FRANK ZAPPA – ” The Mothers 1971 ” 50th Anniversary

Posted: January 30, 2022 in MUSIC
The Mothers 1971 - 8CD Boxed Set

Frank Zappa’s legendary 1971 Fillmore East run in New York City and the shocking final Rainbow Theatre gig in London with The Mothers gets a complete 50th Anniversary Commemoration with definitive eight-disc boxed set, “The Mothers 1971″.

The monumental and definitive new eight-disc collection, “The Mothers 1971″, is a new Super Deluxe Edition box set due March 18th via Zappa Records/UMe that showcases these special 1971 line-ups and commemorates these storied chapters in Frank Zappa’s legacy. Overseen by the Zappa Trust and produced by Ahmet Zappa and Zappa and Vaultmeister Joe Travers, the 100-track, nearly 10-hour set brings together every note of the fabled four shows that closed down the vaunted Fillmore East in New York City on June 5th-6th, 1971. The Mothers line-up that ruled the Fillmore East roost in New York City for four extraordinary sets across two back-to-back nights on June 5th-6th, 1971 consisted of Ian Underwood (winds/keyboards), Aynsley Dunbar (drums), Jim Pons (bass/vocals/dialog), Bob Harris (keyboards/vocals) and was rounded out by Howard Kaylan (lead vocals/dialog) and Mark Volman (lead vocals/dialog), aka Flo & Eddie of The Turtles, with special guest Don Preston.

It was a fitting Mothers collective chosen to close the renowned NYC venue, and they performed such iconic tracks like “The Mud Shark,” “Bwana Dik,” and the groupie routine labelled as “Do You Like My New Car?” (For his part, Don Preston provided Mini-Moog at Fillmore East, then re-joined The Mothers fulltime to take over for Bob Harris on keyboards and vocals for the band’s ensuing summertime dates and onward, through that December).

The June 1971 Fillmore East finale was made even more special thanks to John Lennon and Yoko Ono appearing alongside Zappa and The Mothers to perform a final encore for the unsuspecting crowd, including a red hot version of Walter Ward’s “Well” led by John on vocals (an old Beatles live favorite from the Cavern Club in Liverpool) with two solos by Zappa, a seminal reading of “King Kong” that soon enough metamorphosized into an extended jam ultimately called “Scumbag” as well as further improvisational vocal ululations from Yoko with guitar feedback by John and backing from The Mothers.

Says the press release: “Released in August 1971 just two months after it was recorded, “Fillmore East—June 1971” was Frank Zappa and the Mothers’ masterstroke conceptual live album, a well-oiled and well-edited aural treatise chronicling the prurient feast and famine of a certain band’s somewhat salacious life on (and off) the road. In effect, it was the seemly predecessor to October 1971’s expansive, ground-breaking magnum opus, “200 Motels”, the surrealistic documentary and soundtrack which ultimately took on a life of its own. 

This astonishing amount of unreleased live material unearthed from The Vault contains every note played over four shows across two nights that closed Fillmore East, including the famed John Lennon and Yoko Ono encore; plus full final show at the Rainbow Theatre in London newly mixed by Eddie Kramer, bonus hybrid Harrisburg and Scranton, PA concert and more.

The complete collection is also available digitally in standard and hi-res audio. All recordings included on “The Mothers 1971” were sourced from their original 2-inch, 16-track, 1-inch 8-track, and ¼-inch 2-track stereo analogue master tapes discovered in The Vault and digitally transferred and compiled by Joe Travers in 2020.

Frank Zappa: Live at Fillmore East, June 1971 (50th Anniversary): Live at Rainbow Theatre: Limited Edition 3LP

An expanded “Fillmore East – 1971″ 50th Anniversary Edition featuring a new remaster of the original album, along with bonus tracks and period-perfect mixes by Zappa, not found on the boxed set; and the Rainbow Theatre concert, will be released concurrently as 3LP sets. “Fillmore East – June 1971“, the landmark live recording with the scrawled “penzil” cover art made to resemble a bootleg of the day, managed to capture its own level of then-modern zeitgeist in patented Zappa-reconstructed form.

The extensive collection is rounded out with the original rare single for “Tears Began To Fall” and its non-album-track B-side “Junier Mintz Boogie,” signifying the single’s first re-release in 50 years and digital debut, as well as a homemade radio spot and its related outtakes.

The Mothers line-up that ruled the Fillmore East roost in New York City four extraordinary sets across two back-to-back nights on June 5th-6th, 1971, consisted of Ian Underwood (winds/keyboards), Aynsley Dunbar (drums), Jim Pons (bass/vocals/dialog), Bob Harris (keyboards/vocals) and was rounded out by Howard Kaylan (lead vocals/dialog) and Mark Volman (lead vocals/dialog), aka Flo & Eddie of the Turtles, with special guest Don Preston. They performed such iconic tracks as “The Mud Shark,” “Bwana Dik” and the groupie routine labelled as “Do You Like My New Car?” (For his part, Don Preston provided Mini-Moog at Fillmore East, then re-joined The Mothers fulltime to take over for Bob Harris on keyboards and vocals for the band’s ensuing summertime dates and onward, through that December.)

The June 1971 Fillmore East finale was made even more special thanks to John Lennon and Yoko Ono appearing alongside Zappa and the Mothers to perform a final encore for the unsuspecting crowd, including a red hot version of Walter Ward’s “Well” led by John on vocals (an old Beatles live favourite from the Cavern Club in Liverpool) with two solos by Zappa, a seminal reading of “King Kong” that soon enough metamorphosized into an extended jam ultimately called “Scumbag” as well as further improvisational vocal ululations from Yoko with guitar feedback by John and backing from The Mothers.

Zappa had plans to release this historical encore in its entirety after mixing it in 1971, but shelved it after John and Yoko released their own encore mixes on side four of June 1972’s “Sometime in New York City”. Zappa eventually released his version of the encore as part of October 1992’s Compact Disc, “Playground Psychotics”.

Vinyl lovers will also be able to get their fill via a pair of concurrently released individual 3-LP configurations. First, the expanded 50th anniversary 3-LP vinyl edition of “Fillmore East—June 1971” will have a remaster of the original 1971 live album on LP 1, along with two LPs of bonus tracks, including the John Lennon and Yoko Ono encore and the complete “Billy The Mountain,” plus liner notes by Joe Travers. Significantly, the vinyl version of “Fillmore East” has been expanded to include vintage, period-perfect Zappa mixes, some of which are not included in the CD box set and can’t be found anywhere else. The original album appears on sides one and two, while Sides three to six contain the original “Billy The Mountain” as well as Zappa’s original version of the John and Yoko encore along with other material from the original mix sessions of the Fillmore East album. “The Fillmore East 50th Anniversary Edition” 3-LP set was cut by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering.

This release is significant for marking the first time the complete back-to-back double-header Fillmore East concerts have been released in their entirety, allowing fans to hear the full performances that Zappa edited the album from,

Mothers-1971-Frank-Zappa-Box-Set

“The Mothers 1971” 50th Anniversary 8-CD box set! shares the complete ill-fated final show at the Rainbow Theatre in London where Frank Zappa was pushed off the stage, resulting in serious injuries, cancellation of the tour and the end of this band. This historic and infamous final show of the Flo & Eddie line-up with The Mothers in its entirety. The concert was the first scheduled after the legendary fire disaster in Montreux, Switzerland, resulting in the group playing on newly acquired gear. 

Frank Zappa & The Mothers - Rainbow Theatre, London England, December 10, 1971

Also included is an unreleased hybrid concert culled from June 1st and June 3rd, 1971, performances in Scranton and Harrisburg, Penn. which denote the first time The Mothers shows were recorded on Zappa’s preferred, then-newly purchased ½-inch 4-track tape machine (throughout the ’70s, this was the main tape recorder used to document shows if the budget allowed).

For the very first time anywhere, the set contains the official audio of the Rainbow Theatre show’s truly shocking ending which was thought to have not been recorded until recently discovered while putting this project together. The “Rainbow Theatre” is the 3-LP vinyl equivalent to the CD box’s contents, featuring a brand new 2021 mix and liner notes by Eddie Kramer. The “Rainbow Theatre” 3-LP set was cut by Bernie Grundman at Bernie Grundman Mastering. Both vinyl sets were pressed on 180-gram high-grade vinyl by Optimal: Media in Germany.

The ever-touring Mothers closed out 1971 with a European jaunt that saw them hitting Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, and Austria before rolling into Switzerland for a December 4th, 1971 show at the Montreaux Casino that will forever live in infamy in both song and legend. This was due to an errant fan setting off a flare gun and burning the place to the ground – along with destroying all The Mothers’ gear and equipment, sans one solitary cowbell.

Thankfully, the band and audience were relatively unhurt, but subsequent shows in France and Belgium were cancelled and The Mothers had to resort to wrestling with rented equipment for a planned pair of shows slated for December 10th-11th, 1971 at the Rainbow Theatre in London, England.

The December 10th Rainbow Show show came to pass, however, due to an event that changed the course of Zappa’s life forever. After the band played a cover of The Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” a crazed fan attacked him by violently shoving him off the stage into the orchestra pit 12 feet below. For some time, nobody knew whether Zappa was alive and there was complete confusion inside and outside the theater. As Zappa recounted in his 1989 autobiography, “The Real Frank Zappa Book:” “My head was over on my shoulder and my neck was bent like it was broken. I had a gash in my chin, a hole in the back of my head, a broken rib and a fractured leg. One arm was paralyzed.”

Once he could finally leave the hospital and be returned to the States, he spent the better part of a year in a wheelchair and a leg brace. When all was said and done, he permanently sustained a lower pitched voice, one leg shorter than the other and chronic back pain. The Rainbow Theatre show would end up being the last ever performed by the Flo and Eddie line-up as the group disbanded while Zappa was in the hospital as they needed to continue to work while he recuperated. Once Zappa recovered from his injuries he ventured into other musical territories.

The Mothers 1971” boxed set comes in a CD-size slimcase with all eight discs residing in their own respective mini-jackets, which are collectively housed within an inner slipcase, The booklet showcasing a quite revealing, in-depth interview with key Mothers 1971 bandmember Ian Underwood as conducted by Ahmet Zappa, in addition to separate recollections and learned musings from Eddie Kramer and then-bassist Jim Pons alongside detailed, tape-by-tape liner notes from Joe Travers, and historical photos from famed photographer Henry Diltz.

Also in the package is a 68-page booklet with an interview with Ian Underwood by Ahmet Zappa and liner notes by Eddie Kramer (newly mixed the Rainbow concert), Jim Pons (FZ’s then bass player) and Zappa Vaultmeister Joe Travers. Also available seperately The Two 3-LP sets to be released concurrently: The “Expanded Fillmore East”1971 50th Anniversary Edition and the “Rainbow Theatre Concert”.

Available on March 18th via Zappa Records/UMe

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