So many Zappa fans, so many differing opinions. Like mine.
Unlike Milhouse I rarely pull out Volume 1 or 6. Some brilliant
stuff there, granted. (How about that Mike Brecker solo on Black
Napkins on Volume 6?) But a whole lot of Zappa The Entertainer which
is not my favorite aspect of the work.
Volume 4 is actually my favorite all round listening experience of the
set with a great cameo by Archie Shepp, a blistering, definitive
"Outside Now", "Tiny Sick Tears" and a downright affectionate (and
spirited) doo wop medley. And I prefer this "Torture Never Stops"
over the finished product. (Although the finished product did afford
us some great solos through the years.)
Volume 2's "Dupree's Paradise" does go on for a bit but overall it's
Took me a while to appreciate Volume 5 (after getting over my
resentment that it was probably the final death knell of the probably
never to be released "History And Collected Improvisations Of The
Mothers Of Invention"). And I was still a fan of the ambient sonics of
the older material than the slick syntethic sounds of the 80's bands
when it came out (I still have trouble trusting things that sound like
they shine). But once I got over that hump that set became a fave as
Volume 3 is real hit or miss for me. I'm decidedly not a fan of the
"King Kong" presented here, conceptually clever though it may be.
Still I whip this set out quicker than Volumes 1 or 6.
Don't get me wrong here. For the dedicated Zappa fan/maven the whole
12 disc set is essential. But we all go to the Zappa well for
different thirsts. Volumes 4, 2 & 5 quench mine more than the others.
Not Dead Yet,
(Ol' Baggy Eyes)
Progress is not possible without deviation from the norm.-Frank Zappa
What do others think of the Stage series ?Volume 1 is excellent, and
is an album that I would term "essential" for Zappa fans and people
just getting into Zappa. YMMV.
Volume 2 is Ok. I don't want to use the term "overrated", but it's
very tempting. The first disc is really good. The second one drags
down with a lesser performance of "Dupree's Paradise". The sprint thru
"Uncle Meat / Dog Breath" could be a lot more enjoyable. I wonder why
more people don't complain about the mix on this album. The overall
sound is pretty 1980s for it being a 1974 recording. I'm not just
talking about the bass drum, either. FZ's guitar in particular was
reprocessed in such a way that it doesn't even sound like his tone
circa 1974. I find it kind of annoying. That and the regrettable
overuse of digital reverb.
Volume 3 is a hell of a lot of fun. I know a lot of people don't love
the 1984 band. And almost an entire album's worth of stuff in this
volume might be a little much. But it's fun. The 1973 "Dickie's" is
great, and the extended, multi-edited "King Kong" is awesome.
Volume 4 is too inconsistent. This could have been an amazing volume
of the series, but too many selections sabotage it. The 1982 stuff is
great, but there's a lot of other stuff on it that leaves me
unsatisfied. Think of what else could have been used from the Bongo
Fury tour instead of the long and boring "original" Torture Never
Stops, for instance.
Volume 5. Hm. I don't listen to the first disc very often. It's great
when I want an early Mothers fix, but I don't come back to it very
often. The 1982 band.. what can I say. 2nd disc is great, but there
certainly could have been better song choices than another version of
"Dancing Fool". That said, it's one of my favorite individual discs of
Volume 6 is actually probably my 2nd favorite overall of the series,
after Volume 1. I'm not crazy about a couple of the choices on the
first disc, but the second disc is excellent. It's really a shame the
series ended here, as there was obviously so much more of this kind of
live stuff that FZ could have put together, but.. he probably spent an
awful lot of time on these 6 volumes anyway and needed to move on to
other projects at some point.