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Frank Zappa’s The Mothers of Invention Getting 50th Anniversary Box Set

on May 08, 2020, 4:15pm

The legend goes that on Mother’s Day of 1964, the R&B group Soul Giants handed over the reins to their new lead guitarist Frank Zappa, who then switched the band’s name to The Mothers. When record label executives balked, Zappa riffed on an old proverb about necessity, and The Mothers of Invention were born. The freak rock trailblazers went through a variety of personnel changes over the years, and by the ’70s Zappa had mostly dropped the “of Invention”. Now, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1970 lineup — which lasted only seven months — the Zappa estate has announced a gargantuan 70-song box set called The Mothers 1970out June 26th.

Featuring Aynsley Dunbar (drums), George Duke (piano/keys/trombone), Ian Underwood (organ/keys/guitar), Jeff Simmons (bass/vocals) and vocals from Flo & Eddie (Howard Kayla and Mark Volman of The Turtles, using aliases to duck contractual obligations), this lineup is believed to have began rehearsals 50 years ago this month. Before Simmons left and the personnel shifted once again, they recorded one beloved studio album (Frank Zappa’s Chunga’s Revenge) and participated in a sweeping trans-Atlantic tour. Mothers 1970 contains over four hours of demos, rarities, live recordings, and other previously unreleased tracks.

This 50th anniversary album will be available as a four-CD box set. Disc one comes from the Trident Studios session that produced Chunga’s Revenge. It features an early mix of the Chunga cut “Sharleena”, an alternative take of the 1976 track “Wonderful Wino”, and several songs that even die-hard Zappa fans will have never heard. Disc two is the first official release of the “Piknik” concert broadcast over Dutch radio station VPRO, which has been often bootlegged over the years. Discs three and four were captured by Zappa on tour with his personal UHER recorder. In addition to a few Chunga’s Revenge tracks, the live recordings lean on songs from Freak Out!, Absolutely Free, We’re Only In It For The MoneyUncle Meat, and Burnt Weeny Sandwich. 

In a statement, Zappa vaultmeister Joe Travers tried to explain what made the 1970 lineup so special. He wrote,

“It’s no secret that Frank was excited about this group. The cast of characters and their personalities, musically and personally, made for a very eventful and humorous chapter in Zappa’s career. Frank had a blast with these guys. Their sound was unique, their humor was like no other and yet their time was ultimately short lived.”


The Mothers 1970 drops June 26th via Zappa Records/UMe. Pre-orders are available now, and you can check out the artwork and tracklist below.

Earlier this year, the Zappa-produced Trout Mask Replica hit streaming services for the first time. In 2019, the deceased Zappa embarked on a massive hologram tour. 

The Mothers 1970 Artwork:

Frank Zappa The Mothers of Invention 1970 Frank Zappas The Mothers of Invention Getting 50th Anniversary Box Set

The Mothers 1970 Tracklist:

Disc 1 – Trident Studios, London, England June 21-22, 1970
01. Red Tubular Lighter
02. Lola Steponsky
03. Trident Chatter
04. Sharleena (Roy Thomas Baker Mix)
05. Item 1
06. Wonderful Wino (FZ Vocal)
07. “Enormous Cadenza”
08. Envelopes
09. Red Tubular Lighter (Unedited Master)
10. Wonderful Wino (Basic Tracks, Alt. Take)
11. Giraffe – Take 4
12. Wonderful Wino (FZ Vocal, Alt. Solo)

Disc 2 – Live Highlights Part 1 – “Piknik” VPRO June 18, 1970 / Pepperland September 26, 1970
01. Introducing…The Mothers (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
02. Wonderful Wino (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
03. Concentration Moon (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
04. Mom & Dad (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
05. The Air (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
06. Dog Breath (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
07. Mother People (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
08. You Didn’t Try To Call Me (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
09. Agon (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
10. Call Any Vegetable (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
11. King Kong Pt. I (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
12. Igor’s Boogie (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
13. King Kong Pt. II (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
14. What Kind Of Girl Do You Think We Are? (Live at Pepperland September 26, 1970)
15. Bwana Dik (Live at Pepperland September 26, 1970)
16. Daddy, Daddy, Daddy (Live at Pepperland September 26, 1970)
17. Do You Like My New Car? (Live at Pepperland September 26, 1970)
18. Happy Together (Live at Pepperland September 26, 1970)

Disc 3 – Live Highlights Part 2 – Hybrid Concert: Santa Monica August 21, 1970 / Spokane September 17, 1970
01. “Welcome To El Monte Legion Stadium!” (Live)
02. Agon (Live)
03. Call Any Vegetable (Live)
04. Pound For A Brown (Live)
05. Sleeping In A Jar (Live)
06. Sharleena (Live)
07. The Air (Live)
08. Dog Breath (Live)
09. Mother People (Live)
10. You Didn’t Try To Call Me (Live)
11. King Kong Pt. I (Live)
12. Igor’s Boogie (Live)
13. King Kong Pt. II (Live)
14. “Eat It Yourself…” (Live)
15. Trouble Every Day (Live)
16. “A Series Of Musical Episodes” (Live)
17. Road Ladies (Live)
18. “The Holiday Inn Motel Chain” (Live)
19. What Will This Morning Bring Me This Evening? (Live)
20. What Kind Of Girl Do You Think We Are? (Live)

Disc 4 – Live Highlights Part 3 – FZ Tour Tape Recordings
01. “What’s The Deal, Dick?”
02. Another M.O.I. Anti-Smut Loyalty Oath (Live)
03. Paladin Routine #1 (Live)
04. Portuguese Fenders (Live)
05. The Sanzini Brothers (Live)
06. Guitar Build ’70 (Live)
07. Would You Go All The Way? (Live)
08. Easy Meat (Live)
09. “Who Did It?”
10. Turn It Down! (Live)
11. A Chance Encounter In Cincinnati
12. Pound For A Brown (Live)
13. Sleeping In A Jar (Live)
14. Beloit Sword Trick (Live)
15. Kong Solos Pt. I (Live)
16. Igor’s Boogie (Live)
17. Kong Solos Pt. II (Live)
18. Gris Gris (Live)
19. Paladin Routine #2 (Live)
20. King Kong – Outro (Live)