A decade after his death, fans of Frank Zappa eagerly awaited the release of additional music by his family. They will not be disappointed with the increased capacity of this DVD-audio CD, which has a few bonuses. This 2003 release, available through www.zappa.com, compiles portions from several concerts at the Palladium in New York City that were performed in the days leading up to (and including) Halloween, 1978. In addition to Zappa's phenomenal guitar playing, the presence of violinist Lakshminarayana Shankar is a special treat, since so few of his recordings with the bandleader have been issued. The exciting instrumental "Ancient Armaments," which was only briefly available as a single, and the long interpretation of "Black Napkins," which interpolates "The Deathless Horsie," are easily the highlights of this disc, though one could make an argument for Zappa's blistering solo in "Muffin Man." The remaining tracks are not the best examples of Zappa's work from this point in his career. Although "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" was somewhat of a hit for Zappa, neither it nor "Conehead," "Stink-Foot," "Camarillo Brillo," nor "Dinah-Moe Humm" have stood the test of time as well as many of his other works. Another problem is the often cavernous sound, as some of the vocals are not quite as prominent as one would expect, even though Zappa's other live recordings at the Palladium don't seem to have this problem. The extra material, which must be accessed through a television, includes what seems to be a black and white video rehearsal with Denny Walley hoarsely singing a very bluesy, extended take of "Suicide Chump" and the far superior "Dancin' Fool," from Zappa's second (and final) appearance on Saturday Night Live. Carl Baugher's excellent liner notes make up for the disappointing radio interview, as the host didn't really seem prepared for Zappa as a guest. Although this DVD audio CD isn't the place to start for a novice listener, Zappa fanatics will snap up this disc as soon as they learn of its existence.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden