Frank's Old Boots

By Edwin Pouncey

Record Hunter, January 1991

Tis The Season To Be Jelly
The Ark
Freaks & Motherfu**k!
Unmitigated Audacity
Anyway The Wind Blows
As An Am Zappa
(All Foo-Eee/Castle Communications CD only)

Although Frank Zappa holds his nose regarding the quality control of this batch of bootlegs he has picked to officially release, much is of value and (gulp) historical importance. The archive poop on Tis The Season (a '67 Mothers gig recorded in Sweden) and The Ark (another Mothers concert recorded in Boston circa '68) is pretty nifty. Particularly impressive is the side long 'Uncle Meat/King Kong' medley on The Ark which echoes free jazz in its infancy, and the experimental Stockhausenesque radio piece that wobbles through 'Jelly'. (8 each)

Freaks & Mother"k! is less satisfying, a 1970 Fillmore East gig that features the vocal high jinks of those terrible Turtles (the Flo and Eddie kind as opposed to the Mutant Ninja type). Not even the special guest spot of Dr John can save this stinkeroo from floundering as Flo and Eddie bounce all over it. Frank's guitar, however, when you can hear it, sounds kinda punky. (5)

Piquantique (a Stockholm gig from '73) is another kettle of mudsharks altogether. Here Frank is joined by the brass section of Tom and Bruce Fowler, violinist Jean Luc Ponty (now an arch enemy), good buddy Ian Underwood with wife Ruth and keyboards wizard George Duke. Together they make a mighty fine noise with few (phew!) jokes. (8)

Unmitigated Audacity (featuring a slightly altered line up in action at Notre Dame University circa '74) is hot stuff. Here such 'Freak Out' favourites as 'It Can't happen Here', 'Hungry Freaks Daddy' and 'More Trouble Coming Every Day' are amazingly dragged to life onstage. Wowie zowie! You'll wish you'd been there. (8)

Saarbrucken 1978 and and the majority of Anyway (a double, taken from a '79 Paris concert) are less intriguing, albeit brilliantly performed. When Frank rips into a guitar solo the full might of his composing muscle can be felt. (6&7)

At the beginning of As An Am Zappa (a New York Halloween special from '81 which has, for some mysterious reason, been phased throughout) Frank shoots his mouth off about how the bootleg industry makes him mad end how he plans to set the FBI on the creeps who are ripping him off. (6)

Older and wiser now Frank Zappa has stopped getting mad ... instead he has chosen to get even.

Edwin Pouncey