Frank Zappa - At the Circus (Recorded Live in 1978 and 1970 in Germany)

A Pound For a Brown (on the Bus) 2:16
Baby Snakes 2:08
Dancin' Fool 3:15
Easy Meat 4:42
Honey Don't You Want a Man Like Me   4:36
Mother People 2:43
Wonderful Wino 5:44
Why Does It Hurt When I Pee 2:24
Seal Call Fusion Music 3:14
Bobby Brown 2:56
I'm On Duty 1:52
Conehead 5:31
Total Time: 41 min, 21 sec

This is possibly the strangest disc from the Beat the Boots series (this one comes from the second boxed set). It starts out featuring the then-current band line-up, the one that would go on to record Sheik Yerbouti and Joe's Garage. Then, about a third of the way through the disc, it suddenly jumps back eight years to the Flo and Eddie band. They play Mother People and Wonderful Wino, then the disc jumps back to the same performance from the first third of the CD. There doesn't seem to be any reason for this, unless the bootleggers felt the album was too short, so they stuck two tracks they had lying around in there as filler.

This boot isn't really all that essential. It shows that Zappa had some of the material for Sheik Yerbouti, Joe's Garage, Tinseltown Rebellion and You Are What You Is pretty much developed well before those albums came out. It also contains a couple unique moments, like one of the band members (Vinnie Colaiuta?) doing seal calls in a variety of musical styles, and Frank explaining that when people ask him what he's on, he says "I'm on duty!". But on the down side, the sound quality isn't very good, and Why Does It Hurt When I Pee is cut off in the middle. This just seems like a really unprofessional boot to have made part of the official series.

For a long time I wondered why there was no applause anywhere on this disc, and yet you can occasionally hear what sounds like audience members chit-chatting near the microphone. It gets really confusing when you realize that at a couple points it sounds like Frank is standing right next to the bootleggers having a conversation while he was simultaneously on stage. The answer was finally revealed to me when I traded a guy a bunch of Mystery Science Theater episodes for a bunch of Zappa video tapes. One of the FZ tapes was recorded for a German TV show and included Frank's band rehearsing the live show in a studio, with occasional footage of FZ and the boys wandering around various locations in Germany overdubbed right on top of the performance. The majority of the audio for this boot was taken from that video (which makes me wonder why the sound quality isn't better).

I'd put this one in the "collectors only" category. Don't be too upset if you never find a copy.

Album Cover

Image of the At the Circus album cover