The Black Page

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:

Terry Bozzio (interviewed by Andrew Greenaway, September 17, 1992):

He wrote it because we had done this 40-piece orchestra gig together [The Abnuceals Orchestra] and he was always hearing the studio musicians in LA that he was using on that talking about the fear of going into sessions some morning and being faced with 'the black page'. So he decided to write his 'Black Page'. Then he gave it to me, and I could play parts of it right away. But it wasn't a pressure thing, it just sat on my music stand and for about 15 minutes every day for 2 weeks before we would rehearse I would work on it. And after 2 weeks I had it together and I played it for him. And he said, "Great!" took it home, wrote the melody and the chord changes, brought it back in. And we all started playing it.

FZ introducing "The Black Page #2" in Zappa In New York (1978):

This song was originally constructed as a drum solo... that's right... now, after Terry learned how to play it, the Black Page, on the drum set, I figured, well... maybe it would be good for other instruments... so I wrote a melody that went along with the drum solo... and that turned into The Black Page, Part One, the Hard Version... then I said, well... what about the other people in the world who might enjoy the melody of the Black Page, but couldn't really approach its statistical density in its basic form? So, I went to work and constructed a little ditty which is now being set up for you at this little disco type vamp... this is The Black Page, Part Two, the Easy Teenage New York Version...

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

1977-78: Essentially performed as on "Baby Snakes", with the standard deviation coming in Frank's introduction and explanation of the tune. Of course, we get the occasional audience participation, with certain brave souls attempting to dance in the face of these complex rhythms.

1978: Essentially played as on "Baby Snakes", though with a little more ooomph!, as both the song and the band were more experienced by this time (new band, yes, but I attribute the strength of this version partially to this band's surefootedness). "Audience Participation" occurred at least once on 10/27—the early show—but apart from that, the intro to this song at least included a challenge to the audience to either a) keep the beat by clapping, or b) dance without stopping, for the duration of the tune.

1979: Jon Naurin with this—just in—"Towards the end of the tour, The Black Page starts to appear in setlists. Surprisingly, these are probably the least tight versions I've heard, and Vinnie might be to blame. He's pretty far out sometimes, which is cool, but some of the other players seem disturbed. Apart from this, it's pretty identical to how it sounded previous tours (I don't think Warren plays on it)."

1981: A guitar monster. Until sometime between November 1st and the 13th (anyone know the exact date?), the solo vamp was the same as the one used on the "As An Am" version of this song. A pretty straightforward vamp, producing a nice segue out of the actual tune itself. Then, from sometime in that period through the rest of the tour, we get the "Them or Us" vamp that was used on the YCDTOSA Volume V version. As far as the solos go, they were all consistently excellent throughout the tour, though with the change of vamp they become a little more experimental and "out there". They never reached the frenetic peaks that the '82 solos frequently did, but they were chaotic excursions, nonetheless.

1982: A guitar monster. Essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volume V, with the standard deviation coming in the monster guitar solo/jam. The vamp for this tour was the "Them Or Us" version, and I don't know what it is about this vamp, but it never failed to produce guitar madness. These solo sections remind me of waves hitting the coast during a particularly bad storm. The waves are all essentially the same, but they each have their own traits, and do their own damage. More importantly, each wave adds to the overall effect of the damage, producing potentially massive changes in the coastline. Likewise, the "Black Page" Them or Us solos. Yes, the same vamp is repeated over and over, but each separate section of the vamp has its own traits, and adds its own little flavor to the jam. Again, more importantly, each section adds to the overall effect of the jam, numbing the listener into a state of complete surrender. This allows Frank to solo like a madman, producing potentially massive changes in the way you view the world. However, I digress. Seriously, though, just listen to the aforementioned release (which truly is one of the better BP outings), and you get an idea of the kind of mania that this song included. Also, "Move It or Park It", "Which One Is It?", and "Do Not Try This At Home" from the "Guitar" album are all "The Black Page #2" extracts.

1984: Essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volume IV, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. Towards the beginning of the tour, this tune was frequently played as the show opener, starting cold just like it does on the aforementioned release (i.e. no "New Age Version" type intro section). Rather abrupt beginning, and kind of jarring, so Frank saw fit to move it towards the middle of the set by about the second week. It flowed much better there. Note that when he chose to open the '88 tour with it, he essentially rewrote the tune to make it more appropriate for the opening slot.

1988: Essentially performed as on MAJNH, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. In the context of an actual show, the opening vamp is returned to after the song proper, at which point Frank gives the band introductions and, during the US shows, his spiel about voter registration. This is the second most performed song of the tour, and only appears as a show opener.

Conceptual Continuity:

FZ: "A melody that sounds like the missing link between Uncle Meat and The Be-Bop Tango."

 

Site maintained by Román García Albertos
http://globalia.net/donlope/fz/
This page updated: 2014-03-27