Peek inside Frank Zappa’s vaults, parts 1-4

One Shot Deal (which numbers 83 of all official Zappa releases, in case you’re counting), largely pulls largely from Zappa’s mid-’70s live material, which has never appeared on CD. “One Shot Deal was literally that,” says Gail. “It was like, ‘Come on, Joe. How fast can we make a record?’ I think we put that together in a week. … I heard the [guitar] solo [in ‘Occam’s Razor’], and I said, I have to put this out.’”

Long article in Goldmine (source: Unica)
Parts: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

“There’s a lot of stuff I’d like to release,” says Gail. “We’re going to try to release, minimum five, but possibly eight to 10 projects a year.”

20 Responses to “Peek inside Frank Zappa’s vaults, parts 1-4”

  1. Empire Hancock says:

    “A lot of people think that there’s a lot of complete concerts in there, and that there’s a lot of unreleased material,” says Travers. “In reality, there aren’t a lot of complete concerts in there. There are a lot of concert tapes, but, unfortunately, if Frank liked something, he would remove it from the tape and put it on a build reel.”

    This is something a lot of people need to remember when they start crying about what doesn’t get released.

  2. Bálint says:

    A lot of people think what they’ve been told… So if there are some “cries” about what doesn’t get released, its mostly because things were promised (remember Roxy?) – or the communication were really hazy.
    That paragraph made me a bit angry, about One Shot Deal… The whole thing would deserve more attention and care, than “let’s release something this week, heh?…”

  3. Mike Hole Pee Hairy says:

    There are an awful lot of ellipses in the quotations from Gail. I would’ve much preferred an unedited transcript of the interviews than this fluffy, padded-out piece.

  4. Paul Sempschi says:

    I enjoyed the section in Part 3 where she equates people who want to perform Zappa music sans royalties as ‘Fascists’… as opposed to the people who censor and dismantle an artistic performance.

    If there are no complete performances or very few, this means that either Frank did not ‘virtually’ record every concert post 75ish or that Frank mutililated virtually every full concert… I find this hard to believe given that every tour in the 80’s (at least) had been recorded.

    Who knows though, I dont work there, neither do they (in the literal sense). A very grim view of things, IMHO, very cynical of their own industry and namesake. IS the vault a myth?

  5. Michael Pabst says:

    Paul Sempschi says: “If there are no complete performances or very few, this means that either Frank did not ‘virtually’ record every concert post 75ish or that Frank mutililated virtually every full concert… I find this hard to believe given that every tour in the 80’s (at least) had been recorded.”

    Maybe FZ re-used tapes and/or threw something away now an then. Telling from some of the posthumous released I wish he had thrown away more things 😉

    M.

  6. TALIBANGRAFITY says:

    Great i love to here every 80 ties concert 35 times bobby brown 45 city of tiny lights not to mention joes garage would have been to be relesed 85 times since a lot of yerbouti and joes garage was in the 80 ties not to mention the 10 time and the 6 time 23 times zoot alures and so on ……
    so if JT says that zappa liked it and cut it then you have it right ?
    then joe has to bake the tapes so he may have a nice sofa form dallas ooops guess what in the middle the tape decides to loose a few brown magentic film clusters and there yaa go if you would see what they might have lost you might be crying for iron patina ……… not to forget that JT is also a drummer and DZ is trying to release a ZPZ Project …………… I got JOES MENAGE TODAY AD ITS VERY NICE !!!!!
    I LIKE IT A LOT ::::::)

  7. Alex says:

    This is very distraughtening.

  8. urbangraffito says:

    Even more proof that the vault IS a myth. So, if you want a complete concert (and you want it for FREE) go over to the fine folks, and excellent audiophiles at Zappateers. If you want bits and pieces of Frank’s concerts (and you want to PAY through the nose) head over to the folks at the zap fam trust…

  9. Paul Sempschi says:

    on the nose, urbangraffito, on the nose…

  10. moggio's moldy Oreos says:

    One Shot Deal thrown together? Noooooo ! !! !

    /sarcasm off.

    Dumbest. Release. All. Over.

  11. profusion says:

    So, the ZFT could have released the entire show that was excerpted on Joe’s Menage but chose not to in order to release the specific 45 minutes that Frank put on a personal cassette tape in 1976??? Uh, ok.

    I mean, we’re talking about a lineup that was only together for about a month. Why not release the whole damned show, or at least fill the damned CD? Sounds to me like Gail’s weird inclinations are at work here. From the article, it sounds like Travers is more on the same wavelength as the rest of us–treating the archive as its own thing and not worrying as much about what Frank would have done with the tapes (nothing, most likely).

    I can appreciate the difficulty Joe faces in piecing all those live shows together…wow. I hope he can get around to digitizing everything before it disappears into dust.

  12. Disciple of "Bob" says:

    @urbangraffito:

    I know NOTHING, but I *suspect* that the Zappateers stuff (which, incidentally, nobody seems to seed anymore, now that I have discovered the fascinating world of rehearsal tapes) is evidence that *the vault* not a myth, but that it does not necessarily contain nearly-complete masterpieces just waiting to be tweaked and tweezed and turned into self-contained albums.

    I suspect that it’s loads and loads of snippets, fragments, unfinished whatzis and unstarted whozits. My suspicion is that most of what is in there is raw material that could only be correctly imagined in the imagination of an imaginer who no longer exists. I can’t remember where I heard/read this, but I seem to remember Travers saying that the handwritten labels on the tape boxes don’t necessarily correspond to what’s actually on the tapes.

    However, to someone like me, that sort of thing is every bit as interesting and valuable as “completed works”. I would be more than happy if the ZFT would simply release the entirety of the vault, AS-IS.

    Frank is gone, and suing fans who seek to perform his music is not going to change that, nor will it do anything to prevent him from slipping forever into obscurity. Maybe that’s the plan. FZ claimed he didn’t want to be remembered, and he is buried in an unmarked grave. Maybe the ZFT really *IS* carrying out his wishes by endeavoring to stamp out popular appreciation of his music.

  13. Empire Hancock says:

    A quote from Paul Sempschi:

    If there are no complete performances or very few, this means that either Frank did not ‘virtually’ record every concert post 75ish or that Frank mutililated virtually every full concert… I find this hard to believe given that every tour in the 80’s (at least) had been recorded.

    Even if FZ had every single show recorded — and I’m sure there were some on various tours that couldn’t be recorded due to technical difficulties (like the recording truck breaking down for at least two Scandinavian dates in 1988) or union difficulties (as was the case with a couple of Chicago 1981 shows that FZ decided to not even record to save himself the trouble) — that doesn’t mean the complete concert exists on tape. For various reasons, the recording engineers could have simply not recorded the entire show, and there could be material missing from tape reel changes (see FZ:OZ, and the fact that Buffalo features 3 or 4 different tape sources) and as Joe stated, if FZ liked something from a show, he simply sliced it out of the multi-track tapes of the show. Spencer Chrislu reported that when went to listen to a lot of the Petit Wazoo shows, there were songs missing, because FZ had already cut them and mixed and edited them for intended projects.

    Even if every single concert of the 70s and 80s were recorded and existed somewhere in the Vault, that doesn’t have to mean that even one of them would be truly complete.

  14. Empire Hancock says:

    A quote from profusion:

    So, the ZFT could have released the entire show that was excerpted on Joe’s Menage but chose not to in order to release the specific 45 minutes that Frank put on a personal cassette tape in 1976??? Uh, ok.

    No, and it’s saddening that people still aren’t grasping this when it’s been explained before, including by Joe Travers. What appears on Joe’s Menage is the only tape of that concert that could be found in the vault. The cassette that FZ gave to Danish fan Ole was copied from the reel of tape Joe found, which was not the complete show, which itself couldn’t be located.

  15. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Disciple of “Bob”:

    @urbangraffito:

    I know NOTHING, but I *suspect* that the Zappateers stuff (which, incidentally, nobody seems to seed anymore, now that I have discovered the fascinating world of rehearsal tapes) is evidence that *the vault* not a myth, but that it does not necessarily contain nearly-complete masterpieces just waiting to be tweaked and tweezed and turned into self-contained albums.

    I suspect that it’s loads and loads of snippets, fragments, unfinished whatzis and unstarted whozits. My suspicion is that most of what is in there is raw material that could only be correctly imagined in the imagination of an imaginer who no longer exists. I can’t remember where I heard/read this, but I seem to remember Travers saying that the handwritten labels on the tape boxes don’t necessarily correspond to what’s actually on the tapes.

    However, to someone like me, that sort of thing is every bit as interesting and valuable as “completed works”. I would be more than happy if the ZFT would simply release the entirety of the vault, AS-IS.

    Frank is gone, and suing fans who seek to perform his music is not going to change that, nor will it do anything to prevent him from slipping forever into obscurity.

    Maybe that’s the plan. FZ claimed he didn’t want to be remembered, and he is buried in an unmarked grave. Maybe the ZFT really *IS* carrying out his wishes by endeavoring to stamp out popular appreciation of his music.

    A very interesting perspective, indeed. Methinks you might have stumbled onto something here. There was a time, though, when the ZFT promoted the vault as being more than it obviously is – that’s what happens when they cry “Vault” one too many times: no one believes what they say anymore. As for seeders at Zappateers, all you need do is ask people to seed (yes, it may take a while, but in the end you’ll be glad you were patient).

  16. Bálint says:

    I definitely think that there are tons of valuabla things in the vault, though it might only be true if we forget the “whole shows only” idea.

    Okay, I simply LOVE the whole shows, but it drives me crazy when it becomes a mania – az in the case of FZ:OZ: Why had Joe used bootleg recordings to fill some gaps??? Would it be “unfair” or “untrue” if he’d use some moments from a show a few days before?…

    Or in the case of WAZOO. that is a favorite CD of mine, but HOW THE HELL THEY COULDN’T REPLACE THE FIRST FEW SECONDS OF REGYPTIAN STRUT?… This is WRONG now… Yes, a mistake was left in – why?….

    And also: things like “we put together that album in a week” (One Shot Deal) make me angry. this thing would deserve more care. Like: some “tribute” compilations, from each tour. Like a Petit Wazoo release, with most of the tunes played back then, a typical ’75 spring show assembled from some concerts, a not-very-typical show from 88 with Peaches, Bamboozled and whatever on it…

    So: these are my dreams. 🙂
    And again: full shows, of if its not possible, then “full programs” assembled from close dates.

  17. brett says:

    A quote from Bálint:

    I definitely think that there are tons of valuabla things in the vault, though it might only be true if we forget the “whole shows only” idea.

    Okay, I simply LOVE the whole shows, but it drives me crazy when it becomes a mania – az in the case of FZ:OZ: Why had Joe used bootleg recordings to fill some gaps??? Would it be “unfair” or “untrue” if he’d use some moments from a show a few days before?…

    Or in the case of WAZOO. that is a favorite CD of mine, but HOW THE HELL THEY COULDN’T REPLACE THE FIRST FEW SECONDS OF REGYPTIAN STRUT?… This is WRONG now… Yes, a mistake was left in – why?….

    And also: things like “we put together that album in a week” (One Shot Deal) make me angry. this thing would deserve more care. Like: some “tribute” compilations, from each tour. Like a Petit Wazoo release, with most of the tunes played back then, a typical ’75 spring show assembled from some concerts, a not-very-typical show from 88 with Peaches, Bamboozled and whatever on it…

    So: these are my dreams. 🙂
    And again: full shows, of if its not possible, then “full programs” assembled from close dates.

    I totally agree, Balint. Releases could come out more often if everyone would just forget about the “complete shows” nonsense. I also think the product would be better, personally (no single show is perfect).

  18. urbangraffito says:

    Brett and Balint, I also agree, there is no doubt valuable material to be found in Frank Zappa’s vault, even if there are no “complete shows”. I suspect it’s more about the expectations that Gail and the ZFT have raised to such a degree that even they cannot fulfill. Personally, it’s how they pick and package these bits and pieces of Frank that often gets my ire (often too few tracks, unrelated to each other, and pricey in terms of cost and shipping, along with some confusing Zappa-speak). I’d much rather they just give me the straight goods, warts and all…

  19. profusion says:

    A quote from Empire Hancock:

    No, and it’s saddening that people still aren’t grasping this when it’s been explained before, including by Joe Travers. What appears on Joe’s Menage is the only tape of that concert that could be found in the vault. The cassette that FZ gave to Danish fan Ole was copied from the reel of tape Joe found, which was not the complete show, which itself couldn’t be located.

    That makes more sense. The article made it sound like Travers excerpted only the 45 portion out of the entire show. Which would be dumb. Which Joe undoubtedly isn’t.

    Sounds like FZ needed his own vaultmeister back in the day. I don’t envy Joe have to pick these decaying bits and pieces of stuff.

  20. profusion says:

    A quote from Bálint:

    Like: some “tribute” compilations, from each tour. Like a Petit Wazoo release, with most of the tunes played back then, a typical ’75 spring show assembled from some concerts, a not-very-typical show from 88 with Peaches, Bamboozled and whatever on it…

    That would be fine with me. In essence, sort of a continuation of the YCDTOSA series, but focused on chronological coherence.

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