To mark its recent release after 40 years in the vaults, this week's Live from Carnegie Hall focuses on the live recordings of Frank Zappa's October 1971 concerts at Carnegie Hall.
Artist: Frank Zappa and The Mothers of InventionAlbum: Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention: Carnegie HallLabel: Vaulternative RecordsDate Recorded: October 11, 1971 (two shows)Fun Fact: Unusual for a live album, the support group's full set is included—on this occasion, The Persuasions.
Like several other giants of rock music that came to Carnegie Hall in the 1960s and early '70s—The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin—Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention played two sets in one night and never played the Hall again. On October 11, 1971, Zappa and his band—supported by The Persuasions—performed at 7:30 PM and again at 11.
Already known as a prolific songwriter, Zappa performed two completely different sets. The two concerts were typically zany Zappa with the performance of his classic "Billy the Mountain"—about a mountain and his wife (a tree) taking a vacation—lasting more that 47 minutes during the second show. Other memorable songs included "Call Any Vegetable," "King Kong," and "200 Motels."
Recorded in mono (unusual even at that time) and released the same way, Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention: Carnegie Hall captures one of the last times this lineup played together. A couple months after this recording was made, during a concert at London's Rainbow Theatre, Zappa was pushed off the stage by a fan and fell into the orchestra pit. The serious injuries he sustained kept him off the road for many months during which time—without him as the focus—the band disintegrated.
Zappa went on to release dozens more albums and continued to compose and tour until his death from cancer on December 4, 1993.
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Related: Live from Carnegie Hall Series History of the Hall