In this 1980 Austrian TV Documentary, interviews with Frank Zappa are interspersed with concert footage from New York’s Mudd Club on May 8th, 1980 (“Mudd Club” and “Chunga’s Revenge“) and Upper Darby Township’s Tower Theatre on May 10th, 1980 (“Beauty Knows No Pain“) as well as an interview (of sorts) with hardcore fans (including Al Malkin) backstage at the Mudd Club. Despite poor video quality and bad overdubbing – it is still a great artifact of Zappa‘s 1980 tour and New York’s infamous Mudd Club which opened in October of 1978, quickly became a fixture in downtown Manhattan’s underground music and counterculture scene, until its closure in 1982.
Anyone interested in discovering what Beefheart fans find so appealing about Don Van Vliet need only listen to this interview. His peculiar individualism shines throughout while he playfully teases his interviewers. It’s clear that a lot of what Vliet says goes right over their heads. I suppose the same can be said about Beefheart’s music. Either you get it, or you don’t – it’s that simple.
In addition, I recently came across an interview of John ‘Drumbo’ French – interviewed in mid 2005, when French was fronting a reformed Magic Band, and touring in support of their CDs ‘Back To The Front‘, and ‘21st Century Mirror Men‘ – on the weblog, The Funky Goat:
He [Vliet] was in competition with Frank Zappa, I think that’s one of the reasons he went so far out. Frank was actually playing accessible music. Another thing was that being in Frank’s band had a sort of prestige, the instrumentalists would go on and play in other groups, they were wanted. Who was going to want a Beefheart musician? Half the public didn’t even think we knew how to play!”
A very illuminating interview for any fan of Beefheart’s music. Read the transcribed interview here.
This particular concert took place at the Palais des Sports, Paris, France on June 11th, 1980 and was first broadcast on France’s Antenne 2 in late 1980, and later rebroadcast on Europe2 TV on May 10, 2007.
There’s a lot of guitar in this concert.. nearly every song has an extended guitar solo, so if you like that sort of thing you’re definitely in luck. Ike sang really well on Outside Now, and then Ray did his usual fantastic singing of City of Tiny Lites. John Smothers runs out a couple of times and shines his flashlight into the crowd. Then something curious happens. In the middle of Pound For A Brown, Frank “brings the band on down” and says that he’s going to give a demonstration to a mystery guest… this would be Pierre Boulez, whom both Frank and Tommy Mars got to meet personally and show off their electronic effects, which Boulez seemed to enjoy.
Much thanks to “YourArf”, “bongolampo”, “zw”, “berthy75”, and “justanotherbrick” for posting all these videos.