Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fillmore East: June 1971

The musical relationships Frank Zappa had with other artists of his era were as varied as the rhythmic changes that occurred in many of his compositions. Eventually, I may touch on most of these connections when appropriate (such as I did with the “collaboration” Zappa had with Jack Bruce of Cream that I mention in my entry on the album “Apostrophe(‘)”). For now, one is very relevant, and that is the collaboration Zappa had with former members of The Turtles, Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan. Four significant recordings came out of this relationship (not in order): “Just Another Band From L.A.,” “200 Motels,” “Chunga’s Revenge,” and “Fillmore East: June 1971.”

Although the first Zappa album (or more accurately the first Mothers album) I listened to was “Absolutely Free,” it was “Fillmore East” that probably sealed my fate as a Zappa fan. Granted, this and the other Volman/Kaylan (who called themselves the Phlorescent Leech and Eddie) recordings have been relegated by most Zappaphiles to the bin of the overtly comedic enterprises Zappa was involved with, as well as labeled by many as juvenile and prurient in terms of their content, let’s face it: I was in junior high school when I first heard this album. It was content I was ready for. As the lyric states in “What Kind of Girl Do You Think We Are?”: You came to the right place/This is it/This is the swingingest place in New York City/No shit.

At the time, I was gleefully shocked by the explicit lyrics, as were probably many others. But there was a lot going on with these recordings musically, and that intrigued me as well. As simplistic and puerile as many of the pieces are, there are some outstanding live performances of Zappa’s work, such as “Willie the Pimp,” in which I think Zappa gets down so dirty and low with his guitar solo that it electrifies your skin. And the opening number, “Little House I Used to Live In,” is another showcase piece that Zappa includes in the show, perhaps, for members of the audience whose sole reason for attending may have been the comedic element presented by Flo and Eddie.

Their performance of “Happy Together” is classic, and a perfect segue into the final numbers that include “Lonesome Electric Turkey,” “Peaches en Regalia,” and “Tears Begin to Fall.” Interestingly, there is a bit of flash back to this song on the Buffalo CD.

Worthy of note here is the very contrary opinion expressed by Mark Prindle in his blog, who makes no pretense about how he feels regarding this and the other Flo & Eddie recordings. I provide the link for your edification

The Fillmore shows of 1971 were noted for another “appearance” that FZ did not press onto vinyl until “Playground Psychotics” was released in 1992, and that was when John Lennon and Yoko Ono joined Frank on stage during one of the shows. A reference to the event can be found at the blog Kill Ugly Radio. Photographic evidence of the event can be found here. Lennon released the live version of “Scumbag” he did with Frank on the later release “Sometime in New York City,” which is slightly different from the version from “Playground Psychotics.” You know Frank and the way he likes to mix things. Here is also an interesting transaction from an interview during which FZ explains what happened that night and subsequent developments. Below is a video from YouTube that shows a short, edited version of the appearance. A complete video of the appearance had been posted here, but was removed at the source because of a copyright infringement. Yoko was in perfect atonal screaming form.

A significant problem with the CD release of this recording is the fact that “Willie the Pimp Part 2” was omitted. With the album, sides 1 and 2 were transitioned by “Willie the Pimp” with Part 1 finishing side A and Part 2 picking up the transition on side 2. Why it was omitted with the CD release is inexplicable.

More information about Flo & Eddie can be found here, here, here and here.

Check out this blog about The Turtles.

I rate this recording three out of five stars. Add your own rating below.

Album release date: Aug. 2, 1971, Bizarre/Reprise.

Album track listings:

Side one
"Little House I Used to Live In" - 4:58
"The Mud Shark" - 5:16
"What Kind of Girl Do You Think We Are?" - 4:51
"Bwana Dik" - 2:27
"Latex Solar Beef" - 4:22
"Willie the Pimp Part One" - 2:50
Side two
"Willie the Pimp Part Two" - 1:54
"Do You Like My New Car?" - 7:08
"Happy Together" (2:57)
"Lonesome Electric Turkey" - 2:34
"Peaches en Regalia" - 3:22
"Tears Began to Fall" - 2:46

Compact Disc

"Little House I Used to Live In" – 4:41
"The Mud Shark" – 5:22
"What Kind of Girl Do You Think We Are?" – 4:17
"Bwana Dik" – 2:21
"Latex Solar Beef" – 2:38
"Willie the Pimp, Pt. 1" – 4:03
"Do You Like My New Car?" – 7:08
"Happy Together" (Gary Bonner, Alan Gordon) – 2:57
"Lonesome Electric Turkey" – 2:32
"Peaches en Regalia" – 3:22
"Tears Began to Fall" – 2:45


Frank Zappa – guitar, vocals, dialogue
Aynsley Dunbar – drums
Bob Harris – keyboards, vocals
Howard Kaylan – vocals, dialogue
Jim Pons – bass, vocals, dialogue
Don Preston – Moog synthesizer
Ian Underwood – keyboards, vocals, woodwind
Mark Volman – vocals, dialogue


Meredith said...

Hello - the links to the videos are broken. Is there any chance you know where I could find a video of the full performance?

Richard Harrold said...

Sorry Meredith, I don't know where there might be one. It was an audience recording, and I doubt the ZFT has any video from this event in its archives. Thanks, however, for pointing out the link was broken.