FRANK ZAPPA — Zappa in New York

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FRANK ZAPPA - Zappa in New York cover
3.57 | 23 ratings | 2 reviews
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Live album · 1978


Disc 1
1. Titties & Beer (7:35)
2. Cruisin' for Burgers (9:12)
3. I Promise Not to Come in Your Mouth (3:31)
4. Punky's Whips (10:50)
5. Honey, Don't You Want a Man Like Me? (4:11)
6. The Illinois Enema Bandit (12:41)

Total Time: 48:03

Disc 2
1. I'm the Slime (4:23)
2. Pound for a Brown (3:41)
3. Manx Needs Women (1:50)
4. The Black Page Drum Solo / Black Page #1 (3:50)
5. Big Leg Emma (2:17)
6. Sofa (2:56)
7. Black Page #2 (5:36)
8. The Torture Never Stops (12:34)
9. The Purple Lagoon/Approximate (16:39)

Total Time: 53:49


- Frank Zappa / conductor, lead guitar, vocals
- Ray White / rhythm guitar, vocals
- Don Pardo / sophisticaded narration
- David Samuels / timpani, vibes
- Eddie Jobson / keyboards, violin, vocals
- Patrick O'Hearn / bass, vocals
- Randy Brecker / trumpet
- Mike Brecker / tenor sax, flute
- Lou Marini / alto sax, flute
- Terry Bozzio / drums, vocals
- Ruth Underwood / percussion, synthesizer, and various humanly impossible overdubs
- Ronnie Cuber / baritone sax, clarinet
- Tome Malone / trombone, trumpet, piccolo
- John Bergamo / percussion, percussion overdubs
- Ed Mann / percussion overdubs

About this release

DiscReet 2D 2290

Recorded in December 1976 at the Palladium

First released in 1977 as Limited Edition Cassette in Greece by Warner Bros.(TC WB 0255)with 3 compositions only.Warner Bros full album (first released in Greece as well) didn't include "Punky's Whips" song. The version with this song (and bonuses) was released for the first time in 1991 by Zappa/Barking Pumpkin in 1991.

Thanks to snobb for the updates


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Members reviews

"Zappa in New York" is a live double album release by US rock artist Frank Zappa. The album was released through DiscReet Records in March 1978. The album actually saw a limited release in the UK in early 1977, but it was soon withdrawn from the record stores. Warner Bros. Records who Frank Zappa had signed a distribution deal with, insisted on removing and thereby censoring the track "Punky's Whips" and also removed references made to "Punky's Whips" on the "Titties & Beer" track. This meant that a small war broke out between Warner Bros. Records and Zappa, who in his contract with the distribution company had made sure that he had complete artistic freedom. The censored March 1978 version of "Zappa in New York" was therefore released by Warner Bros. Records without the consent of Zappa. The full uncensored version of the album was re-released in 1991 by Zappa. It was originally Zappa's intention to include some of the live recordings on his 4-record box set "L'ther" release in late 1977, but the box set release was shelved as a consequence of the lawsuit between Zappa and Warner Bros. Records.

While recording of "Zoot Allures (1976)" took place Zappa began to form a core touring lineup for a world tour in 1976/1977 (the tour lasted from October 1976 to February 1977) featuring Zappa on vocals and guitars, Terry Bozzio on drums and vocals, Ray White on guitars and vocals, Eddie Jobson on keyboards, violin, and vocals, and Patrick O'Hearn on bass and vocals (Bianca Thornton was part of the lineup through November 11th 1976 on vocals and keyboards). The material featured on "Zappa in New York" were recorded in December 1976 at a series of concerts at the Palladium in New York City. The recordings feature quite a few guest/session musicians in addition to the above mentioned core lineup. Among the guests are the Brecker brothers on tenor sax, flute, and trumpet and Zappa- regular Ruth Underwood on percussion and synthesizer.

Most of the tracklist consists of tracks which had not seen a studio recording (except "Sofa" and "Big Leg Emma", and on the 1991 re-release version also "Cruisin' for Burgers", "I'm the Slime", and "The Torture Never Stops"), and in that respect "Zappa in New York" is a more interesting live release than most. The opening trio of tracks (on the 1991 version of the album "Cruisin' for Burgers" is placed as song number 2 on the tracklist) "Titties & Beer", "I Promise Not to Come in Your Mouth", and "Punky's Whips" (the middle one is an instrumental), are comical rock tracks with loads of sexual references, and especially "Punky's Whips", with it's homo erotic suggestions proved to be a bit too much for the censor people at Warner Bros. Records. "Titties & Beer" is a great example of how good Zappa and his band were at improvising. Most of the track is tightly structured and prepared, but when the biker protagonist (played by Zappa), and the devil (played by drummer Terry Bozzio) have their talk about signing a deal with the devil, they both improvise which is great fun (while Bozzio also keeps the beat).

Other highlights on the album are the impossible to play instrumental "Black Page #2" and the humourous dating song Honey, Don't You Want a Man Like Me?. "The Illinois Enema Bandit" is a great heavy blues rock track, although it's a bit overlong and some people may be offended by its controversial subject matter (telling the story of the crimes and conviction of real life armed robber and sexual offender Michael Hubert Kenyon). The 16:57 minutes long "The Purple Lagoon/Aproximate" is in large part an improvisational piece, and to my ears not one of Zappa's best, although it's a very well performed mostly improvised piece of music, featuring a lot of jazz type soloing. Personally I prefer the structured "Aproximate" part of the track, but that part is only a few minutes long.

The sound production is raw, organic, and maybe most important, feels like a "real" live recording, although Zappa made many overdubs on the recordings in early 1977. Appearing here the tracks and the flow of the album can sometimes feel a bit fragmented, because the material were recorded at different shows but overall "Zappa in New York" is a good quality live release by Zappa. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.
Zappa In New York was the live segment of Lather, and it's probably the Lather-fragment I dislike the least - but that doesn't mean I like it. Zappa and his reminted backing band treat the New York audience to a mixture of ribald new songs, a few complex instrumentals, and a clutch of old favourites - some dating back as far as We're Only In It For the Money. I personally don't rate this particular backing band as highly as the mid-1970s version of the Mothers, although possibly that's down to the musical direction Zappa takes the group in - what's offered here is a hard rock-influenced reimagining of Zappa's material, with Zappa's guitar heroics emphasised and Zappa's taste for vulgar comedy indulged to the max.

At points, the lyrical content of the album can get distasteful. I don't mind most of Zappa's material, but I find that I just can't see the comedy in The Illinois Enema Bandit - a song about a real criminal, who actually did force enemas on some of his victims for some sort of weird sexual thrill. Whilst I can see why Zappa would be tickled by the story, the song steers directly into the territory of creating comedy out of real, genuine sexual assaults which happened to actual flesh and blood people, and I personally can't stand for that. Whilst I will admit that the song doesn't condone Kenyon's crimes and it is an interesting update of the old tradition of blues songs chronicling actual news stories, the fact remains that presenting a horrible violation forced on terrified young women as a topic for comedy just doesn't sit right in my stomach.

But even if we set the Enema Bandit aside, I have other reasons for not rating the album particularly highly. As I said before, I don't think the backing group are on a par with Zappa's previous bands; in particular, Terry Bozzio is an alright drummer but bugs the hell out of me whenever he's called on to do any vocals, and David Samuels' command of the vibes pales in comparisons to Ruth Underwood's legendary contributions to Roxy and Elsewhere (hence, I suspect, getting Ruth in to do overdubs). Don Pardo's narrator contributions are corny as hell and a distraction. But worst of all, the new material is just not very good. Punky's Whips tells an amusing story but doesn't need to take ten minutes to do it - songs outstaying their welcome are an enormous problem on the album, to be honest - whilst album opener Titties & Bear is a ribald narrative song along the lines of a less snappy and original Dinah-Moe Humm from Overnite Sensation.

In short, what we have here is Zappa for frat bros - full of songs with moronic subject matter that lurches into offensiveness on occasion, meaty (and, to my ear, tasteless) guitar solos and corny novelty rock that's past its sell-by date. Sorry, Frank, but I think if I were transported back in time to New York in December of 1976 and someone offered me tickets to see this show, I'd give it a pass; the real innovative music in NYC was being played at CBGB's back then.

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