Double Zappa |FZ| 1971-72

This would have been good to post two days ago, considering the original Mothers chose their band name on Mother’s Day. The label tacked on “Of Invention” in an attempt to lessen the weird. By 1971, Zappa’s ever evolving band — now fronted by Flo & Eddie, the lead singers from The Turtles — proudly reclaimed their simpler title and re-upped the weirdness to a frenzied degree. To me, these two live albums from the age of 200 Motels are the most fun picks from the discography.

Fillmore East (1971)
FZ kept extensive archives of his live recordings, and Cal Schenkel‘s pencil-scribbled cover (“He made me do it!” pleading on the back) must be an homage to one of the actual reels. Opening with a tasty instrumental reworking from Burnt Weeny Sandwich, Fillmore East becomes a stage play of sorts, with the Turtles assuming the role of one of Frank’s long-lived obsessions: starstruck groupies looking to get their “rocks off.” What Kind of Girl Do You Think We Are is genius for its seemingly off-the-cuff yet fully orchestrated vocals, riffing all sorts of mayhem over a modified blues. And before this, the Mud Shark fits a memorable rock n roll tale over a soulful little groove. The sound they had by this show is wild: a combination of organ, Rhodes piano, Don Preston’s Minimoog, and Zappa’s gritty guitar all the while complemented by the over-the-top falsettos of Flo & Eddie (whose voices you might recognize from T-Rex’s Slider album). As usual, Zappa’s band is on top of its game.

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“The Mud Shark”

:D CD Reissue | 1995 | Zappa Records | buy from amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1971 | Reprise | search ebay ]

Just Another Band From LA (1972)
“Billy was a mountain. Ethel was a tree growing off of his shoulder.” It just astounds the mind what Zappa was able to accomplish in his lifetime; case in point: the 25-minute, fully developed performance piece on side one of this record, Billy The Mountain. As a canned recording, it’s more road trip fare than casual listening, but it must have been quite a lucky few to have seen it performed live, a bizarre tale complete with character acting, theme songs, sound effects, and very catchy refrains. Side two rounds out the experience with harder rock interpretations of early Mothers classics like Call Any Vegetable and Dog Breath. Two new tracks, Eddie, Are You Kidding and the perverted Magdalena are suitably ridiculous for one of the Mothers’ nuttiest incarnations.

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“Call Any Vegetable”

:D CD Reissue | 1995 | Zappa Records | buy from amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1972 | Bizarre | search ebay ]


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2 Comments.

  • Saul

    I believe these to be best LIVE concert albums of any era!

  • Bennett Fischer

    “Fillmore East – 1971″ was recorded over two nights (four shows) that were among the last shows at the Fillmore before it closed. I was a huge Mothers freak, had seen the Mothers a bunch of times, and was at the Friday night (I think) late show of this engagement. It was my favorite of all the Mothers shows that I had seen in NY.

    This was the “new” Mothers, with Flo & Eddie. The band and the audience were really locked in to each other. “Mud Shark” came at the end of the set, and Zappa (almost) succeeded in having the entire Fillmore audience dance out of the theater in a bizarre conga line, with one hand between your legs holding the hand of the person behind you, and your other hand holding onto the hand between the legs of the person in front of you – the “Mud Shark” baby!

    We snaked through the aisles, but it’s a good thing that not many of us actually danced out of the theater, because at the end of our tumultuous applause, we got a special encore treat. When the stage lights came back on, who should stroll onto the stage from the left side wings, but John Lennon, guitar in hand, strumming away on some old Chuck Berry chestnut (I can’t remember which one)! The audience just went crazy. You have to remember that the Beatles had just broken up a year or so before this and seeing a Beatle in person was a real mind blower. Lennon was really wailing on guitar, and the Mothers discreetly came back to their instruments and accompanied him through the last part of his song.

    Then Yoko came out and did one of her screachy numbers. Not my cup of tea, but it was really interesting, and a lot of fun, as Zappa led the Mothers along with hand signals to accompany her. Flo & Eddie earned their money on that one! A memorable show indeed.

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