The Zappian Way

By Chris Welch

Melody Maker, December 5, 1970

    PROBABLY only Frank Zappa and his musicians could properly review their concerts at London's Coliseum on Sunday [1]. So much happened in each two-hour segment, one would need tape-recorders and film cameras to recall all that was brilliant, banal and beautiful.

    Later reports suggest the first concert of the evening was the best performance. Stephen Stills sat in on the second. But it was the first one I attended and thoroughly enjoyed.

    Once again Zappa achieved triumph by presenting a new concept in Mothers' entertainment. The horns have been whittled away, apart from a spot of tromboning by George Duke (keyboards), and the vocal department is strengthened by the presence of Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan.

     Aynsley Dunbar's drumming was superb and has obviously personally benefited from his season with Frank. His established technique has been given a proper medium for expression.

    The programme of Mothers' classics like 'Call Any Vegetable' and new material from the projected '200 Motels' was carefully timed, brilliantly executed and covered more ground than most groups touch upon in their entire careers.

    Zappa's total control over his musicians was obvious. One might think they need driving mirrors, but somehow they interpret the shifts of mood, and texture, and slip into tempo changes with effortless ease. Some of the humour, largely dealing with sex, was of the schoolboy dirty story level, and tended to become rather wearying, but whenever this threatened to loom too large there was a swift return to music, and THAT was never boring.

1. From these two shows on November 29 the early one was taped and is available at zappateers.

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