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Frank Zappa - Fillmore East, June 1971 CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.23 | 165 ratings

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2 stars The first official completely live album that Zappa released was this one credited to the Mothers at Fillmore East. It's purpose was to spotlight a Mothers show and the concept was to illustrate life on the road, mostly in a humorous way. The album cover was meant to look like a bootleg type recording, but I'm not sure if the sound and production was supposed to intentionally sound like a bootleg, because it does, albeit on the better side of a bootleg. But definitely not up to the sound and production standards of the typical FZ live recording in upcoming years.

This album of course, is a representation of the Flo and Eddie years (Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan) who were formerly of The Turtles. This is, in my opinion, one of the most obnoxious times of Zappa history. I am not a big fan of their hijinx and the skits that they were a part of. I find them quite annoying. I can deal with the school-boyish humor, but I don't like their delivery. They always seemed to take the focus off of the music which is exactly the opposite of what FZ wanted, but they served their purpose by attracting certain listeners to the concerts.

This album is definitely not for those with tender ears or closed minds. It is mostly centered on the humor of the band at the time. There are only 3 short instrumentals here and everything else is mostly dialog. It starts out with the fusion number "Little House I Used to Live In" which more or less introduces the band to the stage. It's not a bad rendition of the song, but there are better versions out there. From there it goes right into the storyline of "The Mud Shark" which is FZ and the band narrating the mostly true story of the sexual hijinx of the band Vanilla Fudge as it was told to the band in an airport. Actually, VF was only involved with making a video of the incident. John Bonham from Led Zeppelin was also involved, but apparently only as a witness to the events. Richard Cole who worked with LZ claims he was the one totally responsible for what happened. Apparently, there is a hotel in Seattle where you can fish for sharks from your hotel window. Of course, just for fun, the musicians had to try it out. But there were some groupies in the room at the time, and when one of the sharks was caught, one of the groupies and Cole got involved in some sexual games that involved the mud shark, which is actually a Dogfish. I'm not going into anymore detail than that. Anyway, the 2nd track is FZ's recounting of the incident as it was told to him and then teaching the audience how to do the dance that he had made up. Flo and Eddie of course do their obnoxious brand of humor during the track.

The album goes on with tracks about rock stars and groupies and how the girls would only have sex with bands that had a number 1 hit. That is pretty much what the rest of the album is about, except for a few short instrumentals. Yes, it can get a little explicit, but that's not really the problem because it is Frank Zappa after all. The problem is the silliness of Flo and Eddie. It's just annoying and any semblance of enjoyable music is completely ruined by the duo. But that's my opinion because I know there are people that like their style. The humor is funny in a one-off sort of way, but for me, the delivery of Flo and Eddie is just annoying.

I don't enjoy this album much and only have it because I like collecting Zappa's vinyl. Everyone of the important tracks on here are on better live albums and if you want to hear these skits and humor, then it would be worth it to search them out. At least you get a better dose of FZ's more serious music with other recordings, this one is only for those who don't want to hear the serious side of Zappa. But, the sound quality just isn't that good here, and I'm not saying that this is not an important recording, I'm saying there are better options out there for the "not so serious" Zappa listener. Yes, it's Zappa's first foray into recorded concerts, and I guess I can excuse him for using it as a learning experience. But I don't recommend this album because there are so many better live albums out there that are better at documenting Zappa's live shows.

Just as an aside, during this same show that is recorded on this album, John Lennon and Yoko Ono joined the Mothers on stage for about a half an hour. If you are interested in hearing this strange part of the show, you can hear it on the live album "Playground Psychotics" which is a better documentation of life on the road and much better produced as far as FZ concert recordings go.

A lot of Zappa aficionados would probably disagree with me on this, but I can only consider this as a collector's item, only a little better quality than a bootleg, but not much. There are just so many much better FZ live albums out there for the casual or curious listener.

TCat | 2/5 |


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