Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention: The Lost Broadcast

The Mothers take on West German TV in 1968.

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The We’re Only In It For The Money Mothers line-up rolled into town for their second European tour in 1968.

One of the shows was at the hip ’n’ happening Beat Club in Bremen, West Germany, shot for TV and shown under the title Liederliches. That’s a knowing pun that roughly translates as ‘dissolute songs’, and despite the seemingly ramshackle presentation, there is a rod of iron through this music’s spine. The Lost Broadcast was never truly lost, per se. It was shown in its near-entirety on German TV two years later, has surfaced from time to time over the years and streams freely on many Zappa fan sites, but there’s something to be said for having the whole thing on disc. As you’d expect, this is no standard rundown of Freak Out!, Absolutely Free and …Money. Rather, it’s a continuous, all‑instrumental piece, partly improvised, that draws on King Kong, Uncle Meat and Let’s Make The Water Turn Black, among others. Add to that a portion of Wagner’s opera Lohengrin and a closing snippet of Octandre by Frank fave Edgar Varèse and you have some hardcore, old school Zappa footage. As bandleader, the man’s on form, bringing order from chaos. There’s also the joy of watching the Mothers rehearse, hang out onstage and get stuck into the catering, the remnants of which is smilingly mangled by James ‘Motorhead’ Sherwood at the close of the 80-minute footage. The broadcast was filmed in colour so it’s a shame this is black and white, while the period video effects are distracting and there’s no bonus material. That said, for the Zappa-tistas who haven’t seen this, it’s a find.

Grant Moon

Grant Moon is the News Editor for Prog and has been a contributor to the magazine since its launch in 2009. A music journalist for over 20 years, Grant writes regularly for titles including Classic Rock and Total Guitar, and his CV also includes stints as a radio producer/presenter and podcast host. His first book, 'Big Big Train - Between The Lines', is out now through Kingmaker Publishing.