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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Frank Zappa - The Lost Broadcast, Beat Club 1968'
(Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention / DVD / NR / 2016 / MVD Visual)

Overview: This DVD contains a filmed rehearsal of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention at the legendary Beat Club in Bremen, Germany, on 6th October 1968.

DVD Verdict: Simply put, if you are a devoted fan of everything that Frank Zappa ever did, you will definitely LOVE this lost footage now out on DVD through MVD Visual. That said, and playing Devil's Advocate, if you either a) hate everything he did, b) never understood anything he ever did, or c) just plain old don't know who he is, you should probably stay well clear of this raw, predominately instrumental rehearsal footage.

In short, 'Frank Zappa - The Lost Broadcast, Beat Club 1968' contains a filmed rehearsal of Frank Zappa and the Mothers Of Invention at the legendary Beat Club in Bremen, Germany, on 6th October 1968. Indeed, it was part of the band's second European tour, the first having occurred a year before, although this was their first visit to Germany.

As you watch this very raw, very shay at times, but always highly enlightening footage is what has since been known as a "typical rehearsal scenario", where the band is eating, drinking, tuning up their instruments, enjoying some laughs, and even having cosmetics applied! Yup, some guys wore make-up, there, I said it! Anyway, as notes fly this way and that, step by step, moment by moment, gradually the band begin to actually rehearse.

In truth, as you watch this unique rehearsal ritual from Zappa and his Mothers, you quickly discover it is nothing short of simply being one long session of improvisation. Very nearly a concert unto itself, it is (for all intents and purposes) one continuous performance rather than a run-through of their greatest hits. Sure, occasionally Zappa directs the band into the opening themes of some of his more well-known pieces, but for the most part it's one large slice of the Zappa pie that we've all come to know and love.

What we get on film here is Zappa and his Mothers performing interesting renditions of “King Kong”, “A Pound For A Brown On The Bus”, “Sleeping In A Jar” and “Uncle Meat”, all of which would be included on the subsequent Uncle Meat album. Funnily enough, and as we all know by now, that album had already been recorded, but would not be released for another six months. For those not in the know, Uncle Meat was the fifth studio album by The Mothers of Invention, released as a double album in 1969.]

Other tracks recorded for prosperity during this session include an instrumental version of “Let's Make The Water Turn Black”, a version of “Prelude To The Afternoon Of A Sexually Aroused Gas Mask”, a stab at the “Prelude To Act 3 of Lohengrin” by Richard Wagner and a nod towards “Octandre” by Edgard Varese.

The footage shows Frank's use of his famous hand signals to great effect, conducting and controlling the direction of the music, instructing the musicians re: The Mothers of Invention [Ian Underwood, Bunk Gardner, Don Preston, Roy Estrada, Jimmy Carl Black, Art Tripp, and Motorhead Sherwood] when to start, stop, punctuate, slow down, speed up, improvise, play in different time signatures, etc. 'Frank Zappa - The Lost Broadcast, Beat Club 1968' is a unique look at a man, at a band that took musical history, shook it up, turned it upside down, and presented us with a mish-mash of tunes and notes that, somehow, all actually worked thereafter! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.