Frank Zappa – Austin 26 Oct 1973 (Budgie-007)


Austin 26 Oct 1973 (Budgie-007)

Armadillo World Headquarters, Austin, TX – October 26th, 1973

Tuning, Cosmik Debris, Inca Roads, Pygmy Twylyte, The Idiot Bastard Son, Cheepnis, Big Swiftly, The San Clemente Magnetic Deviation, Farther Oblivion, medley:  Son Of Mr. Green Genes / King Kong / Chunga’s Revenge / The San Clemente Magnetic Deviation (reprise)

Austin – 26 Oct 1973 is the final Budgie release and is the best of the lot.  It is a wonderful and lively soundboard recording, impeccably recorded and very detailed and enjoyable.  The one sided inserts don’t matter too much on a single release and design is much better than the other releases.  The concert itself is very nice.  Collector Scott Parker writes a more detailed review of the show:

“And we’re off, with the first show of the Fall 1973 tour…following hot on the heels of the Spring and Summer 73 tours. 73 was a busy year for Frank. We start off here in Austin, lacking Ian Underwood and Jean-Luc Ponty, but picking up Chester Thompson and Napolean Murphy Brock.

“We start off in Austin, with one of the best-sounding tapes in circulation. Clear, Soundboard…nice. Cosmik Debris is our opener, and the two drummers really make it sound interesting (well, as interesting as Cosmik Debris can be for anyone who’s heard it about 300 times). Duke and Frank solos, which are both pretty good. Frank’s Fall 73 guitar sound is different than his other guitar years, though it doesn’t affect my enjoyment as much as, say, our Mr. Gossard.

“Inca Roads is the lounge singer version. George is whistling a tune that’s damn familiar, I wish I could recognize it. Gotta love that intro – “If George Duke ever gets into the monitor system, it’s all over, folks.” Great explanation of the song. Still has mike problems at the beginning. No Sal Marquez, but still sweet. The percussion is very up front on this tape – lots of Ruth. Short piano solo from Duke – more jazz this time. Really snazzy. Then we get a Bruce solo on trombone, which is rather mellow for the wild one. Did I mention Ruth is amazing? Especially in this song. George seems unsure of the lyrics at the end of the song. He mumbles them more than anything else. Let me know when I start to ramble…

“Then we get Big Swifty…which is OK, but not great. For one, Napolean’s sax sounds very unsure, detracting from the opening melody – he hadn’t gotten it down yet. Luckily we move on to the solos, Duke *again*, with a synth solo that reminds me of the Summer 73 Dupree’s solos – very choppy and staccato. A short Ruth solo follows, before we get to Frank. His solo is pretty good, but it doesn’t seem to go anywhere – he just plays until the theme comes back.

“Dickie’s is the World Premiere, and is still called San Clemente Magnetic Deviation at this stage. George’s solo is all high notes, right at the top third of the keyboard, and Frank’s is quick and dirty, similar to the Stage 3 version. This Dickie’s has an extended bridge, where Napolean and George ramble back and forth and try and involve the audience (who aren’t really getting into it). There seem to be different lyrics in the last verse, but the tape flip loses most of them. Frank has the band do the ending twice to try and make the audience do a wheee-ooo.

“Farther O’Blivion is probably the highlight of this show. This is the shorter version, with no flurry of notes. We do get a Nappy sax solo in Part 1, though he seems confined by the rather tired vamp (more on that later). The Tango section is where the action is, however, and it’s a lot more extended on this tour, eventually becoming a song of its own. Ruth and Bruce are predominant here, of course. Bruce makes up for his mellow Inca solo with a truly insane, Fowler-special here. “A real jazz trombone solo!” Then we get the dance, with Bruce showing us the Armadillo’s answer to the Mudshark. Frank introduces Ruth as “Ruth Under…Ruth K for Komanoff Underwood!”, implying I think that the breakup with Ian was fairly recent. Despite that, she gives a lovely solo, though again it seems too short. Lots of scat here, with full band chaos. Frank introduces a Battle of the Drummers between Ralph and Chester, but sadly it’s only about 30 seconds, before we head into Cucamongaland. George and Nappy sing along with the melody, making it sound very sweet.

“Encores are fairly routine. Nappy gets a much better vamp to work with in Green Genes. King Kong has another Bruce solo, but he’s defeated by the vamp again. The biggest problem I have with this band is the vamps behind the solos – often they’re just dull. Luckily, George can defy any vamp and play a cool solo, which he does. Chunga’s sounds odd with this mellow band – I kept waiting for the LOUD GUITARS. Frank’s solo also starts off being truly dull. Luckily, after a minute or two he picks up the pace, and things begin to happen.

“Overall, a good concert, but I wanted a bit more. However, the quality of this soundboard and the nice improv in Farther O’Blivion make it a tape worth acquiring.”  (GS)

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