This day attention is given to the posthumously released live-album Buffalo by Frank Zappa. It is the recording of the show Frank Zappa and band gave on October 25th, 1980. A dizzyingly good show and scarily perfect performances of Zappa’s later work.
1979 was one of the busiest years of Zappa’s entire career. No less than 5 albums were released, a number of them being double albums: Sleep Dirt, Sheik Yerbouti, Orchestral Favorites, Joe’s Garage Act I and Joe’s Garage Acts II & III. 1980 was, with 1977 and 1990, one of the three years no Zappa album was released. In 1981 5 album were released also: Tinsel Town Rebellion, Shut Up ‘N Play Yer Guitar, Shut Up ‘N Play Yer Guitar Some More, Return Of The Son Of Shut Up ‘N Play Yer Guitar and You Are What You Is.
1980 did see another release, the song I Don’t Wanna Get Drafted!, a response to president Carter’s decision to reinstate the draft. Record company Mercury didn’t agree to release the song, so Zappa established the label Barking Pumpkin and released the single independently (which reached position 3 in the Swedish charts).
Fall Tour 80
From October 10th to December 11th, 1980, Frank Zappa toured the US and Canada, under the moniker Fall Tour 80. A total of 51 shows were staged, 60 songs were played and 49 cities were visited. As was to be expected from Zappa, the band that went along on tour was of an almost alien level. Veterans Ike Willis and Ray White were there, as well as newcomer (stunt)guitar player Steve Vai and, arguably the most complete drummer to ever play with Zappa, Vinnie Colaiuta.
Whether or not this was his best band, I can’t tell, it’s a matter of preference I guess, but the fact is that the band raced through the setlist filled with enthusiasm, perfectionism, fun and ‘next level’ musicianship. The tempo was killing, breaks abound, providing room for experiment, even though it was less than previous tours. A fairly large number of songs, that were released in the following year, were played also.
Zappa connoisseurs don’t regard this tour to be one of his best, yet nowhere near a bad tour as well. Steve Vai and the return of Vinnie Colaiuta are mentioned as the great rewards, as well as Zappa’s solos during this tour. It’s quite remarkable that Zappa’s musical hunger is explicitly mentioned. My personal favorite Zappa period lies around 1976/1977 (for now anyway). When I stumbled upon this cd I found it to be a revelation, which I still think to this day.
October 25th, 1980
Frank Zappa and band were in Buffalo, New York and played at the Memorial Auditorium that night. A 2 hours and 20 minutes show, 26 songs, filled with fearless top level music. An impressive show, which shows an incredibly sounding band, technically as well as effort wise. Up until the very last second the band is tight, focused and perfect. A funny detail is that Zappa can’t remember parts of the lyric of Honey, Don’t You Want A Man Like Me?, which must have been a rare occasion.
The night’s recordings were released on April 1st, 2007, on the Vaulternative album. Album number 80 (!), perfect sound quality of a show that’s dizzyingly sublime. Very highly recommended!
All songs written by Frank Zappa.
- Chunga’s Revenge
- You Are What You Is
- Mudd Club
- The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing
- Cosmik Debris
- Keep It Greasy
- Tinsel Town Rebellion
- Buffalo Drowning Witch
- Honey, Don’t You Want A Man Like Me?
- Pick Me, I’m Clean
- Dead Girls Of London
- Shall We Take Ourselves Seriously?
- City Of Tiny Lites
- Easy Meat
- Ain’t Got No Heart
- The Torture Never Stops
- Broken Hearts Are For Assholes
- I’m So Cute
- Joe’s Garage
- Dancing Fool
- The “Real World” Thematic Extrapolations
- Stick It Out
- I Don’t Wanna Get Drafted
- Bobby Brown
- Ms Pinky
- Frank Zappa – (lead)guitar, vocals
- Steve Vai – (stunt)guitar, background vocals
- Ray White – vocals, rhythm guitar
- Ike Willis – vocals, rhythm guitar
- Tommy Mars – keyboards, vocals
- Bob Harris – keyboards, trumpet, high vocals
- Arthur Barrow – bass & vocals
- Vinnie Colaiuta – drums, vocals
What do you think of this recording, the release and the show? Let me know!
This story contains an accompanying video. Click on the following link to see it: Video: Today in 1980 Frank Zappa performed in Buffalo. The A Pop Life playlist on Spotify has been updated as well.
Frank Zappa 1980 image: imgur.com
Frank Zappa – I don’t Wanna Get Drafted! image: wikipedia.org
Frank Zappa – Fall Tour 80 tour program image: afka.net
Frank Zappa – Ticket 10/25/1980 image: ebay.com
Frank Zappa – Buffalo, Frank Zappa – Buffalo – Inner sleeve images: zappa.com