Frank Zappa: The Lost Broadcast - The Full Performance

Glenn Astarita BY

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Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention
The Lost Broadcast -The Full Performance
Gonzo Multimedia

There aren't many videos floating around of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, but The Lost Broadcast should be received with welcome arms by loyal Zappa enthusiasts and others who still have a burning interest in his legacy. Recorded in 1968 at the Beat Club in Bremen, Germany, and broadcasted for a German TV station in 1970, the DVD liner notes reaffirm that most of Zappa's concert footage is culled from his later years as a solo artist.

The Mothers of Invention were light-years ahead of the pack, as this film is centered on a lengthy jam, enveloping several Zappa works such as "King Kong," "Let's Make the Water Turn Black and others. However, the cameramen were obviously tuned into that era's burgeoning psychedelic movement via the hippy, trippy angles, pans and overlays that cast a rather jittery spectacle. On one hand it's interesting and summons fond memories, but of course many of these techniques are woefully dated and rather annoying, yet a sense of nostalgia does prevail.

Other than the actual club performance there is footage of the band's rehearsal and thankfully, the cameramen primarily used conventional filming processes. There are some hilarious moments as well, especially when a few young ladies dance on the stage floor as the Mothers crank out a Chuck Berry style rocker. But from a musical standpoint, the performance presents an aggregation of Zappa's brilliant concepts, merging various rock and pop slants with contemporary classical overtures, free jazz and experimental excursions. Moreover, the leader's demanding time signatures, executed with finesse and precision, combine hummable melodies, shaded with cartoonish themes and briskly populated detours.

Keyboardist Don Preston's gruff, distortion-tinted electric piano work was perhaps unique for the time period, soon to be paralleled by Soft Machine keyboardist Mike Ratledge's distortion heavy keys and permutations of the Lowrey organ, phased through a fuzzbox. Otherwise, drummer Jimmy Carl Black and classically trained drummer, Art Tripp—who years later became a chiropractor —often punctuate the same cadences but move forward with a balanced attack. Thus, Zappa shattered conventional norms, alluding to his significance as a prolific composer, radical thinker, and basically one of the great musical minds of the 20th century.

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