Frank Zappa, Hamilton, 1975

A couple of recent posts, Philly ’76 and Zomby Woof by Quasar got me thinking about Zappa arrangements in general, and his instrumental compositions in particular – especially within a live context.

True, no two Zappa shows are ever the same, yet Zappa’s variations and improvisations within his arrangements are the very things which make Zappa such a unique musician, performer and composer.

Take the most recent posthumous release for instance. The assembled ensemble gives Zappa’s arrangements a unique sound particular to that performance, that release, that ensemble. The musicians that Zappa assembled for the series of shows that would make up Zappa In New York would make those arrangements altogether distinctive from Philly ’76.

And as the following five tracks I have chosen here will attest, the arrangements performed at the Phys-Ed Complex at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, on December 7th, 1975, are just as distinctive as the aforementioned shows. In many ways, Hamilton ’75 is even more distinctive than Philly 76 insomuch that Eddie Jobson seems to be given more of a freer reign to solo in Hamilton (in Hamilton Jobson was a guest performer, while in Philadelphia he was a band member). In “Chunga’s Revenge” the entire ensemble is allowed to “strut their stuff”, so to speak, and express their individual talents within the arrangement.

Something which is uniquely Zappa-esque – whatever the show, the ensemble, the era.

You be the judge:

Stink-Foot (incl. The Poodle Lecture)

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Black Napkins

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The Illinois Enema Bandit

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Chunga’s Revenge (incl. Five-Five-Five riff)

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Zoot Allures / Filthy Habits

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The Band:

Frank Zappa – guitar, vocals
Terry Bozzio – drums, vocals
Napoleon Murphy Brock – tenor saxophone, vocals
Roy Estrada – bass, vocals
André Lewis – keyboards, vocals
Norma Jean Bell – alto saxophone, vocals
Guest: Eddie Jobson – violin

Warning: KUR will not be held responsible for any metabolic or physiological changes resulting from achieving instances of musical ecstasy – listen at your own risk.

7 Responses to “Frank Zappa, Hamilton, 1975”

  1. Bálint says:

    Great one – a selection with much more energy than OZ or Menage. And a selection that has CONCEPT behind it – not only a “gee, we’ve just found it on the attic!” type of thing…

    BTW, I just cannot find the “Five-five FIVE” riff – where is it exactly?

  2. Harry Barris says:

    I believe this show has always been one of the most ‘popular’ tapes in trader circles–due to FZ’s long “hard rock” Any Downers-type solos this night–it definitely was one of my earliest recommended acquisitions i know that. (Unfortunately the drunken rowdy crowd [near the taper at least] has always made this one too distracting to enjoy, imo. )

    I also always felt that Zappa’s comment before Black Napkins: “…this is dedicated to all the jazz drummers in the world and their tasteful cymbal work” was a subtle dig at the not-so-tasteful cymbal bashing of Terry Ted, perhaps in an attempt to get him not to go into “frenzy” mode so early in the tune and lay back a little which i believe he does.

  3. slime.o says:

    thanks for the 5 tracks … my 1st fzshow, blew me away, not just the music but the way fz commanded the entire hall in that casual confident way he had; the dialog, & delivery of same, between songs, really had an impact on this rockin teenage suburban freak

    30 years later, 1st time hearing the tape, brought it all back how outstanding this show was, probably my fav

    the sax/violin interplay on chunga inspires these two to go for it on their solos, then frank picks up on the energy & let’s one rip

    how about that big swifty quote in the ill.enema.b solo :7{• … another case of how-to-remember-all-these-outrageous-lyrics-?-?-fuck-it wait till it gets released [2 years later], same with the 555 riff & filthy habits, not a whiff for 5 or 6 years; the chunga/zoot/filthy trio puts zappa guitar mastery in perspective, not only the solos, but this is the last tours he did without 2nd/3rd/stunt guitar players

    the drunken hosers were probably a result of extended pre-concert activities, my mind drifts back …
    sitting in a general admission lineup
    hamilton ontario, 11 o’clock in the morning
    got up too early, terrible mistake
    [it was a hundred degees below zero]
    sittin there face-to-face
    with a 75¢ doob of rancid homegrown about as big as my finger
    and a bowl of horribly fore-shortened red leb
    and i said to myself, this is the life

  4. Bálint says:

    I still cannot find 5-5-5 – where is it?

  5. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Bálint:

    I still cannot find 5-5-5 – where is it?

    Of course, you’re going to have difficulty finding the riff that begins the composition “555″, because that isn’t the only “555 riff” and not the one in this version of “Chunga’s Revenge”.

    Soon after the drunken rowdy audience member shouts: EDDIE JOBSON IS THE BEST [17:36] FZ begins his jam with Jobson. At around 19:00 begins playing the distinctive “555″ riff (the same riff starts on SUNPYG at 1:30) until Terry Bozzio’s drum solo begins at 24:07.

  6. Bálint says:

    Thanks – though I still cannot find it… ;-) To me there is only one 5-5-5 riff, and that is in 5/4, and in the beginning of the original tune (~30 sec). After that there is just an improvosed solo – or am I wrong? Anway – I did not recognised any familiar up here – though I clearly recogniseg Big Swifty (in Enema Bandit), and that is not indicated at the fzshows page, and 5-5-5 is there several times.
    MYSTERY!!!! :-)

  7. Dark Clothes says:

    I can’t tell about the 555 riff, but the violin solo is clearly based on Sugarcane’s solo in Burnt Weenie’s Little House I Used To Live In

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