Posts Tagged ‘Frank Zappa’

Zappa In New York – Deluxe consists of five CDs from the Vault celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the album’s release in 1978. Featured is the main album in its original mix, remastered by Bob Ludwig and available for the first time digitally. Also included is a disc of relevant Vault nuggets and over 3 hours of unreleased live performances from the NYC Palladium concerts, representing every composition played during the post-Christmas 4 show engagement of 1976 and newly mixed in 2018. Extensive Liner Notes by Ruth Underwood, Ray White & Joe Travers with Jen Jewel Brown.  Limited edition metal tin mimicking a New York street manhole houses the 5CD collection.

 

Zappa In New York Deluxe CD Set Preorder

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In 1976, Frank Zappa played four historic sold-out concerts at The Palladium in New York City the week between Christmas and New Year’s. These were thrilling shows – described by band member Ruth Underwood as “theatrical, outrageous and raucously funny, but also filled with startling and gorgeous music, dating from Frank’s 1960s output to literally the moment the curtain went up”— served as the source material for the live double album “Zappa In New York”which was constructed from the best-played performances with overdubs later recorded in the studio. Originally slated for release in 1977, the album was delayed for a year due to record label censorship issues, mostly over the controversial song “Punky’s Whips,” and finally released in 1978. One of Zappa’s most beloved collections of songs, the now classic album included a sensational live version of “Sofa” alongside nine new compositions, including the complex percussion-based piece “The Black Page,” which has become infamous in the drum community as the ultimate challenge, the Devilish comedic sendup “Titties & Beer,” and the notorious aforementioned “Punky’s Whips” about Punky Meadows, the flamboyant guitarist for the band Angel.

In celebration of its eventual release in 1978, Zappa In New York will be released on March 29th via Zappa Records/UMeas a suite of expanded anniversary editions to commemorate the album’s recent 40th anniversary. Overseen by the Zappa Family Trust and produced by Ahmet Zappa and Vaultmeister Joe Travers, the expanded versions will be available as a 5CD box set, 3LP on 180-gram audiophile grade vinyl and digitally. The 5-disc collection, which will be housed in a limited-edition metal tin shaped like a NYC street manhole cover and includes a replica ticket from one of the shows, consists of the main album in its original mix, newly remastered by Bob Ludwig in 2018 and available for the first time since its debut. The four additional discs are loaded with relevant Vault nuggets and more than three hours of unreleased live performances from the NYC Palladium concerts, representing every composition played during the concerts and the best alternate performances of every tune Zappa picked for the original album, all newly mixed in 2018. To achieve the highest-level sound quality, the audio team went back to the original two-inch 24-track multi-track master tapes and transferred every reel at 96kHz 24-bit wavs.

The Zappa In New York 40th Anniversary Editions are available for pre-order now and all digital pre-orders will receive an instant download of the unreleased rarity “The Purple Lagoon/Any Kind of Pain.” Recorded on the first night of the four-night stand, the track features Zappa performing the chorus of the song “Any Kind of Pain” in the middle of “The Purple Lagoon.” What makes this so significant is that nobody knew this existed or that Zappa had the idea for this song more than a decade before it was released in 1988 on the live album Broadway The Hard Way until the Zappa Family Trust archived the tapes and made the fascinating discovery. More proof that Zappa was creating at an unmatched pace and always thinking years ahead.

“We are excited to bring you this new Deluxe version of Zappa in New York: an opportunity to re-examine and celebrate the source material of a great album while exploring the events of Frank’s life in late December 1976, Collections like these really show of the work ethic of a musical genius,” exclaims the Zappa Family Trust in the album notes.

Zappa In New York includes expanded packaging which features previously unseen live photos by Gail Zappa alongside extensive liner notes by band members Ruth Underwood and Ray White (who were part of Zappa’s band for these shows) as well as an insightful essay by Joe Travers with Australian writer Jen Jewel Brown. Underwood also contributes a solo piano version of “The Black Page” that has been newly recorded for this special edition. “‘The Black Page’ has proven to be one of Frank Zappa’s most intriguing and enduring compositions. It is performed in many kinds of venues all over the world. It is taught and studied in schools. Perhaps most exciting is that it is adaptable and lends itself to a variety of orchestrations and re-workings, as FZ himself demonstrated. I am proud that after forty years, mine is finally among them. It is my love letter to Frank and Gail,” Underwood writes in the liners.

The 3LP set, pressed at Pallas in Germany, features all-analog mastering of the original album mix, unavailable since first issued. Plus, an additional LP of select bonus content from The Vault. The digital release marks the debut of the original mix.

Photo by Gail Zappa

Zappa In New York capped off a terrific year for the ever-prolific and always-moving musician which included shows around the globe including his second Australian tour and one and only Japanese jaunt, the release of his album Zoot Allures and Grand Funk Railroad’s record Good Singin’ Good Playin, which he produced, a string of Halloween shows and a performance on “Saturday Night Live” which ended up having a profound impact on the Palladium shows. Following an on-air collaboration with SNL’s announcer Don Pardo and the show’s house band, Zappa invited them to be a part of the shows after three of the horn players so loved playing with Zappa that they asked if they could be involved. As Travers and Brown write in the illuminating liner notes: “Out of nowhere, the concept of adapting horns to the scheduled concerts became a reality. Frank was immediately swept up in the pleasure and challenge of writing and arranging parts for the existing material.”

The collection showcases some of Zappa’s most masterful guitar playing and electrifying arrangements as he leads an exceptional band featuring Ray White on vocals and guitar, Terry Bozzio on drums and vocals, Eddie Jobson on keyboard, Ruth Underwood on percussion and synthesizer, Patrick O’Hearn on bass and vocals and David Samuels on timpani and vibes. Don Pardo provided “sophisticated narration” and the brass section, featuring jazz duo the Brecker Brothers with Randy Brecker on trumpet and Michael Brecker on tenor saxophone, was rounded out by the SNL players: Lou Marini on alto sax, Ronnie Cuber on baritone sax and Tom Malone on trombone.

ZAPPA IN NEW YORK – 5CD DELUXE EDITION

Anyone who is a fan of the Uncle Meat period of Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention will get a kick out of this one. It explains, in a little over 50 minutes why Zappa was so influential among the fledgling Progressive Rock community. Frank really never made music to dance to, even though some could argue that parts of Freak Out and Cruisin’ With Ruben And The Jets were finger-poppers, and the first number on this tape is a jumping improv, he mostly appealed directly to an audience who liked their music brainy and challenging. He was responsible for freeing up much of Rock’s inherent restrictions, and in doing so forged a new direction during a period of time where musicians and listeners were looking for a bit more substance and meaning.

And even though it became a very public joke that none of Frank’s music would ever make it on Top-40 radio, he achieved worldwide recognition without it. Popular Music was exploding in directions that hadn’t happened before the 1960s. By 1968 the revolution was in full bloom.

And when you consider this concert from Paris, five months after the great French Strike of May and the monumental changes that occurred during that time, it’s only fitting and natural that Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention play to a sold out and enthusiastic audience at the Olympia.

Fortunately, this concert sounds great and completely belies its age (almost 50 years ago . . .seriously?). Further evidence that history doesn’t need to sound dim and distant in order to be profound. Unfortunately, it’s just the first half of the concert.

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The Mothers Of Invention: 
Frank Zappa—guitar and vocals
Don Preston—keyboards
Ian Underwood—keyboards and woodwinds
Bunk Gardner—woodwinds
Motorhead—baritone sax
Roy Estrada—bass and vocals
Jimmy Carl Black—drums and vocals
Art Tripp—drums and percussion

Recorded 26th October 1968, Olympia, Paris, France

frank_zappa_joes_garage_acts_i_ii_iii_cd-front

Halloween was Frank Zappa’s favorite holiday & by 1977 his Halloween shows had become legendary. The part set Recorded “Live at The Palladium in NYC” ,  where Zappa performed over 6 shows 28th – 31st October. Four shows were filmed & resulted in Zappa’s movie “Baby Snakes.” The recorded version includes the Halloween night show in its entirety, mixed in 2016 from original Vault masters, plus select tracks from the other 5 shows.

On another Halloween night in 1978 Frank Zappa closed his band’s North American tour with a four-hour marathon show at the Palladium in New York City. The now legendary show is fondly known to his fans as “the big one”, after Zappa decided to combine the early and late shows into one and introduced the show with: “All right this is the big one. Since this is the big one, we’re gonna do an extra long show. I hope you don’t have to leave early”. Many put this show on their top live Zappa performances and considering the mammoth amount of shows that had been taped and bootlegged during his prolific career, this is no minor achievement. The evening was even more special, as the band was joined by guest L Shankar, the great Indian violinist who became known to western audiences a few years earlier with Shakti, the band he formed with John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussain.

On stage that night was a similar personnel to the one that would record a few months later the triple-LP rock opera “Joe’s Garage”, an album that is an acquired taste for many, and not considered one of his best. But it includes one of my favorite in all of Zappa’s large catalog of amazing performances: “Watermelon in Easter Hay”. What makes the 1978 Halloween show special for me is a great rendition of that song, perhaps the best live performance of that song that I’ve heard. The solo exchanges between Zappa and Shankar on that song are nothing short of spectacular. On the album Joe’s Garage, Watermelon in Easter Hay is played towards the end of the record, and it opens side six on the triple LP. The Central Scrutinizer, the narrating voice that comes whispering though a megaphone and glues the album songs with his tale of Joe and his entanglements in a dystopian society while trying to form a garage band, utters the following: “This is the CENTRAL SCRUTINIZER. Joe has just worked himself into an imaginary frenzy during the fade-out of his imaginary song. He begins to feel depressed now. He knows the end is near. He has realized at last that imaginary guitar notes and imaginary vocals exist only in the imagination of the imaginer. And ultimately, who gives a fuck anyway?! Excuse me. Who gives a fuck anyway? So he goes back to his ugly little room and quietly dreams his last imaginary guitar solo.”

Towards the end of the narration the band comes in with a riff that is played throughout the nine-minute song, a hypnotic slow arpeggiated pattern in a 9/4 time signature, The snare accents have tons of reverb and delay, creating a swooosh sound that sometimes sounds like wind. That effect alone adds another dimension to the song. As the song unfolds, the 9/4 cycle becomes a sort of a mantra that you cannot get out of your head after the song ends. But the best part comes right after the narration ends, with one of the best guitar solos in the history of music. There is really no song form here, no A, B or C parts, no verse, bridge or chorus. Its that pattern and the guitar on top of it, repeating endlessly with slight variation from one cycle to the next. The solo is uniquely emotional in Zappa’s catalog, and he considered it one of the top performances of his career.

Whether you like Joe’s Garage or not, you cannot argue with its sound quality. It was recorded at Village Recorders studios in Los Angeles where some other amazingly sounding albums were recorded in the late 70s including Steely Dan’s Aja, Supertramp’s Breakfast in America and Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk. The studio personnel was very accommodating and tried to provide everything the artists needed to get their creative juices going. Studio D was constructed especially for the production of Tusk, and Stevie Nicks asked for and got a vocal booth looking like a sunset in Tahiti. One of the things that stands out immediately when you hear the guitar on watermelon in Easter Hay is its tone, a clear spacey sound that works so well for the emotional mood of the piece and is very different from any other guitar sound I know. It was achieved by using the Space Station reverb unit in the days when sound engineers had to tinker with all of the equipment’s intricate options to get a unique sound. Today’s sameness of sound is a result of using factory presets in a digital age that encourages laziness when it comes to the sound and tone of an instrument.

The role of the other musicians on Watermelon in Easter Hay is much more restrained than usually on a Zappa composition, because they keep playing that 9/4 cycle over and over. But they are high enough in the mix that you can hear various nuances, especially by drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and percussionist Ed Mann on Marimba and Glockenspiel. In a long list of extraordinary drummers that worked with Frank Zappa over the years, including Ralph Humphrey, Chester Thompson, Chad Wakerman and Terry Bozzio, Colaiuta stands out as the one most able to cope up with Zappa’s polyrhythmical sense of phrasing. In an interview he explained: “I had a pretty fair knowledge of polyrhythms and stuff like that before I got in the band, but nowhere near what it became. I mean, I knew what they were theoretically, but in terms of approaching them the same way he did and using them on the drumset, no way. I got all that from him. In the two and a half years I was with him, it was incredible what I learned. If he sees you have it to begin with, you have to keep up with him. There’s so much information and knowledge coming out of him so fast that you have to be on your toes every second. I would play behind his guitar solos. He said, “I want you to listen to what I’m playing because I’m playing all those rhythms. When you accompany me, I don’t want you to just try to guess what they are and play some standard rhythmic fill. I want you to understand exactly where I’m at and communicate with me on that level.”

Many consider Vinnie Colaiuta the most advanced drummer who played with Zappa. Here is Steve Vai: “He’s one of the most amazing sight-readers that ever existed on the instrument. One day we were in a Frank rehearsal, this was early ’80s, and Frank brought in this piece of music called “Mo ‘N Herb’s Vacation.” Just unbelievably complex. All the drums were written out, just like “The Black Page” except even more complex. There were these runs of like 17 over 3 and every drumhead is notated differently. And there were a whole bunch of people there, I think Bozzio was there. Vinnie had this piece of music on the stand to his right. To his left he had another music stand with a plate of sushi on it, okay? Now the tempo of the piece was very slow, like “The Black Page.” And then the first riff came in, [mimics bizarre Zappa-esque drum rhythm patterns] with all these choking of cymbals, and hi-hat, riffs, spinning of rototoms and all this crazy stuff. And I saw Vinnie reading this thing. Now, Vinnie has this habit of pushing his glasses up with the middle finger of his right hand. Well I saw him look at this one bar of music, it was the last bar of music on the page. He started to play it as he was turning the page with one hand, and then once the page was turned he continued playing the riff with his right hand, as he reached over with his left hand, grabbed a piece of sushi and put it in his mouth, continued the riff with his left hand and feet, pushed his glasses up, and then played the remaining part of the bar. It was the slickest thing I have ever seen. Frank threw his music up in the air. Bozzio turned around and walked away. I just started laughing.”

Frank Zappa studio 1979

Frank Zappa developed the song during his live performances in 1978. The first recorded instance of Watermelon in Easter Hay was at at the Hammersmith Odeon in London on January 27, 1978. Another version was recorded a month later in Germany and is available on Frank Zappa Plays The Music Of Frank Zappa. A Memorial Tribute, an album released in 1996 by Dweezil Zappa that captures a few versions of pieces Zappa the father considered the best of his career . It is interesting to hear the development of the guitar solo from the early shows in 1978 to the ones on Halloween in New York and the studio version that appears on Joe’s Garage, recorded in 1979. The solo becomes more structured and mature in the last two and performances and projects a deeper emotion in my opinion. I believe the improvement is mainly due to the change of drummers from Terry Bozzio to Vinnie Colaiuta before the Halloween show .

On Joe’s Garage Zappa continued to use his technique of xenochrony, the placement of previously recorded material on top of studio tracks. Almost all his guitar solos on the album were recoded during live performances from his 1978 tours, and he let band members accompany these solos in the studio and improvise on top of them. He recorded only one new solo for Joe’s Garage and that was Watermelon in Easter Hay. As for the name, Zappa told an interviewer: “If a drummer overplays, if the bass player overplays or the keyboard overplays . . . if they don’t have any sensitivity to what I’m doing or if they aren’t smart enough to track the direction that I am going in it’s like dragging an anchor. In fact, I’ll point out the way that song, “Watermelon in Easter Hay” got its name. It’s from the statement that playing a solo with this band is like trying to grow a watermelon in Easter hay. And most of the bands that I’ve had it was like that. It’s been just recently where I’ve had rhythm sections that don’t get in my way and let me do what I am going to do.”

Zappa-Frank-Token-Of-His-Extreme-DVD-NEW

“Inca Roads” is one of Frank Zappa’s most cherished, covered, and appreciated pieces. It allied his ability to write a catchy song with his mastery of complex music forms, making it a favorite among progressive rock fans and virtuoso ensembles. The lyrics begin on a UFO theme: “Did a vehicle/Come from somewhere out there/Just to land in the Andes?,” referring to South American architectural structures some believed were landing sites for flying saucers. But quickly the song takes a dive into “life on the road.” The word “vehicle” is replaced by “booger-bear,” a title given to the band member who ended up with the ugliest groupie the previous night (which makes it the contrary of “Bwana Dik”). The name of drummer Chester Thompson comes up in regards to that, as it will again under similar circumstances in “Florentine Pogen.” The song ends with a tutti “On Ruth!,” a wink at percussionist Ruth Underwood’s .

“Inca Roads” was the opening track of the Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention 1975 album, “One Size Fits All”. The song features unusual time signatures, lyrics and vocals. The marimba-playing of Zappa’s percussionist Ruth Underwood is featured prominently. The song was played in concert from 1973 to 1976, 1979 and 1988. “Inca Roads” uses mixed meter time sequences.

The song starts with dominant vocals, drums, and marimba, but soon features a massive, iconic guitar solo performed by Zappa in late September 1974 at a live performance in Helsinki, Finland. An edited version of this solo recording (and part of the bass and drums accompaniment) was “grafted” onto the KCET track and forms the backbone of the One Size Fits All version . Later, George Duke plays an equally complex solo in . On the video, Zappa is seen smiling gleefully, as he plays the backup chords. After a short marimba solo, “Inca Roads” reprises its snappy intro. The song ends with the lyrics “On Ruth, on Ruth, that’s Ruth!” acknowledging Underwood for her leading on the marimba.

In an interview vocalist and keyboard player George Duke said that Zappa pushed for him to sing on “Inca Roads” and that beforehand Duke had no intentions of singing professionally and was only there to play keyboards. He went on to explain how Zappa had bought him a synthesizer (an instrument which Duke had disliked) and told him he could play around with it if he wanted. This led to Duke playing the synth part on “Inca Roads” as well

This re recorded version was featured on the Eagle Rock Entertainment Vdeo release in conjuction with the Zappa Family Trust first official release of A TOKEN OF HIS EXTREME, an original program created by Frank Zappa for TV. Recorded on August 27, 1974 at KCET in Hollywood.

“A Token of his Extreme” features Frank Zappa with five incredibly talented band members for this extravaganza of live music. The line-up exists of Frank Zappa—guitar, percussion, vocals; George Duke—keyboards, finger cymbals, tambourine, vocals; Napoleon Murphy Brock—sax, vocals; Ruth Underwood—percussion; Tom Fowler—bass; Chester Thompson—drums.

I always end up emotionally overwhelmed at the unparalleled majesty of this band’s musicianship. Ruth Underwood percussion is amazing, This is truly one of Frank Zappa’s greatest compositions. Not only is his solo jaw dropping but the band are just scorching hot too. All that knotty odd time, crazy harmony and difficult vocals just shows how great these guys were. George Duke just absolutely burns on this song.

The track was taken from the Program, as edited and thoroughly tweezed & produced by Frank Zappa for Honker Home Video includes these delights: The Dog Breath Variations/ Uncle Meat, Montana, Earl Of Duke (George Duke), Florentine Pogen, Stink-Foot, Pygmy Twylyte, Room Service, Inca Roads, Oh No, Son Of Orange County, More Trouble Every Day, A Token Of My Extreme. Stereo Mixes Produced by Frank Zappa with Kerry McNabb at Paramount Studios, 1974.

“This was put together with my own money and my own time and it’s been offered to television networks and to syndication and it has been steadfastly rejected by the American television industry. It has been shown in primetime in France and Switzerland, with marvelous results. It’s probably one of the finest pieces of video work that any human being has ever done. I did it myself. And the animation that you’re gonna see in this was done by a guy named Bruce Bickford, and I hope he is watching the show, because it’s probably the first time that a lot of people in America got a chance to see it.”- FZ appearing on the Mike Douglas Show, 1976 Because ‘Token’ has never been commercially released until now, it is one of the most sought after Frank Zappa programs.

The Band

  • Frank Zappa – guitar, vocals
  • George Duke – keyboards, synthesizer, lead vocals
  • Napoleon Murphy Brock – flute, tenor saxophone, vocals
  • Chester Thompson – drums
  • Tom Fowler – bass
  • Ruth Underwood – vibes, marimba, percussion

“Americans are ugly. This music is designed for them,” proclaimed Frank Zappa during the Mothers of Inventions first ever European show, their landmark concert at London s Royal Albert Hall. Yet although Zappa s work may have been designed as a critique of his homeland, he would discover that the Mothers output found its most loyal audience on distant shores. That legendary performance occurred on September 23rd, 1967, and seven days later the band were playing to another packed crowd at The Stockholm Concert Hall. This momentous event, broadcast nationally, is presented in its entirety and in superb quality on Go Ape!,

By the time of the performance Zappa and the first incarnation of the Mothers were at the height of their powers. Their extended residency at New York s Garrick Theatre between April and September, 1967, had given the band a chance to experiment with both their musical repertoire and their unpredictable onstage antics This combination of off-the-wall experimentation and musical dexterity is captured perfectly in the Stockholm performance. With a set-list that includes cover versions of rock and pop standards alongside snippets of Stravinsky and Tchaikovksy, the Mothers run through inimitable versions of Freak Out s You Didn t Try to Call Me and It Can t Happen Here and their classic B-Side Big Leg Emma . The centre-piece of the concert is a remarkable rendition of King Kong , a composition that Zappa would develop and hone for years.

Frank Zappa, live at the Konserthuset, Stockholm, Sweden this remarkable performance, broadcast from the Konserthuset in Stockholm, Sweden on national FM radio, “Big Leg Emma” (which had recently appeared as a 45 in Sweden), and an epic rendition of “King Kong” (in its first known live recording), as well as a couple of Elvis classics Blue Suede Shoes and Hound dog.

A section of it had previously appeared in orchestral form on Lumpy Gravy, and another version would eventually make up an entire side of the double LP Uncle Meat. The live rendition presented here is a unique 18 minute phenomenon, its first section highlighting the remarkable interplay between Bunk Gardener on clarinet, Ian Underwood on alto sax and Don Preston on keyboards, and its second section a Zappa-conducted explosion of improvised sound. For many, the first Mothers of Invention were the greatest group Zappa ever assembled. Go Ape! is a perfect example of what made them such a rare and remarkable beast.

Very interesting early show from the original Mothers. This set seems complete and the sound is top notch, and the performance of King Kong is a blinder! One to add to your collection for sure.

Los Angeles – July 3, 2018 – Coming on the heels of last month’s vinyl release of his enigmatic Burnt Weeny Sandwich, Frank Zappa’s stylistically diverse and subversive 1970 album Chunga’s Revenge will be the next classic Zappa album to be reissued on vinyl as part of the Zappa Family Trust and UMe’s ongoing initiative to restore the iconoclast’s iconic catalog. The record will receive a 180-gram audiophile repressing on black vinyl on July 20 via Zappa Records/UMe. Supervised by the ZFT, the record was specially mastered for this release by Bernie Grundman with all analog production and cut directly from the original 1970 analog master tapes. Unavailable on vinyl for more than three decades, the last pressing was in 1986 for Zappa’s rare Old Masters Box Two on his own Barking Pumpkin Records. The LP, which will be pressed at Pallas in Germany, will include meticulously reproduced original artwork. A limited edition color vinyl version is also in the works to be released on the same date.

Chunga’s Revenge was one of three albums that the highly prolific composer released in 1970, followingBurnt Weeny SandwichandWeasels Ripped My Flesh. Although released under Frank Zappa’s own name, the album is most notable for introducing a new Mothers lineup that included the Phlorescent Leech (Flo) & Eddie, the pseudonyms for former Turtles members Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman who performed under the aliases due to contractual restrictions. The reconfigured lineup included bassist Jeff Simmons,keyboardist and trombonist George Duke, drummer Aynsley Dunbar and multi-instrumentalist Ian Underwood. Derived from various sessions during that year, the record ebbs and flows between instrumental and vocal tracks and as noted by Zappa on the original sleeve, “All the vocals in this album are a preview of the story from 200 Motels,” his acclaimed film and soundtrack released the following year.

From the funky guitar workout of opener “Transylvania Boogie” to the bluesy send-up “Road Ladies” to the jazzy “Twenty Small Cigars,” a standout recorded during the Hot Rats sessions, Chunga’s Revenge is an eclectic affair that sees the ever-restless musician and his adroit band traipse through a variety of genres with aplomb. The album’s centerpiece, closing side A, is “The Nancy & Mary Music,” an almost 10-minute long three-part improvisational suite recorded live that sees each Mother flexing their musical muscles for a freewheeling freak-out of epic proportions. Side B opens with the hard rocker “Tell Me You Love Me” which gives way to the warped pop of “Would You Go All The Way” and the jammy title track, propelled by Ian Underwood’s wah-wah pedal sax solo. The album closes with two songs that showcase the vocal talents of Flo & Eddie: “Rudy Wants To Buy Yez a Drink,” Zappa’s jaunty, tropical-tinged response to his experiences with the Musician’s Union, and “Sharleena,” a soulful ballad that see Zappa putting his unique spin on doo-wop and R&B.

Coming on Record Store Day! Lumpy Gravy: Primordial contains Frank Zappa’s first orchestral-only edit of the music sessions recorded at Capitol Studios during 1967.

Released in 1967, Frank Zappa’s first solo album Lumpy Gravy was a radical and schizophrenic experience, splicing together modern classical, rock, R&B and spoken word into an soupy, almost overstuffed delight. This Record Store Day release further edits those sessions down to just the work recorded by what its composer had dubbed the Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra, an ensemble of session musicians that included drummer Shelly Manne and pianist Paul Smith. Mastered from the original ¼” tape, these two tracks are dizzying and glorious, aided by the decision to press the two pieces onto the brown-ish vinyl at 45 RPM. Some of the more beautiful moments from the original LP have been sadly excised but the sense of humor that drove much of Zappa’s work remains as does the complexity of this self-proclaimed “curiously inconsistent piece.”

This self-described “ballet” was never officially issued until 2008 on the posthumous collection Lumpy Money.

On Record Store Day 2018 it makes it’s debut on limited edition 12” 45rpm mono translucent burgundy colored vinyl, mastered from the original 1967 1/4” mono master tape, with FZ’s original gatefold album design lovingly restored.

Pick up your copy at a record store near you on April 21st!

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Ambitious Zappa Classics Back On Wax

Fifty years on from the release of his debut album with The Mothers Of InventionFrank Zappa’s work remains the subject of fascination. With many archival releases already celebrating his vast body of work, on 9th December Zappa Records/UMe will release five of Frank Zappa’s most ambitious outings on 180g vinyl, spanning a decade’s worth of innovation.

Earlier in the year, the 3CD Lumpy Money Project/Object release offered an unprecedented look at the making of two of Zappa’s classics, his debut solo album, Lumpy Gravy, and his acerbic, hippie-baiting third album with The MothersWe’re Only In It For The Money. Released in 1967, the first marked Zappa’s first foray into modern classical, mixing musique concrète with pioneering tape-editing techniques, and combining the 50-piece Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra with LA’s famed Wrecking Crew to create a truly unique sound. Following a year later, Money” gleefully took both the counter-culture and mainstream to task in a politically charged, no-hold-barred attack on contemporary politics. No less potent in today’s charged political landscape, it remains a high point in a career stuffed with them.

Frank Zappa We're Only In It For The Money Album Cover - 300

The trio of 60s reissues in this batch closes with 1968’s Cruising With Reuben And The Jets, in which Zappa and The Mothers revisited their beloved 50s doo-wop and R&B. Not that this was straight homage: despite sounding like an uncharacteristically straight attempt to capture the music, keen-eared listeners will hear nods to Igor Stravinsky in the music, while Zappa used the concept to both send up the doo-wop scene, even as he celebrated it.

Zappa called time on his original Mothers line-up in 1970, the same year that Weasels Ripped My Flesh was released. Pieced together from sessions that took place across 1967 and ’69, its mix of live and studio recordings shone a light on the wide-ranging influences that helped The Mothers of Invention become one of the most diverse groups of their generation. Featuring future Little Feat mainman Lowell George on guitar, and including everything from a cover of Little Richard (‘Directly From My Heart To You’) to an uncompromising barrage of feedback (the title track), it’s one of the most varied – but most insightful – albums in Zappa’s oeuvre.

Zappa’s confrontational streak only grew throughout the 70s. By the time he conceived of the three-act Joe’s Garage, which is here reissued as a 3LP set, the album surfaced at the height of punk and the new wave, and sees Zappa in as anarchic a mood as any of the young upstarts coming up beneath him. Envisioning a world where the government is trying to suppress music, Joe’s Garage is one of Zappa’s most successful satires, tackling religion, censorship and the government – and emerging as a typically wide-ranging release from a man for whom there were no boundaries.

Lumpy Gravy, We’re Only In It For The Money, Cruising With Reuben And The Jets, Weasels Ripped My Flesh and the 3LP Joe’s Garage are all due for release on 9th December.

On February 2, 2018, Zappa Records/UMe will release

43 years ago in December 1973Frank Zappa played a series of legendary concerts at the famed Roxy Theatre on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. Considered a high-water mark of his career, owing to the incredible, virtuosic performances of himself and his stellar band The Mothers, the five shows – across three nights – included a private invite-only performance/soundcheck/film shoot followed by back-to-back doubleheaders. A few days later, continuing this incredibly prolific week, Frank Zappa brought his band and camera crew to Ike Turner’s Bolic Sound in Inglewood for a filmed recording session. In typical Zappa fashion, he recorded it all.

Zappa Records presents The Roxy Performances. A 7-Disc Box Set that contains the MOTHERLODE of all things Roxy. All 4 public shows from December 9th & 10th 1973, remixed in 2016 and presented in their entirety for the first time. Also included is the sound check from December 8th and bonus content that features rehearsal nuggets and unreleased tracks along with highlights from the recording session at Bolic Studios that took place in conjunction with the filming dates.  The box set that collects all four public shows from December 9th-10th, 1973, and the December 8th film shoot/soundcheck, each presented in their entirety for the first time, along with bonus content featuring rarities from a rehearsal, unreleased tracks and highlights from the Bolic Studios recording session. This complete collection, totaling nearly eight hours, documents the Roxy shows as they happened and presents brand new 2016 mixes by Craig Parker Adams from new 96K 24 Bit transfers of the multi-track masters. The set is rounded out with a 48-page booklet that includes photos from the performances, extensive liner notes by Vaultmeister Joe Travers, essays from Zappa family friend, Australian writer Jen Jewel Brown,and American singer/songwriter Dave Alvin, who give their firsthand recollections about the shows, and a selection of archival press reviews.

This is one of my favorite Frank Zappa line-ups ever. This box contains some of the best nights of music Los Angeles has ever seen with their ears at an historic venue,” says Ahmet Zappa, who co-produced the collection along with Travers, “Hold on to your hotdogs people. This box is the be-all-end-all. This is it. This is all of it. It’s time to get your rocks off for the Roxy.”

While portions of these concerts have been released in various formats over the years – first in 1974 on the album Roxy and Elsewhere, which mixed material from the shows with performances recorded in different locations months later, followed by 2014’s Roxy By Proxy, which featured Zappa’s 1987 digital mixes of tracks from various shows, and most recently the 2015 film Roxy The Movie and its accompanying soundtrack – the shows have never been released in their entirety until now.

The Roxy Performances capture Zappa and The Mothers in peak condition as they play to rowdy sold-out crowds in the intimate, just-opened venue in their hometown Los Angeles following the release of Over-Nite Sensation. The extraordinary band was one of Zappa’s best with keyboardist George Duke, bassist Tom Fowler, trombonist Bruce Fowler, tenor saxophonist and vocalist Napoleon Murphy Brock, percussionist Ruth Underwood and drummers Ralph Humphrey and Chester Thompson all flawlessly in lockstep as Zappa led them through his musically adventurous compositions filled with complicated time signatures and sudden tempo changes. As the Los Angeles Times remarked in their review, “The content of any show starring Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention is unpredictable. But the quality of the show is predictable. I have seen this satirical rock group many times and every show has been excellent. True to form, the group performed sensationally at the Roxy on Sunday night.” The (long-defunct) Los Angeles Herald-Examiner was equally impressed: “This time around Zappa, the counter-culture’s John Cage, has assembled a remarkable group of musicians. Tim Fowler on bass, his brother Bruce on trombone, Ralph Humphrey on drums, and George Duke, whose keyboard skills almost upstaged the leader himself. Percussionist Ruth Underwood kept up with the band’s frenetic pace without missing a single swat of the gong, and she was incredible.”

The material expertly performed across the five shows consisted mostly of songs from 1969 and beyond and included a dizzying array of stylistic diverse tracks from Uncle Meat, Hot Rats, Waka/Jawaka and Over-Nite Sensation. The shows also include a number of live favorites like “Village Of The Sun,” “Pygmy Twylyte,” “Cheepnis,” “Penguin In Bondage,” “Echidna’s Arf (Of You),” and “Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing.” Many of these ended up on Roxy & Elsewhere.

Jen Jewel Brown and Dave Alvin give a glimpse at what it was like to be at these historic shows in their richly detailed essays in the liner notes that accompany the recordings. Alvin reflects about meeting Zappa on the Isle of Capri in 1982 while on tour with his band The Blasters and how Zappa’s eyes lit up when he told him he saw him at the Roxy. “You were at a Roxy show?,” he beamed. He goes on to write, “The Roxy Mothers were a grand combination of high art, low art, masterful technique and razor sharp humor with a touch of wild abandon.” In Brown’s reflection, “This is a cultural record and there’s some prime Zappanalia here. Frank had put the crippling disasters of December ’71 behind him and was plunged headlong into some of the most beautiful music and zestful, open-hearted engagement with life imaginable.”