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Frank Zappa Zappa in New York album cover
4.25 | 317 ratings | 20 reviews | 51% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Live, released in 1978

Songs / Tracks Listing

Disc 1 (48:03)
1. Titties & Beer (7:36)
2. Cruisin' for Burgers (9:12)
3. I Promise Not to Come in Your Mouth (3:32)
4. Punky's Whips (10:50)
5. Honey Don't Ya Want a Man Like Me? (4:12)
6. The Illinois Enema Bandit (12:41)

Disc 2 (53:50)
1. I'm the Slime (4:23)
2. Pound for a Brown (3:42)
3. Manx Needs Women (1:50)
4. The Black Page Drum Solo / Black Page #1 (3:51)
5. Big Leg Emma (2:17)
6. Sofa (2:56)
7. Black Page #2 (5:36)
8. The Torture Never Stops (12:35)
9. The Purple Lagoon / Approximate (16:40)

Total Time 101:53

Line-up / Musicians

- 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

Releases information

Rykdisc #10524/25

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy FRANK ZAPPA Zappa in New York Music

FRANK ZAPPA Zappa in New York ratings distribution

(317 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(51%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (11%)
Collectors/fans only (1%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

FRANK ZAPPA Zappa in New York reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
4 stars Without a question, ZAPPA is an acquired taste and Live In New York captures ZAPPA's live theatrical, hysterical antics and extreme guitar talents of this entertaining rock legend. Originally released on double vinyl, Ryko's double CD finally contains the missing 5 tracks to complete the concert. This classic ZAPPA concert was recorded over a 3 night sold out event playing to over 27,000 fans. ZAPPA is assisted by Eddie Jobson (keyboards , violin), Patrick O'Hearns (bass) , Tony Bozzio (drums) SNL's Don Pardo (narrator) and a host of other fine musicians and their instruments (sax, trumpet, clarinet, trombone .) As you would expect this zany 2 cd set covers some pretty arcane songs with some simply scrumptious musicianship. including lots of great ZAPPA guitar.

Review by Jim Garten
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Retired Admin & Razor Guru
5 stars In late 1976, Zappa collected the great and the good of New York Jazz (including the incomparable Brecker brothers) to supplement his current lineup of top line musicians, and played three shows which showcased exactly what could be done when jazz and avant-garde rock combined. The result is this double album, which is all but essential for existing Zappa fans, or newcomers alike.

From the sublime 'Cruisin' for burgers' and 'The Purple Lagoon' to the ridiculous 'Titties & Beer' and 'The Illinois Enema Bandit', this group of musicians gel like no lineup had previously, and only rarely managed afterward (perhaps only the early 1980's stripped down 6 piece band were as tight and cohesive.....).

One real gem of a discovery Zappa had with this album was the first showing of a little known rhythm guitarist/vocalist, Ray White - his soaring, soulful vocals during 'Enema Bandit' are a real highlight on this album, so no wonder Zappa kept him in the band (on & off) until the mid '80's.

Keeping the band together you have the Bozio/O'Hearn rhythm section - if not joined at the hip, then certainly joined at the muse (pretentious, moi?) - with these guys at the back, the combined forces of New York's jazz illuminati could work magic in the extended jam of 'Purple Lagoon'.

Elsewhere on the album you have the crowd pleasers, 'Sofa', 'Big Leg Emma' and Bozio's two finest vocal moments, 'Titties & Beer' (a finer devil incarnate, you'll never hear), and the hysterical 'Punky's Whips' (the cause of many a lawyer's letter......).

If Bozio & O'Hearn kept things together at the back - who better than to lead from the front than Zappa; his vocals & searing guitar work takes this album from the merely excellent, to the truly magical.

Overall - no hesitation whatsoever in granting 'Live In New York' the full 5 stars - the album is without a doubt, faultless, and a truly essential purchase for officianados of prog, jazz, jazz/rock or just sheer musicianship.

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Selections from this album come from the lost Lather box set of the 70's, but there is enough new material to suffice. Anyway, this album is quite possibly Zappa's greatest live outing. Featuring a superb set list, superb cast of musicians, and a great overall vibe, this Baby Snakes era album is one that no Zappa fan should be without. From the solos of Zappa, to the Moogs of keyboardist Eddie Jobson, to the drumming precision of Terry Bozzio, there are no faults with this album.

Stand out tracks are Titties and Beer, Punky's Whips, Illinois Enema Bandit, and Black Page #2. Titties and Beer is essentially the same exact version from Lather, although it now has a longer (and funnier) improv section in which Bozzio and Zappa argue and bicker. Punky's Whips is another live favorite, with stellar Zappa guitar work and brilliant vocals from Bozzio. The solo is one of the highlights of the album. Illinois Enema Bandit begins with a "sophisticated narration" from Don Pardo, and soon evolves into a bluesy rocker with a plethora of brilliant guitar solos. The Black Page #2 is a continuation of the Black #1, but it has a more adventurous feel and is easily one of the best Zappa instrumentals.

Overall, this is easily my favorite Zappa live album, and no fan of the man should go without it. 5/5.

Review by Chris H
4 stars Yes! Live music at its finest! When I purchased this album i fell in love with it immediately, even if it was only two hours ago. Although I bought it on vinyl and I don"t receive the bonus tracks, it is still one the best in my collection. "Titties N' Beer" is a nice whimsical song and "Big Leg Emma" is a good song to tap your foot to, even if it is quite repetitive and sloppy at times. LP 1, Disc 2 features some great instrumental tracks that feature the waltzy "Sofa" and the improvisational "Black Page #1 Drum Solo". Songs like "The Illinois Enema Bandit" and "The Purple Lagoon" have great musicianship and Ray White's vocals on Bandit are superb.

One of the best albums in my collection without a doubt!

Review by fuxi
5 stars With this album, Zappa and his band were moving into difficult territory. The musicianship was better than ever but the humour seemed juvenile ("Titties and Beer") or politically incorrect (although the term had not yet been coined): "Punky's Whips" is a satire on the ambiguous sexuality of some rock musicians; "The Illinois Enemy Bandit" cheerfully thrashes female university students (called coeds in the USA).

Well, if you find it hard to swallow Zappa's humour, there's not much I can do, but it would be wrong to lambast the man for being a gay-bashing misogynist. This is a mistake often made by critics of a puritan bent, who tend to misunderstand the satirical nature of Zappa's work. Like William Hogarth or Jonathan Swift, Zappa was one of those artists who saw the ridiculous side of everything. And believe me, everything on earth, including the things you hold most dear, actually has a ridiculous side. Furthermore, Zappa did not believe in "the redeeming power of love". At least he never celebrated that power in his music - as far as I know. Whenever Zappa sings about romantic love, it's intended as parody. This may give the impression that he was a misanthropist - someone who dislikes humanity altogether. But let's not forget that many of Zappa's songs poke fun at human stupidity in the most exuberant way you can imagine. Pardon the cliche, but they do sound like "celebrations of life".

A true celebration, that's what ZAPPA IN NEW YORK really is. As on GRAND WAZOO and ROXY AND ELSEWHERE (both superb) you will come across many first-rate jazz-rock moments, but these are now incorporated into a larger whole which is bluesy, pseudo-orchestral and operatic in turns. As a consequence, I feel we ought to consider this album as an example of Zappa's all-encompassing SYMPHONIC prog.

Certainly nothing could sound more symphonic than Eddie Jobson's lush moog on "I promise not to come in your mouth". This might just be Jobson's greatest ever moment on record. If it had appeared on an album by U.K. (the band!) and if it had had a title like "Winter in Wimbledon", symphonic prog freaks would be singing its praises at every possible opportunity.

My other favourite pieces are CRUISIN FOR BURGERS, which allows the main soloists in the band to shine (once again it reveals that Ruth Underwood is one of prog's greatest vibraphonists) and THE ILLINOIS ENEMA BANDIT, the hilarious report of a controversial court case.

ENEMA BANDIT purely and simply elevates the ridiculous to the sublime, mainly thanks to the exuberant vocals of Don Pardo, of Zappa himself (especially during the extended outro) and, last but not least, of Ray White. Never before or since has a parody of the blues sounded so masterful or outrageous. ENEMA BANDIT also confirms Zappa as the only major figure in prog rock whose oeuvre absorbs and reflects, in a totally natural way, the musical styles of white AND black Americans.

Misanthropist? Maybe. Visionary? No doubt about it!

Now sing this all together: "Wanna-wanna-wan-an-enema, oooooh, e-ne-maaaa"...

Review by 1800iareyay
5 stars In 1976 Zappa put on three sold-out shows in New York using his lineup as well as some local talent. The result is one of the best live albums in prog and a stunning, not to mention hilarious, display of skill. Considering how Zappa hired some people when he arrived, it's astounding how well this group gels. You'd be hard pressed to find another incarnation of Zappa's troupe that feed off one another like this merry band. Ruth Underwood, new talent Ray White (who provides the excellent vocals for "The Illinois Enema Bandit"), keyboardist Eddie Jobson, and, of course, drum god Terry Bozzio. Bozzio is the most unique drummer of all time. Question that if you want, but he is. I've never heard anyone that reminds me of him. He also brings his own twisted sense of humor to the fold, which probably explains why Zappa used him so often.

Nearly every song is a highlight. The album opens with "Titties and Beer," a take on the standard selling one's soul to the devil story involving the protagonist bickering with the devil, who ate the man's well-endowed girlfriend and his case of beer. The improvised dialogue between Frank and Terry (the devil) is some of the funniest dialogue you'll ever hear, and when a member of the crowd makes Frank read her note on stage, I lost it. I love the drum rhythm, but this song is primarily driven by the argument. The tastefully named "I Promise Not to Come In Your Mouth" lets Jobson display his considerable keyboard skills. "Cruisin' For Burgers" is a superb instrumental that shows every member of the band off. "Punky's Whips" attacks the sexual ambiguity of glam rockers, with Terry Bozzio pining for the affections of Angel guitarist Punky Meadows. This is the second funniest song on the album next to the opener. "The Illinois Enema Bandit" combines soulful blues with lyrics that probably shouldn't be sung in soulful blues. This one deals with a criminal who takes young coeds and, well, you can guess. At his trial, his "victims" come to his defense, saying how pleasurable the experience was. Songs like this prove that Frank Zappa is the antithesis to Barry White lyrically. It features Don Pardo (Saturady Night Live's announcer) offering mock-serious narration "The Black Page Drum Solo" is the best showcase of Terry's immense skills as a drummer. The song got it's name because, when scored, the song has so many notes the sheet looks black. I can't imagine how big Terry's kit was to incorporate all of the percussion you hear. "The Black Page #2" is the "simpler" version for the whole band, and it's a killer instrumental. Zappa plays what could generously be called his "hits" with "I'm the Slime" (aided by Don Pardo) and "Big Leg Emma." "The Torure Never Stops" and "The Purple Lagoon" close the album with extended jams that show how well this lineup plays together.

If you are a fan of Zappa, get this. Now. It's his best and most cohesive live album (the You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore series has some better performances but the albums are choppy since they are taken from different shows with different lineups). This album still makes me howl with laughter.

Grade: A

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars I'm probably one of the few who purchased this album and "Roxy And Elesewhere" at the same time. Many feel these are two of Zappa's best live albums. I felt "Roxy And Elsewhere" was fairly tame when it comes to the vulgarity but it also gave the listener a good sense of what a Zappa concert would have been like. This album is much longer and to be honest the guys who help out vocally (Bozzio in particular) aren't that good, maybe annoying is the word. Instrumentally this has some incredible moments but I still prefer the instrumental work on "Roxy And Elesewhere". Now I do think the second album here is a solid 4 stars but it's the first record that for me is barely 3 stars, if that.

"Titties And Beer" kicks in without any band introductions or words from Frank. For me this is a turn off with some of the things that are said. Oh well. "Crusin For Burgers" is an instrumental with the focus on the drums and guitar. It's okay. "I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth" is orchestral-like and pretty good. "Punky's Whips" opens with some narration that is funny. When Bozzio comes in vocally it's not good at all. I like the instrumental work after 2 minutes and throughout though. Jeff Beck is mentioned a couple of times. Yes he's fluid. "Honey Don't You Want A Man Like Me ?" is good. Vibes and vocals to start.Intricate guitar follows. "The Illinois Enima Bandt" is my favourite off disc one. Narration to start then it turns bluesy including the guitar that goes on and on. Nice.

The second album opens with "I'm The Slime" and I do prefer the studio version although the guitar is excellent here. "Pound For Brown" is my favourite track on this recording. An absolutely fantastic instrumental. "Manx Needs Woman" has some crazy keyboards in this short track. "The Black Page Drum Solo / Black Page 1" is a drum solo with bass. "Big Leg Emma" is a song my dad would have liked. An uptempo fun track. "Sofa" is a good instrumental. "Black Page 2" opens with a monologue. Not a fan of the music. "The Torture Never Stops" is outstanding. I like the guitar ,especially later when it becomes more passionate. "The Purple Lagoon / Aproximate" is my second favourite off this recording. The horns and guitar are great.

3.5 stars, but if your a Zappa fan don't even hesitate as by far the majority love this double album.

Review by tarkus1980
3 stars As you may be aware, Frank's originally intended followup to Zoot Allures was going to be a part-live, part-studio quadruple album, by the name of Läther. As could be expected, Frank's distribution company freaked at this prospect, and as a result Frank was forced to release this album in pieces over the next four years; the fallout was Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt, Orchestral Favorites and this double live album. Läther itself will get reviewed here eventually.

The 2-CD release of this album is actually an expansion of the original 2-LP set, which had a good amount of material left out both for time and censorship reasons. The most clearly "offensive" track in the new material is the lengthy "Punky's Whips," in which Zappa's drummer (Terry Bozzio) develops an insatiable crush on Angel guitarist Punky Meadows, all the while obsessing over the sexual things he wants to do with Punky while repeatedly emphasizing that, "I'm! Not! Gay!" (mmmm, denial). Nowadays, with Angel having gone down in history as little more than a footnote, the skittishness that kept this from being initially included seems more than a bit overdone, but I guess the group was "important" enough back then that offending them so would have ben considered taboo (this actually resulted in the album's release getting delayed by a year). More relevant to me is that the offending nature of the track reeks a little too much of a callback to the Flo & Eddie years, particularly Fillmore East and especially 200 Motels. I just can't get into humor that relies primarily on, "This is about homosexuality, therefore this is funny;" this kind of sexual-based humor is just too frat-boyish for me.

That doesn't mean, of course, that I'm against all sexual-based humor, hence my choice for best track on here. The opener, "Titties & Beer," is a total laugh riot, featuring Bozzio again, this time wearing a devil mask and even commenting about how much the mask is irritating him. See, the way I look at it, if you're going to do lowbrow sexual-based humor, you should make it as cartoonish, early adolescent-style and, well, Beavis-and- Buttheadesque as you possibly can, and "T&B" delivers. It ends up delivering in other ways too, though: the rhymes are brilliantly awkward, the over-the-top devil voice Terry uses is hilarious, and the improvised dialogue where the devil tries insulting Frank's intelligence, only to have it totally turned back on him, as well as Frank having to interrupt the skit to read a note passed to him from the audience asking him to tell one wayward audience member to get in touch with another audience member, has me mentally rolling on the floor every time I hear it.

Aside from one other perverted sketch, "The Illinois Enema Bandit" (a hilarious skit whose subject matter is pretty well detailed by the title), the rest of the album consists of a good mix of new material and renditions of older stuff. Frankly, the runthroughs of the older stuff don't particularly excite me; "Cruising for Burgers" and "Pound for a Brown" have never been among my favorites on Uncle Meat, and they're not very rousing here, while doing the "serious" version of "Sofa" live doesn't strike me as, um, very necessary (the rendition of "The Torture Never Stops" done on the CD version is pretty awesome, though, and the alternating vocals approach to "I am the Slime" is a blast). Among the new material, "Big Leg Emma" (which may be on Absolutely Live now but was "new" material as of 1977) is a lot of fun here, "The Black Page Drum Solo" (which is stupid on its own but is amusing in context of its successor) and "The Black Page #2" (otherwise known as "The Easy Version" according to Frank) are just as tweaked as I'd hope they'd be (mmmm, bizarre disco jazz), and the closing 16-minute jazzy jam "The Purple Lagoon/Approximate" manages to be a solid, energetic send-off.

So where does this album fall in the overall level of Zappa live albums? Well, it's a good ways below the bulk of Roxy, with a slight lack of focus (careening between frat-boy humor and by-the-numbers renditions of Uncle Meat material doesn't do much to impress me) that bothers me a bit. On the other hand, though, a lot of this is funny, and a lot of this is entertaining from a "pure" music perspective, so it gets a good grade. Don't get this before Roxy, but among Zappa live albums, this is a worthwhile acquisition. A near-****.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Some think this is Frank's best live album, but to me it can't compete with Roxy & Elsewhere. Originally planned to be a part of the 4-LP set Lather, this has been expanded on the CD version, including material not on the original vinyl release. There are some later overdubs added, but at least Frank admits this is the case. This set features the horn section of the Brecker Brothers and Ruth Underwood is here although she wasn't actually a member of Zappa's group at the time. Recorded in 1976, this wasn't released until 1978.

"Titties & Beer" is a musical skit featuring drummer Terry Bozzio playing the part of the devil. I never cared too much for this song. "Cruisin' For Burgers" is a very different arrangement than the original on Uncle Meat. Frank does some great soloing here. I like the sound of Eddie Jobson's synth. "I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth", despite the title coming from "Punky's Whips", is an instrumental. Short but very good. The song "Punky's Whips" itself here is not as good as the Belew line up version on Baby Snakes. A song about Angel guitarist Punky Meadows with Bozzio playing the part of a teenager singing about his obsession with Punky. The music is great and changes quite a bit.

Saturday Night Live announcer Don Pardo narrates the beginning of that song. Zappa appeared on SNL not long before this concert. "Honey Don't Ya Want A Man Like Me?" is one of the songs exclusive to this set. A tight performance from the band. Different members of the band doing some of the vocals. "The Illinois Enema Bandit" is based on a true story. Pardo does the introduction. The music is basically blues-rock with some jazz- rock thrown in. "I'm The Slime" is not as good as the version on Overnite Sensation. I like Jobson's synths here, they add some atmosphere. The best part is when Pardo 'sings' some of the lyrics.

"Pound For A Brown" has great synth soloing. Not sure if this song has anything to do with "Pound For A Brown On The Bus" from Uncle Meat. "Black Page #1" is mostly a very complex drum solo. #2 like "Punky's" was better during the Belew line up. This is the "easy teenage New York version". The title of the "Black Page" comes from the fact that Zappa's sheet music for this song had so many notes that the page looked like it had more black notes than white background. At the end you hear Frank ask the audience if anyone can dance. The famous dance routine of his shows is edited out.

"Big Leg Emma" was a single from 1967 that got included on CD versions of Absolutely Free. "Sofa" here is nowhere near as good as the song on One Size Fits All. "The Torture Never Stops" is at least as good as the Zoot Allures version. "Purple Lagoon/Approxiamate" is two different songs played against each other. This is a good live album, but does not feature one of Zappa's best back up bands. I think both Roxy and Baby Snakes are better than this. I'll still give this 4 stars anyway.

Review by Warthur
2 stars 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.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars This album is an exceptional representation of what it was like at a Frank Zappa concert in the late seventies. Especially the CD version, where the songs are longer, and there are four songs that were not on the original LP.

First of all, you have to get Zappa's sometimes puerile sense of humor to appreciate tracks like Titties & Beer, Punky's Whips, Honey Don't You Want A Man Like Me? and The Illinois Enema Bandit. Once you get over that hurdle, there is some amazing music to be heard. This version of Cruisin' For Burgers is just exquisite, and The Purple Lagoon, layered with Approximate is astounding.

We didn't really need yet another recording of The Torture Never Stops, but it's still a great performance.

A high 4.5 stars, rounded up.

Review by friso
3 stars Frank Zappa - Zappa in New York (live) (1978, recorded in 1976)

Zappa delivers a short 2lp live album of 60 minutes of running time, which was lengthened considerably on 2cd re-release. By this time Zappa and his band were about as professional and technically developed as possible and the live versions of all the songs are flawless whilst the sound crystal clear and way ahead of it´s time.

The band of Zappa has some interesting members, with Terry Bozzio (drums) and Eddy Jobson (keys, violin) playing together among a long list of other very talented musicians. Later they would record the first UK album. The fast themes and rhythmically sophisticated themes are played perfectly and the sound is always in perfect balance. The guitars of Zappa sound fantastic, though I would have loved to see some of his great playing. I like the ´sophisticated narration´ of Dan Pardo, he has a way with selling crazy stories.

When listening to a Zappa record of this period you can expect two things. Silly, stand-up comedian like tracks with spoken word, pop and soul influences. The lyrics are about strange things, like in for instance ´The Illinois Enema Bandit´. Besides that you can expect to hear the best of progressive compositions with soft avant-garde leanings like ´Sofa´ and the ´Black Page´ parts. On ´The Purple Lagoon´ we also get 18 minutes of different solo´s from most instruments.

With Frank Zappa records it´s always a mix of silly material that can´t sink low enough and masterful compositions that makes it both interesting and incoherent. Those who like the technical and inventive side of the music are forced to listen to the funny-for-one-time tracks like ´Titties and Beer´. These tracks are the main ingredient of side 1 and side 3, whilst the instrumental track prevail on the other two sides.

Conclusion. A well recorded and played live album by Frank Zappa and his band, but it lacks enough progressive elements to get a fourth star, it simply has too much silliness for my taste. Still a great album for fans and perhaps even newcomers.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Through editing and overdubbing, Frank Zappa managed to put together the best performances from a series of concerts recorded at The Palladium in New York City on December 26-29, 1976 (with a few overdubs recorded around April of 1977). The band at the time was one of the best line- ups in his history with Ray White helping on lead vocals, Eddie Jobson from Roxy Music on Keys, Patrick O'Hearn on bass, Terry Bozzio on drums, and the amazing Ruth Underwood on percussion and 'various humanly impossible overdubs'. Along with that they were joined by a good part of the Saturday Night Live band which included Don Pardo doing 'sophisticated narration'. The result was an amazing and talented back up band with a lot of comedy, jazz fusion and just plain fun. This album captures what it was like to attend a FZ show and is a great representation of his music and his concerts.

It starts out with one of the best examples of the classic FZ routine/tune 'Titties and Beer'. This track is based on one of Frank's favorite composers pieces'Stravinsky's 'L'histoire du Soldat' which is a the classic story of man meets the devil. Frank doesn't satarize it as much as he pays homage to it and updates it so that maybe his listeners will sit up and take notice or maybe investigate some of the classics on their own. It does give the song more meaning when you know the story behind the Stravinsky work. This is more of a routine with music that pushes the story forward quite well. Next comes a long instrumental based one of Zappa's older vocal songs called 'Crusin' for Burgers. In this version, the song is used more for soloing with the instruments playing the main theme at the beginning and the end. Next is a shorter instrumental with Zappa's entire band playing 'I Promise Not to Come in Your Mouth' Where did this title come from? Apparently Zappa felt the jazzy sound of this song was something that could be played on the Muzak system (you know, mall and elevator music), so he figured with this title, that it would never happen. The versions on the vinyl and the CD are not completely the same.

Next is 'Punky's Whips' which is not available on the vinyl copy unless you can get one of the rare copies that were recalled. This is a routine based on Terry Bozzio's comment made about the drummer from a hair-glam band called Angel. Of course, FZ took TB's comment and blew it into comedic proportions and made this 10 minute track out of it. Again this is a routine backed up by a complex instrumental back up. There is a guitar solo in the middle of it too. The reason why the original vinyl was pulled was because Warner Brothers were afraid they would get sued by Angel, but FZ had already got permission from the Angel's drummer to use the song. WB pulled the album without Frank's consent. The song was restored to the CD version which was released later. Next is a not-so-great rendition of the much-used 'Honey, Don't You Want a Man Like Me?' which doesn't have anything spectacular about it. Following that is the song based on actual events that FZ heard about on the radio and probably one of the best versions of the blues based song 'The Legend of the Illinois Enema Bandit' with Ray White putting in a surprising amount of feeling while singing the story. This ends disc 1.

Disc 2 starts off with several shorter tracks. First is 'I'm the Slime' sung by FZ and Don Pardo. Very funny over acting by Pardo on this one. After that we get into some very excellent short instrumentals that are quite impressive considering the fact that most musicians cannot play these without proper instruction. 'Pound for a Brown' is a great fusion rendition of the popular FZ classic. 'Manx Needs Women' is a very short complex composition that flows into the 'Black Page Drum Solo' which is sequed into the full band version of 'Black Page #1'. The story behind 'Black Page' is that FZ wanted to take the original drum solo and turn it into a full band piece, so he made up a melody and replaced the percussion with instrumental notes for a full band. The finished score had so many notes on it that it was like a black page filled with notes. Hence, the name. Apparently, Ruth Underwood, having a music degree, broke down the score and taught the other band members how to play it all broken down into bits before anyone was able to play it at all. I still listen to this and wonder how in the world can anyone do this live. Quite an amazing feat.

After this, the band gets to rest a bit for the rock song 'Big Leg Emma' and then after that, the 'Sofa' theme gets the SNL Band treatment and it sounds good and much like music you would hear on SNL. Now, FZ has the band play another version of 'Black Page' after he explains the difference between the hard version and the easy version. The easy version (this one) slows down the melody and puts a disco vamp underneath it. It's still amazing, and now you get to hear it slowed down and it's still complex, but now you can hear just how complex it is.

After this, comes the classic 'The Torture Never Stops' without all the screamaing and hollering noises on this version, which is over 12 minutes long. The guitar solo (not sure if it's dubbed in or not, but I don't think it is) is really great in this version, doesn't seem as dark as usual, but is a nicer sound. The SNL Band help to liven it up too, especially on some of the hooks that are usually played by guitar in the vocal sections. Then you get two complex pieces meshed together in the 16 minute track 'The Purple Lagoon/Approximate'. The breakdown is like this: the first 17 seconds is an intro, from .17 to .37 is the Purple Lagoon theme, from .37 to 1.17 is the Approximate theme, from 1.17 to 15.23 are several amazing solos based around 'Pound for a Brown' on this version, from 15.23 ' 15.55 is a return to the Purple Lagoon theme with variations, then from 15.55 to 16.40 is the outro with crowd noises. I can't tell you much about The Purple Lagoon theme other than it is another complex theme, but 'Approxiamate' is usually done as the bookends with solos in the middle. The 'Approxiamte' theme is comprised of several scores written for different classes of instruments and instead of specific notes, the players are allowed to pick whatever notes they want in a specified range of notes. The theme is never ever performed the same way. As far as the solo section, you get a lot of brass, some guitar, percussion, keyboard and a trombone solo played through a harmonizer, which was a new gadget at the time. The interesting thing is the harmonizer is programmed in this instance to give a very dissonant interval throughout the solo making for a very unique sound.

So that's FZ in New York in a nutshell, at least the CD version. The vinyl version does not have all of the tracks as the CD version and some of the tracks vary in certain degrees. I have both versions and both are great. I highly recommend this one as a great example of FZ humor and amazing musicianship and composing talents. This also highlights the amazing lineup of the time. I consider this an essential addition to your FZ library as it shows why he is considered an avant garde composer and it proves that you can be entertaining and cultured at the same time. A warning though, this one is not for those with tender ears as it is quite explicit during the comedy routines. But, if you are not offended or 'deafened' because of whatever outside forces that are in your life, then you are really in for an excellent listening experience here and you can listen for yourself why FZ is a man that deserves to be respected in the music community. 5 stars.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "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.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Review #168 Following the Frank Zappa live albums' catalog, it is time now to talk about "Zappa in New York", which is one of the most complete live recordings he ever published. With a very fine lineup that didn't include George Duke but had Terry Bozzio, Patrick O'Hearn, Ruth Underwood, and ... (read more)

Report this review (#2650153) | Posted by Uruk_hai | Tuesday, December 7, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars the experience of seen Frank Zappa in concert, have to must so incredible, i think FZ, was a fabulous example of how to make music WITHOUT ANY DRUGS. this particular concert, it's great, the improvisation of The Mothers to play songs that never been recorded in a studio album before, and of cours ... (read more)

Report this review (#988761) | Posted by Zeuhl Glikowski II | Saturday, June 29, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Zappa is my musical fetiche. I love this man and unfortunately I had never opportunity to see im in a live performance and Zappa never play in Portugal in is live. This live album is one of my favourites and show all speed and high quality of his performance and the band that play with him is ... (read more)

Report this review (#231769) | Posted by João Paulo | Saturday, August 15, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Two things first:I always considered FZ as a most prolific and influental american rock musician of all times.Number and profile of musicians that played in his band over the yeras is just mind blowing.Secondly,Frank's unique guitar playing style was impossible to copy in any way, shape or form. ... (read more)

Report this review (#156484) | Posted by ljubaspriest | Monday, December 24, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I am not a true fan of Zappa. I like its disrespectful side and its taste of the (musical) provocation. It is a creative genius. Disks " live " disappoint generally because they do not have, either the quality of albums studios, or a lack of spontaneity. "Zappa In New York" is completely delir ... (read more)

Report this review (#46202) | Posted by miedj | Saturday, September 10, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is really a great show! Frank plays with his infinite mastery and with the usual humor that characterized its own career. Long parts orchestrate them melt funny and satyrics lyrics, expecially in the dialogue in the first track "Titties & Beer", when Frank and the drummer Terry Bozzio, wi ... (read more)

Report this review (#30091) | Posted by dodaro | Thursday, May 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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