Frank Zappa

Beat the Boots!, Vol. 2

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This is the second (and final) bootleg-gone-legit box that was actually sanctioned by Frank Zappa. But rather than go to the expense and time to use better sources -- which the artist presumably had access to -- he simply ripped off the illicit recordings that had been doing the same to him for decades. And voila, Beat the Boots was born. Zappa enlisted Rhino Records to manufacture and distribute the anthologies -- which were packaged to appear as if the contents were being sold in a low budget cardboard box. However once inside Beat the Boots!, Vol. 2 (1992), consumers were treated to a full LP jacket-sized 40-page memorabilia scrapbook, a black felt beret and a red pin/badge bearing the hammer-in-fist artwork emblazoned on it. The musical main events are the seven different titles that collectively span just over a decade of live Zappa and Mothers of Invention (MOI) (1968 -- 1978) performances. Electric Aunt Jemima was gleaned from three different 1968 gigs at the Family Dog in Denver, CO on May 3, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam on October 20, and at the Grugahalle in Essen, Germany on September 28. While certainly not audiophile quality -- none of the entries are -- fans of the seminal MOI will find lots to love. Our Man in Nirvana hails from California State College at Fullerton, November 8, 1968 and is noteworthy as it boasts contributions from Larry "Wild Man" Fischer (vocals) and Don Cherry (sax). The rare cover of the R&B obscurity "Bacon Fat" by Andre Williams, the "Wild Man Fischer Story," and Fischer's "I'm the Meany" should be considered essential listening for inclined parties. Tengo Na Minchia Tanta is an excellent -- if not pitched slightly fast -- document of the Phlorescent Leech & Eddie era band at the Fillmore in 1970. The readings of "Sharleena," and the 200 Motels (1971) tunes "What Will This Morning Bring Me This Evening?," "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy," and the ultra rare "Holiday in Berlin" with vocals are all primal Zappa. Disconnected Synapses finds the band in Paris, France at the Palais Gaumont on December 15, 1970 and the assembled crew is joined by Jean-Luc Ponty (violin). The half-hour "King Kong" suite as well as "Who Are the Brain Police" are standouts. Swiss Cheese/Fire is a double-disc set capturing the infamous Casino gig in Montreux, Switzerland on December 4, 1971. At some point while Don "Uncle Meat" Preston was several minutes into his synthesizer solo during "King Kong" -- as Deep Purple so eloquently put it "...some stupid with a flare gun/burned the place to the ground." The audience tape is excellent and quite clearly captures the ensuing mayhem, but not before more 200 Motels tunes, such as "She Painted Up Her Face," "Half-A-Dozen-Provocative Squats," and a blistering rendition of "Magdalena." Conceptual Continuity is another above average sounding audience-derived collection from November 19, 1976 in Detroit, MI. This is the same evening that Flo & Eddie, Ralph Armstrong, and Grand Funk Railroad's Don Brewer came out on-stage, but are missing here. Parties who can locate the bootleg Marvelous Stunner will be treated to those guests. Up last, but not least, At the Circus divides its time between audio lifted from the made-for-Bavarian television show We Don't Mess Around filmed at the Circus Krone in Munich, Germany on September 8, 1978. It aired on July 1, 1980 and from that broadcast come prime renderings of "Baby Snakes," the debut of "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee? " and the tag-team of Vinnie Colaiuta and Tommy Mars on "Seal Call Fusion Music." Inserted willy-nilly in the middle of the proceedings are "Mother People" and "Wonderful Wino" from Uddel in the Netherlands on June 18, 1970.

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