Sunday, March 14, 2010


Another release in the Beat the Boots box sets, “Piquantique” ostensibly contains material from a single 1973 concert in Stockholm, Sweden. At least, that is what we are led to believe if we go by what is on the cover art. But that appears suspect. There is some question about the fourth track, “T’Mershi Duween.” At the Web site Information Is Not Knowledge, site owner Román García Albertos suggests the recording is from a 1974 show at an unknown venue. Wikipedia suggests that it comes from a December, 1973 show at the Roxy. KillUglyRadio, however, does not confirm that suggestion, going, instead, with the unknown venue. It could very well be from the Roxy, as the lineup on the fourth track is identical to the lineup from the release Roxy & Elsewhere.

Also connected with the songs from the Stockholm show is video from the concert that was shown on Swedish TV. You really need to do yourself a favor and check out this site and the video stills from this show. Frank is wearing a green and white plaid blazer over a burgundy turtle neck. It is total dorkdom.

As with most of the Beat the Boots CDs, the sound quality of this recording is only fair. But the material is really quite good, as we get 40 minutes of some quality avant-garde jazz.

There was a lot more improvisation going on with the original Mothers of Invention during their live shows than what went on with later incarnations of Zappa’s traveling troupe. And while Ian Underwood is the only member of this lineup from the latter incarnation of the Mothers, the playing is definitely more free-form that what you get from later lineups.

The CD opens with “Kung Fu,” a short, but interesting composition that includes the opening theme from “The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue,” which had officially appeared on “Weasels Ripped My Flesh.” Ruth Underwood’s percussion is sweet in this number, but she really brings it on during “Redunzl.” Jean-Luc Ponty also cranks it out during this piece. I wish the recording was just a tad better because Ralph Humphrey’s drumming sounds pretty awesome as well.

Zappa’s guitar solo during “Redunzl” has that characteristic fuzz sound that showed up frequently during the jazzy albums of 1969 through 1972.

Things get funky and out there with “Dupree’s Paradise,” George Duke getting crazy and throwing in some Space Invader types of sounds as the song increasingly takes on a cosmic sort of oeuvre. Zappa interjects a bluesy guitar that seems to bring a bit of sanity to the number. After Zappa chimes in about how cold it is at this outdoor venue, George Duke slips into some basic boogie-woogie piano, which brings some off-beat clapping that Frank makes fun of. It’s a good groove that devolves into Duke’s fingers running all over the keyboard giving it the sound as though he were playing a harp. The band joins in lending a music theme to what previously had initially sounded aimless. Jean-Luc Ponty delivers some searing violin now, killing the crowd with triplets and sixteenth notes.

I think the real treasure of this recording, however, is “T’Mershi Duween,” a really cool number that is delightfully percussive and filled with rhythmic surprises. It’s hard to tell, however, if it is from a Roxy show. Could very well be.

Next is “Farther O’Blivion,” a song that had been included in the Petit Wazoo tour, and a version of which shows up on “Imaginary Diseases.” Again, it’s Jean-Luc Ponty’s playing that sends this song into the realm of gods, and he doesn’t waste time. Right from his opening notes he sets straight for the musical stratosphere. This piece contains a theme from “The Be-Bop Tango,” which gives Ponty something musically different to play around. But wait until Bruce Fowler comes in with his trombone! I bet you didn’t think a trombone could sound like that! And Ian Underwood gets very spooky with his distorted soprano saxophone. Jean-Luc Ponty returns to expand on the ghostly theme while Ralph Humphrey keeps a steady boogie beat going. Ruth Underwood comes in and the boogie section of this piece comes to a slow, fading end. After a brief, sort of avant-garde coda (was this the “fast instrumental arrangement of ‘Cucamonga’”?), Humphrey delivers a drum solo that surely must has hurt his hands tremendously if it indeed was as cold as Zappa had said earlier.

There’s great stuff on this recording, but among all the bootlegs out there, the sound quality is still pretty poor.

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

Released as part of Beat the Boots box set, July 7, 1991, Rhino Records.

Track listing:

“Kung Fu” – 2:12 (includes the opening theme from “The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue”)
“Redunzl” – 4:26
“Dupree's Paradise” – 11:25
“T’Mershi Duween” – 1:55
“Farther O’Blivion” – 20:41 (including themes from the “Steno Pool” section of “The Adventures of Greggary Peccary”, “The Be-Bop Tango” and a fast instrumental arrangement of “Cucamonga”.)


Frank Zappa (guitar, vocals)
George Duke (keyboards)
Bruce Fowler (trombone)
Tom Fowler (bass)
Ralph Humphrey (drums)
Jean-Luc Ponty (violin)
Ian Underwood (woodwinds)
Ruth Underwood (percussion)

Personnel on track 4?:

Frank Zappa (guitar, vocals)
Napoleon Murphy Brock (tenor sax, flute)
George Duke (keyboards)
Bruce Fowler (trombone)
Tom Fowler (bass)
Ralph Humphrey (drums)
Jeff Simmons (rhythm guitar)
Chester Thompson (drums)
Ruth Underwood (percussion)

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