You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Volume 3

Frank Zappa

Rykodisc Records, 1989

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Today, we hit the halfway point of our year-long examination of Frank Zappa's monumental collection You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, the ultimate live set / best-of / box set that encompasses almost every aspect of Zappa's career.

You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Volume 3 (future references: YCDTOSA3) spends a good portion of time examining the 1984 edition of Zappa's band, and it also is one of the loosest of the collections, featuring moments that could never have been scripted into live shows. From the outbreaks of spontaneous laughter to the shock of hearing tear gas grenades being fired into audiences, this particular volume covers almost the whole range of things that can happen onstage.

Disc one of YCDTOSA3 exclusively features the 1984 band, including the first time Zappa appeared onstage with his son Dweezil ("Sharleena"). The song selection of this disc includes many numbers that even occasional fans will recognize, such as "Bobby Brown Goes Down," "Keep It Greasey" and "Joe's Garage".

It is during "Bobby Brown Goes Down" that the uncontrollable laughter starts. Apparently triggered by Ray White's goading of Zappa with "Heigh-O Silver," I don't think there was a single band member left by the end of "Keep It Greasey" that hadn't been able to keep singing because they were laughing so hard. And let's face it, only Zappa would put such a scene on disc, showing that even the musicians were human, and weren't immune from the "giggles". It's a wonderful selection.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Of the songs on the first disc of YCDTOSA3, cuts like "Advance Romance," "In France" and "Drowning Witch" prove themselves to be songs that are worth future examination from those who are just becoming indoctrinated to Zappa. The only "mistake" on this particular disc is the inclusion of "Chana In De Bushwop," a song I just can't stand, no matter how many chances I give it.

Disc two still pulls some material from the 1984 band ("Cosmik Debris" is the end of the "laughter" songs, this time including Lenny Bruce references to the Thank You, Masked Man routine), but dares to dip back into the infamous 1971 show where Zappa was pushed off the stage during "King Kong" and nearly killed. (Zappa says in the liner notes that had the tape not run out prior to the incident, he would have included it in this volume.)

Many of the songs on this portion of YCDTOSA3 prove themselves to be worthy of more investigation. "Charlie's Enormous Mouth" makes me want to go back to the circa 1981 edition of Zappa to re-discover these tracks, while older numbers like "Dickie's Such An Asshole" and "Zoot Allures" show me why they've become modern classics.

A scary moment in the set comes in the middle of "Cocaine Decisions," where Zappa edits to the start of a riot that happened in Palermo during a 1982 concert. You can hear the tear gas grenades being launched, and Zappa pleading with the crowd to settle down so they could finish the show. (Apparently the band started to be overcome by the tear gas as well, as Zappa states in the liner notes.) If you're not paying attention, the crack of the grenades being fired will send a jolt through you.

Worthy of note on this volume is the appearance of drummer Terry Bozzio, whose backstage dialogue leads into a powerful drum solo, "Hands With A Hammer". Bozzio demonstrates why he could well have been the best drummer that Zappa ever featured in his band.

You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Volume 3 is made of such high quality selections, just like the previous two volumes, that one wonders where Zappa kept finding the great material. Instead of wondering, we should be glad that they not only existed, but that Zappa had the intelligence to put them out for us to enjoy.

The series would stumble a bit in the second half, but we'll talk about Volume 4 in August.

1998 Christopher Thelen and "The Daily Vault". All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Rykodisc Records and Zappa Family Trust, and is used for reference purposes only.

Rating: A-

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Rykodisc Records, and is used for informational purposes only.