Sound — 10
The overall sound of this album is fantastic, classic Zappa. My favorite lineup of the Mothers is featured heavily on this album, that would be the '74 lineup from a filming for a television special in L.A., featuring Napoleon Murphy Brock, George Duke, Ruth Underwood, Chester Thompson, Tom Fowler, and of course, Zappa. Two songs on this album are from a show at the Palladium in NYC on Halloween night, 1981, and this lineup features Ed Mann, Tommy Mars, Bobby Martin, Scott Thunes, Steve Vai, Chad Wackerman and Ray White. The instrumentation on this album is superb, a sound that wouldn't scare people away. Great solos on every song that features one, especially the dueling guitar solos between Zappa and Vai on the track "Stevie's Spanking".
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics on this album are exactly what you would expect from this time in Zappa's career, humorous, smart, sexually focused (imagine that), and they don't ever get boring. 01. "A Token of My Extreme" (Vamp) - No real lyrics here, just some improvised on the spot ones by Napoleon and George, used as an introduction to the show, introducing the man himself, Zappa. 02. "Stevie's Spanking" - A song that's good for a laugh about Steve Vai hooking up with a groupie from Notre Dame who he wants to be spanked by. The music is a dead giveaway that this is one of the tracks from '81, but it suits the lyrics very well. 03. "The Dog Breath Variations" - No lyrics, just an instrumental interpretation of one of Zappa's earlier songs from the Uncle Meat album. 04. "Uncle Meat" - Again, no lyrics, just an instrumental interpretation of one of Zappa's earlier pieces from the Uncle Meat album. 05. "Stink-Foot" - A great tune, originally on Apostrophe ('). It's an almost bluesy tune with great, funny lyrics and a great solo by Zappa. One of the cool things about this arrangement is the vocal effect used by Zappa in the verses. 06. "Easy Meat" - The second of two songs from the '81 show, this song is another one that's very sexually focused in it's lyrics. A good solo (well it may be more than one solo, I believe Zappa and Vai trade off solos) but it can get a little boring after a while, the song is nearly seven minutes after all. 07. "Montana" - A classic from Over-Nite Sensation. Some of the best lyrics Zappa ever had are in this song. Dental floss is apparently one of the best song topics ever written about, as proven in this track. This is a shorter version of the song, but it still has a great solo in it. Also a little fun fact, "Montana" is track number 7 on both this album, and the one it is originally from. 08. "Inca Roads" - What can I say about this song that hasn't already been said in the One Size Fits All review? It is one of Zappa's best, with great solos from both him and George Duke. The singing is some of the best ever recorded in my opinion. They're sort of soulful, but they aren't soul lyrics. Either way, one of my favorite tracks from the album. 09. "Room Service" - A more than likely improvised piece, as it is just a conversation between Zappa and Napoleon. Some people may not like this track because it is just talking, but I really love this one because you can tell how much fun the band is having in this one. Probably one of my favorites from the album. 10. "Cosmik Debris" - Another fantastic piece from Apostrophe ('). A great blues song, with great lyrics, and great solos, especially the sax solo played through an envelope filter. The sax solo is reminiscent of the bass clarinet solo in an earlier version of this song from '73. This is without a doubt one of the best songs on this album. 11. "Florentine Pogen" - The closing track of this album is a ten minute grand finale. While I have never really been a fan of this song, it is a fitting closing to one of Zappa's best live albums (the other ones being You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 2 and Roxy & Elsewhere).
Overall Impression — 9
Arguably one of Zappa's greatest live albums he's ever recorded. A good fit for somebody just entering the world of Zappa. The only parts of this album I don't really like are the bits from the '81 Halloween show. An otherwise perfect album, those two tracks are the weak spots, the Zappa Family Trust should've either: a.) left off the two '81 tracks or b.) replace them with other tracks from around the time of the other nine. However, since I have no say in that matter, I'll just accept it and enjoy the album as it is.