins concert opens with the “Panty Rap,” which became feature of this tour. It was also very well-rehearsed, offering little spontaneity, as heard through an explanation by Zappa to the crowd that varied minimally from what was recorded for the “Tinseltown Rebellion” release. This is followed by a decent performance of the title track from “You Are What You Is,” although it’s missing Ray White’s beautiful, sweeping, high-range vocals found on the official release.

We get some decent harmonizing out of Bob Harris for the next song, “Love of My Life,” but again, not quite the stunning falsetto that he delivers on “Tinseltown Rebellion.” Close, but not quite. Not sure who does a fairly decent Bob Dylan on “Flakes, but it’s nothing like Adrian Belew’s impersonation, and I really miss the harmonica that was part of the performance recorded for “Sheik Yerbouti.” When the bridge occurs, launched by the lyric, “I am a moron and this is my wife,” I’m digging the song as it builds, but then it just moves right along into the next segment that begins with the lyric “We are millions and millions” and completely lacks the dramatic build up I was expecting.

But that minor disappointment was quickly dispersed as the band jumps into “Magic Fingers.” Ray White’s vocals on this are great and not for one second was I missing the lack of Howard Kaylan’s screeching vocals normally associated with this song. This is one of the true standouts of this show. So imagine my anticipation as the bands moves into “The Blue Light.” Despite the unfinished and rambling nature of this song, I’ve tended to like it since first hearing it on “Tinseltown Rebellion.” Frank takes a decent jab Colorado’s granola culture, followed by the song’s expected final crescendo with a few more cultural jabs (“Drink that carrot juice”).

With “Tinseltown Rebellion,” Frank takes advantage of the fact that there are three other guitars on stage with a rocking guitar-centered intro to the song, something I wished he would have done with “Flakes.” Musically, I find this song enjoyable. What has always annoyed me about “Tinseltown Rebellion” was Frank’s holier-than-thou attitude regarding music; that only his and a few select others had real “substance.” Well, I’m sorry Frank, but I like all types of music, everything from empty pop and dance music, to complex orchestral pieces and avant-garde jazz. I don’t subscribe to this elitist attitude Zappa apparently held and from which he looked with disdain upon those who did not measure up.

Next comes “Pick Me I’m Clean,” which segues into a stellar guitar “Sex Jam” that is accented with vocalizations of a moaning, orgasmic woman reminiscent of “The Torture Never Stops.” This, however, abruptly stops. Our bootlegger must have run out of tape.

The recording picks up with the sing-songy “The Dangerous Kitchen,” one of the few songs that worked well with this delivery method. The best song performance comes next with “City of Tiny Lights,” an item composed with a lengthy guitar solo in mind, and Frank doesn’t disappoint. This is a real hard rock jam with amazing ambience and feedback. It is jams like this that will always keep me hungry for Zappa bootlegs. Gotta love Ray White’s vocals following the solo as well.

The last two songs, “Ain’t Got No Heart” and “The Torture Never Stops,” the former of which was competently performed, exhibit nothing special about them. Frank, however, delivers again with “Torture.” This trickles away into some rather boring keyboard sonics, except for a bit of tinkling by Bob Harris. This blather really lacks any inspiration and strikes me as very formulaic, but that has often been my criticism of Tommy Mars. Harris, however, manages to bring some character and interest into this final section of the song that would otherwise cause me to get up and leave my seat to beat the crowd exciting the venue. By the time the song returns to “Torture,” it’s lost all connection and the remaining drumming by Vinnie Colaiuta seems like filler, or worse yet, like he’s warming up by simply testing and tuning his drums. It’s the song that should have ended 10 minutes before it did. And even more astounding is the fact that the song fades out! There was even more of that!

Overall, a relatively mediocre bootleg that is saved by the presence of a few outstanding songs and guitar solos.

I give this three of five stars. Add your own rating below.

Track listing:

1. Panty Rap/You Are What You Is
2. Love Of My Life
3. Flakes
4. Magic Fingers
5. The Blue Light
6. Tinseltown Rebellion
7. Pick Me I'm Clean
8. The Dangerous Kitchen
9. City Of Tiny Lights
10. Ain't Got No Heart
11. The Torture Never Stops


Frank Zappa (guitar, vocals)
Arthur Barrow (bass)
Vinnie Colaiuta (drums)
Bob Harris (keyboards, vocals)
Tommy Mars (keyboards)
Steve Vai (guitar)
Ray White (guitar, vocals)
Ike Willis (guitar, vocals)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Dallas Convention Center Arena 1980

The 1980 tour could almost be given one of either two monikers: the Tinseltown Rebellion Tour or the Chunga’s Revenge Tour, as both these songs were played at many of these concerts, based on the bootlegs that are out there from the era.

With the Oct. 17, 1980 show at the Dallas Convention Center Arena, we get a blistering guitar solo out of Frank with “Chunga’s Revenge” opening the show. The sound quality of this boot fluctuates a bit throughout the song, and with the next tune, “I Don’t Wanna Get Drafted,” a song Zappa jointly composed with one of his major influences, Johnny Guitar Watson, the audio comes across very compressed, like listening to an AM radio. Incidentally, the song appeared on the album “You Are What You Is” as “Drafted Again.”

We have a decent, but brief, guitar solo, possibly out of Steve Vai, during “Cosmik Debris,” but with this bootleg the solo doesn’t come forward; you really have to listen hard to hear it. Also, this brief solo is nothing like the solo that shows up on the studio release from “Apostrophe(‘).” The band then launches into a frenetically-paced “Keep It Greasey” from “Joe’s Garage.”

The vamp and intro to “Tinseltown Rebellion” is actually pretty cool. I admit that this is not one of my favorite Zappa songs, but this particular performance actually comes pretty close to getting me to like it. And the lapse into the sing-songy presentation style at the end of the song doesn’t bother me like it does when Frank uses the technique during live performances of other songs (such as on the last track on this boot).

When you got four guitar players on stage, you have to expect some guitar-centric work during this show. This boot doesn’t disappoint on that point when “Outside Now” comes along. Deliciously eviscerating.

A primary reason that I enjoy listening to bootlegs, despite their at times substandard sound quality, is the opportunity to hear the wide variety guitar solos that Zappa performs. Another reason is to have the opportunity to hear performances of the many different musicians he played with, particularly those occasions when it was only during a concert solely available via bootleg.

But given the number of shows Zappa performed, hearing how some very standard songs get tweaked a bit for live performance – largely for the band’s benefit, I’m sure, so they wouldn’t get bored with playing it. “Honey Don’t You Want a Man Like Me?” fits into this category with this particular show.

Ah, but the guitar solo returns with the next track “Pick Me I’m Clean,” a funny song I’ve always enjoyed apparently written about a real groupie that wanted to stand out among all the others at a show, so she hollered out, “Pick me! I’m clean!”

Another excellent song that is structured to accommodate a guitar solo is “City of Tiny Lights.” However, in this boot, the song begins well after its start, moving into that guitar solo. I realize that this is a bootleg, but it sure would have been nice to hear the song from the beginning. Nonetheless, the guitar solo here (or solos? Are Vai and Zappa trading licks?) is thrilling. It smoothly transitions into a vamp from Rod Argent’s “She’s Not There” before returning back to “City of Tiny Lights.”

The next song, “Easy Meat,” also has an outstanding extended guitar solo.

Following “Ain’t Got No Heart,” the bootleg closes with “The Torture Never Stops.” Aside from the annoying sing-song segue that was common with live performances of this, we get another great guitar solo. And what is really intriguing about this solo is that you can hear how well orchestrated it is. Sometimes people think of guitar solo as purely extended improvisations, which many are, following a steady beat. The guitar player gets up there and plays what ever comes out of his fingers; when finished, he usually nods to the rest of the band to indicate he’s done, they collect themselves around a few bars to get back into synch, and then return to the song. But listening to this particular solo, you can hear quite plainly the time signature changes, as well as the melodic theme shifts, that occur and which are followed precisely by Vinnie Colaiuta’s expert drumming. Zappa’s playing is followed by a segue led by Arthur Barrow’s bass playing followed by some keyboard playing that could either be Tommy Mars or Bob Harris. But unlike other segues, the band never returns to the main theme of “Torture,” and in fact, the song ends, as does the bootleg.

Overall, not a bad bootleg despite some fluctuations in the sound quality. And while the set list was a common representation of the 1980 tour, the show contains some interesting variations that will keep a true Zappa fanatic pulling it out from time to time for a listen.

I rate this four of five stars. Add your own rating below.

Track listing:

1. Chunga's Revenge
2. I Don't Wanna Get Drafted
3. Cosmik Debris
4. Keep It Greasey
5. Tinseltown Rebellion
6. Outside Now
7. Honey Don't You Want A Man Like Me?
8. Pick Me I'm Clean
9. City Of Tiny Lights (incl. She's Not There)
10. Easy Meat
11. Ain't Got No Heart
12. The Torture Never Stops


FZ, guitar, vocals
Ike Willis, vocals, guitar
Steve Vai, guitar, vocals
Ray White, vocals, guitar
Arthur Barrow, bass
Vinnie Colaiuta, drums
Tommy Mars, keyboards, vocals
Bob Harris, keyboards, trumpet, high vocals