Frank Zappa – Palmdale Boulevard & Elsewhere (Guitar Master GM-014/015)

Palmdale Boulevard & Elsewhere (Guitar Master GM-014/015)

Celebrity Theater, Phoenix, AZ – July 17th, 1974

Disc 1 (36:49):  Sound check, Rdnzl, Village Of The Sun, Echindnas Arf, Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing, Cosmik Debris

Disc 2 (45:37):  Duprees Paradise, Camarillo Brillo, T’mershi Duween, Dog Meat, Road Ladies

Palmdale Boulevard & Elsewhere is a new release on the Guitar Master label documenting Frank Zappa’s July 17th 1974 show at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix.  The label utilizes a good to very good sounding soundboard recording.  While the music is balanced well, the audience is very far away and there is loud hiss over the tape.  It is a good tape for the Zappa collector although it is quite treaturous for the casual.  

The performance is outstanding.  Zappa hit a commercial peak at this time with Apostrophe (‘) reaching ten on Billboard.  He was touring with the final incarnation of the Mothers Of Invention with Napoleon Murphy Brock (saxophone and vocals), George Duke (keyboard and vocals), Ruth Underwood (percussion), Tom Fowler (bass), and Chester Thompson (drums) which is considered by many to be the best ever group of musicians he ever assembled.  Their prowess is highly evident on this tape as they are able to make stylistic shifts with breeze and improvise without any effort.  

The tape begins with a six minute long soundcheck before starting with “Rdnzl.”  It is followed by one of the staples of the setlist during this time.  The trio of “Village Of The Sun,” “Echidna’s Arf” and “Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing?” appears on the live album Roxy & Elsewhere, recorded the previous December, and You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 2 from the September Helsinki shows. 

“Village Of The Sun” is taken at double speed compared to the Roxy performance.  “Echindna’s Arf” segues into “Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing?”  Zappa improvises a little change in the line in which he introduces Ruth Underwood’s great percussion solo, for which she had to run around the stage to play at several different percussion stations.

“Dupree’s Paradise,” which was later recorded for Perfect Stranger, lasts twenty-two minutes and includes snippets of “The Stripper,” “Battle Hymn Of The Republic,” “Uncle Meat,” “Mozart Minuet,” and “Dragnet March.”  It begins with a silly routine involving the various musicans need to testify for Marty Perellis the road manager.

Then the percussion and synthesizer take over to initiate a wonderful little instrumental work. The piece is interrupted at one point for a continuation of the routine concerning pilfered hotel towels. More stellar instrumental interaction among the sextet then follows, as well as a long drum solo by Chester Thompson.

The show ends with “Dog Meat.”  Before the encore Zappa tells the audience, “I want to do something I’ve always wanted to do as encore.  We’re gonna play a blues ladies and gentlemen.”  For ten minutes they jam on “Road Ladies” with Zappy narrating about their visit to the motel in Memphis. 

Palmdale Boulevard & Elsewhere is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with high quality inserts.  The front cover artwork is uses the same photo from Apostrophe (‘) with a live shot superimposed over it.  This is an interesting recording from one of Zappa’s creative and artistic peaks worth having.    

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