Live recording: Ljubljana, Yugoslavia 11-22-75
During the fall 1975 American tour a bizarre routing assignment took place. FZ and the band traveled from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Zagreb, Yugoslavia and then on to Ljubljana where we've excerpted "Black Napkins". The band played one show in each Yugoslavian city and then returned to Michigan to continue the American tour.
We were invited by the Yugoslav government, although I don't believe our records can be bought in the country. One show will be recorded on 24 track remote, with the equipment being driven in from England. All we'll take with us is our instruments. Right after the date in Zagreb, we hurry back to the U.S. for a gig at
Green Bay, Wis. Ought to be a nice contrast.
DS: (laughs) All right. Do you have any memories of the '75 concert in Yugoslavia I'm not even gonna attempt to pronounce the name of the city . . .
FZ: Yeah. Prior to the concert, as we got to the hall, two things were happening. One, in the adjoining room, there was a ping-pong championship between a team from Taiwan, I believe it was, and the Yugoslavians. We wanted to do a soundcheck, an we were told by these uniformed officers that we couldn't make any noise because it would disturb the ping-pong game (laughter). It was in an ice skating rink. Our side of the hall was covered with ice, and the ping-pong guys were next door in a place that wasn't. Some kids had gotten there early, and I guess one of 'em was drunk. He had passed out on the ice, and his face was frozen to the ice, (laughter) and one of these soldiers with a big red star on his hat just came along and kicked him. He got up and ripped a little skin off his face.
DS: How peculiar.
FZ: Zagreb was completely different. Zagreb was an interesting concert because even though we had some of these old burly communist types standing right in front of the stage . . . they were like bodyguards, looking at the audience, and we were above them, performing . . . when we were playing songs like The Illinois Enema Bandit these guys were turning around and laughing, and the audience seemed to understand all the words to all the songs in Zagreb. The English comprehension seemed to be better in Zagreb than it had been in France, Germany, or any of the other countries we played in on that tour. But when we got to Ljubljana, that was a whole other story, 'cause the English comprehension was way, way down. It was a much more difficult concert to put on.
DS: How did you guys wind up being able to go to Yugoslavia at that time?
FZ: We were invited in by the Yugoslav Tourist Board. It was an officially sanctioned visit. And at that time, it's my understanding that Yugoslavia was the most liberal of all of the East Bloc countries. I think that was probably very true. Marshall Tito was still alive at that time, and it was a little bit more suav-ay there than it was in the other countries, which were very, very bleak at that time. But lemme tell ya, if Yugoslavia was the most liberal of the "workers paradises" of that era, the other places must have been pure hell. They wouldn't let us take photographs of anything. They sent a man who look like Khrushchev into our room at the hotel to check to see whether we had any girls. Every night he'd search the room. We were traveling on a bus, and once we left Zagreb and started driving toward Ljubljana, as soon as we crossed the city line, it was like going back two or three hundred years in history. The countryside was so primitive, and on the way, we passed this husband and wife team. They were working in the field, a big, fat woman wearing black . . . everything's black . . . and she was the "donkey." She was pulling a cart with big wooden wheels filled with twigs, (laughter) an walking behind her was a husband with a switch . . .
DS: How medieval!
FZ: It was truly medieval! I couldn't believe it!
DS: Jeezsh! Did those concerts take place at the time when you were touring in Europe, or . . .
FZ: I think that was a "stand alone" event.
DS: A special thing where you guys just ﬂew over there and played . . .
FZ: Yeah. There was a journalist who traveled with us. A woman from some magazine I can't remember who covered it.
DS: Maybe you can help me to pin that down datewise. Do you remember: if that would have been during that late '75 period?
FZ: Probably, because Norma Bell was in the band.
Live recording: Tokyo, Japan 2-5-76
"Merely A Blues In A" is Frank's adherence to standard blues form and his wonderful homage to his friend and guitar hero, Johnny "Guitar" Watson. You can even hear a moment of "Big Swifty" if you listen carefully. When you run out of songs to play in Paris and all else fails, play the blues.
Live Recording: Paris, France 9-27-74
Live Recording: City and Specific Date Unknown—January or February 1978
Research, compilation and maintenance by Román García Albertos