FRANK ZAPPA – ” Halloween ’73’ “

Posted: December 7, 2019 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Frank Zappa typically performed one-of-a-kind Halloween shows starting in the ’70s. In 1974, the concerts found a home in New York City, where they remained until 1984, when Zappa staged the last Halloween show. This 1973 date — one of the few Halloween concerts to be recorded, though the 1977 one was released in 2017 — featured a new band onstage at Chicago’s Auditorium Theater.

The limited-edition box includes previously unreleased performances that total more than four and a half hours, including songs from his most recent album, Over-Nite Sensation, like “Montana,” plus cuts from 1974’s Apostrophe(‘) (“Cosmik Debris”) and older favorites (“Uncle Meat,” “The Idiot Bastard Son”).

The fourth disc includes rehearsals for the shows. There’s also a single-disc version of the set available containing 16 tracks from the box.

This is our second glimpse into Frank’s Halloween archive and this one, thankfully, does not seal away its goodies on a USB stick. Rather, four CDs and a booklet join the expected seasonal goodies (a Frankenstein mask and a pair of monster gloves) in a similarly sized mega-toy box, and the whole thing is utterly fabulous. Assuming, of course, you agree that 1973 really did mark one of Zappa’s purplest patches.  

Two full shows sprawl across the first three discs, and while there’s definitely some duplication… a little more than half the set list is revisited on both nights…  the performances themselves are utterly unique, and the between song announcements as well. Which itself isn’t as easy as it sounds… how many different ways, after all, can you find to say “thank you Cleveland, you rock.”  Especially when you’re in Chicago.

The repertoire, as usual, wanders across Zappa’s catalog, leaning away from the earliest days of Motherhood (“The Idiot Bastard Son” is the oldest song on display), but hitting most of what period scholars would say are the expected highlights – “Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing,” “Dickie’s Such an Asshole,” “Penguin in Bondage,” and a great “I’m the Slime” towards the end of disc two.

The booklet, meanwhile, stuffs forty pages with photographs, commentary and memory,  with contributions from band members Ruth Underwood and Ralph Humphrey, plus archive master Joe Travers’ customary explanation of how the album came together. A  glorious package then.

Fans can also look forward to another Zappa release before 2019 ends. The Hot Rats Sessions, due on December. 20th, includes six discs documenting one of Zappa’s best and most popular albums.

That box includes unreleased basic tracks from the recording sessions, as well as rare and unedited mixes, work mixes and other songs from Zappa’s vault.

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