Tunes, Treats & Torrents – The Grandmothers

The first version of The Grandmothers came into being in 1980, formed by original Mothers of Invention and Soul Giants alumni Don Preston, Jimmy Carl Black and Bunk Gardner. From almost the start, the group was a thorn in Zappa‘s side (who’d probably thought he’d seen the last of his former bandmates when he forced them into the cold when he disbanded the original Mothers in 1970) when Zappa himself became the target of the new band’s on-stage satire and was apparently particularly upset over a dummy of himself that was being used in various provocative ways. Thus began a pattern of the Zappa family and its legal minions fighting with various members of the Grandmothers over the right to perform and record original Mothers of Invention compositions. At one point in the early ’90s, the Zappa estate quashed a new recording deal for the Grandmothers with a major label that was unfortunately not interested in working with the band unless it was allowed to use the name of the Mothers of Invention.

Having been a fan of The Grandmothers since their inception, it’s quite obvious that no matter their particular incarnation, they are not, strictly speaking, a Zappa cover band. From that very first band to the latest touring group – Grande Mothers Re:Invented – their avant garde, surrealistic humor is as evident and intact in 2010 as it was in 1981 or 1968.

Give the tracks from The Grandmothers 1981 shows in Amsterdam and Santa Cruz a listen (Preston’s composition “Moon Unit” is a perfect showcase of this ensemble’s exceptional talent, and alone is reason enough to torrent this show):

Uncle Meat (Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 8 July 1981)

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Mother People – Immaculate Deception (Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 8 July 1981)

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Interviews Pt 1 (Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 8 July 1981)

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Big Leg Emma (Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 8 July 1981)

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Trail of Tears (Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 8 July 1981)

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Moon Unit (Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 8 July 1981)

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Interviews Pt 2 (Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 8 July 1981)

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Who Are The Brain Police? (Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 8 July 1981)

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King Kong – Eye of Agamotto (The Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA, 4 Nov 1981)

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I Can’t Breathe (The Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA, 4 Nov 1981)

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Originally recorded and broadcasted by VPRO Radio, the “Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 8 July 1981″ show is available for torrent here.

Line up:

Denny Walley – guitar
Walt Fowler – trumpet, keyboards, vocals
Tom Fowler – bass, violin
Bunk Gardner – saxophone, flute
Jimmy Carl Black – drums, vocals
Don Preston – keyboards, drums, vocals
Tony Duran – guitar (Amsterdam)

7 Responses to “Tunes, Treats & Torrents – The Grandmothers”

  1. SOFA - Philostopher/Chef says:

    Saw the Grandmothers in 2000 at Zappening, in Peoria IL. They were fabulous! Oddly enough, Jimmy Carl appeared the heartiest of the group… Go figure.

  2. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from SOFA – Philostopher/Chef:

    Saw the Grandmothers in 2000 at Zappening, in Peoria IL. They were fabulous! Oddly enough, Jimmy Carl appeared the heartiest of the group… Go figure.

    As a vocalist, I always found Jimmy Carl extremely warm and entertaining – whether he was covering Zappa, Beefheart, The Doors, Joplin, The Stones, or a myriad of old bluesman and traditional blues. He could just as easily sing and drum for one band as another (particularly in those last few decades). You’ve got to agree that his many versions of “Big Leg Emma” and “Willie the Pimp” are totally unique.

  3. Dark Clothes says:

    I’ve seen them on a number of occasions. The last gig, in april 2009, was the best yet – Preston, Brock, Estrada + Garcia and Miroslav Tadic. Tadic is a superfine guitarist in his own right. He doesn’t solo as much as Frank (or Dweezil), but when he does, his playing is considered and exquisite. His solo in Oh No was a real blast! A fine addition to the unique flavour of the alumni.

  4. Plooker says:

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    I’ve seen them on a number of occasions. The last gig, in april 2009, was the best yet – Preston, Brock, Estrada + Garcia and Miroslav Tadic. Tadic is a superfine guitarist in his own right. He doesn’t solo as much as Frank (or Dweezil), but when he does, his playing is considered and exquisite. His solo in Oh No was a real blast! A fine addition to the unique flavour of the alumni.

    Hey Dark Clothes, you are Miroslav Tadic aren’t you? Just kidding, you have me curious, where can I here this guy?

  5. urbangraffito says:

    Like you, I never heard Miroslav Tadic before I saw him performing on tour with the Grande Mothers Re:Invented. He certainly stood out. I managed to track down one of his CD’s: 2009′s ‘Live In Zagreb‘ with Vlatko Stefanovski & Miroslav Tadic.

  6. Thinman says:

    I have a CD “Mark Nauseef/Miroslav Tadic – The Snake Music” (http://www.united-mutations.com/n/mark_nauseefcd.htm), which has an interesting instrumental version of Who Are The Brain Police.

    Th.

  7. Dark Clothes says:

    A quote from Plooker:

    Hey Dark Clothes, you are Miroslav Tadic aren’t you? Just kidding, you have me curious, where can I here this guy?

    Wish I were, or at least had his skills on the guitar :-) The last time I checked, there were some videos on youtube, and he has a netsite.

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