From Nightclub To Arena: Frank Zappa’s Short-Lived 1980 Lineup Showcased On Latest Vault Treasure
By Stevie Connor.
Presenting two previously unreleased concerts from Frank Zappa’s short-lived 1980’s band, the latest exciting live release to be released from The Vault, Zappa 80: Mudd Club/Munich, offers fans an opportunity to hear two blistering shows recorded in two distinct settings: the intimate 240 capacity Mudd Club in New York City and the massive 12,000 seat German arena, Olympiahalle in Munich.
Produced by Ahmet Zappa and Zappa Vaultmeister Joe Travers, this historically significant release, releasing March 3 via Zappa Records/UMe, marks the first time that full concerts have ever been released featuring the 1980 lineup of Zappa leading the five-strong band which included the dual vocal attack of Ike Willis and Ray White, Arthur Barrow on bass, Tommy Mars on keyboards, and newcomer David Logeman on drums. Additionally, this is the first posthumous release of this distinct, brief lineup, as Logeman, who replaced drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, would end up leaving when Colaiuta returned to the band.
Previously only two tracks from these shows – “Love Of My Life” from Mudd Club and “You Didn’t Try To Call Me” from Munich – were ever released by Zappa on his CD live series, You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore.
The Mudd Club show was recorded on May 8, 1980 by Klaus Weidemann on a 2-track Nagra tape recorder while the Munich show at Olympiahalle was recorded and mixed by engineer Mick Glossop direct to digital 2-track stereo and has the distinction of being the first digital live recording of Zappa ever. The Maestro was early to embrace the emerging technology and would importantly shift to it as a result of this recording. Made on a Sony PCM 1600 recording system, the show was recorded on 3/4” U-Matic videotape, which at the time was state of the art but is now a relic of the rapid evolution of sound recording. The show was transferred from the original digital masters and audio drop-outs, a common issue with this format, were fixed by Travers using multiple tape backups, some analog, some digital, that Zappa worked on, signaling he was considering a potential release at some point. Both shows were mastered by Bernie Grundman at Bernie Grundman Mastering.
Zappa ’80: Mudd Club/Munich, which is being previewed today with a scintillating performance of Joe’s Garage standout, “Outside Now,” from the Mudd Club show, will be available digitally and as a 3CD set with the 15-track Mudd Club performance in its entirety on disc 1 and the 22-track full Munich concert spread across discs 2 and 3. The package features cover photography and a host of rare and unseen photos of Zappa and the band members in the accompanying 17-page booklet shot on tour by superfan George Alper. Alper, the son of seminal ‘60s photographer Joe Alper, who befriended Zappa and became part of his inner circle in NYC and eventually sold merch on tour, provides some of his personal memories in the extensive liner notes that also includes an introduction from Joe Travers, a detailed track-by-track of the setlists by band member, Arthur Barrow, who also offers up a reminiscence about the tour and 1980 lineup, and is rounded out with an illuminating essay by Steve Vai who attended the Mudd Club show as a 19-year-old fan who was hired by Zappa to transcribe recently recorded guitar solos and drum tracks. A few months later Vai was invited to join the band and as the virtuoso guitarist/songwriter pens in the liners, “From that point on, the whirlwind world of Frank Zappa that I embarked on for the next 3 years was intense, funny, terrifying at times, but deeply and soulfully rewarding.”
In addition to the 3CD set, the Mudd Club and Munich shows will also be available separately on 180-gram vinyl, with the Mudd Club pressed on 2LP at 45 rpm and Munich on 3LP 33 1/3 rpm vinyl. uDiscover Music and Zappa.com are also exclusively offering a limited edition 180-gram color pressing of each title with Mudd Club on Coke Bottle Green and Munich on Transparent Orange vinyl, which both come with iron-on transfers. Like the CD and digital, the vinyl releases have also been mastered by Bernie Grundman. Vinyl has been pressed at Optimal Media in Germany. For more information about the formats or to order, visit: https://FrankZappa.lnk.to/Zappa80pr
In conjunction with the album, a series of exclusive merch commemorating the 1980 tour has just been released. Check out the new items and order here: https://bit.ly/3WNtfqV
In 1980, The Mudd Club was a happening, underground venue in lower Manhattan best known for being a popular hangout for the counterculture and a bastion of new wave and punk which dominated NYC’s music and fashion scene. As Travers writes in the liners, “celebrities and musicians alike would frequent the ‘art bar cabaret’ during its heyday between 1979 and 1983, dancing, drinking and making the scene amongst the New York City denizens of the deep.” Zappa loved the small, seedy club and the punks, posers and hipsters that called it home, and so made it a priority to play there while on tour, scheduling a performance on May 8th, 1980, at the tiny 240-capacity room, sandwiched between much larger arena dates in Cincinnati, Philadelphia and the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Long Island where he played two shows in one night to more than 20,000 fans total.
Zappa and his five-piece band treated the sweaty, packed club to a thrilling 15-song, hour-long set filled with tracks from the recently released 1979 albums, the triple LP rock opera, Joe’s Garage (“Joe’s Garage,” “Keep It Greasy,” “Outside Now,” “Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?”), and Sheik Yerbuti (“Bobby Brown Goes Down,” “City Of Tiny Lites”), along with songs from across his prolific catalog, including “I Ain’t Got No Heart” and “You Didn’t Try To Call Me” from 1966’s Freak Out!, and the title track from 1970’s “Chunga’s Revenge.” Additionally, the band played early versions of Zappa’s homage to the club, “Mudd Club,” “The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing,” and “You Are What You Is,” which would all be recorded after the tour and released the following year on You Are What You Is. The show was famously captured by an Austrian film crew DoRo (Rudi Dolezal and Hannes Rossacher) who included two songs – “Mudd Club” and “Chunga’s Revenge” – in their documentary, “Frank Zappa: New York and Elsewhere.”
Whereas the Mudd Club show took place early into the tour, the concert at Munich’s Olympiahalle arena was the final show and saw the band firing all on cylinders after three months on the road together. The set, which included most of the songs played at the Mudd Club, was nearly twice as long and also featured such highlights as “Cosmik Debris,” “Dancin’ Fool,” “Pound For A Brown,” “The Illinois Enema Bandit,” and a cover of Tony Allen’s “Nite Owl.” Notably the band played an early rendition of “Pick Me, I’m Clean,” which Zappa would release the following year on the double live album, Tinsel Town Rebellion.
Zappa ’80: Mudd Club/Munich is an opportunity to experience Zappa and his terrific yet transitory 1980 band playing two fantastic concerts at two very different venues for the first time.
Zappa ’80: Mudd Club/Munich 3CD
Disc 1: Mudd Club New York, NY May 8th, 1980 1. Mudd Club Show Start 2. Chunga’s Revenge 3. Keep It Greasy 4. Outside Now 5. City Of Tiny Lites (Edited) 6. Pound For A Brown 7. You Are What You Is 8. You Didn’t Try To Call Me 9. I Ain’t Got No Heart 10. Love Of My Life 11. Easy Meat 13. Mudd Club 14. The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing 15. Joe’s Garage 16. Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?
Disc 2: Munich, Germany Olympiahalle July 3rd, 1980 1. Munich ’80 Show Start 2. Chunga’s Revenge 3. Keep It Greasy 4. Pick Me, I’m Clean 5. City Of Tiny Lites 6. Pound For A Brown 7. Cosmik Debris 8. You Didn’t Try To Call Me 9. I Ain’t Got No Heart 10. Love Of My Life 11. You Are What You Is
Disc 3: Munich, Germany Olympiahalle July 3rd, 1980 (Continued) 1. Easy Meat 2. Mudd Club 3. The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing 4. Joe’s Garage 5. Why Does It Hurt When I Pee? 6. Dancin’ Fool 7. Bobby Brown Goes Down 8. Ms. Pinky 9. Stick It Out 10. Nite Owl (T. Allen) 11. The Illinois Enema Bandit
Zappa ’80: Mudd Club – 2LP Side 1 1. Mudd Club Show Start 2. Chunga’s Revenge 3. Keep It Greasy 4. Outside Now
Side 2 1. City Of Tiny Lites (Edited) 2. Pound For A Brown 3. You Are What You Is
Side 3 1. You Didn’t Try To Call Me 2. I Ain’t Got No Heart 3. Love Of My Life 4. Easy Meat
Side 4 1. Mudd Club 2. The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing 3. Joe’s Garage 4. Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?
Zappa ’80: Munich – 3LP
Side 1 1. Munich ’80 Show Start 2. Chunga’s Revenge 3. Keep It Greasy 4. Pick Me, I’m Clean
Side 2 1. City Of Tiny Lites 2. Pound For A Brown
Side 3 1. Cosmik Debris 2. You Didn’t Try To Call Me 3. I Ain’t Got No Heart 4. Love Of My Life 5. You Are What You Is
Side 4 1. Easy Meat 2. Mudd Club 3. The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing 4. Joe’s Garage 5. Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?
Side 5 1. Dancin’ Fool 2. Bobby Brown Goes Down 3. Ms. Pinky 4. Stick It Out
Side 6 1. Nite Owl (T. Allen) 2. The Illinois Enema Bandit