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Preliminary Footwear?

Believe it or not, Sinister Footwear II was rehearsed by the Summer 1980 band - although at this stage, Vinnie Colaiuta was still around. People always seem to put down David Logeman, and while I agree that he wasn't anything fantastic, he could still hold his own during a song. I understand that he was a necessary stand-in for Colaiuta and had only a few weeks to learn the material, so in some ways it's not surprising that the songs present on this tour were the straightforward YAWYI stuff. However, I think Zappa was moving in this direction anyway, as most of the songs would have been written many weeks or even months before the tour began. The main problem I have with this particular tour is that if FZ had used the guitars of Ike Willis and Ray White to fuller effect, he would have had a bigger sounding band and taken some of the weight off of the other players. As it transpired, Arthur Barrow and Tommy Mars were left with trying to support entire songs on their own, which they did to the best of their outstanding abilities, but you still get the feeling you're listening to a trio plus singers.

Anyway, this arrangement from a 1980 rehearsal tape is similar in structure to the Them Or Us version, at least for the first minute or so. The opening arpeggios are played (somewhat precariously) on piano, with just bass and drums to back them up - indeed, the entire arrangement seems to be just rhythm section and keys. The melody portion of the next section - Steve Vai's guitar part - is given to Barrow's chorused bass, and the Wild Love extract actually sounds pretty good - Mars' holds chords with his left hand whilst playing the dextrously difficult melodies on a typical brass synth patch.

From here, the song structure as we know it disappears, and there is a tentative FZ solo over the previous chord progressions. Whether or not the postlude melody was written at this stage, I don't know, but you can just pick out a few of the closing chords before the song ends.

An interesting and embryonic performance of a song that would turn up later in a much revised edition.

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