Frank's Mothers of Invention - The Ark (Live in Boston, July 1968)

Intro 0:56
Big Leg Emma 3:42
Some Ballet Music 7:16
Status Back Baby 5:48
Valarie 3:30
My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama   6:46
Uncle Meat / King Kong 23:49
Total Time: 51 min, 47 sec

Another of the Beat the Boots discs, this time from the first boxed set. This performance was recorded just a few months after Electric Aunt Jemima. The sound quality is once again pretty decent - Frank mentions at the beginning of the show that they're recording with three microphones set up across the front of the stage. I believe I read somewhere that this album comes from that recording, which was stolen from Frank by bootleggers.

The disc kicks off with a passable version of Big Leg Emma, but Frank explains that that was just some "warm up trash" to get the audience ready for some serious music that'll be "better for you in the long run". The six minute instrumental track that follows sounds like Edgar Varese music performed by rock band, and contains some bits and pieces that would turn up on later Zappa albums.

After that Frank reads some requests handed to him by the audience, and decides to play one of them - Status Back Baby - but warns that the band rarely plays that song, so it's going to sound "crappy". But they pretty much nail it, even the Stravinsky quotes in the middle. Then FZ explains about the Mothers releasing Valarie and Big Leg Emma as singles, and wonders aloud why they didn't do well because they're "every bit as imbecilic as Yummy, Yummy, Yummy." Next comes another pop song, although a more twisted and dark one - My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama. This one probably could have been a hit; it's the story of a young rocker who's girlfriend's parents can't stand him. This live version turns the song into a jam at the end which stretches it out to almost seven minutes, with the album side ending in mid-jam with the sound of the needle being ripped across the record.

All of side two is comprised of a lengthy jam that combines Uncle Meat with King Kong, both from the upcoming Uncle Meat album. I also hear several other themes in there, including what sounds like part of Inca Roads (which wouldn't be released in its entirety for several years). Once again, this side ends suddenly in mid-jam, this time with what sounds like a radio being turned off.

This is another good representation of the early Mothers' live sound, and another decent sounding boot. Odd how the earliest Beat the Boots discs seem to have the best sound quality of the series. If you want to hear how the original Mothers sounded, warts and all, this disc and 'Tis the Season... are the two to get.

Album Cover

Image of the Ark album cover