Frank Zappa: The Mothers 1970 - tentative in the studio, revelatory on the road

Frank Zappa’s celebrated 1970 Mothers lineup commemorated with unreleased 70-song collection of studio and live recordings

Frank Zappa: The Mothers 1970
(Image: © UMC)

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1970 was a busy year for Frank Zappa. He released three albums, which are now bolstered by a 4-CD set of unreleased material that hones in on the second half of the year with the new-look Mothers. 

The band, now featuring drummer Aynsley Dunbar, bassist Jeff Simmons and keyboard player George Duke plus former Turtles Flo & Eddie, helped push Zappa's humour further below the waist. 

The studio CD from London’s Trident Studio in June is somewhat tentative and only a remixed Sharleena made it to Chunga’s Revenge later that year, although Wonderful Wino eventually showed up on 1976’s Zoot Allures. You get three versions here, while a fourth opens the Dutch ‘Piknik’ radio concert, previously a popular bootleg.

The three live CDs catch the band working their way towards the following year’s 200 Motels (by which time Simmons had quit) and and confirm that this line-up was a lot better than their only album together, the bitty Chunga’s Revenge, ever allowed.

Hugh Fielder

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.