Water Turning Back (Guitar Master GM 025/026)
Music Hall, Boston, MA – April 27th, 1975 (evening show)
Disc 1 (41:18): Improvisation, Camarillo Brillo, Muffin Man (instrumental), Let’s Make The Water Turn Black, Penguin In Bondage, improvisations (Beefheart instrumental), Debra Kadabra, band introduction, Poofter’s Froth Wyoming Plans Ahead, Echidna’s Arf, George Duke improvisation
Disc 2 (48:45): The Torture Never Stops, Marty’s Dance Song, Montana, Florentine Pogen, encore break, Willie The Pimp
Water Turning Black documents the Frank Zappa April 27th, 1975 evening show in Boston. There are several audience tapes in circulation. Guitar Master utilize the most complete, containing no loss in music. The sound is very good to borderline excellent stereo, capturing the atmosphere of the show very well.
In 2008 an LP called Boston Music Hall 27/04/1975 [Late Show] 200 Years Special (Hedgehog Records – HDG 0020) was released with “Poofter’s Froth Wyoming Plans Ahead,” “George Duke improvisation,” “Willie The Pimp,” The Torture Never Stops” and “Let’s Make The Water Turn Black.” This is the first silver pressed edition of the complete evening show.
At the beginning of the tape are strange noises, sounding like a wild mardi gras party before the band rip into “Camarillo Brillo.” Performed as it is on every subsequent tour, the first half is played at normal tempo and the second slows down considerably. The horns sound almost drunken, wandering around the melody before Zappa plays the obscenely heavy riff for “Muffin Man” played purely as an instrumental.
“I’ve done it again. I strangled my guitar out of tune” and “as they say in the trade, on your feet or on your knees” and wanting to start the show off with “lively buoyant opening segment” proceeds to “Let’s Make The Water Turn Black,” a song about “people who save snot.”
Napoleon Brock takes the vocals for the unique funky arrangement. George Duke plays a Stevie Wonder sounding keyboard solo in the middle of the piece before the segue into “Penguin In Bondage.” It’s a sterling performance and it’s a shame this arrangement has never been officially released.
After “Debra Kadabra” Zappa introduces the band including Captain Beefheart. He tells the audience he’s heard that Boston is “ready for CB” and introduces the bicentennial country-western song “Poofter’s Froth Wyoming Plans Ahead.” Beefheart’s song segues into the closing part of “Echidna’s Arf” which leads into Duke’s keyboard improvisations. He plays atonal, noisy melodies bordering reminiscent of early King Crimson.
“The Torture Never Stops” is the big jam number in the middle of the set. Lasting almost fifteen minutes, Zappa offers some of the dirtiest solos of the night. It segues into the slower tempo “Marty’s Dance Song.” Accompanied by the doo-wop backing vocals of the band, it goes on for almost eight minutes long. This piece was played several times in late 1974. This is the only known recording from the 1975 Bongo Fury era.
With the announcement that the next song is about “dental floss,” they stray into a mellow performance of “Montana” and ending with “Florentine Pogen.”
“Willie The Pimp” is the only encore. Lasting more than nine minutes, the destructive, repetitive rhythm is the basis for some of the heaviest and nastiest jamming of the night. It sounds like they are on the verge of breaking down, but it turns into a masterpiece of construction.
Water Turning Back is a solid release. The show, although maybe not as adventurous or wired as the Mother’s Day show in Chicago, certainly has superior sound quality and stands as a great document of the Bongo Fury tour. Guitar Master package the title in a double slimline jewel case with groovy artistic design on the inserts.