Saturday, October 2, 2010

Vitamin Deficiency

This surreptitious recording is a compilation of a few rather poor quality audience recordings of shows Zappa did with the Mothers of Invention circa the Flo and Eddie years. The performances include one from the Ahoy, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, from Nov. 27, 1971; another from the Santa Monica Civic Center on Aug. 21, 1970; and some studio material.

The first 13 tracks are from the Ahoy, and as the notes that came with the boot say, it’s a “worse than live” recording. It was released as the bootleg “Poot Face Boogie,” and misidentified the venue as being in Amsterdam. It’s typical Flo and Eddie fair. The crowd’s clapping along with “Who Are the Brain Police” makes it very difficult to hear the intro and most of the song. This version was decidedly more upbeat than the studio version from “Freak Out!” It has a rollicking guitar solo, but the recording is so poor, it’s a strain to hear it.

With the next song, the recording switches to an early studio version of “My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama,” the 1969 single release. There is a brief interview in which Zappa explains that it’s “better” to explain the band’s various sexual peccadilloes through song rather than to let the stories come out in other forms. This is followed by another studio version of “Dog Breath in the Year of the Plague” from “Uncle Meat.”

With the next track, we’re back live in Rotterdam with the song “Once Upon a Time Sofa.” Zappa announces the song will be sung in Dutch and features Mark Volman. This is similar to the routine recorded from the Rainbow Theater in London from Dec. 10, 1971, and which was released on YCDTOSA Vol. 1 as “Once Upon a Time.” However, the bootleg version has the complete musical number, rendering an early version of Sofa #1 that was to be released later on “Once Size Fits All.”

The song “Stick It Out” is just a bunch of prurient screaming from Howard and Mark, aka Flo and Eddie. “Divan” provides more Dutch vocal porn that was common with the shtick this particular touring group was famous for.

“Lightning-Rod Man” is a 1966 recording of Lowell George & the Factory, produced by and featuring Frank Zappa, officially released on the album Lightning-Rod Man in 1993. Has kind of a Captain Beefheart feel to it.
The next series of songs on this bootleg are allegedly from the Santa Monica Civic Center on Aug. 21, 1970, but the first track, “Call Any Vegetable,” has Frank welcoming the audience to El Monte Legion Stadium. So this recording had apparently been long thought to be a 1971 one show from El Monte Legion Stadium. Notes with the boot, however, suggest “it's clearly the 1970 band on the record, and the recording has been identified as Santa Monica.”

I say hmmm, because this version of “Call Any Vegetable” is very similar to the one released on “Just Another Band From L.A.”, which was recorded from a 1971 show at the Pauley Pavilion at UCLA. It wasn’t uncommon for vinyl boot releases to have misinformation on the album cover, such as incorrectly identifying the venue. This item was no exception, but it remains curious that the cover art, which was based on a Cal Shenkel poster for the 1971 Pauley Pavilion, also asserts that the show was from El Monte Legion Stadium.

This half of the boot is a better recording than the first half, although it is still an audience recording. Zappa’s guitar work comes through more clearly.

Flo and Eddie do a decent job on “Mother People,” and it’s evident the crowd enjoyed it as well. There’s a medley of songs from “Chunga’s Revenge,” with “Would You Go All the Way?”, “Rudy Wants to Buy Yez a Drink,” and “Road Ladies.” I’ve always liked “Road Ladies,” a very basic 12-bar blues tune that Zappa can do some heavy shredding on. Mark Volman, however, is the star on this song.

Frank introduces the next series of songs by telling the crowd to imagine themselves staying at the Holiday Inn in a “dumpy little town” called Traverse City, Mich., and the band members are about to go out to the local bar to get some girls. Pretty funny that they call Traverse City a dumpy little town, which it certainly was back in 1970. This eventually leads into the routine made famous on the Fillmore album.

There an obligatory version of “Happy Together,” but it’s pretty lame.

All in all, this isn’t a very inspiring recording. Besides being a poor quality audience boot, the material isn’t that great. Unless you’re the type that absolutely has to have it, I would skip it.

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

Track listing

1. Peaches En Regalia
2. Tears Begin to Fall
3. She Painted Up Her Face
4. Half a Dozen Provocative Squats/Shove It Right In
5. Who Are the Brain Police
6. My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama
7. Interview
8. Dog Breath in the Year of the Plague
9. Once Upon a Time Sofa
10. Stick It Out
11. Divan
12. Interview
13. The Factory Lightning-Rod Man
14. Call Any Vegetable
15. The Air
16. Dog Breath
17. Mother People
18. You Didn't Try to Call Me
19. Would You Go All the Way?
20. Rudy Wants to Buy Yez a Drink
21. Road Ladies
22. What Will This Morning Bring Me This Evening
23. What Kind of Girl Do You Think We Are?
24. Bwana Dik
25. Latex Solar Beef
26. Daddy, Daddy, Daddy [partial]
27. Do You Like My New Car?
28. Happy Together [Bonner/Gordon]
29. What Will This Evening Bring Me This Morning?


Frank Zappa, Mark Volman, Howard Kaylan, Jeff Simmons (Santa Monica), Aynsley Dunbar, Ian Underwood, Don Preston (Rotterdam), Jim Pons (Rotterdam) and George Duke

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