Posts Tagged ‘The Mothers of Invention’

Zappa Records/UMe will next month issue “The Mothers 1970”, a four-CD Frank Zappa box set which features 70 unreleased tracks from the short-lived 1970 line-up of the Mothers of Invention.
The band during this period last around seven months and was Aynsley Dunbar, George Duke, Ian Underwood, Jeff Simmons, and Flo & Eddie (aka Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman).

This new box set features over four hours of unreleased music, with the first CD featuring unheard studio sessions from Trident Studios in London England (with engineer Roy Thomas Baker) and the remainder offering historical live performances mostly captured by Zappa’s own tape recorder (a UHER recorder).

All recordings were sourced from their original tapes discovered in The Vault and digitally transferred and compiled by Travers in 2020. Some tracks were mixed by Craig Parker Adams and the collection was mastered by John Polito at Audio Mechanics. The Mothers line-up that included Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, is one of my favourite periods in Frank Zappa’s musical history. Howard and Mark did some amazing vocals for their group, The Turtles, and as back-up singers for Marc Bolan & T. Rex, but really stole the show when doing lead vocal harmonies (and naughty satirical dialogues with Frank) as the reincarnation of The Mothers for the 1970-1972 live performances. I loved this stuff when I was in my early teens, plus the fact that my mom and dad really hated it made it even more alluring.  Historical live performances mostly captured by Zappa’s own tape recorder.

The Mothers 1970 is presented in a clamshell box and includes a booklet and a button. It has been produced by Ahmet Zappa and Joe Travers and will be released on 26th June 2020.

Cruising with Ruben & the Jets is the fourth studio album by the Mothers of Invention. Released on December 2nd, 1968, on Bizarre and Verve Records with distribution by MGM Records, it was subsequently remixed by Frank Zappa and reissued independently.

As with the band’s previous three albums, it is a concept album, influenced by 1950s doo wop and rock and roll. The album’s concept deals with a fictitious Chicano doo wop band called Ruben & the Jets, the cover illustration depicts the Mothers of Invention as anthropomorphic dogs. Zappa described the album as an homage to the 1950s vocal music that he was “crazy” about. Mothers member Collins later left the Mothers of Invention, and Zappa began working on a project entitled No Commercial Potential, which included sessions that produced Cruising with Ruben & the Jets,which later produced three other albums: Lumpy Gravy, We’re Only in It for the Money and Uncle Meat.

Zappa later stated, regarding the releases Lumpy Gravy, We’re Only in It for the Money, Cruising with Ruben & the Jets andUncle Meat, “It’s all one album. All the material in the albums is organically related and if I had all the master tapes and I could take a razor blade and cut them apart and put it together again in a different order it still would make one piece of music you can listen to. Then I could take that razor blade and cut it apart and reassemble it a different way, and it still would make sense. I could do this twenty ways. The material is definitely related.

The album and its singles received some radio success, due to its doo wop sound.

Ray Collins rejoined the Mothers of Invention for the recording of the album, as his high falsetto was really suited for the recordings. According to Collins, “I brought the style of being raised in Pomona, California, being raised on the Four Aces, the Four Freshmen, Frankie Lane, Frank Sinatra and Jesse Baldwin. The early influences of R&B came into the Southern California area when I was probably in the tenth grade in high school. And I remember Peter Potter’s show, and I think I recall the first R&B tune on there was ‘Oop-Shoop’. Frank actually had more influences from the ‘real blues’, you know, like Muddy Waters, those kind of people. But I wasn’t into that in my early life. I was more of the pop culture, pop radio things, and it’s always been more of a favourite of mine than the early blues stuff

The range of material includes originals as well as standards like Chuck Berry’s “Almost Grown,” and there’s not a weak moment anywhere on the album. And as good as all of For Real! is — without a false note sounded anywhere — they save the best for last, a stomping, killer version of “All Nite Long” that definitely leaves the listener wanting more

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

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