You know a recording of a particular show from an artist whose fans are internet savvy is rare when you can’t even find a setlist on the internet. Forty years ago yesterday, Frank Zappa and a version of the Mothers of Invention that featured Flo & Eddie (Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan) pulled into the legendary Carnegie Hall in New York City for a pair of shows that were recorded for a future release on Warner Bros. No one realized at the time that “future release” meant 40 years later as Frank Zappa – Carnegie Hall, a four-CD live album featuring both performances and The Persuasions’ opening set, is now available for pre-order.
Want to know what they played at those shows before plucking down the $42? Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be an option. While an ad for the release does mention “marathon versions of King Kong and Billy The Mountain,” there’s no record we could find of what else was played on that night. A look at setlists from that period reveals that Zappa was ready, willing and able to throw down two completely different setlists at two shows on the same night, so our hopes are high.
It’s important to note that there’s a “warts and all” disclaimer regarding this release. In fact, Zappa Carnegie Hall was recorded in “glorious mono” – how’s that for a blast from the past? Gail Zappa does mention that “we tweaked and we tweezed and did everything possible to be certain this does not sound like a breakfast cereal gone mad somewhere in the Van Allen Belt. I am happy to say The Mud Shark Legend Continues.” Recordings from the Flo and Eddie days are rare and this is the first vault release from that time period, so we’ll take a chance and throw down the $42.
As we mentioned, there isn’t too much known about what FZ & MOI played at Carnegie, but we did come across this incredible story about the evening from Zappa.com message boarder Toasted Almond:
“The next show was the highlight of my concert going career. Same year, 1971, CARNEGIE HALL. First off, Frank was CLEARLY pleased to be playing that venue. “Boys and girls, welcome to the desecration of Carnegie Hall!” were the first words he said. I think he was also very pleased that we had brought back the opening act, The Persuasions, for three or four encores. It was apparent from the look on The Persuasions faces as we standing ovationed them, that THEY couldn’t believe it. We were largely a young, stoned out, white crowd, and they appeared to be astonished that we cared for them. I can’t say much for that show because words cannot describe the relationship between how well the band played that night, and the acoustics offered by the hall. MAGNIFICO! The encore by The Mothers was The Mudshark. After the last regular number on the card ended, the band left the stage. We standing ovationed until Frank alone came back out. Here’s what followed….
“I’ve just been told by the management of this hall that if I want to use this stage past midnight, I have to pay an extra $600.”
At this point people started to get up and put their jackets and coats on.
“Well I’ll tell you what…. I’D BE HAPPY TO PAY 600 BUCKS TO PLAY FOR YOU PEOPLE SOME MORE!!!”
The place went crazy, the rest of the band came onstage, and Frank leaned into the mic and said, “This next song is dedicated to the prick in the back counting the overtime money.”
Then came The Mudshark. “