The Mothers of Invention: Seriously Live Volume 2 (1968-1969 bootleg highlights)

This mix includes almost three hours of thrilling, unreleased, instrumental Mothers of Invention from the final year of the original band’s existence. I reviewed approximately 15 concert recordings, and these are the bits that I think everyone should hear. 

This is my second mixtape of late-1960s live Mothers. The first one is here, with notes explaining my enthusiasm for the original band and listing the musicians. 

Together, these two mixes include five hours of ambitious compositions and live improvisation by a large band at the peak of its powers. They include at least one version of most of the major compositions from this era, plus lesser known themes, lengthy jams, and a glimpse of “Hot Rats” (which would be recorded just a month after the latest Mothers' date on this mix). 

2h45m mp3 mixtape zipped up here 

Disc 1: Possibly Commercial (76 minutes)

This disc concentrates buttoned-up performances with great sound quality, mostly from two shows. This “Trouble Every Day” rides a fantastic, mechano-groove. 

  • Son of Mr. Green Genes (10/26/68 Paris)
  • Behind the Sun (2/23/69 Toronto)
  • A Pound for the Brown > (2/23/69 Toronto)
  • Sleeping in a Jar > (2/23/69 Toronto)
  • Charles Ives (2/23/69 Toronto)
  • Corrido Rock > Pachuko Hop (2/23/69 Toronto)
  • King Kong (10/26/68 Paris)
  • Trouble Every Day (8/3/68 New York)

Disc 2: Fatty Goodness (61 minutes)

This disc collects extended jams, solo sequences, and slinky grooves. “Jam in A” is an A+ dance party. My first mix included a lot of angles on “King Kong”; this one has a lot of “Sleeping in a Jar” variations. 

  • Jam in A (10/20/68 Amsterdam)
  • Jam Fragment (10/3/68 Copenhagen)
  • Sleeping in a Jar excerpt (10/10/68 Amsterdam)
  • Help I’m a Rock > Transylvania Boogie (10/20/68 Amsterdam)
  • Sleeping in a Jar excerpt (6/5/69 Portsmouth)
  • Blues Jam (10/26/68 Paris)

Disc 3: Orchestral Tendencies (32 minutes)

This disc stacks up some smaller compositions/passages that lean away from rock, culminating in the “Big Medley” (OCLT). 

  • Interlude (5/24/69 Toronto)
  • Cabin Boy > Wedding Dress > Little House > Dog Breath (4/28/68 Detroit)
  • Little March (5/24/69 Toronto)
  • Uncle Meat (5/24/69 Toronto)
  • OCLT 1: Let’s Make the Water Turn Black > Harry You’re a Beast > Oh No (10/20/68 Amsterdam)
  • OCLT 2: The Orange County Lumber Truck (4/28/68 Detroit)
  • Octandre (10/6/68 Bremen)

Caveats:

  • To the best of my knowledge, none of these tracks have appeared on official releases, but Zappa and the estate have sprinkled tunes from all eras across so many anthology releases that it is hard to be sure.
  • Dates/cities are based on the bootleg recordings I have and may not all be correct. You can investigate yourself on the Frank Zappa Gig List: 1969 
  • With these two mixes, I’ve used up all the unreleased live 1968-1969 Mothers recordings I have been able to get my hands on. 


The Mothers of Invention: Seriously Live - 1967-1969 bootleg highlights

Sliced and diced together from five bootleg recordings, this is a giant, live, instrumental album of The Mothers of Invention playing unique arrangements of and incendiary, extended jams around many of their major songs of the era. Details on sources and alignment with official albums duly noted below the program/player info.

mp3 mix zipped up here (source dates included in tags)

The Program

Disc 1 (70 minutes):

  • Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbeque (2:18)
  • Eye of Agamoto (7:31)
  • Aybe Sea (3:01)
  • Uncle Meat > King Kong (17:47)
  • A Pound for a Brown (on the bus) (8:36)
  • Sleeping in a Jar (16:32)
  • The Dog Breath Variations > (10:40)
  • What (3:53)

Disc 2 (68 minutes):

  • Some Ballet Music #1 > (6:08)
  • Uncle Meat (5:05)
  • King Kong excerpt (9:11)
  • Some Ballet Music #2 (5:50)
  • King Kong excerpt (8:46)
  • King Kong excerpt (15:12)
  • A Pound for a Brown (on the bus) excerpt (5:32)
  • Some Ballet Music #3 (2:18)
  • King Kong excerpt (7:52)
  • Petrouska > The Bristol Stomp (1:49)

The Players

  • Frank Zappa: guitar, percussion (composer, re-arranger, conductor)
  • Roy Estrada: bass
  • Jimmy Carl Black: drums
  • Ian Underwood: guitar, keyboards, woodwinds, flute, clarinet, alto and tenor saxophone
  • Don Preston: keyboards
  • Jim Sherwood: soprano and baritone saxophone
  • Bunk Gardner: woodwinds
  • Buzz Gardner: trumpet
  • Artie Tripp: drums, timpani, vibes, marimba, xylophone, and much more

The Case

Frank Zappa’s 1967-1969 catalogue of instrumental compositions, arrangements, and performances slots in admirably alongside Miles Davis and The Grateful Dead of the same, fusion-y moment. 

Indeed, Zappa’s serious instrumental efforts through 1974 form a large body of great and influential work. Unfortunately, Zappa is better known for just about everything except this stuff. Also, unfortunately, the original Mothers of Invention are not well known as one of the most adept and glorious, precision + improvisation bands of the era.