Thursday Mix: Mothers Auxiliary


When one thinks of the ever expanding web of musicians who both directly played with Frank Zappa, then those who have then played with those musicians in turn, it’s not very surprising the enormous effect that FZ had on the musical forms and musicians with which he came into contact. Just check out my own personal sampling of Zappa alumni, along with those who have recorded and performed live with him in my mixtape, “Thursday Mix: Mothers Auxiliary”, to get your own idea.

Perhaps now that Zappanale successfully fought off the ZFT’s ill-conceived litigation, we just might see some of the names in this mixtape perform at the Zappanale in the coming years?

Click here to listen to the mixtape (Be prepared, fellow KUR-meisters, it’s a BIG one).

Note: If anyone feels we are infringing their copyright, contact us and we will remove the item in question.

3 CDs From Crossfire Publications

What do you get a Zappa fan for Xmas who has everything (okay, well, mostly everything, then)? There’s always Freak Out ale, or a ZPZ DVD? Or perhaps even the latest offering of FZ-related merchadise from Barfko-Swill.

Myself, after enjoying my serving of Don Preston’s Vile Foamy Ectoplasm which I ordered from CD Baby earlier this year, along with Napoleon Murphy Brock’s After Frank: 1st Movement (featuring Gregarious Movement), and Jimmy Carl Black’s Where’s The $%&§#@’ Beer? I ordered three more Crossfire Publications titles from CD Baby:

Bunk Gardner — It’s All Bunk!

The first-ever Bunk Gardner solo album! It’s All Bunk! spans Bunk’s first sessions with Bud Wattles And His Orchestra (1959) to a live track with The Grandmothers in 1981. In between are post-Mothers improvised recordings done with his late brother Buzz and bassist John Balkin, and melodic pieces with the late Andy Cahan. More than half of these tracks have never been released in any form. In tribute to Buzz Gardner, Buzz’s My Love Has Gone is also included.


B.E.P. (Jimmy Carl Black, Roy Estrada, Mick Pini) — Hamburger Midnight

Download-only release! In early 2002, former Mothers Of Invention drummer Jimmy Carl Black gave his old bandmate, bassist Roy Estrada, a call to find out if he was interested in recording an album of blues favorites and originals. Roy was completely into it and it was the first time they had recorded together since 1970. They were joined by UK guitarist Mick Pini, who had played with JCB in blues bands over the years. Recorded in Germany, the album contains the title track that Roy Estrada co-wrote and originally recorded with Little Feat. That song is presented as part of a medley and on its own for the first time. Roy also sings Little Richard’s “Directly From My Heart To You,” which Frank Zappa’s Mothers Of Invention released on the album “Weasels Ripped My Flesh.”


The Grandmothers — Dreams On Long Play (Revised Version)

Download-only release! This edition of The Grandmothers was assembled in Austin, Texas in 1988 by Jimmy Carl Black with guitarist/vocalist Roland St. Germain, violinist Linda Valdmets, woodwind player Gerald “Eli” Smith and bassist Ener Bladezipper. “Dreams On Long Play” appears in its revised version here. For some reason, the band was unhappy with it and re-recorded most of the album (the original version is available separately). Regardless, this edition also features the bonus tracks “Taco Soup In 7/4,” covers of Frank Zappa’s “Let’s Make The Water Turn Black” and “Lonesome Cowboy Burt,” the unedited version of “The,” an edit of “Waiting” and a brilliant cover of The Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus.”


Check out these and other Crossfire CDs at CD Baby and, perhaps, bring a smile to that Zappa-fanatic near you (and, no, I’m not receiving payola…sniff, sniff…I just dig the Crossfire catalog). The three audio tracks offered as samples are: “Qualude To Chaos And Fine”, “Slinkin’ Around”, and “Lonesome Cowboy Burt (Live at KUT)” respectively.

Note: If anyone feels we are infringing their copyright, contact us and we will remove the item in question.

Jeff Simmons: The Straight Years

album art
album art

After years of listening to scratchy vinyl (with all their inherent pops and hisses), poor quality tape recordings, and substandard mp3’s, I finally received the 2CD set of Jeff Simmons‘ classic psychedelic album, “Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up” combined with the original soundtrack from “Naked Angels” in the mail yesterday from The Jazz Loft out of Bellevue, Washington. Both albums were re-issued on CD in 2007 by World In Sound Records.

Lucille… contains 10 catchy and heavy, hard-driven, blues-rock and folk tracks that we are all familiar with, particularly those tracks that Frank Zappa either composed himself, or co-wrote with Simmons — under the synonym ‘La Marr Bruister — such as the title track ‘Lucille…’ or ‘Wonderful Wino’ or performed lead guitar on such as ‘Raye’. Carefully re-mastered, Lucille… also has two bonus tracks, ‘Bucket of Blues’ and a more than eight minute extended live blues jam of ‘Lucille HMMU’. These two tracks alone make this purchase worthwhile. Listening to ‘Bucket of Blues’ one can easily understand what Zappa saw and heard in that young Jeff Simmons that led him to sign him to Straight Records. These tracks sound as fresh now as when they were first recorded. Also included in this 2 CD-set is a 20 page booklet with all original artwork, and other memorabilia Simmons’ vaults (posters, cool photos, linernotes).

cover art
cover art

CD #2 Naked Angels, a soundtrack for the Roger Corman-esque biker movie is a sequence of mostly instrumentals which combine melody and fuzz guitar; heavy, psychedelic surf-rock. At times, it reminds me of some of the shorter instrumental tracks found on ‘Uncle Meat.’

George Duke — My Soul (4CD-Box Set)

Just received my 4CD-compilation box set of George Duke jazz fusion from Promising Music: My Soul — The Complete MPS Fusion Recordings. This compilation includes the original MPS albums “Faces In Reflection”, “Feel”, “The Aura Will Prevail”, “I Love The Blues, She Heard My Cry” and “Liberated Fantasies”…plus the two recordings “The Inner Source” and “Solus”, that could originally be found on a double vinyl album set entitled “The Inner Source”.

Track list:

CD 1
1. Au Right 3:23
2. Love Reborn 7:21
3. Peace 7:29
4. So There You Go 5:11
5. The Followers 5:13
6. Solus 9:00
7. Nigerian Numberuma 2:45
8. My Soul 4:39
9. The Inner Source 6:10
10. Life 5:44
11. Sometime Ago 5:07
12. Feels So Good 6:57
13. Manya 3:33
CD 2
1. Sweet Bite 3:29
2. Twenty-Five 4:57
3. Always Constant 6:49
4. The Opening 3:19
5. Capricorn 5:07
6. Piano Solo No.1 1:16
7. Piano Solo No.2 1:07
8. Psychocomatic Dung 5:04
9. Faces In Reflection No.1 3:41
10. Maria Tres Filhos 5:09
11. North Beach 6:19
12. Da Somba 6:18
13. Faces In Reflection No.2 2:23
14. Funny Funk 5:18
15. Love 6:05
16. The Once Over 4:43
CD 3
1. Feel 5:38
2. Cora Jobege 2:47
3. Old Slippers 5:37
4. Theme From The Opera “Tzina” 2:01
5. Yana Aminah 4:34
6. Rashid 3:36
7. Statement 1:16
8. Chariot 2:59
9. Look Into Her Eyes 3:24
10. Sister Serene 4:33
11. That’s What She Said 4:29
12. Mashavu 1:48
13. Rokkinrowl, I Don’t Know 3:25
14. Prepare Yourself 5:26
15. Giant Child Within Us – Ego 6:37
16. Someday 2:41
17. I Love The Blues, She Heard My Cry 5:26
CD 4
1. Dawn 4:57
2. For Love (I Come Your Friend) 4:41
3. Foosh 3:11
4. Floop De Loop 6:46
5. Malibu 4:06
6. Fools 4:35
7. Echidna’s Arf 3:35
8. Uncle Remus 5:11
9. The Aura 1:26
10. Don’t Be Shy 3:00
11. Seeing You 4:32
12. Back To Where We Never Left 6:27
13. What The… 0:33
14. Tryin’ & Cryin’ 5:47
15. I C’n Hear That 5:18
16. After The Love 2:32
17. Tzina 2:32
18. Liberated Fantasies 9:22

While the packaging is certainly a no frills affair (4 discs inside one fold-out hard plastic case, which includes a booklet of liner notes outlining all the various musicians involved in the recording of each song on each one of the albums), the remastered sound of these tracks is absolutely outstanding. Compared to the only other compilation which had been available on the market before now, Three Originals, there simply is no comparison. An absolute must have for any 70s jazz fusion fans.

Update from Promising Music Infodesk — Monday, July 7th, 2008:

a) The George Duke — My Soul (4CD Box Set) is not a Promising Music release, but done by Universal Germany (hence the “standard packaging”). We just included it as a “service title” in our web shop.

b) Universal Germany raised prices (they call it “adjust”) on their box sets, so it’s no longer at 25plus Euros, but 30sth Euros for non-EU fellows (inside EU VAT has to be added, making it 36 flat) by now.

Keep it up!
Your promising music team

Sugar Cane’s Got The Blues — I Don’t!!!

The two CDs I ordered from the German label, Promising Music, on April 20th, arrived this afternoon. Talk about speedy delivery. I was expecting 4 to 6 weeks. I was pleasantly surprised to say the least.

To start, everything they say about their reissues is correct: the CD packaging does resemble the gatefold albums of the era, right down to the grooves in the CD, and the vinyl record sleeve itself. Even the liner notes have been recreated and translated from the original German into English for us uni-lingual folks. In the final analysis, though, it’s not what they look like that matters, but how they sound.

Promising Music explains their re-mastering philosophy as such:

Restauration of the basic material as close to the original as possible. We give the integrity of the original sound top priority. By that we rather turn down an extreme reduction of tape noises (e.g. we feel, in case of doubt, leftovers of tape hiss less disturbing than a limitation of the sound transparency), and we edit the acoustic patterns carefully on the basis of original aesthetics (i.e. no “pseudo stereo” sound, no artificial reverbs, no additional compression, no superimposed “modern” sound scapes).

We remastered the original MPS master tapes digitally on a 24bit/88,2kHz level. By this we feel to reach, in comparison to a sampling rate of 96kHz, a more transparent and smooth sound, as the down sampling to the regular 44,1kHz Compact Disc standard runs much more plain and straight.

By this we produce pristine, true-to-original listening pleasure of these precious recordings at highest possible quality — not high tech sterility.

While neither are vinyl records, I use the same test with these CDs as I do with all the vinyl records I purchase: do they possess a deep, warm enveloping sound as opposed to a sound which is harder and more artificial?

Both CDs are excellent remasterings of these early MPS titles. While, admittedly, this was my first listen to Don ‘Sugarcane’ HarrisSugar Cane’s Got the Blues, the electrifying performances recorded at Berlin’s Philharmonic Hall from November, 1971, were rendered richly and vibrantly. I have heard digital copies of vinyl rips of George Duke’s Faces In Reflection, though, and this CD blows those mp3s out of the water. It’s like listening to a brand new album (which it is, in many respects). A joy in any language.

MPS is Most Promising Sound

The last time I entered an independent music store and asked if they had anything by George Duke in stock, the response I received was a very long, dull, blank stare followed by: “George who?” The same goes for the many of the Zappa alumni from the early to mid-70s. It’s as though they’ve been completely forgotten by the present music store owners and their databases. One cannot completely fault them, though, as much of the music from that period is out-of-print, or has never been issued on CD.

Luckily, a small German label, Promising Music, has gained access to a range of more than 400 titles of the MPS catalogue (which is owned by Universal Classics & Jazz, a division of Universal Music GmbH, Berlin/Germany). They have reissued Don ‘Sugarcane’ Harris‘s classic Sugar Cane’s Got The Blues and George Duke’s Faces In Reflection, (both of which I have already gleefully ordered) with intentions of reissuing other Duke classics such as ‘I Love the Blues, She Heard My Cry’, ‘Feel’, and ‘Liberated Fantasies’.

All promising music releases are as close to the vinyl original as a CD format can be.

  • All discs have black vinyl design (with a groove!)
  • All CDs are packaged in downsize replicas of original LP, incl inner sleeves
  • All CDs feature an extra booklet with legible reprints of liner notes and all original informations, as well as additional retrospective comments
  • The subtle re-mastering is trying to get as close as possible to the warmth of the vinyl originals

Until the CDs arrive, in particular the Sugarcane reissue, I can satisfy myself listening to the five RealAudio excerpts of Don ‘Sugarcane’ Harris available for free download here.