Frank Zappa’s ‘Zappa In New York’ Returns In 40th Anniversary Editions

The release commemorates the four historic, sold-out concerts that the trailblazing artist played at the Palladium in New York City, between Christmas and New Year’s 1976.

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Frank Zappa Live In New York - CREDIT Gail Zappa
Photo: Gail Zappa, courtesy of Frank Zappa Estate

Frank Zappa’s 1978 live landmark Zappa In New York is now on release from Zappa Records/UMe, as a “suite” of expanded 40th anniversary editions.

The release commemorates the four historic, sold-out concerts that the trailblazing artist played at the Palladium in New York City, between Christmas and New Year’s 1976. The subsequent album featured the best-played performances with studio overdubs. First planned for 1977 release, Zappa In New York was delayed for a year because of censorship issues with the record label, primarily over the controversial song ‘Punky’s Whips.’

Band member Ruth Underwood went on to describe the shows in the New York run as “theatrical, outrageous and raucously funny, but also filled with startling and gorgeous music, dating from Frank’s 1960s output to literally the moment the curtain went up.”

The beloved collection of Zappa songs included a remarkable live version of ‘Sofa’ as well as nine new compositions, among them the complex, percussion-based ‘The Black Page.’ That track has become known in the drumming community as the ultimate challenge for any drummer. Also in the set list is the comedic sendup ‘Titties & Beer’ and the aforementioned ‘Punky’s Whips,’ which was about Terry Bozzio’s obsession with Punky Meadows, the flamboyant guitarist for the band Angel.

The anniversary edition has been overseen by the Zappa Family Trust and produced by Ahmet Zappa and Vaultmeister Joe Travers. The expanded versions will be available as a 5CD box set, 3LP on 180 gram audiophile grade vinyl, and digitally. The five-disc version will be housed in a limited edition metal tin shaped like a New York City street manhole cover. It includes a replica ticket from one of the shows and contains the main album in its original mix, newly remastered by Bob Ludwig in 2018 and available for the first time since its debut.

The other four discs in the CD edition are packed with relevant Vault nuggets and three hours-plus of unreleased live performances from the Palladium shows. These represent every composition that was played during the concerts, and the best alternate performances of every tune that Zappa picked for the original album, all newly mixed in 2018. For the highest sonic quality, the original two-inch 24-track multi-track master tapes were transferred, reel by reel, at 96kHz 24-bit wavs.

Zappa In New York 5CD Super Deluxe packshot

All digital pre-orders of Zappa In New York will receive an instant grat download of the unreleased rarity ‘The Purple Lagoon/Any Kind of Pain.’ This was recorded on the first night of the four-night stand and features Zappa performing the chorus of ‘Any Kind of Pain’ in the middle of ‘The Purple Lagoon.’ This is especially significant because nobody knew this track existed, or that Zappa had the idea for the song more than a decade before it emerged in 1988 on the live album Broadway The Hard Way. That was, until the Zappa Family Trust archived the tapes and made the fascinating discovery.

The Purple Lagoon/Any Kind Of Pain (Deluxe Bonus Version/Live)

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As the Zappa Family Trust says in the album notes: “We are excited to bring you this new Deluxe version of Zappa in New York: an opportunity to re-examine and celebrate the source material of a great album while exploring the events of Frank’s life in late December 1976. Collections like these really show of the work ethic of a musical genius.”

The set’s expanded packaging features previously unseen live photos by Gail Zappa as well as extensive liner notes by Underwood and Zappa bandmate Ray White. There’s also an insightful essay by Joe Travers with Australian writer Jen Jewel Brown. Specially recorded for this edition, Underwood also contributes a solo piano version of ‘The Black Page,’ one of Zappa’s most intriguing and enduring compositions. The track is performed in all sorts of venues all over the world, and taught and studied in schools.

The 3LP edition, pressed at Pallas in Germany, features all-analogue mastering of the original album mix, unavailable since the first release. An additional LP of bonus content from The Vault is also included. The digital release marks the debut of the original mix.

The original concerts came at the end of an especially notable year for Zappa, who played shows around the world, including his second Australian tour, and his one and only Japanese jaunt. 1976 also featured the release of his album Zoot Allures and of Grand Funk Railroad’s Good Singin’ Good Playin, which Zappa produced. There was a string of Halloween shows and a performance on Saturday Night Live, which influenced the Palladium shows.

Following an on-air collaboration with that show’s announcer Don Pardo and the SNL house band, Zappa invited them to be a part of the New York concerts after three of the horn players were so enthusiastic about playing with Zappa that they asked to be involved. As Travers and Brown write in the liner notes: “Out of nowhere, the concept of adapting horns to the scheduled concerts became a reality. Frank was immediately swept up in the pleasure and challenge of writing and arranging parts for the existing material.”

Zappa’s exceptional band for the shows featured Ray White on vocals and guitar, Terry Bozzio on drums and vocals, Eddie Jobson on keyboards and violin, Ruth Underwood on percussion and synthesiser, Patrick O’Hearn on bass and vocals and David Samuels on timpani and vibes. Don Pardo provided “sophisticated narration”; the brass section, featuring jazz duo the Brecker Brothers with Randy Brecker on trumpet and Michael Brecker on tenor saxophone, was rounded out by the SNL players, with Lou Marini on alto sax, Ronnie Cuber on baritone sax and Tom Malone on trombone.

In other Zappa news, Record Store Day on 20 April will see the Zappa Family Trust and UMe continuing their tradition of releasing a unique vinyl pressing to mark the bi-yearly celebration of independent record shops. The rare 1987 compilationThe Guitar World According To Frank Zappa, which was originally available only on cassette through  Guitar World  magazine  and Barfko-Swill mail order, is to receive its first-ever vinyl pressing for the occasion.

The guitar-centric album features unique mixes and edits by Zappa along with a selection of solos that were released on the  Guitar  album  the following year. The RSD release, mastered by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering, is limited to 8,000 copies worldwide, numbered and pressed on 180-gram clear audiophile vinyl by Furnace MFG.

The expanded 40th anniversary editions of Zappa In New York are out now. Scroll down for the full tracklisting, and buy them here.




1. Titties & Beer

2. I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth

3. Big Leg Emma

4. Sofa

5. Manx Needs Women

6. The Black Page Drum Solo/Black Page #1

7. Black Page #2

8. Honey, Don’t You Want A Man Like Me?

9. The Illinois Enema Bandit

10. The Purple Lagoon


1. “The Most Important Musical Event Of 1976”

2. Peaches En Regalia

3. The Torture Never Stops

4. The Black Page #2

5. Punky’s Whips Intro

6. Punky’s Whips

7. I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth

8. Honey, Don’t You Want A Man Like Me?

9. The Illinois Enema Bandit

10. “Two For The Price Of One”

11. Penis Dimension

12. Montana


1. America Drinks

2. “Irate Phone Calls”

3. Sofa #2

4. “The Moment You’ve All Been Waiting For”

5. I’m The Slime

6. Pound For A Brown

7. Terry’s Solo

8. The Black Page Drum Solo/Black Page #1

9. Big Leg Emma

10. “Jazz Buffs and Buff-etts”

11. The Purple Lagoon

12. Find Her Finer

13. The Origin Of Manx

14. Manx Needs Women

15. Chrissy Puked Twice

16. Cruisin’ For Burgers


1. The Purple Lagoon/Any Kind Of Pain

2. “The Greatest New Undiscovered Group In America”

3. Black Napkins

4. Dinah-Moe Humm

5. Finale


1. The Black Page #2 (Piano Version)

2. I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth (Alternate Version)

3. Chrissy Puked Twice

4. Cruisin’ For Burgers (1977 Mix)

5. Black Napkins

6. Punky’s Whips (Unused Version)

7. The Black Page #1 (Piano Version)


LP 1 / Side 1 – Original Album Mix Remastered

1. Titties & Beer

2. I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth

3. Big Leg Emma

LP 1 / Side 2 – Original Album

1. Sofa

2. Manx Needs Women

3. The Black Page Drum Solo/Black Page #1

4. Black Page #2

LP 2 / Side 3 – Original Album

1. Honey, Don’t You Want A Man Like Me?

2. The Illinois Enema Bandit

LP 2 / Side 4 – Original Album

1. The Purple Lagoon

LP 3 / Side 1 – Bonus Vault Content

1. Black Napkins

2. Cruisin’ For Burgers (1977 Mix)

LP 3 / Side 2 – Bonus Vault Content

1. The Black Page #2 (Piano Version)

2. I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth (Alternate Version)

3. Punky’s Whips (Unused Version)

4. The Black Page #1 (Piano Version)

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