The Record Room / The Rubber Room / Archives / 07-08-2011 / Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned on Freak Out!

Topie: Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned on Freak Out! Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
December 15th, 2010 05:22 PM
IanWagner Chronology 1968 Part 3

On March 4th, 1968, We're Only In It For The Money was finally issued, the problems with the sleeve design worked out to MGM's satisfaction. For once, the company gave the album a sufficient amount of promotion, and it achieved a chart high of #30, a major commercial success for Zappa and The Mothers. It wouldn't be until 1974 that this success would be surpassed.
At the beginning of 1968, adman and Zappa documentarian Ed Seeman had to return to his own career focus, and stopped actively filming the group. Zappa retained control of the footage for his own Uncle Meat film project, but Seeman was given the goahead to create his own edits of the footage, and to screen them on a limited basis. Two Seeman-created edits exist, of 3 and 42-minute duration. There is also a mythical 14-hour version under the Uncle Meat moniker, but this probably refers to the entirety of the material shot to that point.
Zappa continued to work on his own version of the footage, but with limited funds at his disposal, the process was slow going. He would show some of the footage during his April shows at the Fillmore, conducting the band along to the scenes, just as he had at the 1963 Mt. St. Mary's concert with his avant-garde home movies.
Zappa's vision for the film far exceeded the silent footage with dubbed music that was the result of Seeman's work. An entire story was conceived for Uncle Meat, and Zappa would spend the next two years trying to raise money to film additional scenes with sync sound. Eventually, this would occur, but two years in the future, after the "soundtrack" album had been finished and the original Mothers disbanded.
In the spring, more overdub sessions for the Meat album took place, including percussion work by Art Tripp and Ruth Komanoff.
Having spent a long year in New York, Zappa was now ready to move back to LA, and a warmer and more receptive climate. The final move would be made in May, but before that, an extensive tour to support the release of Money was scheduled.
Whereas manager Herb Cohen had previously scrambled to find consistent live work for The Mothers, the high-profile success of Money assured the band a steady income on the touring circuit. This punishing cycle of tours would be a staple of Zappa's career through 1984.
This spring tour was also the first of Zappa's to be extensively documented, from both audience and soundboard sources. Fans were finally catching up to their overseas equivalents in terms of amateur recording equipment.
And just because the group were ostensibly promoting the Money album, that didn't mean their live setlists would reflect that LP. Little to nothing from their "Top 40 hit" would be played.
The group played a few nights at the Fillmore East near the end of April, a type of farewell to their residency in the city. At least one show, on the 19th, was recorded from the soundboard. But of this, only a short excerpt lasting less than a minute has been issued, on the Mystery Disc collection. This consists of a trademark Mothers vocal improv, followed by Zappa's proclamation: "Please, won't somebody go to bed with Jimmy Carl Black. A desperate Indian if ever I've seen one!".
Both shows on the 20th were recorded from the audience. Unfortunately, these recordings aren't exactly hi-fidelity, being noisy, distorted and muffled in equal measure, but they are nonetheless important. Firstly, they are the first extensive documents of the live Mothers since the fall 1967 overseas venture. And they are the first real document of Zappa's confrontational relationship with rowdy New York audiences, as perfected at the Garrick Theater.
These shows are wild improvisational rides, with any semblance of a setlist thrown to the winds, a frequent feature of New York Mothers performances.
Zappa's live shows were notable for taking more of a recital approach than anything resembling a slick rock show. Each show would begin with a long section of tuning, followed by an explanatory introduction from Frank.
At this show, he explains that the group's approach is now much different to the last time they played in the city, relying less on comedy routines and more on instrumental improvisation. He mentions that the previous night's audience showed disapproval, and gives a patronising explanation of the mentality of rock audiences. The audience applauds this, except for one heckler, to which Frank responds "Eat a big dick!".
As promised, the music begins with an instrumental improvisation conducted by Zappa, featuring Bunk Gardner, Art Tripp and Don Preston. This is a bracing combination of free jazz and electronic noise. During this, quotes from a Zappa piece entitled Interlude and Varese's Octandre are interpolated.
After about seven minutes, Zappa then surprisingly takes a sharp musical left turn into Trouble Every Day, in a powerful 10-minute jam version that ends in drawn-out feedback.
Status Back Baby follows. Frank explains the group's process of conducted spontaneous onstage composition. He then introduces the Garrick-era silent piece Dead Air, which lasts about a minute before he instructs Preston to "play some concerto shit". Don responds with a bit of Brahms' Lullabye.
Amid audience rowdiness, Zappa cues up Louie Louie, which after one chorus becomes the original arrangement of Plastic People. Introducing a demonstration of musical cliches, Ray Collins begins singing the bridge section of You're Lost That Lovin' Feeling. Zappa leads the audience in a singalong of "gotta, gotta, gotto" and "baby, baby". The Louie vamp continues, over which Zappa's dialogue with the audience reaches a fever pitch.
A telling choice for a next song is America Drinks, a perfect match for the talkative mood of the audience. An utterly monstrous 25-minute King Kong follows, ending the main set.
Highlighting this is a particularly thunderous percussion improvisation. The audience rapturously receives this, demanding an encore.
Introducing the final song of the performance, Zappa states "We realise that some of you may be less enthused than others about what we do. We will play this song for the people who like what we do. The rest of you can fuck off". The song is Hungry Freaks Daddy, an ancient relic at this point, but performed well.
The late show begins with a short intro from Bill Graham, followed by an intially lyrical, guitar-led improvisation which soon becomes a chaotic, twisted jazz excursion quoting Blue Moon, I'm In The Mood For Love and The Rite Of Spring.
After five minutes, Zappa plays the main theme of Absolutely Free and then leads the band into a rare live performance of Duke Of Prunes. The second, rave-up section of the Prunes suite is also played, featuring a long Preston solo improv.
A nearly fifteen-minute spontaneous composition follows, full of electronic screeches, percussive crescendoes and horn squawks, eventually fully degenerating into guitar tuning.
The stage medley familiar from the Stockholm '67 show is then played, featuring You Didn't Try To Call Me, Petroushka, Bristol Stomp, Baby Love and Big Leg Emma.
Beginning another improvisation, Zappa cues the band into a lounge-styled piece, over which the mythical character LaMarr Bruister is referred to. The music then morphs into a take on Easter Parade.
When this breaks down, Zappa begins Hungry Freaks Daddy, followed by an 18-minute King Kong, which concludes with a conducted vocal improv.
Frank asks for some "Hawaiian music" and receives another mutant and cacophonous excursion, which quotes the theme from the 60's TV show Hawaiian Eye. As unpredictable as ever, Zappa then cues a short version of Junior Walker and the All-Stars' Shotgun, likely to have been a part of the group's club sets in the early Pomona days.
Over this vamp, Frank then begins playing the melody of a wonderful new composition, Holiday In Berlin, derived from themes heard in the score for The World's Greatest Sinner. This work would be fully developed and recorded later in the year for the Burnt Weeny Sandwich album, but what is heard at the Fillmore is a tentative early stab, clearly early in the process. It takes a while for Frank to wrest the group from the Shotgun groove, but he eventually manages to pull the horns in, then the rhythm section. At this stage, the work is mainly another platform for guitar and horn solos.
After nearly eight minutes, Berlin cools down and Zappa counts into another live debut, the recently recorded Uncle Meat composition Cruising For Burgers. On Meat, this piece featured vocals, but it was clearly originally conceived as an instrumental work, and is played live in that form. Another of Zappa's most engaging and lovely themes, Burgers would again be tied to Berlin for live performances by later Mothers lineups, suggesting the two pieces were originally part of a suite. This relatively tight performance of Burgers concludes the show.
These Fillmore recordings highlight the differences between the polite, quiet audiences on the overseas tour of 1967, and the noisy, outright rude crowds the group faced in America, particularly in New York. This seems to justify all of Zappa's harsh critiques of US audiences.
After the Fillmore, the tour continued, and was next documented in audio form eight nights later, from the soundboard at Detroit's famed Grande Ballroom.
December 15th, 2010 05:23 PM
Jon wrote:

YOU CAN'T CUT THAT LINE! You can't cut a single line out of that movie. Oh my god.

Will it ever get a proper DVD release? Is that in the capricious hands of Gail Zappa?

I like Gail. It is in the hands of MGM.
December 15th, 2010 05:25 PM
Beckner wrote:
I'm downloading it now, I've not ever seen it, but weirdo movies with Ringo cameos are like MY FUCKIN' FORTE.

Seen Son Of Dracula and Sextette?
December 15th, 2010 05:28 PM
Jon wrote:

It's not a cameo. He stars in it. As Frank Zappa. Keith Moon is a cameo. He threatens to OD while wearing a nun's habit. It is one of the best movies ever made. Possibly my favorite music-related film.

December 15th, 2010 05:29 PM
IanWagner wrote:

Seen Son Of Dracula and Sextette?

No, but I've never even heard of the latter. I still need to see "Candy," cum to think of it.
December 15th, 2010 05:38 PM
Beckner wrote:

No, but I've never even heard of the latter. I still need to see "Candy," cum to think of it.

Just never watch Blindman. But, back to Zappa.
December 16th, 2010 01:07 AM
IanWagner wrote:

I like Gail. It is in the hands of MGM.

I like Gail quite a bit. She is slow, but when stuff comes out, they do it up absolutely right.
December 16th, 2010 09:12 AM
Jon And by "slow" I mean "careful and methodical," not "stupid." Not at all.
December 16th, 2010 12:09 PM
Steak If they ever do 200 Motels DVD the right way it should be a Criterion Collection double with all the extra footage from the "True Story of..." VHS that was on Honker Home Video.
December 16th, 2010 12:59 PM
S Giacomelli Well, Gail sez

We do not own 200 MOTELS but then again, neither does Tony Palmer and that fact does not seem to have deterred from his self-appointed rounds. Ah well. We can only hope! We do have a deal in place that should MGM decide that they want the deluxe version with all the bells and whistles they can ask us to help them out. But again, they do not have to do that.

December 16th, 2010 01:06 PM
S Giacomelli
Jon wrote:

I like Gail quite a bit. She is slow, but when stuff comes out, they do it up absolutely right.

Yeah, but when you average it out, there's been no less than 2 releases per year since he passed. Not many living artist can manage that!
Yeah, Gail does it up.
December 16th, 2010 02:58 PM
halleluwah I listened to We're Only In it For the Money last night for the first time in years and years (I don't think I really 'got' it when I first heard it in my early 20s), and was pretty floored by it. This was the first time I heard it with the knowledge that Frank's singing everything himself on there, because just based on the aural evidence there, I really never would have guessed. The vocal manipulations on there are so effective that it really does sound like the band has about three different singers, one of whom sounds like Frank. But what really knocked me over was just how beautiful so much of the music is on there, and I kind of wonder how I missed that before. There are so many bits in there where the music has a sort of spectral beauty--Mom and Dad, Take Your Clothes off When You Dance, Let's Make the Water Turn Black (only Zappa could put in a part that eerily lovely in a song about flicking snot onto windows), Absolutely Free, etc. And so much of it is so hilarious (particularly the dead-on Winchester Cathedral and Hey Joe parodies...those kill me) that it is easy to miss out initially on how serious so much of it is. I mean, there really isn't anything funny about Mom and Dad at all, for instance, but to varying degrees, the whole thing teeters on the balance between goofiness and totally serious subject matter, often all at the same time. Like, Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance seems like a really positive expression of actual hope, but one of the unison lead vocals is sped up in a really exaggerated fashion to give it the Alvin and the Chipmunks sound. But the song's no less moving for it.

It's funny; for a long time, everything I'd ever really heard about Zappa painted him as a sort of bloodless, self-consciously unemotional intellectual with a strong streak of cruelty in his satirical humor, and I think that really unfairly filtered the way I heard his music. Like, I'd put on his records with a pre-arranged mindset that I'd be hearing something that was a completely intellectual exercise, and I think because of that, I was more shut out to the actual humanity on display there than I should have been. I admired Frank's stuff a lot from a musical standpoint, and chuckled at his humor, but the concept of it being something I could actually feel and relate to was not something I was open to when I first tried these albums out years ago. So in a way, I feel like this thread marks the first time I've actually really "heard" these early Zappa albums, even though I've owned them and been at least somewhat familiar with most of them for years. So yeah, cool stuff.
December 16th, 2010 02:59 PM
S Giacomelli wrote:

Yeah, but when you average it out, there's been no less than 2 releases per year since he passed. Not many living artist can manage that!
Yeah, Gail does it up.

ALL the project/object records have been phenomenal, just exemplary. But then there's the "Congress Shall Pass No Law"'s like she puts out the amazing stuff, and then puts out something head-scratching just to confuse the faithful. But that's Frank's way, I guess!

December 16th, 2010 03:00 PM
S Giacomelli Beautiful, halleluwah!
December 16th, 2010 03:08 PM
S Giacomelli
Jon wrote:
ALL the project/object records have been phenomenal, just exemplary. But then there's the "Congress Shall Pass No Law"'s like she puts out the amazing stuff, and then puts out something head-scratching just to confuse the faithful. But that's Frank's way, I guess!

Yeah, that's the only one I don't have. If I had just a little more discretionary income, I'd get it. It's a lot of HISTORICAL value, sure. I know I'll eventually get it for the synclavier snippets. Some of the other stuff that haters be hatin' on (Joe's Domage) I was ALL ABOUT, though.
December 16th, 2010 03:11 PM
S Giacomelli wrote:
Beautiful, halleluwah!

That type of re-evalutation of Zappa's actual talents, and actual place in musical (and rock) history, is why this thread was undertaken.
December 16th, 2010 03:14 PM
S Giacomelli wrote:
Well, Gail sez

... as an addendum to all of that, MGM is practically bankrupt these days if not already, right?
December 16th, 2010 03:50 PM
IanWagner Yes, and it is ironic that the 200 Motels film would eventually come under the stewardship of MGM, a company Zappa had so many difficulties with in the 60's.
December 16th, 2010 04:52 PM
IanWagner Chronology 1968 Part 4

On April 28th, 1968, The Mothers played Detroit's legendary Grande Ballroom. A tape of this show was made from the stage by Don Preston. This method was utilised to capture possible material for use on future album projects. As the material played was mostly instrumental, the buried vocal sound inherent in a stage recording was not seen as a problem.
The show begins with Zappa's introduction of a live debut, Mr. Green Genes. This composition had already been recorded for Uncle Meat, and on that album would feature a set of impressionistic lyrics. But the theme was clearly originally written in instrumental form, and the lyrics of the studio take somewhat obscure one of Zappa's most beautiful, emotional melodies. Perhaps as a result, the song would be rerecorded for Hot Rats as an instrumental, which all live performances of Green Genes would be as well. In Zappa's introduction, he hails the title character, a regular fixture of the children's program Captain Kangaroo. Genes is a perfect opener for this show, a long, nearly languid stretch-out solo vehicle featuring the talents of Bunk Gardner, Ian Underwood and Zappa.
The familiar stage pieces Hungry Freaks Daddy, America Drinks and King Kong are then played. After about nine minutes of Kong, the song splinters into a conducted improvisatory segment. From the audience reaction and certain comments made by Zappa during this section (criticising the military, the president and America itself), it is likely that there was film footage being shown, which Zappa was conducting the group to.
Growing slowly out of a twirling Don Preston electric piano solo is the Handsome Cabin Boy/Wedding Dress Song medley, the latter of which is given a high-flying rendition, again showcasing the horns and woodwinds.
As the vamp continues, Zappa leads the horns through a statement of the theme for a new composition, Little House I Used To Live In. This is another extremely memorable instrumental melody, an example of Zappa's exploding creativity in that era. The piece would eventually be recorded for the Burnt Weeny Sandwich album, but in this Detroit performance, it is still in the process of development. After only a minute and a half, Zappa takes the group on a left turn into Status Back Baby, complete with the Petroushka midsection.
Frank introduces the Orange County Lumber Truck medley as a collection of themes from We're Only In It For The Money, Lumpy Gravy and "other stuff". This performance is mostly similar to the reading from Lund the previous year, tightly arranged and performed, again featuring the themes for Let's Make The Water Turn Black, Harry You're A Beast, Oh No and Truck itself. The major difference here is that Ray Collins sings the lyrics for Oh No that would appear on the studio recording of the song. During the closing Oh No and Lumber Truck segments, Zappa plays some searing lead guitar, which is unfortunately somewhat buried in the same manner as the vocals.
The frenzied jam on Truck concludes the performance.
Five nights later, the tour arrived in Denver, to play at that city's equivalent of the Family Dog "psychedelic" ballroom.
Another stage recording was made of this performance. Although the vocals were still buried, the guitar was fully present in the mix this time.
Parts of this show were included on the bootleg Electric Aunt Jemima, likely to be a Zappa construction "liberated" from his archives. He would copy this bootleg for release in the Beat The Boots series.
This wildly unpredictable set begins with an improvisation that includes two full statements of Octandre, interrupted by some twisted cocktail music, concluding with a fearsome crescendo over which the proclamation "AMERICA...SUCKS!" is delivered.
This leads into the Louie Louie arrangement of Plastic People, which eventually degenerates into another, wandering guitar-led take on Octandre over the vamp, followed by the horns stating the King Kong theme while Zappa plays the America Drinks medley simultaneously. After another Octandre crescendo, the group burst into a frenzied chorus of Wipe Out before the "medley" ends. One of the most crazily inspired Mothers live moments, this would be a highlight of the Jemima bootleg.
What follows is yet another bizarre improvised medley, built around a more tightly arranged and performed Little House I Used To Live In than the one heard in Detroit. Art Tripp is featured here on a thunderous tympani solo. A slowed-down take on the Dog Breath theme is played, which quickly breaks back into a faster statement of House. A lengthy, rumbling section features some excellent Zappa wah-wah lead guitar. After this, Zappa and Preston engage in a spirited staccato guitar-keyboard duel. This turns into a jaunty take on the pop standard Coquette, and then pieces of Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony, The Blue Danube Waltz. a truly warped statement of the midsection of Hungry Freaks Daddy, and the oft-Zappa-quoted Funiculi Funicula. The medley concludes with some percussion improvisations. This section would begin the Jemima bootleg.
Zappa begins Go Cry On Somebody Else's Shoulder, but unfortunately we only hear part of the intro before the tape cuts, into a fast, careening jam leaning towards the blues-rock vein. Ian Underwood takes a fine tenor sax solo on this, and more of Zappa's deft guitar work is heard as well. Part of this would appear on the Jemima bootleg.
Status Back Baby follows, unfortunately cut up on the source tape. An ultra-cool, late-night blues variation jam on the Trouble Every Day groove is heard next, which quickly breaks down into a series of blistering guitar and percussion solos. This was also included on the Jemima bootleg.
Zappa then begins to sing Duke Of Earl, and the band joins in with him, making for an extremely mutated, brief version of the late doo-wop classic.
A 16-minute King Kong follows, concluding the performance.
This wild ride of a Mothers show is one of the finest documents of the 60's edition of the group, in full improvisational flight. It is a must-hear for the Zappa fan, and/or any devotee of "jam"-oriented 60's music.
The tour over, Zappa and group then returned to Los Angeles, for the next phase of their career.
Other notable events from early 1968 not previously discussed included the group's unlikely scheduling as pre-show light entertainment at a Grammy Awards dinner (where Zappa told the audience "All year long you people manufacture this crap, and one night a year you've got to listen to it..your whole affair is nothing more than a lot of pompous hokum", and then confronted a sneering socialite woman by yelling in her face "YOU'RE A PIG!"). In April, the group had opened for Cream at the Chicago stop on their farewell tour, at Eric Clapton's invitation. This was most notable as the occasion where Zappa met the infamous penis-immortalising Plaster Casters, who would become good friends and a part of Zappa folklore.
When Zappa decided to make the move back to LA, his bandmates were again uprooted, but willingly followed their leader. This included the East-Coast based bandmembers hired during the New York era, Ian Underwood and Art Tripp (as well as Underwood's main squeeze Ruth Komanoff, who would shortly become his wife). Zappa also brought along two more people he had met in New York who had become central figures in his creative output of the era, designer/artist Cal Schenkel and engineer Dick Kunc.
The place chosen to house this motley assemblage was a legendary spot in Laurel Canyon lore, the log cabin previously owned in the 1920's by Western movie star Tom Mix. This structure housed 18 rooms, which was a perfect fit for Zappa and entourage, but went for a shockingly low rent, also to Zappa's liking.
Another famous part of the compound was Mix's small personal bowling alley. When Zappa and co. moved in, they unknowingly displaced the previous residents of the alley, a number which included past and future members of the Zappa world.
The main "resident" was none other then Carl Franzoni, a key member of Vito Paulekas's freak dancer-troupe that had been such a part of Zappa's early LA era. Franzoni had inherited the mantle of leader of the troupe when Paulekas moved to Europe following the tragic death of his son.
Later members of the group included three strange and quite distinctive women, by the names of Lucy, Sandra and Christine. These women befriended a pair of groupies that had just begun to haunt the clubs and concert halls of the LA music scene, Pamela Miller and her best friend Sparky.
These women would shorty form their own "outrageous" collective, The GTO's. When they paid an unannounced visit to Zappa shortly after he moved in, he and wife Gail were so impressed by both their image and willingness to help out with household chores, they were effectively hired as a permanent part of Zappa's inner circle in that era.
Just after he arrived back in LA, Zappa undertook an appearance on the local TV talk show hosted by Les Crane, a spot that has not survived the years.
On May 13th, Zappa's solo work Lumpy Gravy was finally issued by Verve-MGM. The company's promotion and distribution of the album was sparse and erratic. This, combined with the relative uncommerciality of the album, and the fact that The Mothers Of Invention was the moniker familiar to the record-buying public at this point, led to a miserable showing on the LP chart, a lowly peak of #159. This would be another nail in the coffin of Zappa's association with MGM.
It wasn't long before The Mothers headed out on the road again, to take part in Miami's first pop festival (though actually located in the nearby community Hallandale, in the middle of a racetrack).
A stage recording was made of this performance, and the section of the King Kong jam featuring Ian Underwood's titanic solo was used by Zappa as the concluding movement of the side-long Kong suite on the Uncle Meat album. Some amateur colour 8mm footage of the group's daylight performance also exists.
Filmed at some point shortly after Zappa's permanent move back to LA was his extremely memorable cameo in The Monkees' feature film Head.
In this, Zappa can be seen walking a cow, following one of Davy Jones' patented song-and-dance numbers. Zappa tells Jones: "That song was pretty white!", which Jones responds to by admitting "Yeah, but so am I, what can I tell ya?". Zappa then comments: "You've been working on your dancing, though!", and Jones proudly confirms this. Frank then tells him "You should work more on your music, because the youth of America depends on you to show the way". Davy responds "Yeah??", and the cow is seen to exclaim "MONKEES IS THE CRAAAAAA-ZIEST PEOPLE!" and Zappa and animal then walk into the distance.
This short cameo, also excerpted in audio form on the film's LP soundtrack, was one of the best moments in the film, lending it a touch of Zappa's artistic credibility and hip cachet. As the film would be a box-office disaster upon initial release, it probably didn't win Zappa many new fans, although he was featured on one of the poster designs. But Head would become a notable cult film, and Zappa's involvement is an essential element of the project.
On June 4th, another seemingly unlikely Zappa collaboration took place, with famed hippie archetype and Jefferson Airplane lead singer Grace Slick.
At Slick's invitation, Zappa, Ian Underwood, Don Preston and Art Tripp visited RCA's Hollywood studios, where sessions for the Airplane's upcoming Crown Of Creation LP.
Zappa was no fan of the Airplane or the SF rock scene, but Slick was a Mothers fan, and Zappa always relished the opportunity to work with rock superstars and to submerge them into his own soundworld.
The strange result of the session was the track Would You Like A Snack?. The backing track was a mutant-jazz improvisation featuring Preston on piano. Slick's dual vocal tracks featured her spoken-sung poem, a dense work that referred to her own menstrual cycle.
Though this was in effect a Mothers track with Slick on guest vocals, it was considered an Airplane work, as it took place during the group's booked session time. This was reflective of the splintering of the Airplane, with various members supervising their own sessions.
Snack was passed over for Crown Of Creation, but would eventually be issued on the band's archival box set Jefferson Airplane Loves You in the 1990's. Zappa would later reuse the title for a piece of his 200 Motels suite, though it bore no musical relation to the Slick collaboration.
Over the next month and a half, Zappa and friends got settled into their new log-cabin digs. He was working on the Uncle Meat footage, trying to wrestle it into some comprehensible form. From this time, some black-and-white footage exists, of Frank, Gail, Ray Collins and Cal Schenkel gathered together. This was excerpted in Frank's short film Burnt Weeny Sandwich, as well as the promo video for Peaches En Regalia.
In late July, The Mothers played a type of homecoming engagement at their old stomping ground The Whisky A-Go-Go, which had reverted back to a rock-centered booking policy in the group's absence.
On the night of the 23rd, a stage recording was made of at least one of the group's sets. Their ironic take on God Bless America was included on the Uncle Meat album. A short slice of an improvisation, featuring the meowing talents of Ray Collins, was later included on the fifth volume of the You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore archival live series.
The night after this, the group made an appearance on Steve Allen's television show. This was, of course, a return for Zappa to the world of his first mainstream exposure fiv years previously, when he had demonstrated how to "play" a bicycle.
Allen's TV profile was now lower than it had been in the early 60's, his show no longer on a major network, but carried across the US by syndication. But Allen's savvy in bringing back one of his most important "discoveries" was a respectable and brave move.
Unfortunately, none of this appearance has made it to light in visual form, and it is not known if the footage survives. However, two viewers made their own microphone-to-TV-speaker amateur recordings of the appearance, each capturing unique portions. These snippets have made ther way into collectors circles.
In the first, the group perform Hungry Freaks Daddy, which Zappa breaks into a snork-featuring improv about halfway through, then into the King Kong theme.
In the second, America Drinks is performed, which is capped with Octandre (some of the interview portions from the appearance also reportedly exist).
It is hoped that some of the footage will eventually surface, as from the audio evidence, the spot was quite likely the best-ever Mothers TV appearance.
At the beginning of August, The Mothers again took to the road, for a two-week summer US tour. At their shows in Central Park on August 3rd, they would again be taped by a fan from the audience, as well as from the stage by Don Preston.
December 17th, 2010 10:29 AM
Jon With Ian's kind permission, I am working up something SUPER EXTRA AMAZING for during the holiday break he's taking starting next Wednesday. So continue to watch this space for the continued chronology, but watch this space NEXT WEDNESDAY when your teenage electronic music player will be completely blown. YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO.
December 17th, 2010 12:05 PM
S Giacomelli Groovy!
December 17th, 2010 03:28 PM
Jason Penick Awesome! Can't wait to see what it is!
December 17th, 2010 03:48 PM
andy rooney just popping in to say i'm listening and reading all, and will continue to do so. through disc 15 as of today. i'll need ian's holiday break to catch up!

great stuff from all, and merry holidays to all.
December 17th, 2010 05:08 PM
Jon It seems the appropriate place for this, but RIP Captain Beefheart.

Unbelievably tragic.
December 17th, 2010 05:15 PM
the captain Loving the '68 stuff, Ian. That period is really interesting to me, with Zappa's flirtation with popularity, his cross-country movements, the changes in his bands, etc.
December 17th, 2010 06:32 PM
Jon wrote:
It seems the appropriate place for this, but RIP Captain Beefheart.

Unbelievably tragic.

Wow. I'll be putting a little something extra into my Trout Mask piece. The man was one of the greatest artists to ever walk this sorry planet.

And also, thanks Luther.
December 17th, 2010 06:34 PM
the captain
Jon wrote:
It seems the appropriate place for this, but RIP Captain Beefheart.

Unbelievably tragic.
I totally missed this post when I was last here and posting. Really, I don't get into the RIP posts because so many of the old-time greats are bound to be dying all the time--that's just time. But this one does really get me.
December 18th, 2010 07:17 PM
IanWagner Metal Man has won his wings.
December 19th, 2010 09:32 PM
jdavolt ...
December 20th, 2010 09:51 AM

I noticed there weren't any good "Safe As Milk" cover scans out there so I whipped one up. I'm sure we're all taking a pause to listen to the Cappy today. I'll get a "Plain Brown Wrapper" scan up, too.
(Edited by Jon)
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17