Ray Collins - vocals
Frank Zappa - guitar, vocals
Elliot Ingber - guitar
Roy Estrada - bass, vocals
Jimmy Carl Black - drums, vocals
This is the earliest Mothers of Invention concert in the Vault archives. It was recorded at the Fillmore Auditorium on an evening when The Mothers opened for comedian Lenny Bruce.
Even at this early stage, Zappa was surrounding himself with musicians that would later become key figures in other bands. This recording is a fascinating glimpse of the earliest stages of Zappa's self-described "conceptual continuity," already well underway before the release of the groundbreaking first Mothers of Invention album, Freak Out.
The first track is a snippet of stage banter where Zappa announces that the previously played piece was one of "John Cage's biggest hits." Although this begins the tape, one can presume he was humorously referring to nothing happening on stage, a nod to Cage's silent (other than surrounding ambient sound) composition "4'33".
The recording continues with "Toads Of The Short Forest," an early Zappa instrumental composition. This segues into a pre-first album arrangement of "I'm Not Satisfied," which begins the social commentary Zappa would continue to explore throughout his career. This track also features relatively complex vocal arrangements that showcase the voices of front man Ray Collins, bassist Roy Estrada (later a founding member of Little Feat), and Zappa himself.
What follows is a fascinating improvisational jam on the theme of "Handsome Cabin Boy." Probably the set closer, the piece features excellent ensemble playing by the entire band, with Zappa and Ingber's guitar playing quite far out for 1966.