Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lawrence University Chapel, Appleton, Wis. 1969

While this bootleg is a bit rough around the edges in terms of sound quality, it contains some of Zappa’s most rhythmically intense and interesting interpretations of early Mothers of Invention of material. Sure, it has some killer guitar work, like the solo in “Little House I Used to Live In,” as well as Zappa playing on guitar the piano part for “Aybe Sea.” But what really stands out in this recording is the intensity and articulation of the rhythm section. In fact, Frank was reported to comment that the concerts he had played in Appleton were two of the best performances the band ever gave.

There were several permutations of this concert bootlegged, none of which appear to have the entire show. The boot “Days of Yore,” for example, has just five tracks from the concert, with a sixth, spurious track added from a Berlin concert 5 years after Appleton. The tracks were identified as: 1) Some Ballet Music; 2) Uncle Meat; 3) Eye of Agamotto; 4) My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama; 5) Clap & Vomit; and 6) Dickie’s Such an Asshoe (from Deutschlandhalle, Berlin, Sept. 14, 1974).

A different boot, “Mothers of Invention Appleton Album,” included six tracks from Appleton, but also had an added track from a different show from about a month later. The tracks included were: 1) Eye of Agamotto; 2) My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama; 3) Clap & Vomit; 4)The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue; 5) Hungry Freaks, Daddy; 6) The Return of the Son of the Hunchback Duke; and 7) The Story of A Pound for a Brown on the Bus (from a June 5 performance same year at Guild Hall in Portsmouth, UK).

The “Appleton Album” boot did promise a follow-up release, which came in the form of “Appleton Volume 2.” That release included the last half of the show: 1) Hungry Freaks, Daddy; 2) The Return of the Son of the Hunchback Duck (this also identified that included a medley of Little House I Used to Live In); 3) Help I’m a Rock; and 4) King Kong.

A fourth variation appeared under the title “Got Zapped Back in ’69,” which provided some spurious titles to some of the concert tracks. As pointed out at the site I linked above, the opening number was titled “Flute Solo (from The Adventures of Greggary Peccary),” a bit of misinformation because Greggary Peccary hadn’t been written at the time.

You can see by the track listing below that the recording I’m referring to includes the entire show and provides a bit more detail of some of the other tunes that were included in the show. For example, the song misidentified as “Flute Solo” Frank introduces as some ballet music that the band had made part of its live shows at the time and which included some bizarre dancing on the stage.

What I find really amazing about this concert is the complexity of the music and its flawless delivery. And just as interesting is the audience’s response to the show: they loved it! Art Tripp during the introduction to “The Eye of Agamotto” is brilliant.

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

Lawrence University Chapel, Appleton, Wis., May 23, 1969.

Track listing:

1. intro
2. Some Ballet Music
3. Uncle Meat
4. Eye Of Agamotto
5. My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama
6. Clap & Vomit (audience participation)
7. Kung Fu
8. Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue (q: Teddy Bears' Picnic, Tea For Two, It Had To Be You, Octandre)
9. Hungry Freaks Daddy
10. Little House I Used To Live In
11. Aybe Sea
12. Transylvania Boogie / Help I'm A Rock / Transylvania Boogie
13. King Kong
14. Igor's Boogie / Little Doo-Wop


Frank Zappa – guitar, vocals
Jimmy Carl Black – drums, percussion
Roy Estrada – bass, vocals
Bunk Gardener – woodwinds
Buzz Gardener – trumpet, flugel horn
Lowell George – rhythm guitar, vocals
Euclid James "Motorhead" Sherwood – woodwinds, vocals
Art Tripp – percussion
Ian Underwood – woodwinds, piano, keyboards

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