Road Tapes venue #1, Kerrisdale Arena, Vancouver BC, 25Aug68

punknaynowned - 11-11-2012 at 19:33

it's good. If you don't have the beat the boots series it's better. There's a few songs here not on Ahead of their Time. Audience participation is right up front. There's a number of places Frank shows he can play guitar, Don Preston gets a couple very nice organ improvs. The only real obvious edit comes after the first verse in Trouble Every Day cutting out the middle all the way to the last verse, but that's neatly sewn up with the screen door slap from Studio Z. Frank tells stories too.
I really like this period and this show is as great an example of what they could do as we are likely to get. Could I have wished for a longer Pound/Sleeping jam or a Mr Green Genes? Sure. Does Octandre make up for that? Pretty much.

polydigm - 11-11-2012 at 22:33

Mine's still roaming the globe somewhere. After your comments I'm now hyper looking forward to this.

punknaynowned - 12-11-2012 at 05:08


as a long time fan I had been hoping for something like this in lots of ways. More live shows, more early live shows, more early MOI live shows, more renditions of things that only that band played. To hear about the upcoming series of live shows was a long held wish that often seemed impossible, unrealistic. The live material that had been released already by the zft was wonderful but all such a tease pointing out mere drops in the ocean of what could be found in the vault. Time and money it seemed would dictate how long the family could keep putting these things out for fetishists like me.
So the news of a new series of live material was exciting, fantastic. One hopes it is alongside the rest of releases with other vaulternative product coming as well as the other gobbets the family lets go of like "Feeding the Monkies", Carnegie Hall or "One Shot Deal".
So a new series and they start with an old one. I long have said Burnt Weeny Sandwich was my favorite fz record. This band recorded that and play some of it live on this set. I knew it had to be that way even when the info of the date 25aug68 was released. Or I hoped. More excitement. :drums:

I realized I had the $50 that I could get away with spending right now and the city wouldn't shut off my water this month, so I made the instant purchase when I saw the pre-order notice. More excitement.:drums:

A couple days ago, somebody who works at the distribution center in Virginia posted the titles on the internet. I was right! Holiday In Berlin full blown! And the kicker -- TWO discs! More excitement.:drums:

That day I got a notice my copy had been shipped! It surprised me how it took alot of self-control not to check the tracker of where the package had last been over the next few days but the news has been taking itself entirely too seriously this week so, at least I had something else to focus on. But in the back of my mind ... you guessed it, :drums:

The truth remains, I have a dozen of these. From December 1967 through June 1969 there's twenty-seven plus known recordings in 'FZshows' and over at zappateers. I've listened to all of them and catalogued them by sound quality and date, picked favorites and made mixtapes and bored my friends with them. For years. Over and over.

There's something especially inventive about those early mother's directed improvs that reveal how seamlessly Frank understood all kinds of music.
In 1968 Jimi Hendrix, Cream, thought they were and wanted to be playing jazz. And they were, sort of. Miles Davis on the other hand, was trying out electric instruments in his ensemble. The rhythms, modes and moods generated in his 1968 recordings with Herbie Hancock on electric organ, piano, keyboards, George Benson sometimes on electric guitar, added elements that were common in rock, but with those players, there was no way it could be anything but serious jazz. Even layers of tonal color, dissonance and counter rhythms that Wayne Shorter would often use and have in his songs - he wrote many of the MD 'rock' period songs - might feel like rock but doesn't quite get there. Often because it wont quite fit in 4/4.:P
But it wasn't just jazz that the 1968 Mothers could do, on that scale. Frank also had a fondness for audience participation and this ensemble could definitely generate that under Frank's direction. A 1973 clip of Frank doing this with a television audience in Australia that shows some of it. People wanted to follow along. They wanted an excuse to.
Maybe because they are on tv or at a show, but participation is more fun than mere observation. Frank appreciates the reception in Vancouver at this 'electric ice box' and tells them so.

Some of the better sounding tapes of this period reveal some of the precision that the MOI execute many numbers, yet every night there were improvs that were thrown in here and there. By Frank, Don, etc. with the vocals but they seem to be cue-based rather than not. Later Frank would edit the tapes like on AOTT or for use in one of the records and that tends to mask many changes in the music that would reveal such cues. You've seen enough video to know fz did this. My point of this is tho that not only could they do this being so fluid with different 'kinds of ' music - I'm sure they worked on the changes a lot maybe '67 - but could jump to any other at a hand wave or head nod or finger signal from Frank.

This set shows off all that beautifully. Because the tape is so clear and not cut up. There is some hiss or 'crackle' but I can't tell if that's tape or amp or 'buzz' from cymbals or electrical noise from plugged-in instruments onstage. And it doesn't detract from the clarity of the instruments, let alone the music... it's part of it. The only edit seems that one with Trouble Every Day and using the screen-door slap. And the beauty of the mono recording itself seems to come from a perfectly placed microphone right onstage in the middle of things, like only an fz might know where to put such a thing.

So don't worry about the sound. Some of this sounds like what Miles Davis would do in 1969 and 1970 with luminaries like Shorter and Hancock, John McLoughlin and yet, still different. Hendrix could never get a band to do that and Clapton tumbled off into drug abuse instead. And still, in 1968, Octandre for a rock audience? Wow!

And this is the first in a series? From amidst the dustbins and the metal racks and plastic sheeting hidden in a basement in Laurel Canyon?
It's like he knew all along that there was a plan. The only thing that surprised him was how other people might or might not here it.

[Edited on 12-11-12 by punknaynowned]

polydigm - 12-11-2012 at 10:44

Wow, you're right into it - but I get where you're coming from. There are too many ironies in FZ's progression. He dumped the original Mothers because they weren't professional enough - in spite of his seeming contempt of professional musicians. Then, when he got musicians who were more likely to be able to play all the right notes he had become more hide bound by compositionally definite material and so those improvisational tours de force ceased to happen - not totally, but just not on the same scale. He continued with the hand signal thing but it was never as major a part of the show as it was with the original Mothers. As far as I'm concerned he should have stopped using that name - from 1969 on it should only have been Frank Zappa.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not an early Mothers nut, and I love a lot of the stuff that came afterward, but he had no right to keep on using that name after he dumped them.

I would like to get a band together myself that attempts that kind of music, but I fear I won't find anyone out there who has the courage that it would require to play it nor venues that would allow it to take place nor an audience who gives a shit. None the less, I will be sending out my first ad before this coming Christmas.

punknaynowned - 12-11-2012 at 20:34

Go for it, G!