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)
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)
- 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
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.
In 1967-1969, Frank Zappa was finding great themes at a furious rate, which he arranged and rearranged, grafted, truncated, expanded, and mutated endlessly, forcing his band to conform to and improvise within innumerable musical plans, with on-the-fly conductor choices thrown in all over the place. (The Miles/Dead comparison isn’t so crazy; it’s just a matter of different ratios of planning and accident, individual and collective leadership.)
Crucially, in 1967-1969, Zappa was not yet in a position to hire anyone he wanted to play his music, so he was stuck with one of the Sixties’ great rock and roll bands-slash-orchestras, maturing and expanding since 1965. He dismissed them in 1970 and began his quest to find human machines to express his compositions – eventually landing on actual machines and professional symphony orchestras. Too bad for him.
The Mix and Sources
This album is assembled in the same spirit as Zappa’s own cut-and-paste process of post-production slicing, dicing, and juxtaposition. Live tapes were raw material for studio Zappa. He included favorite passages from this period on collage albums like “Uncle Meat,” “Burnt Weenie Sandwich,” and “Weasel’s Rip My Flesh.” Later, official archive releases have filled out the story more, including: “Ahead of Their Time,” “Meat Light,” “Lumpy Money,” and “Road Tapes – Venue #1.
Four of these bootlegs go way back, to pre-CD vinyl. In the early 1990s, Zappa issued them, as is, on CD, without endorsing them, to claw back revenue from the bootleg trade. They have since faded back into bootleg circulation and general obscurity. Too bad. Unique and glorious takes on major compositions/jams abound.
The named sources were part of Zappa’s “Beat the Boots” series and are taken from those CDs:
- “Tis the Season to be Jelly" 9/30/67 Stockholm, Sweden
- “Electric Aunt Jemima” 5/3/68 Denver, Co; 9/28/68 Essen, Germany; 10/20/68 Amsterdam, Netherlands
- “Our Man in Nirvana” 11/8/68 Fullerton, CA
- Unnamed 5/23/69 Appleton, WI
- “The Ark” 7/8/69 Boston, MA
Listen to your mothers.