FRANK ZAPPA’s Halloween NYC 1977 Residency To Be Released As Massive Halloween 77 Costume Box Set; Zoot Allures Album To Be Reissued On 180g Vinyl
September 26, 2017, 10 months ago
By 1977, Frank Zappa's Halloween shows were already the stuff of legends. While the shows began in the late '60s, around 1972, these monumental performances would become annual events, initially in Passaic, NJ and Chicago, IL before moving to New York City in 1974, where they'd remain. NYC (and its audience) had become a special place for Zappa and the synchronization of Halloween in NYC proved to be the perfect match. From October 28-31, 1977, Zappa and his band played six historic shows at the 3,000 capacity Palladium. All the performances were recorded with four being filmed, resulting in Zappa's mammoth film project, "Baby Snakes."
Following the news that Frank Zappa will be going back on tour, the Zappa Family Trust and Universal are proud to announce that Zappa's legendary Halloween residency of 1977 will be released for the first time in its entirety on October 20th via Zappa Records/UMe just in time for the 40th Anniversary of these shows.
The Halloween 77 box set will include all six concerts with 158 tracks (mixed in 2016 from original vault masters) loaded onto a "Zappa's Oh Punky" fun size candy bar-shaped USB drive in 24-bit WAV audio. The package will also include a 28-page digital booklet featuring never-before-seen photos and liner notes from Vaultmeister Joe Travers, co-producer of the box alongside Ahmet Zappa, and personal firsthand accounts from many of Zappa's bandmates, crew and fans who were there, including guitarist Adrian Belew, percussionist Ed Mann, keyboard tech Thomas Nordegg, tour manager Phil Kaufman, and fan Janet "The Planet" Walley. In the spirit of Zappa's favorite season, the specially designed, limited run box will include a retro Halloween mask and costume of the maestro himself.
In addition to the box set, a 3CD version will also be available featuring the entire Halloween night show plus select tracks from the October 30th gig. Fans looking for a specific show will be able to purchase the concert of their choice digitally on release day.
"This box set was a very special experience for me to work on," said Ahmet Zappa. "I wanted to make sure we honored these legendary shows, so it was important to me that this box set felt of the era. It was a blast working with our partners to create the late '70s-inspired Frank Zappa Mask and costume and the candy-shaped USB stick filled with tons of Zappa goodness. It was yet again a labor of love gathering up all the archival materials, reading notes by people who were there, and most importantly making sure the audio was up to par. All of us at Zappa Records are mighty pleased with it, and hope that fans of Frank Zappa and of Halloween will be too."
Originally scheduled for four shows from October 28th - 31st, Zappa added two more shows due to intense popular demand, with the final total tallying six shows in four days. The full residency is presented as it happened with no overdubs or additional tinkering. The audio was remixed from scratch using fresh transfers from the master multi-track tapes, which all had to be heat treated for transfer by Travers.
The 1977 lineup of the band featured Terry Bozzio on drums, Tommy Mars and Peter Wolf on keyboards, Adrian Belew on guitar and vocals, Ed Mann on percussion and Patrick O'Hearn on bass; this band could really burn. Over the six shows, the ensemble averaged 25 songs per night with exciting improvisations and audience participation from "New York's Finest Crazy Persons" at every show, making each uniquely different. At these shows Zappa really got into the spirit with Halloween antics including bringing tech Thomas Nordegg on stage to perform some magic tricks and the band's tour manager, the "Road Mangler," Phil Kaufman, performing as the human trombone. Original Mothers' bassist Roy Estrada also joined the festivities.
The songs performed at this musical marathon spanned Zappa's then 11-year career with tracks from Hot Rats, Over-Nite Sensation, Bongo Fury, One Size Fits All, and his most recent album at the time, Zoot Allures. Many of the songs played were previously unreleased and would go on to be recorded for Zappa's acclaimed 1979 album, Sheik Yerbouti, including "Flakes," "Broken Hearts Are For Assholes," "Jones Crusher," "Bobby Brown Goes Down," "City Of Tiny Lites," "Tryin' To Grow A Chin," and "Wild Love." The October 30th show notably featured the world premiere of the Grammy-nominated Disco satire "Dancin' Fool," andthe one and only performance of Zappa's infamous "Jewish Princess." The basic tracks from this performance were used on Sheik Yerbouti's controversial studio version which ultimately attracted attention from the Anti-Defamation League who asked the FCC to ban the record from being played on the air.
Halloween 77 is not only rife with fan favorites but also includes many rare and unreleased performances and arrangements. This box set includes the first official release of the instrumental version of "Conehead." These five versions are vastly different than the song that would be included on Zappa's 1981 record, You Are What You Is. The rarely played"Läther" was performed at all six shows and immediately followed by the equally rare, "Wild Love," which became a solo workout each night. This one-two punch was followed by the comedic song "Titties 'N Beer," ultimately released on Zappa In New York, made especially memorable each time for the caustic improv dialog Zappa spewed about a then ongoing legal battle with Warner Bros. Other highlights include six extended guitar workouts of "The Torture Never Stops" and the combustible Halloween night finale of "Black Napkins."
Continuing the Zappa Family Trust and UMe's Zappa on-going vinyl initiative, Zoot Allures will be reissued on 180-gram vinyl on October 20. Zoot Allures features two of Zappa's signature guitar pieces, "Black Napkins" & "Zoot Allures." The album became a fan favorite since its release in 1976. Originally conceived as a double-disc, Zappa re-edited it to a single record after pressure from his record company. This 180-gram reissue was mastered and cut directly from the analog tape master by Bernie Grundman in 2017