When Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention were Lenny Bruce’s opening act, 1966
01.07.2014
05:14 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Frank Zappa
Lenny Bruce
Mothers Of Invention


 
As regular readers of this blog know, I am a massive Mothers of Invention fan and also a huge Lenny Bruce aficionado. I’ve got a painting of the original Mothers above my desk as I type this and several pieces of rare Lenny Bruce memorabilia on the bookshelves behind me.

Last week when I found that wild recording of Lenny speaking to students at UCLA, I also found this gem. It’s had fewer than 75 plays.

What is “this” you ask? Why it’s a short live recording of Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention, who were—on June 24th and 25th,1966—the opening act for Lenny Bruce at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. This is a record of one of those nights.

Zappa later wrote of meeting the great comedian (who he named-checked on the cover of Freak Out in the “These People Have Contributed Materially In Many Ways To Make Our Music What It Is. Please Do Not Hold It Against Them” list of his influences and heroes.)

“I had seen Lenny Bruce a number of times at Canter’s Deli, where he used to sit in a front booth with Phil Spector and eat knockwurst. I didn’t really talk with him until we opened for him at the Fillmore West in 1966. I met him in the lobby between sets and asked him to sign my draft card. He said no – he didn’t want to touch it.”

The YouTube poster claims the recording to be from a soundboard source and it does sound pretty good once it gets going. Certainly it’s one of the earliest live Mothers recordings in circulation (and news to me). It starts off with “Plastic People,” then goes into “Toads Of The Short Forest” and “I’m Not Satisfied” before the group launches into the sea shanty “Handsome Cabin Boy” and turn it into a guitar rave-up of epic proportions with Zappa’s axe making a noise that was probably quite novel sounding to the ears of those in attendance.

The MOI were but a five-piece at the time with Jimmy Carl Black on drums; Ray Collins on vocals; Roy Estrada on bass, Elliot Ingber on guitar and Frank Zappa on guitar and vocals.

The performance of “The Orange County Lumber Truck” that follows the “Handsome Cabin Boy” jam is not from the same show. I don’t see how it could be without Bunk Gardner, Don Preston, Motorhead Sherwood or Ian Underwood (who all seem to be present and accounted for by the sound of things). Which is not to say that it’s not absolutely amazeballs—because it most certainly is. I just don’t know what the provenance is.
 

 
And to keep the Frank Zappa/Lenny Bruce connection going, here’s The Berkeley Concert (recorded on December 12th of 1965) as originally released on Zappa and Herb Cohen’s Bizarre record label in 1969.
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Today is your LAST DAY to enter the Dangerous Minds ‘12 Days of Zappa’ give-away!
12.17.2012
01:56 pm

Topics:
Heroes
Music

Tags:
Frank Zappa
Mothers Of Invention


Gif via The Gypsy Astronaut

UPDATE: The winner is Richard Swanson! Congratulations! 

Thanks to the kind folks at the Universal Music Group, Dangerous Minds will be giving away TWELVE, that’s right, TWELVE Frank Zappa CDs, personally selected by yours truly, the arch Zappa freak who is sitting beneath a painting of Frank and the Mothers of Invention above my desk as I type this.

Did I say twelve? I meant THIRTEEN Zappa albums (and some selections contain multiple discs)!

My selection concentrates on my favorite era of Zappa’s vast oeuvre, the early years when he worked with his best collaborators, in my opinion at least, the original Mothers.

“These Mothers is crazy. One guy wears beads & they all smell bad.”—Suzy Creamcheese

The lucky winner will receive:

Freak Out!
Absolutely Free
Lumpy Gravy
We’re Only in It for the Money
Uncle Meat
Hot Rats
Burnt Weeny Sandwich
Weasels Ripped My Flesh
Ahead of Their Time
You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 5
The Lost Episodes
Mystery Disc

Plus one glorious example of Zappa’s admittedly sketchier, mid-period: the sprawling 3-CD set, Läther, making this prize a BAKER’S DOZEN of Zappa goodies for one lucky reader!

To enter, it’s simple: First you must be signed up to receive the Dangerous Minds Daily Newsletter via email (look for the sign-up widget in the top toolbar of this page) and “like” the official Frank Zappa Facebook fanpage. Then you have to leave a comment below, telling us why you deserve to win.

One newsletter subscriber will be chosen by the editors of Dangerous Minds to receive this musical bounty. The winner will be picked later today, December 17th, 2012. Good luck!

Frank Zappa discusses the absurdity of sin, guilt and four-letter words on Canadian television in 1969:
 

 
Big thanks to UMe’s Adam Starr!

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Just three more days to enter the Dangerous Minds ‘12 Days of Zappa’ Xmas giveaway!!!
12.15.2012
08:57 am

Topics:
Heroes
Music

Tags:
Frank Zappa
Mothers Of Invention


 

UPDATE: The winner is Richard Swanson! Congratulations!

Thanks to the kind folks at the Universal Music Group, Dangerous Minds will be giving away TWELVE, that’s right, TWELVE Frank Zappa CDs, personally selected by yours truly, the arch Zappa freak who is sitting beneath a painting of Frank and the Mothers of Invention above my desk as I type this.

Did I say twelve? I meant THIRTEEN Zappa albums (and some selections contain multiple discs)!

My selection concentrates on my favorite era of Zappa’s vast oeuvre, the early years when he worked with his best collaborators, in my opinion at least, the original Mothers.

“These Mothers is crazy. One guy wears beads & they all smell bad.”—Suzy Creamcheese

The lucky winner will receive:

Freak Out!
Absolutely Free
Lumpy Gravy
We’re Only in It for the Money
Uncle Meat
Hot Rats
Burnt Weeny Sandwich
Weasels Ripped My Flesh
Ahead of Their Time
You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 5
The Lost Episodes
Mystery Disc

Plus one glorious example of Zappa’s admittedly sketchier, mid-period: the sprawling 3-CD set, Läther, making this prize a BAKER’S DOZEN of Zappa goodies for one lucky reader!

To enter, it’s simple: First you must be signed up to receive the Dangerous Minds Daily Newsletter via email (look for the sign-up widget in the top toolbar of this page) and “like” the official Frank Zappa Facebook fanpage. Then you have to leave a comment below, telling us why you deserve to win. (If you’ve already commented on the earlier post, it’s not necessary to do it twice).

One newsletter subscriber will be chosen by the editors of Dangerous Minds to receive this musical bounty. The winner will be picked on Monday, December 17th, 2012. Good luck!

Below, a fantastic 1971 Dutch documentary that spends a day with Frank Zappa from Holland’s VPRO.
 

 
Big thanks to UMe’s Adam Starr!

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Enter the Dangerous Minds ‘Twelve Days of Zappa’ Christmas Give Away!
12.13.2012
08:16 am

Topics:
Heroes
Music

Tags:
Frank Zappa
Mothers Of Invention


 

UPDATE: The winner is Richard Swanson! Congratulations!

Thanks to the kind folks at the Universal Music Group, Dangerous Minds will be giving away TWELVE, that’s right, TWELVE Frank Zappa CDs, personally selected by yours truly, the arch Zappa freak who is sitting beneath a painting of Frank and the Mothers of Invention above my desk as I type this.

Did I say twelve? I meant THIRTEEN Zappa albums (and some selections contain multiple discs)!

My selection concentrates on my favorite era of Zappa’s vast oeuvre, the early years when he worked with his best collaborators, in my opinion at least, the original Mothers.

“These Mothers is crazy. One guy wears beads & they all smell bad.”—Suzy Creamcheese

The lucky winner will receive:

Freak Out!
Absolutely Free
Lumpy Gravy
We’re Only in It for the Money
Uncle Meat
Hot Rats
Burnt Weeny Sandwich
Weasels Ripped My Flesh
Ahead of Their Time
You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 5
The Lost Episodes
Mystery Disc

Plus one glorious example of Zappa’s admittedly sketchier, mid-period: the sprawling 3-CD set, Läther, making this prize a BAKER’S DOZEN of Zappa goodies for one lucky reader!

To enter, it’s simple: First you must be signed up to receive the Dangerous Minds Daily Newsletter via email (look for the sign-up widget in the top toolbar of this page) and “like” the official Frank Zappa Facebook fanpage. Then you have to leave a comment below, telling us why you deserve to win.

One newsletter subscriber will be chosen by the editors of Dangerous Minds to receive this musical bounty. The winner will be picked on Monday, December 16th, 2012. Good luck!

Below, an incredible hour and twenty minutes of some of the best footage of Frank Zappa and the original Mothers of Invention that you will ever see—high quality, too—shot in various places along their 1968 European tour:
 

 
Big thanks to UMe’s Adam Starr!

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Mother of Invention Jim ‘Motorhead’ Sherwood, RIP


Jim “Motorhead” Sherwood, standing, top left

Sad to hear that Jim “Motorhead” Sherwood, one of the original Mothers of Invention (atonal saxes, nasal noises, tambourine, vocals), died on Christmas day, at the age of 69.

As reported in The Guardian, Sherwood:

... was a member of Frank Zappa’s original Mothers of Invention. He appeared on all the group’s early albums, up to and including Weasels Ripped My Flesh (1970), as well as on Zappa’s solo disc Lumpy Gravy. He later performed with the Grandmothers, a group of musicians who had accompanied Zappa during different phases of his career.

Born in Arkansas City, Kansas, Sherwood first met Zappa in 1956 when both of them were attending Antelope Valley high school in California. Sherwood was in the same class as Frank’s brother: “Bobby found out that I collected blues records and he introduced me to Frank, and Frank and I sort of got together and swapped records.”

At the time, Zappa was already in a band called the Blackouts, but this soon disintegrated. Then the brothers moved to Ontario, California, and started a new band, the Omens, which also included Sherwood. He would regularly jam with Zappa in a string of different groups, and eventually, in 1964, the Mothers. The following year, the band signed a recording contract with MGM records, and set about the lengthy process of recording their first album, Freak Out!, with producer Tom Wilson. At the time, Sherwood was not a fully fledged member of the band, which changed its name to the Mothers of Invention. He described his role on Freak Out! as “just making sound effects on some of the songs”.

After the album’s release in June 1966 on MGM’s Verve label, the band went on tour, then in November that year took up a six-month residency at the Garrick theatre in New York, during which they played 14 shows a week. Sherwood was working for the band as equipment manager and roadie, and sometimes operated the lighting during the Garrick shows. These were a bizarre mix of music and performance art, featuring puppet shows and interludes when the band would pelt the audience with fruit.

It was when the Mothers made their first trip to England, in mid-1967, that Sherwood was finally hired as a full-time musician. It was the band’s vocalist and percussionist Ray Collins who gave Sherwood the nickname “Motorhead”, through his love of working on cars and trucks and motorcycles: “He said ‘it sounds like you’ve got a little motor in your head’, so they just called me Motorhead and that seemed to stick.”

Sherwood contributed on baritone and/or tenor saxophone, and sometimes percussion and vocals, to Absolutely Free, We’re Only in It for the Money, and the doo-wop album Cruising with Ruben & the Jets, taking in the Zappa solo album Lumpy Gravy en route. Zappa disbanded the original Mothers of Invention in 1969 for financial reasons and what he perceived as public apathy, but Sherwood appears on the albums Uncle Meat, Burnt Weeny Sandwich and Weasels Ripped My Flesh, recorded before the split but released subsequently.

Jim Sherwood obituary (The Guardian)
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Rare German Documentary On Hippies And Acid Rock : Trippy, Man

image
 
Documentary with performances by The Dead, Mothers Of Invention, Big Brother, The Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and lots of hippies dancing and getting stoned. It was directed by Stefan Morawietz for German TV. It’s in German, but you’ll get the idea.

 
part two after the jump

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion