On April 10, 1972, after a couple weeks of rehearsals to hone an ambitious set of newly penned compositions written for an “electric orchestra” to his satisfaction, Frank Zappa decamped to Hollywood’s Paramount Studios with his newly formed arsenal of musicians and began recording what would become his jazz fusion masterpieces, Waka/Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo.
The first track laid down for the sessions was “Your Mouth,” a shuffling, bluesy number that, along with the equally brief in comparison “It Might Just Be A One-Shot Deal,” was bookended by the longer instrumental pieces, “Big Swifty” and the title track comprising the four-song record.
Available today, Zappa Records/UMe have shared previously unreleased outtake “Your Mouth” (Take 1), allowing listeners to hear the very first take that kicked off this revered, yet short-lived, period for Zappa. Running roughly two minutes longer than the final take, the take begins with some playful banter between the vocalists Kris Peterson and Sal Marquez before they launch into their spirited first attempt at the song, which is noticeably looser than the original and ends with some extended guitar playing by Zappa. You can listen to the track below.
“Your Mouth” (Take 1) is featured on the forthcoming box set Waka/Wazoo, a five-disc multi-format box set releasing December 16 that features a complete historical rundown of the entire project in celebration of half a century of this pioneering phase of Zappa’s peerless career. Produced by Ahmet Zappa and Zappa Vaultmeister Joe Travers, the comprehensive 4CD + Blu-Ray Audio set boasts unreleased alternate takes of almost every composition recorded during the album sessions, Vault mix session outtakes, and oddities, and also includes the full final show of the 10-piece tour, recorded at the famous Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco on December 15, 1972.
Additionally, the collection includes a set of demos for George Duke’s solo material that Zappa produced and played guitar on during the album recording sessions at Paramount Studios. Although Duke would go on to re-record the compositions for his own albums, the versions with Zappa have never been officially issued until now.
The Waka/Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo albums themselves will be presented on Blu-Ray Audio disc in a variety of exciting listening experiences: brand-new, first-time-ever immersive Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital True HD 5.1 surround sound mixes, mixed from the original multitracks by Erich Gobel and Karma Auger at Studio 1LA, and 96kHz 24-bit high-resolution stereo remasters, mastered by Doug Sax with Robert Hadley and Sangwook “Sunny” Nam at The Mastering Lab in 2012. Both albums will also be available for hi-res streaming.
The five-disc set will be housed in a clamshell box with a 44-page booklet with unseen photos from the Vault from the recording sessions, rehearsals, and tour, plus liner notes by Zappa Vaultmeister Joe Travers and Scott Parker, author of several books on Zappa and host of the official Zappa podcast, the ZappaCast. Aside from several vintage mixes included in the set, and the surround sound mixes, the audio was mixed by Craig Parker Adams at Winslow Ct. Studios and John Polito at Audio Mechanics from the original 1972 16-track and 4-track analog masters, all mastered by Polito.
For the first time since they were repressed from the analog tapes in the 70s, Waka/Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo will be available once again on vinyl. Fans will have the choice of audiophile grade 180-gram black vinyl or limited edition 180-gram color vinyl. UDiscover Music and Zappa.com will exclusively offer Waka/Jawaka on translucent green vinyl and The Grand Wazoo on brown marble vinyl, both with tip-on jackets and lithographs.
Mastered from the analog tapes by Bernie Grundman, the albums are being pressed at Optimal Media in Germany. To accompany the release of Waka/Wazoo, a new collection of merch just launched featuring graphics and imagery from Waka/Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo on t-shirts, hoodies, tote bags, coasters, pins, slipmats, and mugs, in addition to a toilet-shaped paperclip holder featuring Zappa’s logo. Check out the new offerings alongside the recently released evergreen Zappa line at the official Frank Zappa store.