June 11, 1980
Palais des Sports, Paris, France
FZ—lead guitar, vocals
Ike Willis—guitar, vocals
Ray White—guitar, vocals
Tommy Mars—keyboards, vocals
Arthur Barrow—bass, keyboards, vocals
I was the first person in the USA with a color copy of the 80 France tape (every other idiot transfered it in black & white with crap conversion decks that couldn't do seacam in color).
I really like this video. However I like the 1980 band more than most people. First of all, there seems to be at least three versions of this tape: An abridged color version that lasts 30 minutes and could have been broadcasted on TV, a black & white TV version, and the unadbridged 140 minute color extravaganza. The latter is the one I am referring to.
However for completeness, here is the songlist to the 20 minute version, from Robbert Heederik: Joes Garage, Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?, Ms. Pinky and Illinois Enema Bandit. Some additional footage might also be floating around on the Mudd Club video.
Now, the first thing I noticed about this concert was Frank's unusually colorful attire. Usually sticking to solids, he wore a really splashy sunburst shirt for this occasion, almost looking like tie-die. This, against his sunburst Gibson Les Paul makes for a super colorful stage presence. The next thing I noticed was that this was multi-camera shoot, very professionally shot, and there were no credits at all, neither at the start nor the end. Perhaps this was clandestinely copied from the production reels.
There's a lot of guitar in this concert.. nearly every song has an extended guitar solo, so if you like that sort of thing you're definitely in luck. Ike sang really well on Outside Now, and then Ray did his usual fantastic singing of City of Tiny Lites. John Smothers runs out a couple of times and shines his flashlight into the crowd. Then something curious happens. In the middle of Pound For A Brown, Frank "brings the band on down" and says that he's going to give a demonstration to a mystery guest... this would be Pierre Boulez, whom both Frank and Tommy Mars got to meet personally and show off their electronic effects, which Boulez seemed to enjoy. Well, according to this film he apparantly attended the concert as well. Here's a partial transcript:
FZ: "We have a special guest in the audience tonight. I'm not gonna tell you who it is, but we're gonna dedicate this part of the show to our special guest. This is going to be a step-by-step demonstration of the, uh, uses of these little devices we have onstage here."
"Alright, yeah. Give me some "Heaven". (Tommy produces angelic fanfares.) OK. How about a little Lohengrin in this key?" (Tommy looks incredulous, shakes his head and delivers the goods magnificently, knowing that Boulez, whom he greatly admires, is listening.)
"Do the Poly-Box. OK, this is the Poly-Box that tracks parallel chords. (Tommy plays Montana lick.) Pack another chord. Just keep changing the chords. OK. Now the Mini. Mini, low octave. This is the Mini-Moog, with Bi-Phase." Etcetera. If you are further interested in this chance meeting between Boulez and the Zappa clan I refer you to Ben Watson's Poodle Play book, pages 428-429.
OK, the highlight of the video for me occurs during Jumbo Go Away. All through the concert, Arthur Barrow alternates between playing very funky bass (I always did prefer his playing while with Logeman) and keyboards. He is also the comic vocal relief, and his moments to shine are in Jumbo Go Away. He plays the part of Jumbo by shouting lines like "Don't Do It!", "I'm Hungry!", and "Feed Me!". It has to be seen and heard to be believed. The real moment is right after he yells in a ridiculous voice, "I think I've got worms!!" and he starts jumping around maniacally.. if you remember the song, there is a very complex instrumental part right there, and Arthur is hopping around like a man possessed as he drives that part of the instrumental with some amazing bass playing and impressive dancing. I wish there was more of that.
Let's see, there wasn't a mystery word that night so much as a mystery song. It was "She's Not There". It started with Frank playing the line to the melody in the guitar solo to "If Only She Woulda", which I might add featured an amazing Ray Manzarek impersonation by Mr. Barrow. "She's Not There" came up again in "I Don't Wanna Get Drafted", and from then on it was alternately sung and played by Frank and/or the band to the point of utter ridicule. "They never told me about her..."
OK, last impressions.. FZ had some neat ways of "tying up" the band for the last note. Near the end of the first encore, he was conducting the band. He "grabbed the music" out of the air, scrunched it up into a little ball, set it delicately on a stool, swatted the ball flat with his hand, then turned the stool upside down and smushed it onto the stage floor with the seat of the stool. The band, of course, interpreted every move musically. Genius, utter genius. After the second encore, he placed a plush stuffed pig onto the stool, and made all kinds of gestures as if he were packing the notes in around the little oinker, squeezing its snout, and patting it's fanny. Then he rudely slapped the pig off the stool, and the band didn't miss a beat. I can't think of a greater challenge for a band than to spontaneously interpret the sound of a pig being slapped off a stool.
Here is a bootleg version of this video which has been seen on Ebay:
June 14, 1980
May 10, 2007
Hosted by Antoine de Caunes
Other Informants: Brian Lagerman, Jon Naurin, Chris Rigas, Charles UlrichMaintained by Román García Albertos