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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)

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.