Frank Zappa - Mystery Disc (1998)

Theme From RUN HOME SLOW 1:23
Original Duke of Prunes 1:17
Opening Night Party at STUDIO Z (Collage) 1:34
The Village Inn 1:17
STEAL AWAY 3:43
I WAS A TEEN-AGE MALT SHOP 1:10
The Birth of Captain Beefheart 0:18
METAL MAN HAS WON HIS WINGS 3:06
Power Trio Segment from The Saints 'n Sinners 0:34
BOSSA NOVA PERVERTAMENTO 2:15
Excerpt from THE UNCLE FRANKIE SHOW 0:40
CHARVA 2:01
Speed-Freak Boogie 4:14
Original Mothers at the Broadside (Pomona) 0:55
Party Scene from MONDO HOLLYWOOD 1:54
Original MOTHERS Rehearsal 0:22
HOW COULD I BE SUCH A FOOL? 1:49
Band introductions at The Fillmore West 1:10
PLASTIC PEOPLE 1:58
Original MOTHERS at The Fillmore East 0:50
HARRY, YOU"RE A BEAST 0:30
DON INTERRUPTS 4:39
PIECE ONE 2:26
JIM / ROY 4:04
PIECE TWO 6:59
AGENCY MAN 3:25
AGENCY MAN (Studio Version) 3:27
LECTURE from Festival Hall Show 0:21
WEDDING DRESS SONG / THE HANDSOME CABIN BOY   2:36
SKWEEZIT SKWEEZIT SKWEEZIT 2:57
The Story of WILLIE THE PIMP 1:33
BLACK BEAUTY 5:23
CHUCHA 2:47
MOTHERS AT KPFK 3:26
HARMONICA FUN 0:41
 
Total Time: 77 min, 29 sec

(Note: Don't ask me why some of the above titles are capitalized and others aren't. That's they way they appear on the CD case, I just copied them).

By 1985, Zappa finally had complete control of the entire Zappa/Mothers catalog. Unfortunately, a lot of that catalog was difficult to come by unless you could find used vinyl copies. The Ryko CD releases would start to correct this situation in the near future, but in the meantime Frank decided to re-release his albums on vinyl, as a series of boxed sets called The Old Masters. To entice fans who already owned all these albums, FZ included a "Mystery Disc" with each of the first two boxed sets. These bonus albums were made up of rare, scrapbook type material that Frank had lying around from the early days of the Mothers.

Much of this material eventually got released on various CDs. The single Why Don'tcha Do Me Right? / Big Leg Emma was made part of the CD of Absolutely Free. The "play" performed by the Mothers at the Festival Hall in London now makes up the first half of the Ahead Of Their Time CD. Several other tracks were included on The Lost Episodes, and at least one is included in the You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore series. To Rykodisc's credit, they don't hide this information, and in fact point it out in more than one place in the accompanying CD booklet. This booklet is also chock-full of good pictures of the early Mothers, as well as Zappa's liner notes for the original Mystery Discs.

Even though some of the MD material came out on other releases, there were still bits and pieces that had never been put on CD. I'm not sure if Rykodisc owned the "Mystery Disc" material as part of their original deal with Zappa, or if they somehow got the rights from Gail after Frank's death, but they finally put out a CD Mystery Disc, which contains all the material on both albums except for the Big Leg Emma single, since that showed up on Absolutely Free. Dropping those two tracks allowed the whole thing to fit on one CD, and prevented having to pay double-disc prices, so I for one am not complaining.

Most of the material on the Mystery Disc is only of interest to hard-core Zappa fans. This one isn't as musically interesting as the last half of the Lost Episodes CD, so if you're looking for music you should start there. There are some things worth hearing on the Mystery Disc though. The recordings from the Village Inn (the place immortalized in Village of the Sun) gives some idea why Frank had such fond memories about his time there. The I Was a Teen-Age Malt Shop "rock opera" shows a lot of promise, but it's disappointing that Zappa only included a minute's worth of it here (bootleg versions are several minutes long). Metal Man Has Won His Wings is a rocker, with improvised lyrics by Captain Beefheart. Bossa Nova Pervertamento is an interesting, avant instrumental that foreshadows The Ocean Is the Ultimate Solution. Speed-Freak Boogie is an interesting early experiment with tape speed manipulation. It's good to hear the studio version of Agency Man, and Black Beauty continues the cool Underground Freak-Out Music jam found on disc one of You Can't Do That Anymore, Vol 5.

There's also a lot of fun insanity thrown in from the original Mothers. If that sort of thing appeals to you, then you'll probably like this disc. If the archival/documentary side of Zappa doesn't float your boat, then you should probably skip this album.

Album Cover

Image of the Mystery Disc album cover