Zappa / Mothers - Piquantique (Recorded live, 8/21/73 in Stockholm)

Kung Fu   2:12
RDNZL (listed as Redunzl)      4:26
Dupree's Paradise 11:25
T'Mershi Duween   1:55
Father O'Blivion 20:41
 
Total Time: 40 min, 39 sec

Yet another Beat the Boots disc (from the first series), and yet another Mothers line-up. This was the beginnings of the hugely popular (amongst Zappa fans, anyway) mid-70s band that included the Fowler brothers, Ruth Underwood, George Duke, Ralph Humphrey and others. On this particular recording, Jean-Luc Pony joins the band on violin.

This is a somewhat frustrating disc, as the performance is one of the best of the Boots series, but unfortunately the sound quality is fairly poor. If you can get past the poor sound though, you're treated to a very good jazz fusion band storming their way through some of Zappa's best compositions.

The track listing is somewhat misleading. The Kung Fu on this disc doesn't sound the same to me as the one that's on The Lost Episodes (an FZ fan named Callum Gibson emailed me to say that it's a version of The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue, and so it is - don't know why I could never figure that out myself). And Father O'Blivion is definitely not the song from Apostrophe('). I've read that Zappa's bands played a few different songs that went by variations on the titles Father O'Blivion and Farther Oblivion. I've never been able to keep straight which version is which, but the one on this disc is a twenty minute piece that ties in bits of Zappa compositions from all over the place, including parts that would later be used in the epic song Greggery Peccary. Also, Dupree's Paradise is mostly an improvised jam - the main melody doesn't kick in until near the eight minute mark, and then the song fades out a few minutes later.

But sound quality and confusing track listing aside, there is some great playing on this disc. I really like a lot of Ponty's violin work, and Duke's keyboard playing is fantastic too. The Fowler brothers' horns add a lot to the music, and Humphrey's drumming is solid. The only drawback is that we don't hear much of Ruth Underwood's percussion - in fact, she's not in the performing band pictured on the back of the CD booklet, which makes me wonder if she was really in the band at the time. [Note: I got an email about this from a Francis Khoury who asked if I was listening to the same disc as he was, since he hears plenty of Ruth. That made me dig the disc out and give it a spin, and sure enough the percussion jumped out and bit me at the beginning of RDNZL and a few other places. I think my problem was that I was so used to hearing Ruth's percussion in Zappa's music that I no longer really "heard" it (if that makes any sense), plus it's buried in the murky sound of the boot so that when the rest of the band plays, she's a little hard to hear. But my guess that Ruth isn't even on the CD was entirely wrong.]

Album Cover

Image of the Piquantique album cover