Frank Zappa - (1980-11-30) - Des Moines

Frank Zappa - 1980-11-30 - Des Moines
Frank Zappa
Civic Center
Des Moines, IA

01. intro (1:22)
02. Black Napkins (6:07)
03. Panty Rap (3:33)
04. You Are What You Is (3:57)
05. Love of My Life (2:11)
06. Flakes (4:36)
07. Magic Fingers (2:22)
08. The Blue Light (5:08)
09. Tinsel Town Rebellion (4:44)
10. Pick Me I'm Clean (8:47)
11. Dead Girls of London
(incl. Royal March from Aida) (3:29)
12. Shall We Take Ourselves Seriously? (1:37)
13. City of Tiny Lights
(q: Streets of Cairo, It Ain't Necessarily So) (11:07)
14. Cosmik Debris (3:53)
15. Keep It Greasey (3:05)
16. The Torture Never Stops
(q: Surrey with the Fringe on Top, Oh! Susanna, incl: Royal March from Aida, Light Cavalry Overture, Mystery Song #3) (10:55)
17. Anything, Anytime . . . For No Reason At All Medley (13:40)
18. Heavy Duty Judy (5:46)
19. Broken Hearts Are For Assholes (3:44)
20. I'm So Cute (1:35)
21. Andy
(incl. My Sharona, Funiculì Funiculà, Light Cavalry Overture) (8:10)
22. encore break (1:16)
23. Joe's Garage (2:17)
24. Dancing Fool (4:57)
25. encore break (0:45)
26. The Illinois Enema Bandit
(q: The Blue Light, incl. Sweet Leilani, Harbor Lights) (16:21)

As many know, the waning days of Zappa tours tend to get a little bit... silly. In September 1973, it was deranged melodies of Mothers songs, Winter 1976 brought us Roy Estrada's ridiculously melodramatic odes to rubber heads, and who could forget Summer 1980's late-June journey to Darkest Africa? For the waning days of the second 1980 tour, the overarching theme was "jukebox melodies" - having the band launch off into renditions of, say, Royal March from Aida in the middle of, for example, City of Tiny Lights, i.e., e.g., perhaps, let's say. And, as any good little Zappateer knows, the quintessential example of this would be the show played in Des Moines on November 1980, where the band went through over ten minutes of "name that tune" excess. Certainly, this ranks as the most bald-faced moment of Zappa's "Anything, Anytime . . . For No Reason At All" philosophy - and actually, to my knowledge, this is the only time Zappa ever actually said those words onstage. Unfortunately, the recording of this show is hardly without its problems - severe pitch fluctuations dominate what would otherwise be a very interesting City of Tiny Lights solo, and due to an unfortunate tapecut, the AAAFNRAA medley itself is entirely stripped of context. We can make the educated guess that it occured during a typically-ridiculous Torture Never Stops solo section, but how exactly the band journeyed from Torture to Anything is left to the imagination. As if that weren't bad enough, the sound quality is a very, VERY generous "B-", with the vocals rarely intelligible, and several moments of what seem to be secret-word play and onstage tomfoolery end up lost to the simultaneously boomy and shrill conditions.

Well, okay, let's take a deep breath, and put everything after the word "unfortunately" into the past tense. Thanks to the absolutely tireless efforts of a certain man from the Iowa area, we - the Zappateer community as a whole - are honored, not just with a master clone of the originally circulated source, but with that, plus one - make that TWO, yes that's right you heard right TWO - alternate recordings, which combine to present a complete picture of the evening of November 30th, 1980.

Of course, an unearthing this exciting deserves a backstory. The short version is that our old B- source has been upgraded to a B+/B, and two altogether brand-new sources combine to give us the complete picture of Des Moines 1980! The primary source for this seed is the middle one in terms of sound quality - perhaps an odd choice for the first seed, but the old source has its fair share of pitch problems which will take some time to resolve to our stringent satisfaction.

So what exactly do we learn from finally hearing the complete show? Plenty! For those who are familiar with the currently-circulating recording, but are unready, unwilling, and/or unable to familiarize themselves with this new compilation - or who just want a no-nonsense guided tour through all the changes as they wait for this compilation to arrive on their hard drives - here is a list of new discoveries (those who'd rather not be spoiled... close your eyes now!):

* - The show opens with a very decent version of Black Napkins.
* - Frank's Panty Rap is present, and is basically the same version we're used to, complete with step-by-step instructions for those who wear bikini-style panties underneath a pair of jeans.
* - The formerly-missing portion of You Are What You Is is nothing terribly surprising.
* - VERY INTERESTING REVELATION #1: For only the third documented time, Torture does NOT segue from an I Ain't Got No Heart. For whatever perverse reason, Frank decides to throw us a Cosmik Debris and Keep It Greasey in between City and Torture. Considering the typical rigidity of the Fall 1980 setlist, I believe this definitely warrants the "very interesting" label - your mileage may or may not vary.
* - VERY INTERESTING REVELATION #2: We could already assume that the AAAFNRAA medley arises out of a Torture Never Stops solo, but now we can confirm it. The "song" portion of Torture is pretty interesting to begin with, with a lengthy jazz music diatribe by Frank, and completely gratutious insertations of the Royal March from Aida and the Light Cavalry Overture. Frank's first solo is pretty damn decent, too, fulfilling the promise made by the frustratingly-brief snippet on the previously-circulating recording - a great Mystery Song #3 portion, and I get the feeling there are some musical quotations I'm missing. Zappa "introduces" us to the AAAFNRAA medley with the AAAFNRAA declaration - a great way to segue into the madness. Tommy also plays the Perry Mason Theme during a portion cut out on the original source.
* - Thanks to the improved sound quality of the Kirk master/1st gen, we can now make out the secret word madness in the last half of the show. Ladies and gentlemen, tonight's secret word is definitely "Lassie".
* - VERY INTERESTING REVELATION #3: Finally, tonight's Enema Bandit is a MONSTER by 1980s standards, clocking in at well over 15 minutes, and featuring both a quite lengthy guitar solo and some great "jazz noise" insanity in the final vocal refrain.

Even given the still-less-than-pristine sound quality, this is ESSENTIAL listening for fans of Frank. A show truly like no other.

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