One of the most interesting things about acquiring Frank Zappa field recordings is that after a certain point of collecting and listening to them, one reaches a point of critical mass where particular questions keep popping into one’s mind again and again. How would an earlier version of a song sound with a particular drummer? Violinist? Percussionist? Or from an ensemble from a completely different era? I mean, after a point, the sheer number of individual versions of songs becomes quite incredible.
Take Zappa‘s almost annual run of shows at the Palladium in New York City during the mid to late 1970s, for example, to answer any number of these questions. From year to year, not only did musicians change, yet during these shows many Zappa songs would first premier, while other, lesser known pieces would be performed alongside future fan favorites.
Take these six tracks that I have excerpted from the October 29th, 1978, Palladium show, for instance. “Watermelon In Easter Hay” opens up this concert, yet after it’s official release on Joe’s Garage it almost always ends every show. This evening’s particular version of “Watermelon” has an immediate energy as opposed to future versions which are more melancholy. Of particular interest is the interaction between Ed Mann on percussion and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums on “Black Page #2” and “Twenty-One“, as well as Vinnie’s workout on an earlier version of “Zeets“. Versions of the “Black Page #2” performed by Chad Wackerman and Terry Bozzio also pop to mind. The last two tracks, “Yo Mama” and “Packard Goose” show Zappa and band in top form. All these tracks, in my opinion, would be at home on the YCDTOSA series. Perhaps two more discs of tracks added from Zappa’s Palladium run of shows. Why not? That’s still a mystery to me, quite frankly.
For your critical enjoyment:
Watermelon In Easter Hay – Palladium, October 29th, 1978
Black Page #2 – Palladium, October 29th, 1978
Twenty-One – Palladium, October 29th, 1978
Zeets – Palladium, October 29th, 1978
Yo Mama – Palladium, October 29th, 1978
Packard Goose – Palladium, October 29th, 1978