Black Napkins

FZ album(s) in which song has appeared:

Tour(s) on which song is known to have been performed (main source: FZShows, v. 7.1):

Comments:

FZ Plays FZ (1996) liner notes by Dweezil

When Frank was asked whether or not he felt he had written or recorded anything that was unique or special to him he replied, "Yes." He then mentioned the names of 3 guitar instrumentals; "Black Napkins," "Zoot Allures" and "Watermelon In Easter Hay". He considered these his 'signature pieces'.

FZ introducing the song live in FZ Plays FZ (1996) (november 1975):

This is an instrumental song, it's a tender, slow-moving, ballad sort of a song... that carries with it the implied message that the complete woman must also have an asshole...

Touring versions from Foggy G's We're Only In It For The Touring:

1975-76: One of the highlights of the tour, and one of the unreleased gems from Frank's touring repertoire. This tune is essentially a hybrid of "Sleep Dirt" and "Blacks Napkins". The tune begins with the two chord progression which appears on the "Sleep Dirt" album track, and this constitutes the basic structure of the song. Once this vamp is established, Frank plays a subtler, darker version of the "Black Napkins" theme, and it is around this theme that the solos are based. Brock goes first (blowing his sax), followed by Lewis (pounding his keys), followed by Frank (plucking his strings). After Frank's first (shorter) solo, the band returns to the main "Sleep Dirt" theme, before heading into a more fully realized version of "Blacks Napkins". At this point, Frank dives in with his longer, more "Black Napkins"-esque solo. Unfortunately, this pairing of songs only lasts for approximately a week, before the "Sleep Dirt" portion is dropped and the "Black Napkins" we know and love takes its place, essentially performed as on "Zoot Allures", or as on FZPTMOFZ, for those of you who shelled out the 27 dollars. Early in the tour, this is a FZ guitar solo vehicle only. Eventually, Napoleon's saxophone enters the scene, which is responsible for taking the first of the two solos. The edited performance on "Zoot Allures" (from 2/3 Osaka) originally contained a Brock solo, and a lengthier FZ excursion. At several performances during the Fall portion of the tour, Frank recites either the lyrics to "Packard Goose" or "Tryin' To Grow A Chin" over the opening vamp.

1976-77: A solo tour-de-force. Things start off nice and calm, with the short opening vamp followed by Frank playing a simple, understated version of the main theme. Once through the theme, Frank picks up the pace, and gives us a short, in-yer-face typical "Black Napkins"workout. Bianca, during her short stint, would open the improv festivities with some smooth and low jazz singing. Next up, and first in the Bianca-less days, Jobson then steps up and shows us how to satisfy on the violin, proving that not all violin solos have to sound the same (yeah, Ponty). Finally, we get Frank again. Using a clear and simple sound, Frank slowly creates a beautiful, very understated guitar solo, taking his time to make his point, yet eventually reaching more intense heights thanks in part to his propulsive rhythm section. "Pink Napkins" from SUNPYG is an extract from this tour's "Black Napkins", and aptly conveys the restrained sense of playing that Frank usually treated this solo. Coming hot-on-the-heels of Jobson's typically incendiary workouts, Frank manages to impress without Freaking Out, bringing the energy level back down low before slowly raising it up once again.

1977-78: Quite an awesome way to close a show, I must say. This tune pops up sporadically thorughout the tour, raising its passionate head at the tail end of certain concerts, sending the lucky audience members home with smiles plastered across their faces. I just finished listening to the 10/2 performance, and man, is Frank on for this song. I have yet to hear a disappointing "Black Napkins" from this tour. The tune starts off nice and calm, with the standard opening vamp setting the scene for Frank, who plays an understated version of the main theme. Deceptive almost, this restrained playing by Frank, who, upon finishing the head, would pour forth a torrent of notes and noises that would make even the most ardent of "Dinah-Mo Humm" fans numb with awe. Simply Frank at his best, playing guitar as if nothing else in the world matters, or even exists.

1978: This tour's version of this was arranged similarly to the '88 version, in that the song would begin with an opening vamp that the band would play until Frank dove in and started playing the actual theme. Once the theme was played, it was time for Frank to shine, and he would wail away on the guitar, the band supporting him. Upon finishing his solo, he would return to the theme, and the tune would conclude. The 10/13 performance is a veritable monster, with Frank simply refusing to stop playing his guitar.

1980 Mar-Jul: Essentially performed as on MAJNH, allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation, and with the standard deviation coming in the Frank-only solo. For this version, the band would play the opening vamp for approximately thirty seconds before delving into the main theme. Frank would take a particularly blistering solo, and lead the back back into the theme to conclude the tune.

1980 Oct-Dec: Essentially performed as on MAJNH, accounting for obvious differences in instrumentation, and with the standard deviation coming in the Frank-only solo. For this version, the band would play the opening vamp for approximately thirty seconds before delving into the main theme. Frank would take a particularly blistering solo, and lead the back back into the theme to conclude the tune.

1981-82: Essentially performed as on "As An Am" from Beat the Boots volume one, with the standard deviation coming in the Frank's guitar solo. For this tune, the band would play the opening vamp for approximately thirty seconds—sort-of a little warm-up—before playing the main theme. Frank would solo after the theme, and the band would return back to the theme once Frank's solo was complete.

1984: For the most part, played as on MAJNH, accounting for the obvious differences in instrumentation. The song began with around thirty seconds of the pre-theme vamp, similar to the one found on MAJNH. After this came the main theme, which was only played once through, before Frank departed from the theme and took off into solo territory. Essentially, this tune was played simply as a vehicle for a guitar solo, which was obvious by the speed at which Frank and the band headed towards the solo spot. And as always, upon finishing the solo, Frank would return to the main theme with band in tow, and the song would conclude.

SLEEP DIRT/BLACK NAPKINS—How in the world did this get in here? For some reason (and whatever it is we thank it), Frank—in Dallas on December 13th—decides to bring back a song that had not seen the light of day since 1975. This song is essentially a blending of the above tunes. The band begins the affair by playing a vamp (reggae style, of course) based on Bird Legs' two chord progression from the original. Once this is established, Frank plays the melody line—a subtler, less obvious rendition of "Black Napkins". As in the latter tune, Frank plays this theme two times, before veering off into his solo, and then returning to the theme when his soloing is complete. While this version is not that long, with Frank's solo not being all that impressive, this performance is still great to hear simply for the complete rarity of it. Plus, in spite of the reggae curse, the subdued nature of the tune really stands apart from the majority of this tour's repertoire, and shows a whole other side to this band.

1988: Essentially performed as on MAJNH, with the standard deviation coming in the solos. Unfortunately, Frank chose to edit his guitar solo out of the officially released version. This is a decision I have mixed feelings about. While it would have been nice to have a complete version of this song, with all solos intact, I feel that considering the performance he chose to release, editing his solo out was a good decision. The two horn solos are almost perfect, and Frank's solo at this show really did not meet up with the now-set standards. If he had chosen a different performance, or edited in another solo, that may have worked. But judging things based on this performance alone, I think Frank—for once—made a good decision. Early in the tour (2/9), this song is given a single Monster performance, with the middle section of the tune veering off into the improvisational heaven normally reserved for the regular batch of Monster Songs.

 

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