Frank Zappa’s Halloween 1973 Shows Out Now In Costume Box Set

Out just in time for Halloween 2019, the previously completely unreleased live recordings contain more than four and a half hours of material.

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Frank Zappa Halloween 73 packshot

Frank Zappa’s two complete Halloween shows in Chicago, recorded on 31 October 1973, are out now as Halloween 73, via Zappa Records/UMe.

Out just in time for Halloween 2019, the previously completely unreleased live recordings contain more than four and a half hours of material, with songs from across Zappa’s prolific catalogue. That includes his then-new 1973 album Over-Nite Sensation and the upcoming 1974 release Apostrophe, plus early arrangements of such tracks as ‘Penguin In Bondage,’ ‘Dickie’s Such An Asshole’ and ‘Village Of The Sun,’ which would appear on studio and live albums later in his career. The releases continue the Halloween series started by the Zappa Family Trust in 2017 with the acclaimed Halloween 77 releases.

Halloween 73 will be released as a specially designed, limited edition, display-worthy costume box of four CDs, which comes complete with a FRANKenZAPPA mask and gloves. The box set is produced by Ahmet Zappa and Vaultmeister Joe Travers and features a 40-page booklet with detailed liner notes from Travers and Ruth Komanoff Underwood and Ralph Humphrey, Zappa’s bandmates who played on the dates with him. A wealth of never-before-seen photos from the event is also included.

Zappa staged a series of spectacular and now legendary Halloween shows each year during the 1970s and 1980s to mark his favourite holiday. In 1974, he settled on New York as the home for these annual annual costume-clad events, which continued until he retired the tradition in 1984. But in 1973, he and an exciting new band played the two stirring Halloween concerts at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.

Many of the subsequent New York shows were not recorded, because of the exorbitant fees that would have been charged by the musicians’ union. But such restrictions didn’t exist at the Chicago concerts. The two full shows will be presented on the first three discs in the set, while the fourth is dedicated to unreleased rehearsals that were recorded just before the tour started.

A single CD version, Halloween 73 Highlights, will also be available, gathering 16 hand-picked performances from both shows. The concerts were recorded on 1/2” 4-track analog tape, which was stored in pristine condition in Zappa’s personal Vault.

The Idiot Bastard Son (Live In Chicago, 10/31/1973, Show 1)

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In 2019, the tracks have been digitally transferred in 96K/24B from the original analog tapes by Travers, then mastered and remixed by Craig Parker Adams. The deluxe box set and the Highlights album will both be available for streaming and download. All boxes preordered via will feature the instant grat download ‘The Idiot Bastard Son,’ taken from the first show, with an additional track to follow at a later date. Digital preorders of Halloween 73 will come with the same free downloads.

Zappa’s European tour ended in September 1973, after which he decided to change his live line-up once again. He replaced woodwind and keyboards player Ian Underwood and violinist Jean Luc-Ponty with the new members Chester Thompson on drums and Napoleon Murphy Brock on vocals, tenor sax and flute.

After a month of rehearsals, the Chicago shows marked the second gig for the new band line-up, featured here in their first official recording. Travers writes in the liner notes that the group “would become infamous with the shows at the Roxy Theatre scheduled for that December in Los Angeles and filmed for all posterity.”

Those Roxy performances can be heard in full on the 2018 box set The Roxy Performances, and on the 1974 double live album Roxy & Elsewhere. The Halloween 73 release now offers the chance to hear the thrilling evolution of the band and its dynamics. “The music is fresh and going through changes, along with incorporating the new funky rhythms of Chester and the dynamic lead vocals of Napoleon,” writes Travers. “And with the mallets of Ruth Underwood prominently featured in the instrumentation, Bruce Fowler’s bionic trombone, Ralph Humphrey’s technical wizardry of the drum set, Tom Fowler’s command of the bass and the keyboard mastery of George Duke, it’s a no-brainer that this line-up would go on to be a favourite among fans.

“The musicianship and chemistry of the personnel blended so well together with the material Frank was writing,” he continues. “It would prove to be a golden period in the history of Frank Zappa and these Halloween shows are proof.”

In the in-depth notes, Ruth Komanoff Underwood and Ralph Humphrey also give fascinating insights into what it was like to play with Zappa in this period. The notes also feature beautiful live shots and intimate backstage images. “Frank, though, wasn’t looking back for a moment, but only characteristically ahead,” writes Underwood, “relishing the excitement and challenge at hand.

“Personnel changes had become routine for him, and he thrived on the new musical possibilities and mix of personalities. It was evident, then and always, that Frank needed to live his life in a state of perpetual transition, a reality that could be as maddening to us as it was exciting for all. However unnerving these constant changes, the exertion made us better players, despite some figurative bumps and bruises.”

These unique shows in Chicago exuded the same unbridled, celebratory spirit that would follow in the New York Halloween series, described by David Fricke of Rolling Stone as “advanced, instrumental ecstasy, cliff-edge improvisation and impromptu theatrical hijinks.”

The four-CD Halloween 73 box set can be bought here and the single CD Halloween 73 Highlights here.

Disc 1 (Show 1)
1. “Happy Halloween To Each And Every One Of You” 4:36
2. Pygmy Twylyte 3:25
3. The Idiot Bastard Son 2:24
4. Cheepnis 3:28
5. “Another Assembly Of Items” 1:29
6. The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue 1:02
7. Kung Fu 1:32
8. Penguin In Bondage 7:12
9. T’Mershi Duween 1:46
10. The Dog Breath Variations 1:47
11. Uncle Meat 2:24
12. RDNZL 5:54
13. Village Of The Sun 4:14
14. Ecidna’s Arf (Of You) 4:11
15. Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing? 9:54
16. Montana 6:55
TRT: 62:12

Disc 2 (Show 1 Continued)
1. Dupree’s Paradise 19:12
2. “Almost Up To Date” 1:35
3. Dickie’s Such An Asshole 10:04
(Show 2)
4. “That Greatest Of American Holidays” 4:50
5. Cosmik Debris 6:51
6. “We’re Hurtin’ For Tunes” 1:04
7. Pygmy Twylyte 3:40
8. The Idiot Bastard Son 2:17
9. Cheepnis 4:18
10. I’m The Slime 4:29
11. Big Swifty 9:37
TRT: 67:56

Disc 3 (Show 2 Continued)
1. The History Of The San Clemente Magnetic Deviation 1:50
2. Dickie’s Such An Asshole 9:59
3. “Another New Event” :56
4. Farther O’Blivion – Part 1 9:03
5. Father O’Blivion – Part 2 10:10
6. “Pervert’s Special Holiday” 1:10
7. Penguin In Bondage 7:27
8. T’Mershi Duween 1:45
9. RDNZL 6:06
10. Inca Roads 10:55
11. Medley: Son Of Mr. Green Genes/King Kong/Chunga’s Revenge 16:23
TRT: 75:44

Disc 4 (Bonus Rehearsals 10-20/21-73)
1. The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue (10-21-73) 1:05
2. Penguin In Bondage (10-20-73) 6:45
3. T’Mershi Duween (10-20-73) 1:46
4. Dog Breath (10-20-73) 1:28
5. The Dog Breath Variations (10-20-73) 1:20
6. Uncle Meat (10-20-73) 2:18
7. RDNZL (10-20-73) 5:10
8. Magic Fingers (10-21-73) 4:47
9. Inca Roads (10-20-73) 14:38
10. Father O’Blivion (10-21-73) 17:54
11. Cosmik Debris (10-20-73) 10:36
12. Big Swifty (10-21-73) 4:41
TRT: 72:28

1. “Happy Halloween To Each And Every One Of You” (Show 1) 4:36
2. Pygmy Twylyte (Show 2) 3:40
3. The Idiot Bastard Son (Show 2) 2:17
4. Cheepnis (Show 2) 3:18
5. “Another Assembly Of Items” (Show 1) 1:29
6. The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue (Show 1) 1:02
7. Kung Fu (Show 1) 1:32
8. Penguin In Bondage (Show 1) 7:12
9. T’Mershi Duween (Show 1) 1:46
10. The Dog Breath Variations (Show 1) 1:47
11. Uncle Meat (Show 1) 2:24
12. RDNZL (Show 1) 5:50
13. I’m The Slime (Show 2) 4:29
14. Big Swifty (Show 2) 9:25
15. “The History Of The San Clemente Magnetic Deviation (Show 2) 1:48
16. Dickie’s Such An Asshole (Show 2) 10:24
TRT: 63:02


Format: Union Jack flagUK English
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Sam Wall

    October 30, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    Why was there no CD slipcase or clamshell case to house the CDs? Cheap move! They’re just loose in there.

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