Frank Zappa - guitar, vocals; George Duke - keyboards; Ian Underwood - keyboards; Aynsley Dunbar - drums; Howard Kaylan - vocals; Jeff Simmons - bass; Mark Volman - vocals
If you closely study Zappa's body of recorded work (which ran from 1965 to 1993), you'll see a remarkable progression that continually blended innovation, experimentation, humor, and among the best musicianship to ever emerge from the world of rock 'n' roll. His live shows (both with the early and mid-period Mothers of Invention and later as a solo artist) are not as perfect as his recorded albums, but are just as satisfying.
Taken from the archives of Fillmore founder and promoter, Bill Graham, this is the first of a multiple-night stand Zappa and his early '70s version of the Mothers of Invention played at the Fillmore West in November of 1970. By now, Zappa was releasing most of his albums under his own name, but he kept the Mothers tag around for about another four years. This version of the band lasted from late 1969 through 1972, when Zappa, playing a show at London's Rainbow Theater, was thrown off the stage by a deranged fan, breaking both his legs and having to spend nearly a year in two hip casts.
It was probably the best-loved version of the Mothers that contained a hybrid version of top flight jazz musicians (George Duke), high octane studio rockers (Aynsley Dunbar and Jeff Simmons); and the remnants of '60s pop band the Turtles (Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, better known as Flo & Eddie). The connection to the Turtles came in the fact that Zappa's manager and business partner, Herb Cohen, was Kaylan's first cousin.
Zappa was making strange but infectious music at the time, and this lineup gave him among his best commercial album releases, when the following year, the band released the hilarious Live At The Fillmore East album. This recording contains a healthy mix of new Zappa comical material, with "Dog Breath" and "You Didn't Try To Call Me," and older Mothers standards, such as "Have Gun, Will Travel" and "Call Any Vegetable." Although the following evening's show features more familiar content (including the "Mudshark" saga and Zappa's hysterical remake of the Turtles classic, "Happy Together") this show will amuse and bedazzle any Zappa fan, especially with a closing track like "Easy Meat."