Zappa & Mothers TV Special, 1974

On Tuesday afternoon of August 27th, 1974, sometime after 5:30pm, Frank Zappa, George Duke, Chester Thompson, Tom Fowler, Napoleon Murphy Brock and Ruth Underwood took to KCET-TV Channel 28’s Sound Stage B in Culver City, Los Angeles to film a performance for broadcast later that December 8th (and thus becoming the source material for countless bootleg vinyl records, and later, bootleg videos and DVDs).

It’s a unique performance. For instance, on “Montana”, Zappa seems to forget the lyrics “And it would be on top, / That’s why I’m moving to Montana” and sings nonsense instead. “Stink-foot” is a “Tom Waits Version” (“right around the corner – over by Tom Waits’ restaurant”) and is sung through a frequency shifter transposing his voice down below normal range. “Inca Roads” provides the basic tracks for the official One Size Fits All release. “Florentine Pogen” (view the clips above) is the One Size Fits All version, but here it is 9:40, whereas on One Size Fits All it fades and is several minutes shorter.

I have gathered and linked the bootlegged filmed performance, A Token Of His Extreme, below:

The Dog Breath Variations
• Uncle Meat
More Trouble Every Day
George Duke Solo
Florentine Pogen Part 1
Florentine Pogen Part 2 (The Solo)
Oh No
Pygmy Twylyte
Stink-Foot (Tom Waits Version)
Inca Roads
• Pygmy Twylyte (Dummy Up)
A Token Of My Extreme (Honey Jam)
Cosmik Debris
Room Service

As per usual with bootlegged videos, the visual and audio qualities of each segment comes and goes. And, also, as usual, the Warner Group of Companies were busy muting a lot of these postings on YouTube, or outrightly having them removed altogether. Unless you already have a copy (available from Zappateers), this performance will soon disappear from YouTube. I suggest failing that, saving your money and waiting for the Zappa Family Trust to release an official version more in keeping with Zappa’s legacy (I certainly would like to replace my copy with something highly clean, crisp and watch-able).

Warning: some segments may induce epileptic seizures.

Thanks to ‘bakabana1966’ and ‘phideauxiii’ for posting these video clips.

Author: urbangraffito

I am a writer, editor, publisher, philosopher, and foole (not necessarily in that order). Cultural activist and self-described anarchist.

9 thoughts on “Zappa & Mothers TV Special, 1974”

  1. This version of Florentine Pogen is longer because of that great extended guitar solo(!!) at the end which (unfortunately) FZ faded out on OSFA probably due to the time constraints of vinyl at the time.

    Supposedly this has been remixed from the original 16-track tapes by a hotshot NYC engineer (Frank Fillipetti i think), and is slated(?) for a surround-sound audio release(??) ala Halloween 1978, who-knows-when.

    (I’ve always loved the good quality stereo soundboard versions of this available on the traders circuit for years, and for that, can only add: “Why don’t you sharpen it then!”)

  2. Deep joy. As I’m sure you all realise, about half of this was used in the Dub Room Special. When that was released on DVD a couple of years ago there was a note in the insert stating that the full concert is “slated for DVD”. So far so straightforward, one might think – there is good quality video, there is stereo sound, it works and ZFT own the rights to it. But the note also states that it will be “mixed in multi-channel” which means that no progress will be made while DZ and Travers are busy with ZPZ (possibly also *one* of the reasons the Roxy film is also stuck in postproduction purgatory). Still, let’s hope when it does come out (perhaps around the closing of the aeons) that they make a version without the clay animation, or at least without the sound effects which drown out the music.

  3. It would be nice to see this out on DVD…

    A friend of mine’s dad actually knew Mort Libov. Turns out these tapes were sold in exchange for cash to fund his…habits…nudge, nudge.

  4. This concert was broadcast twice on German TV, one in February 1980 and I recorded it right from the mono speaker of my TV set onto a mono cassette player with a microphone. No breathing for the whole show. But unfortunately I had to change the cassette in the middle of a guitar solo. For years this was one of my favourite listens.

    A DVD of this concert was released some time ago, and is still available for 2,99 EUR at “”. The quality picturewise is not good, but the sound is alright. Better than my cassette anyway.

    And I agree with SOFA: Ruth is still hot.

  5. Might be that I´m wrong that the broadcast took place in 1980, I think it was 1979 – but definitely within the last century and the last millenium. 1979 was the only year I missed a Zappa concert (76/77/78/80/82/88), for what reason I really can´t remember anymore. So I was very glad, that an FZ concert was shown on TV. Lucky me, that the SABA cassette recorder made it.

  6. The version of ‘Oh No’ from this concert is the best one I’ve ever heard. Apart from the musical excellence of this concert, the best moments come from Napi and Frank’s routines..”MORT, MORT. MORT…LIBOV!!!!”


    Martin Scorsese please save this telecast!
    I believe the guy responsible for releasing this had a epileptic fit from too many views! But really this is an incredible performance by all. And Nappy works the hell out of that stage, regardless of the fact that he can’t get an advance from Herb Cohen! ZPZ should beg Murphy to come back. What energy!
    I love George Duke tap dancing the foot pedals all over the place on Pygmy Twylyte.
    Wow, this was a free show according to the ticket above. Maybe that explains some of the blank expressions from some of the audience members. TV executive’s teens clueless of Zappa before that show.

    I have not seen a few of these. Thanks for the post UrbanG!

    Barry, the link above for INCA ROADS is opening up Stink-foot instead.
    Meanwhile, here is a new link for Inca Roads:

  8. What do you drummers out there think about not using bottom heads on your drums? I am a wanna be and most of the good drummers I have known say you must have them. Is it a volume thing?

Comments are closed.