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.

Little Feat: Surprise! (1969-1975)

Here’s an imaginary, early-1970s, soul-jazz-funk studio album by Little Feat. It does not include anything from the seven Lowell George-era studio albums. 

This mix is a customized shoe for some fascinating extra Feat toes. It shuffles together selections from the band’s recordings with jazz drummer Chico Hamilton (1973), with Lowell George sound-alike singer Robert Palmer (1975), and from officially-released studio outtakes compilations (1972-1975, with two 1969 outliers). 

Nearly all the material is contemporary with the band’s third and fourth albums, “Dixie Chicken” and “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now,” the first to feature the band’s classic second lineup: Lowell George, Bill Payne, Richie Hayward, Paul Barrere, Kenny Gradney, and Sam Clayton. The famous bootleg Ultrasonic Studios session is from this same period (September 1974).

While every player isn’t on every song (see notes below the track list), this mix documents that group during its flood years, when riffs and grooves seemed to spill out of them, and they were a very sensible studio band choice. 

By giving the Hamilton and Palmer tracks a better setting – by culling and combining them with each other and with a handful of kindred outtakes – this mix tries to supply a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, and a coherent album that isn’t much like any of the band’s official ones. 

One-hour mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Spanish Moon (1973 single version)
  • I Can Hear the Grass Grow (1973 w/Chico Hamilton)
  • Here with You Tonight (1975 w/Robert Palmer)
  • Conquistadores (1973 w/Chico Hamilton)
  • All That You Dream (1974 outtake)
  • Gengis (1973 w/Chico Hamilton)
  • Work to Make It Work (1975 w/Robert Palmer)
  • Eldorado Slim (1972 outtake)
  • Stu (1973 w/Chico Hamilton)
  • Juliet (1969 outtake)
  • Fine Time (1975 w/Robert Palmer)
  • High Roller (1975 outtake)
  • Stacy (1973 w/Chico Hamilton)
  • Jazz Thing in 10 (1969 outtake)
  • River Boat (1975 w/Robert Palmer)
  • Trouble (1975 w/Robert Palmer)

Chico Hamilton’s “The Master” (1973) features all the second formation members of Little Feat except Richie Hayward (who is replaced by Hamilton on drums), with additional organ by Jerry Aiello and Stu Gardner, and more congas by Simon Nava. The limitation of the album is that it’s mostly just riffs and small jams, and almost sounds like “sessions for,” rather than a true album, clocking in at a meagre 35 minutes. I’ve included all but three tracks, which happen to be the album’s first three tracks!? More information here.

Robert Palmer’s “Pressure Drop” (1975) features all the second formation members of Little Feat, but also includes enough additional musicians to make it unclear exactly who is playing on each track. Those that overlap Feat instruments include James Jamerson on bass, Ed Greene on drums/percussion, and Jean Roussel and Gordon DeWitty on clavinet, organ, and/or other keyboards. I have included five of eleven tracks; the others are hopelessly cheesy and un-Feat-like. More information here.

Little Feat have done a great job of releasing non-album material from the George years, on “Hoy Hoy,” and “Hot Cakes and Outtakes,” plus two double-disc live archive albums, “Hot” and “Ripe Tomatos” [sic]. Nonetheless, there’s no way to stack all or most of the studio outtakes into anything that feels like more than a warehouse of outtakes, demos, early versions, etc. Pulling some of them out and threading them into the Hamilton and Palmer material seemed to bring them into focus as meaningful Feat moments. 

Rolling Stones: Sympathy for the Disco (outtakes '75-'79)

Someone posted an enthusiastic comment about one of my Rolling Stones studio outtakes mixes, which reminded me that I never posted this one. It's definitely more marginal than the others, but it's a pretty serviceable super-extended 12-inch remix of an aspect of the band that was never allowed to dominate any official album.

This is a very selective sampling of Ron Wood era outtakes, focusing on the band’s half-formed funk/disco/jam band persona. Many of the tracks are the long, unedited basic takes of songs that were finished and released between ’75 and ’81. It was typical for the band to record instrumentals, which Jagger either picked up for songwriting or didn’t. Jagger’s ongoing engagement with contemporary pop, funk, reggae, disco, etc. seems to have equipped him well in this period to turn the sketch of an idea into a persuasive, half-rapped vocal. He sings, he declaims, he chants, he talks conversationally about Puerto Rican girls. In this long “Miss You” (which was perhaps released on a 12”) you hear him figuring out where his lyrical hooks are, which stories to tell, and which to cut.

Yes, there are three takes of “Dance” on the bootlegs, but don't get too excited. They don’t have any connection to the “part 1” and “part 2” designations of the songs on Emotional Rescue and Sucking in the Seventies. Instead, they are three very similar performances of the song’s basic moves, with Jagger sketching in some vocal angles, totaling 21 minutes. 

100-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Come on Sugar (1981 1975)
  • Slave (raw take 1975)
  • Hey Negrita (raw take 1975)
  • Everything is Turning to Gold (raw take 1977)
  • Miss You (alternate 1977)
  • I Love Ladies (1975)
  • Worried About You (original 1975)
  • Heaven (original 1979)
  • Jah is Not Dead (1979)
  • Disco Muzik (1978)
  • Dance 1, 2, 3 (1979)

Artwork: I have deleted the cover art I originally used, which turns out to be the logo of very cool DJs and remixers that you can check out here

Bob Dylan: “I’ll Keep It with Mine” (rehearsal edit 1966)

One of Dylan’s great mid-Sixties songs that never reached a definitive studio version , “I’ll Keep It with Mine” got several demo and rehearsal readings over several years, the best and most famous of which is a “Blonde on Blonde” rehearsal take, included on “The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1-3." 

It's a great performance, and despite its wobbles, a classic recording.

One of the wobbles, in the middle of the first verse, is the producer cutting in to tell Dylan to keep doing what he’s doing. That interjection has almost become a part of the song itself, at least for me. 

Nonetheless, the release of “The Cutting Edge,” the complete 1965-1966 studio sessions, provided the incomplete take immediately before the great one, which included the whole first verse. So, I've spliced that beginning onto the famous version. It's not a better version, but there’s something to be said for the song itself not including an interruption. 

One-song mp3 download here:

I’ll Keep It with Mine (1966 rehearsal edit)


Self-Impersonation: Bob Dylan 1970 Reconfigured (Vol. 4)

Let’s pretend that the music Bob Dylan recorded circa 1970 had resulted in a series of different albums than the ones we got. In the real world, those recordings are smeared all over the place: Self-Portrait, New Morning, Dylan, Greatest Hits Vol. 2, vault releases, and bootlegs. The point of this curation is not to include everything, but to finally give persuasive form to a period that remains blurry (based on commercial releases) and that is often derided as a low point. I consider it a high point, even at its weirdest points. This is my case, via four imaginary albums.

Volume 4: Nashville Hangover

This is the very belated final volume of my four-mix set. Unlike the other three, it doesn’t feature a new-for-1970 Dylan, so I decided not to post it, unless someone actually asked me to. Then several people did, and I apologize for taking so long to do it. For everyone else, for god’s sake, start with the other three!

There is at least as much vocal ambition and range in Dylan’s 1969-1971 singing as in any earlier year-and-a-half period. After perfecting the 1965-1966 Dylan, 1967 starts a period of dismantling that guy, including his epoch-making vocal approach. The naked playfulness of The Basement Tapes, the sustained voice from the grave of “John Wesley Harding,” the sweet crooner of “Nashville Skyline” – they’re all self-portraits that contrast with that Highway 61 pill-box hat guy and the punk rock singer of the 1966 tour’s electric set.

The first two compilations I posted (“The Morning After” and “To Woody”) capture the place I think that experimentation and disavowal circled back to – the natural sounding, but widely-ranging Dylan voice(s) of 1970-1971. It’s an iconic Dylan voice, corresponding to that curly-haired, denim-clad, spotlight-haloed guy on the cover of “Greatest Hits Volume 2.”

My third volume (“The Boxer”) and this one here (“Nashville Hangover”) capture the recordings that are, vocally-speaking, “less Dylan.” In the case of the present disc, it’s (nearly) every proper studio recording in that sweet Nashville voice that wasn’t on the puny, 27-minute “Nashville Skyline.”

Alone of the four sets, this one reaches back to 1969 “Nashville Skyline” sessions for material, but it seemed worthwhile to bundle that in with the “Self Portrait” material in the same voice. 

42-minute mp3 mix here

  • Lay Lady Lay (alt take, bootleg)
  • Let It Be Me (SP)
  • Take a Message to Mary (SP)
  • A Fool Such as I (D, remastered, EQed)
  • Country Pie (alt take, ASP)
  • Living the Blues (SP)
  • Blue Moon (SP)
  • Spanish is the Loving Tongue (D, remastered, edited, re-EQed)
  • I Threw It All Away (alt take, ASP)
  • Take Me as I Am (Or Let Me Go) (SP)
  • Wigwam (ASP)
  • One More Night (alt take, bootleg)
  • Ring of Fire (bootleg)
  • Folsom Prison Blues (bootleg)

Mixtape: I Spy a Riff

Cover art by Antonio Prohías

If you recognize a few of these songs, you’ll immediately recognize the organizing principle of this mixtape – incessant eighth notes refracted through a Neil Hefti (Batman) and Henry Mancini (Peter Gunn), 1960s pop espionage aesthetic – sometimes bent into surprising permutations. “The Lemon Song?” Yeah, really. HT to Matthew Specktor on that one.

86-minute, mostly-lossless-sourced, volume-equalized 320kbps mix here

  • Broken Days (outtake) – Bob Dylan
  • Brand New Cadillac – The Clash
  • The Lemon Song (edit) – Led Zeppelin
  • Car Song – Elastica
  • Hey Bulldog – The Beatles
  • TV Baby – Magazine
  • No Dark Things – Echo & The Bunnymen
  • Batman Theme – Neil Hefti
  • Candy Apple – Dipstick
  • Peter Gunn (Max Sedgley Remix) – Sarah Vaughn
  • Secret Agent Man – DEVO
  • Planet Claire – The B-52’s
  • Millionenspiel – Can
  • Map Ref 41° N 93° W (alternate version) – Wire
  • Incident on South Street – The Lounge Lizards
  • Top Floor, Bottom Buzzer – Morphine
  • (Drawing) Rings Around the World – Super Furry Animals
  • Rose Garden Funeral of Sores (live) – Bauhaus
  • On Top of the World – Cheap Trick
  • Fried Chicken and Gasoline – Southern Culture on the Skids
  • Happy-Go-Lucky Local (Night Train) – Jimmy Smith & Wes Montgomery
  • Peter Gunn – Henry Mancini
  • God Save the Queen (instrumental version) – The Sex Pistols


Steely Dan: Fauxcho (essential Gaucho outtakes)

This is a narrow slice of the available “Gaucho” outtakes designed for daily listening purposes. It includes only the songs that did not make the album, and in four cases I have edited out lengthy stretches of the rhythm section treading water in places where solos/elaborations were supposed to go, but never did. This makes these songs flow much more like songs, rather than sounding like what they were/are – unfinished recordings. 

If you’re a Steely Dan fan and these titles are unfamiliar to you, your mind will be blown that they exist and are solid, real songs. If you do know these recordings, you probably understand why editing some of them down makes sense. Anyway, 29 minutes of seven, unfinished Steely Dan recordings certainly could have turned into 40-45 minutes of finished songs and turned "Gaucho" into a two-LP set, if Becker and Fagan hadn't been grinding to a halt at this point. This is as close as I can get to a credible expansion of the released album.

29-minute “Gaucho” outtakes companion here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/x4s99xuh36b63u0/Steely%20Dan%20Fauxcho.zip?dl=0

(Sorry about the copy-and-paste link, but this blog platform is malfunctioning.)

  • Kulee Baba (edit)
  • The Bear
  • Kind Spirit (edit)
  • The Second Arrangement (edit)
  • Talkin’ ‘Bout My Home (edit)
  • Were You Blind That Day? ("Third World Man" with different lyrics)
  • I Can’t Write Home About You 
  • The Second Arrangement (Disco Coda)

The Velvet Underground: Instant 1969 Bootleg Collection (Part 2)

If you think of the first half of my BOOTLEG1969 curation as the general release and of this sequel as the bonus material on “the deluxe edition,” you’ll have it about right.  

If you don’t have that first one, start there. It’s meant to be the one-stop companion to “The Complete Matrix Tapes.” 39 tracks; 36 different songs. 

In this three-part expansion pack, I’ve tried to capture everything else from the audience/bootleg tapes that I consider to be compelling listening. I count 18 hours of source tapes, which I’ve curated down to 6.75 hours with my two compilations.  

As with the main compilation, here I’ve endeavored to stack up performances in ways that push them as far out of the bootleg morass and as close to the old “1969 Live” album experience as possible. Nevertheless, the average fidelity of this second set is lower than the first one.

You can download the following three mixes here: 3h15m, 31 tracks, 440MB

Just Like Sister Ray Set (120 minutes)

Aside from “The Complete Matrix Tape” performance, 11 “Sister Rays” from the Reed/Morrison/Tucker/Yule period appear to have made it onto tape. I judge 5.3 of them to be essential. Two appeared on my initial mix, and these are the other 3.3.

Do you need this much Sister Ray? Yes, of course. I wish there were 50 soundboard recordings. 

  • The Story of Sister Ray (edit of 5-11-69 with 3-13-69 coda) (9:38)

This is a nearly all-vocal edit of the song that proceeds directly through the story of Duck and Sally, Rosie and Miss Rayon, Cecil and the sailor, the narrator and his ding-dong. It begins with Reed introducing the characters and their situation and concludes with a mutation into “The Murder Mystery,” in which “Sister Ray’s” murdered sailor gets moved from the carpet to the casket to the parapet, and so on. Two otherwise tedious/abrasive recordings of “Sister Ray” happened to contain the pieces to make this totally approachable version of the song – as a song

  • Sister Ray (12-12-68 Boston) (25:33)
  • Sister Ray (11-7-69 San Francisco – Quine) (24:03)
  • Sister Ray (1-10-69 Boston) (21:04)

Quiet Again (50 minutes)

In some cases, the audience recordings captured quieter songs quite beautifully, even though the same recordings might offer only terrible versions of loud songs. 

My initial curation included one version each of these songs; here are the other pleasing versions. You might like some of them better than the ones I initially picked.

Reed’s vocals on the 7-11-69 “Candy Says” and “Pale Blue Eyes” are fantastic. Both recordings begin rough, but they straighten out. 

  • Jesus (edit 10-68 Cleveland)
  • Candy Says (v. Reed 7-11-69 Boston)
  • Pale Blue Eyes (7-11-69 Boston)
  • Sunday Morning (11-9-69 San Francisco)
  • Jesus (3-13-69 Boston)
  • After Hours (11-8-69 San Francisco)
  • I’m Sticking with You (11-8-69 San Francisco)
  • PA: The texture of adultery (10-18-69 Dallas)
  • Pale Blue Eyes (10-18-69 Dallas)
  • PA: One of our says songs (10-18-69 Dallas)
  • Candy Says (v. Yule 10-18-69 Dallas)
  • I’m Set Free (1-10-69 Boston)
  • 3rd Album Radio Ad
  • Heroin (8-2-69 Rindge, NH)
  • Jesus (edit 3-15-69 Boston)

Underground: Lo-Fi Jams (72 minutes)

The Velvet Underground rocking out is one of the best sounds ever, but it’s also what typically threw audience tape recorders into the red, particularly during verses and choruses. As the “Rock Set” on my initial compilation sadly demonstrated, finding even one really good, end-to-end recording of a loud song on the audience tapes is sometimes a challenge. 

This collection includes all the additional minutes of fiercely-played material that I find exciting, even at low, or very low fidelity. 

A few tracks include the vocals; all the others are instrumental edits. Because of this, you can pretend that this is a lost jam session tape. 

I swear that this is the best remaining version of “Beginning to See the Light.” The song never (seems to have) had a jam, and there’s nothing in this performance that stands out, but somehow it seemed like the song/riff had to be on a low-fi jams mix.

  • I Can’t Stand It (edit 1-10-69 Boston)
  • What Goes On (edit 1-10-69 Boston)
  • Run Run Run (edit 1-10-69 Boston)
  • Foggy Notion (edit 10-68 Cleveland)
  • I Can’t Stand It (edit 10-18-69 Dallas)
  • What Goes On (8-2-69 Rindge, NH)
  • White Light White Heat (edit 3-15-69 Boston)
  • Ferryboat Bill (3-15-69 Boston)
  • I Can’t Stand It (edit 10-68 Cleveland)
  • What Goes On (11-69 San Francisco)
  • I Can’t Stand It (3-13-69 Boston)
  • Beginning to See the Light (1-10-69 Boston)

And that’s it. Everything from this period’s audience tapes that I recommend you take seriously and keep handy, polished and arranged to the best of my ability.  

The Velvet Underground: “Sister Ray” Single Edit (1967)

Given that The Velvet Underground were essentially a far-out R&B band, you can almost imagine “Sister Ray”as a single on Stax in 1968, the 17-minute album version cut down and split into Part 1 and Part 2. Instead, the single went out into instant oblivion on the Pickwick label, the organization Lou Reed was associated with before The Velvet Underground came to be. 

Of course, there was no “Sister Ray” single, but there could have been and maybe should have been. 

Here it is. 

Sister Ray (pt. 1): 3:04

Sister Ray (pt. 2): 3:21