Lumpy Gravy b/w Primordial
Event: BLACK FRIDAY 2017
Release Date: 11/24/2017
Format: 12" Vinyl
Label: Zappa/Barking Pumpkin Records
Release type: 'RSD First' Release
Coming 11/24 for @RecordStoreDay Black Friday! "Lumpy Gravy: Primordial" makes it's debut on limited edition 12" 45rpm mono translucent burgundy colored vinyl, mastered from the original 1967 1/4" mono master tape, with FZ's original gatefold album design lovingly restored.
Frank Zappa, mother-mother, thinker, something of a success.
A producer for MGM (he produces the Mothers for them). A composer for Capitol. He's created and conducted a ballet for them, "Lumpy Gravy." He wants a puppeteer to do the choreography.
"Originally what happened was that right after the completion of Absolutely Free in '66, the basic tracks were cut for Lumpy Gravy in Los Angeles. This guy Nick Venet—a producer at Capitol—heard I could write orchestra music and asked me if I'd like to do an orchestra album for Capitol because my MGM contract didn't preclude me from conducting. I wasn't signed as a conductor and since I wasn't performing on the album, there didn't seem to be any problem. He gave me a budget for a 40-piece orchestra, x-number of studio hours, and said go do it. And I did." As MGM's legal department would have it, a problem did arise. When Zappa brought the orchestral tapes to New York for mixing, MGM complained about it—after Capitol had spent over $30,000 on the album. Capitol was even ready to release it.
"In fact, if you're looking for rare collectors' items, there are 8-track tapes with the Capitol label of Lumpy Gravy that have a different Lumpy Gravy than the album. Those have only the orchestral music and they do exist." Eventually MGM gave Capitol their 30 grand back for the master LG tapes, and Zappa added "all that talking and stuff" later. But the litigation cost Zappa and his album 13 months before it could be released.
In '66, I used to live in this little house on Kirkwood, and I was renting this place, and this right about the time Venet offered me this opportunity to write this music. I thought "Whoa! This is fabulous. I'll just dive in there and start composing my little buns off, and I'll get this performance." Well, shortly after receiving this commission, the landlord notifies me that his son, who is a dentist from the Midwest, is moving back to California, and we should get out of the house, so he can have his son move in. So, I got evicted. I have to move. I've got a deadline to do the recording session, I've got all this music to write, and I've got no place to do it. So Lumpy Gravy, all the music to that was written in these locations: the office adjoining Nick Venet's office at Capitol Records, after six PM, 'cause they had a little piano in there, and I would go down there, and work in there for a few hours; then I wrote part of it at the Tropicana Motel, with no piano, because we had to live there; and then, um, I took a short-term rental on another house in the Canyon, just prior to the recording sessions, and I was writing around the clock, and I had copyists coming over there at three o'clock in the morning and pick up chunks of the score, and go off, and copy the parts, OK? So, to answer your question, where do these titles come from? You gotta name these segments something, because you have pieces of it going out the door. It wasn't one whole finished thing, 'cause it had to be done in an assembly-line process, so . . . there ya go, "Sink Trap".
In 1966, a guy who was staff producer for Capitol Records named Nick Venet came to me, and he said, "How would you like to do some music with an orchestra?" and I said, "An Orchestra? Why that would be wonderful!" He says, "Yeah, 40 pieces!" I said, "Wow, what a wonderful large orchestra!" It just so happened, though, that time I was under contract to Verve, and so the question came up was I under contract as a composer and conductor? And I said, "No, I was signed as a rock n roll musician who is a singer in a group. And he presumed, and I thought that he would have checked it with his legal department, that it would be OK to go ahead and produce such a record not there wouldn't be any problems about it, so I went ahead and did it, and the next thing we knew there were problems about it, so they argued for 13 months, it took from the time that the album was done, to the time it came out was 13 months, they finally settled it by Verve purchasing it outright from Capitol.
Dick [Kunc] put on a tape of Lumpy Gravy, one of the Mothers' new records, an instrumental piece, framed at the beginning and end with cocktail music, and interspersed with quiet, hollow, surreal voices talking behind a continuous hum of resonating piano strings. The music has overtones of Bartok and Ives, but by some stylistic alchemy it ends by sounding like nothing but Zappa. It is an impressive record. Three or four people had drifted into the control room while it was playing, and after it was over someone said, "I love that piece." "Yeah, but will the kids go for it," said Frank.
"It's good to have it out," said Don [Preston], "so people will know what you can do."
"No, no," Frank said. "It's good to have it out so I can take it home and listen to it."
[S. Clay Wilson] is bravely struggling to recover with the help of his lovely and witty partner Lorraine Chamberlain who is a fascinating person and artist in her own right. She was Frank Zappa's longtime live-in partner and subsequent muse from time to time until his death. Hopefully she will publish a book of her memoirs one day since she is such great storyteller. She coined the term Lumpy Gravy as a nickname for Frank in the 60s.
[On the WUSB Zappathon] Lorraine said she had a dream of being in an adult cooking show where her name was "Bloaty (something)" and FZ was "Lumpy Gravy." She told Frank and they started to call each other Lumpy and Bloaty.
I moved to Seattle for a while. Frank couldn't find me. So he put out Lumpy Gravy, which was my nickname for him. There was a little cartoon guy inside the album cover saying "write to us" with the address in New York. I had married some guy I'd only known for three weeks, to get away from the rock 'n' roll life in LA. I sent a little note to him saying "I am married but still recognisable," and he called a few days later. When I picked up the phone, Frank said, "I thought you'd see that".
Years ago, I was taped by Frank Zappa, and a lot of ideas on a lot of his records started out with me. Like Susie Cream Cheese, What's Got into You?, and Brown Shoes Don't Make It. Hot Rats is my title. Lumpy Gravy—I was referring to the ups and downs of life, the lumps in the sperm and the gravy.
fall 67—NY (Art Direction and interior art only—original FC, BC photos supplied by Capitol Records previous to my involvement). Photo-collage. I went to Europe Sept-Oct 67, with the first MOI tour as photographer and on return used some of the photos in this interior. (and all them bowler hat photos).
95RR-inlay: photo by CS from one of the recording (actually mixing?) sessions at Apostolic (L to R—Richard [Kunc], FZ, Don Preston).
Upon returning [from Europe] I got my old job back. I put into the task of reworking the artwork for Lumpy Gravy. Two photographs for front and back covers were already in existence from the beginning of the project (before I came along). Capitol Records was originally going to release it. Only the orchestral parts were in the can however, and Frank recorded a great deal of new material at Apostolic Studio, including the parts with Motorhead and others inside the piano. You will hear me closing out one side with "Round things are boring." At any rate I worked out the graphic collage in the center spread using some of the European photos, and of course "Ralph." This art was supposed to be printed on a green paper stock (to contrast nicely with the red in the covers) and some proofs were printed at the time.
Ralf first appeared in the Moop ad, and fifteen or twenty years ago I rediscovered him, enlarged the image for a T-shirt, and it worked so well that I decided to use it as my logo.
How is it known that Zappa is the author of the index titles?
I know he did because I saw him do it. We took the index title names from the original Sonic Solutions title sheets that FZ generated.
PIANO, CELESTE, ELECTRIC HARPSICHORD:
PERCUSSION (Gongs, Bells, Vibes, Marimba, Timpani,
Timbales & assorted insanity):
WOODWINDS (Flute, Bass Flute, Piccolo, Oboe, English Horn,
Eb Clarinet, Bb Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Contrabass
Clarinet, Alto Sax, Bass Sax, Bassoon & Contrabassoon):
Vincent De Rosa
Alexander Koltun, Tibor Zelig, Ralph Schaeffer,
Bernard Kundell, William Kurasch, James Getzoff,
Phillip Goldberg, Leonard Selic, Arnold Belnick,
Leonard Malarsky, Harold Ayres, Jerome J. Reisler,
Harry Hyams, Joseph DiFiore, Jerome A. Kessler,
Raymond J. Kelly, Joseph Saxon,
Jesse Ehrlich, Harold G. Bemko
Frank was a very demanding man to work for. He wrote some great charts. There was this big joke . . . all these session players in Los Angeles, who were very accomplished, were going to a Mothers Of Invention session, and they thought it was a big laugh, so they dressed funny. They wore Bermuda shorts, funny socks, and put tennis shoes on the wrong feet and stuff. And they got to the session and the charts were so hard they couldn't play them. They couldn't play the music that was written for them. It scared them to death, and they all came out of there saying, "This guy's no slouch." And it changed everybody's attitude at that point. Shortly thereafter I think Frank received a Grammy for the most unusual, precocious musician of the year.
In the mid- and late Sixties, percussionist Emil Richards was one of the busiest musicians in Los Angeles—a first-call sideman averaging twenty recording dates a week for artists such as Nat King Cole, the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, the Everly Brothers and Elvis Presley. "We treated all of them with tongue in cheek," Richards says now, laughing, "as if we had it and they didn't. They weren't doing their own records—we were doing them all." So when Richards arrived at the Capitol Records studios, in the label's stack-o'-platters offices at Hollywood and Vine, for a job on the night of March 14, 1967, he expected more of the same. That was until Zappa—leading the first, full-orchestra session for Lumpy Gravy—handed out the scores: dense, complex clusters of notes in dizzying, dynamic time signatures.
"I didn't know a thing about Frank—we had just heard something about him as a rock& roll guitar player with a band," admits Richards, who had also played in jazz groups with George Shearing and Charles Mingus. Richards' close friend, top session guitarist Tommy Tedesco, "was making fun of Frank: 'This guy doesn't know what the hell he's doing.''' The bassoonist and bass clarinetist hired for the night flatly refused to perform the parts assigned to them, declaring them impossible to play. Richards vividly remembers Zappa's response:
"Frank, with a real genteel manner and smile, said, 'If I play your part, will you at least try it?' Frank then played the bassoon part, transposing it right there, on guitar. He played the bass clarinet part too. He freaked the shit out of them. Those guys immediately picked up their instruments and started shedding the parts. So did the rest of us." Later that night, Richards adds, "Tommy put his arm around Frank. They became fast friends"—as did Zappa and Richards. The latter would later appear on Zappa's Studio Tan, Orchestral Favorites and Läther albums.
Tommy Tedesco story (who is, of course probably the most recorded guitarist in history) showed up for a Lumpy Gravy session dressed up like a Native American because he heard this Zappa guy was a real wacko. He felt pretty dumb when he couldn't play the music put in front of him on the first read-through.
As long as the media celebrates the guy who is the fastest, that's what people are going to go for. I think it is wonderful to be able to play fast. It's even more wonderful to play things that are impossible. It's even more wonderful to defeat the law of averages. Things that you play fast are usually things that you rehearse fast. I'll tell ya a fast guitar player—Tommy Tedesco. You want to hear somebody play some scales? Go hear Tommy. Tommy can play other stuff, too.
I just finished reading Tommy Tedesco's autobiography, Confessions Of A Guitar Player, and he described the record date that he did with FZ as the most difficult sight reading experience he ever had in the studios.
There's a photo or two of FZ in there, also. He seemed to be pretty good friends with FZ.
02/13/67 (8:30-11:30PM) Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA—Sunday (master # 57133 [...])
MUSICIANS: FZ, Esther Roth (OM), John Guerin (drums), James Helms (guitar), Robert West (bass guitar), James Bond (bass), Kenneth Watson (tympani, mallets), Paul Smith (piano), Thomas Poole (percussion)
03/14/67 (8PM-12midnight) Capitol Studios, Hollywood—no titles listed (master # 57290 [...])
MUSICIANS: FZ, Sid Sharp (contractor), Ted Nash (flute, bass flute, alto sax, contra b. clarinet), Jules Jacob (oboe, English horn, flute, piccolo, tenor sax), Johnny Rotella (flute, baritone sax, E flat contra. Clarinet, b. clarinet), John L. Gardner (flute, clarinet, bassoon, bass sax, soprano sax, tenor sax), Emil Radocchia (aka Emil Richards—mallets, percussion, tympani, Latin), Gene P. Estes (mallets, percussion, tympani, Latin), James C. Zito (trumpet, flugelhorn, piccolo trumpet), Thomas J. Tedesco (guitar, bells, bongos), Kenneth Shroyer (tenor trombone, bass trombone), Frank Capp (drums, Latin), Don Christlieb (bassoon, contra bassoon), Michael A. Lang (piano), John Balkin, Alfred Viola, Robert West, Dennis Budimir, Arthur E. Briegleb, George F. Price, Lyle Ritz, Joan Steele (copyist), Robert M. Calderwood (copyist), Russell N. Brown (copyist), Vincent Bartold (copyist), Jack DuLong (copyist)
03/15/67 (8PM-12midnight) Capitol Studios, Hollywood—Lumpy Gravy (master # 57320 [...])
MUSICIANS: FZ, Sidney Sharp (contractor), John L. Gardner (piccolo, flute, bassoon, baritone clarinet), Johnny Rotella (E flat clarinet, flute, piccolo, clarinet, E flat contra.), Gene P. Estes (tympani, Latin, percussion, mallets), Victor Feldman (tympani, Latin, percussion, mallets), Ted Nash (flute, bass flute, alto sax, clarinet), Gene Cipriano (oboe, flute, bass flute, E flat clarinet), Kenneth Shroyer (tenor and bass trombone, bass trumpet), James O. Zito (trumpet, flugelhorn, piccolo trumpet), Thomas Tedesco (guitars, bells, bongos), Don Christlieb (bassoon, contra bassoon), Robert West, John Balkin, Charles Berghofer, Lincoln Mayorga, George F. Price, David A. Duke, Alfred Viola, Trefoiyi Rizzi, Shelly Manne, Leonard Malarsky, William Kurasch, Arnold Belnick, Ralph Schaeffer, Jerome A. Kessler, Raymond J. Kelley, Leonard Selic, Joseph DiFiore, Harry Hyams, Philip Goldberg, Joseph Saxon, Jesse Erlich, Tibor Zelig, Harold Ayres, Jerome J. Reisler, Robert Ross (copyist), R.D. McMickle (copyist), John Donahue (copyist), Robert Calderwood (copyist), C.D. Goodwin (copyist), Russell N. Brown (copyist), Joan Steele (copyist)
03/16/67 (8-12midnight) Capitol Studios, Hollywood—Unit 3A (master # 57334) [...]
MUSICIANS: FZ, Sidney Sharp (contractor), Johnny Rotella (bass and alto sax, flute, E flat clarinet, bass clarinet, E flat contra.), John L. Gardner (flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon), Gene Cipriano (oboe, flute, bass flute, E flat clarinet), Ted Nash (flute, bass flute, bass clarinet, contra bass clarinet), Alan Estes (tympani, mallets, percussion, Latin), Victor Feldman (tympani, mallets, percussion), Thomas Tedesco (guitars, bells, bongos), Don Christlieb (bassoon, contra bassoon), James C. Zito (trumpet, flugelhorn), Lew McCreary, John Balkin, Lincoln Mayorga, Dennis Budimir, Robert West, Trefoni Rizzi, Vincent DeRosa, Arthur Maebe, Shelly Manne, Harry Hyams, Joseph DiFiore, Harold G. Bemko, Jerome A. Kessler, Joseph Saxon, Jesse Erlich, Alexander Koltun, Tibor Zelig, Ralph Schaeffer, Bernard Kundell, William Kurasch, James Getzoff, Philip Goldberg, Leonard Selic, Arnold Belnick, James E. Bond Jr., Robert H. Ross (copyist), John Donahue (copyist)
I think Frank wanted something classical, almost a ballet or something because it was very difficult music to play. All the great studio jazz players were on that date, along with a lot of the members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and believe me, they were on the edge of their chairs trying to play the stuff that Frank had written. It was in the Capitol Records studio right on Vine Street.
|Feb. 13||March 14||March 15||March 16||Album Credits|
|PIANO, CELESTE, ELECTRIC HARPSICHORD|
|Paul Smith (piano)||Paul Smith|
|Michael A. Lang (piano)||Mike Lang|
|Lincoln Mayorga||Lincoln Mayorga||Lincoln Mayorga|
|John Guerin (drums)||Johnny Guerin|
|Frank Capp (drums, Latin)||Frankie Capp|
|Shelly Manne||Shelly Manne||Shelly Manne|
|PERCUSSION (Gongs, Bells, Vibes, Marimba, Timpani, Timbales & assorted insanity)|
|Emil Radocchia (aka Emil Richards—mallets, percussion, timpani, Latin)||Emil Richards|
|Gene P. Estes (mallets, percussion, timpani, Latin)||Gene P. Estes (timpani, Latin, percussion, mallets)||Gene Estes|
|Alan Estes (timpani, mallets, percussion, Latin)||Alan Estes|
|Victor Feldman (timpani, Latin, percussion, mallets)||Victor Feldman (timpani, mallets, percussion)||Victor Feldman|
|Kenneth Watson (timpani, mallets)|
|Thomas Poole (percussion)|
|WOODWINDS (Flute, Bass Flute, Piccolo, Oboe, English Horn, Eb Clarinet, Bb Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Contrabass Clarinet, Alto Sax, Bass Sax, Bassoon & Contrabassoon)|
|Ted Nash (flute, bass flute, alto sax, contra b. clarinet)||Ted Nash (flute, bass flute, alto sax, clarinet)||Ted Nash (flute, bass flute, bass clarinet, contra bass clarinet)||Ted Nash|
|Jules Jacob (oboe, English horn, flute, piccolo, tenor sax)||Jules Jacob|
|Johnny Rotella (flute, baritone sax, E flat contra. Clarinet, b. clarinet)||Johnny Rotella (E flat clarinet, flute, piccolo, clarinet, E flat contra.)||Johnny Rotella (bass and alto sax, flute, E flat clarinet, bass clarinet, E flat contra.)||John Rotella|
|John L. Gardner (flute, clarinet, bassoon, bass sax, soprano sax, tenor sax)||John L. Gardner (piccolo, flute, bassoon, baritone clarinet)||John L. Gardner (flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon)||Bunk Gardner|
|Don Christlieb (bassoon, contra bassoon)||Don Christlieb (bassoon, contra bassoon)||Don Christlieb (bassoon, contra bassoon)||Don Christlieb|
|Gene Cipriano (oboe, flute, bass flute, E flat clarinet)||Gene Cipriano (oboe, flute, bass flute, E flat clarinet)||Gene Cipriano|
|Arthur Maebe||Arthur Maebe|
|Vincent DeRosa||Vincent De Rosa|
|Richard Parisi [Richard Perissi]|
|Arthur E. Briegleb|
|George F. Price||George F. Price|
|David A. Duke|
|James C. Zito (trumpet, flugelhorn, piccolo trumpet)||James O. Zito (trumpet, flugelhorn, piccolo trumpet)||James C. Zito (trumpet, flugelhorn)||Jimmy Zito|
|Kenneth Shroyer (tenor trombone, bass trombone)||Kenneth Shroyer (tenor and bass trombone, bass trumpet)||Kenneth Shroyer|
|James Helms (guitar)||Jim Haynes|
|Thomas J. Tedesco (guitar, bells, bongos)||Thomas Tedesco (guitars, bells, bongos)||Thomas Tedesco (guitars, bells, bongos)||Tommy Tedesco|
|Trefoiyi Rizzi||Trefoni Rizzi||Tony Rizzi|
|Alfred Viola||Alfred Viola||Al Viola|
|Dennis Budimir||Dennis Budimir||Dennis Budimer|
|Robert West (bass guitar)||Robert West||Robert West||Robert West||Bob West|
|John Balkin||John Balkin||John Balkin||John Balkin|
|James Bond (bass)||James E. Bond Jr.||Jimmy Bond|
|Lyle Ritz||Lyle Ritts|
|Charles Berghofer||Chuck Berghofer|
|Alexander Koltun||Alexander Koltun|
|Tibor Zelig||Tibor Zelig||Tibor Zelig|
|Ralph Schaeffer||Ralph Schaeffer||Ralph Schaeffer|
|Bernard Kundell||Bernard Kundell|
|William Kurasch||William Kurasch||William Kurasch|
|James Getzoff||James Getzoff|
|Philip Goldberg||Philip Goldberg||Phillip Goldberg|
|Leonard Selic||Leonard Selic||Leonard Selic|
|Arnold Belnick||Arnold Belnick||Arnold Belnick|
|Leonard Malarsky||Leonard Malarsky|
|Harold Ayres||Harold Ayres|
|Jerome J. Reisler||Jerome J. Reisler|
|Harry Hyams||Harry Hyams||Harry Hyams|
|Joseph DiFiore||Joseph DiFiore||Joseph DiFiore|
|Jerome A. Kessler||Jerome A. Kessler||Jerome A. Kessler|
|Raymond J. Kelley||Raymond J. Kelly|
|Joseph Saxon||Joseph Saxon||Joseph Saxon|
|Jesse Erlich||Jesse Erlich||Jesse Ehrlich|
|Harold G. Bemko||Harold G. Bemko|
Esther Roth (OM)
|Sid Sharp (contractor)||Sidney Sharp (contractor)||Sidney Sharp (contractor)||Sid Sharp|
|Joan Steele (copyist)||Joan Steele (copyist)|
|Robert M. Calderwood (copyist)||Robert Calderwood (copyist)|
|Russell N. Brown (copyist)||Russell N. Brown (copyist)|
|Vincent Bartold (copyist)|
|Jack DuLong (copyist)|
|Robert Ross (copyist)||Robert H. Ross (copyist)||Bob Ross|
|R.D. McMickle (copyist)|
|John Donahue (copyist)||John Donahue (copyist)|
|C.D. Goodwin (copyist)|
CHORUS: omit last names
LOUIE THE TURKEY
DICK BARBER FOON THE YOUNGER
J.K. & TONY
GILLY & THE GIRLS FROM APOSTOLIC (get their names) [*]
ALL NIGHT JOHN & THE OTHER JOHN
ERIC CLAPTON & CHARLOTTE
JIMMY CARL BLACK (the indian of the group)
AND THE REST OF THE GUYS FROM ATLANTA
Monica Boscia was the receptionist at Apostolic.
Gilma Townley was the wife (not sister) of John Townley, founder of the studio.
Unknown Girl #1 was Becky Wentworth, general helper at the studio.
Unknown Girl #2 and/or Maxine remains unidentified.
"The other John" could well be John Townley; he was in the studio and occasionally in the piano. "Tony" could be Tony Bongiovi, Apostolic engineer (and second cousin of Jon Bon Jovi).
John Townley, who owned Apostolic Studios and who may or may not be heard on Lumpy Gravy, was the bass player in The Magicians, the band of songwriters Gary Bonner and Alan Gordon, who wrote "Happy Together" and numerous other Turtles songs.
J. K. Adams was a composer who was recording musique concrète at Apostolic Studios.
I went to New York with Charlie [Phillips] and Bruce [Hampton] after the IV of IX broke up. We saw Frank Zappa on the street and I just walked up to him and said 'Grease' with no particular context in mind. Somehow we communicated to him our compatible weirdness, and he invited us to the recording studio, where part of our conversation was recorded and used on Lumpy Gravy. We put 'Grease' together with 'Hampton' for the band's name because he was our only vocalist.
The first meeting [with FZ] took place by chance in New York in '67, and that led to some members of the band hanging around the studio with Frank, where part of their conversation was recorded and used on Zappa's LP Lumpy Gravy.
I knew Frank in the middle and late sixties. He was very much a gentleman to me an everybody around him. I was a nineteen year old kid. We did a cameo on Lumpy Gravy. Sam Whiteside was with me.
[...] Actually that's how I met Frank Zappa. I was discussing [Krzysztof Penderecki's Threnody To The Victims Of Hiroshima]. We were in a cafe, and one of us overheard the other one talking about it, and said "How did you know that record?" That's sort of how we became friends.
I met Frank in New York. I had no idea who he was. It was the mid-sixties; he had just gotten there from LA. I was at a place called The Tin Angel on Bleeker Street, which was across the street from the Garrick Theater, and in he walked, and I just said, 'what a weird poot that guy is.' I mean, this guy had long hair down to his knees. I had never seen anything like that coming from the South in the sixties.
He was just, you know *freaked out* looking. I looked at him, but I didn't say anything, I was just like, 'that guy is poofed out.' I mean I really didn't like him. I was in the Blues Police or the Jazz Police at the time. I wasn't open to any weirdness at all. It had to be avant garde, or it had to be blues or R+B. So then the next day I was at another place on Bleeker Street called the Dugout, I think it's still there. You know, a sandwich place, or a bar, and we were eatin'. He came in again at about the same time, 'round noon or something. I was talking to my friend. I was talking about a Polish composer named Krysztof Penderecki, and he heard me, and he went, "Penderecki?!" And I turned to him and said, 'yeah, do you know who he is?' And he goes, "yeah, very well, I have all of his stuff." He sort of invited us to his house, and we came over. We ended up hanging out every day for about a week or so. We went to his shows, and the first show I heard I really didn't like it at all. I just didn't like it a bit. The second show I went to, I thought, 'man this guy is putting Stravinsky to rock n' roll. He's truly mixing classical music and every influence there is.' I really, really liked it the second time I went and I was more open. The musicianship and the whole thing was just amazing. Frank was such a gentleman it was unbelievable. It actually fried me that anybody could be that gentlemanly. I didn't know that people could be that nice. He wasn't anybody at the time, he had no name. I haven't told this story to many people, but one time we were walking through Washington Square Park, and there was this girl crying. He went twenty feet out of his way, and went over there to this 18 year old girl and cheered her up, spent ten minutes with her, had no idea who she was. In New York no one will ever do that for anyone. And I just said, 'what an amazing guy.'
[...] The guy was nothing but a class gentleman. I really sort of lost touch after about 1980, I only saw him one or two more times. But during the sixties and seventies I stayed very tight with him. I got to do cameo appearances on "We're Only In It For The Money," and "Lumpy Gravy." He was just a class, class cat. I wish the world were full with him. He was just amazing, what did he do 50 albums, and he had four kids? I mean, my God! (laughs) An amazing cat to say the least. He never ran out of energy, man!
I got bored with the project that I was working on momentarily and I just started sticking people inside a piano to see what would happen. It got so great, I spent three days doing it.
IT: On Lumpy Gravy you have a series of outrageous conversations, are they real or made up?
Z: Both, they're combined. Some of the conversations were steered in certain directions. You just stick a few people together and tell them to talk about a certain thing. They were actually with their heads inside a grand piano. There was a weight on the sustain pedal so the strings were resonant: they were in this darkened room with a cloth over the lid of the piano and there's 3 or 4 people inside with 2 microphones.
It started to become a trendy thing to do at this particular studio [Apostolic]. Like the receptionist out there would go, "They're in there in the piano again, ha ha ha." And the next thing you know, she's one of the people in the piano. So the cast of characters that wandered in and out of the piano covered everybody from Motorhead and [bass guitarist] Roy Estrada to the sister of the guy who owned the recording studio to Monica the Albanian receptionist to bunches of other people whose names I can't even remember. They just happened to be there, and I said, "Do you want to go in the piano?" And they said, "Yes."
In 1967, we spent about four months recording various projects ("UNCLE MEAT", "WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY", "RUBEN & THE JETS", and "LUMPY GRAVY") at APOSTOLIC STUDIOS, 53 E. 10th St. NYC. One day I decided to stuff a pair of U-87's in the piano, cover it with a heavy drape, put a sand bag on the sustain pedal and invite anybody in the vicinity to stick their head inside and ramble incoherently about the various topics I would suggest to them via the studio talk-back system.
This set-up remained in place for several days. During that time, many hours of recordings were made, most of it useless. Some of the people who took the challenge included Spider Barbour (leader of the rock group "CHRYSALIS" which was also recording at Apostolic when we weren't booked in), All-Night John (the studio manager), Gilly Townley (sister of the guy who owned the studio), Monica (the receptionist), Roy Estrada and Motorhead Sherwood (members of the "MOTHERS OF INVENTION"), Louis Cuneo (a guy who used to come to our live shows at the Garrick Theater and laugh like a psychotic turkey), and a few others.
During the New York days Frank did lots of seemingly strange things in the studio, trying for a new effect or an unusual blend of instruments. As time went by, less and less of what went on seemed strange to me. One notorious experiment was called 'piano people' [...]. In the studio at Apostolic was a big grand piano, a nice instrument with remarkable resonance. With the pedal held down it would just ring forever. Frank discovered by accident one day that when you spoke near it the appropriate sympathetic strings would resonate. So we clamped down the pedal and draped tarps and rugs over the open lid, sort of forming a little cave. Frank would put people in there and tell them to talk about various topics and we'd record it. Then we'd chop up these ringing words and use bits and pieces here and there. It became a kind of standing joke after a while. Delivery people would show up and he'd run out and grab them and stick them into the piano. It intimidated a lot of people—there were actually people who fled from the studio crying! But Frank didn't care, they were all just grist for his mill.
Another [Garrick Theatre] regular was a guy we called "Louie the Turkey"—because of his laugh. His real name was Louis Cuneo. He wound up on the Lumpy Gravy album as one of the people talking about incomprehensible stuff, inside a piano.
We would always know when Louie was in the theater because we could hear him in the back of the room. I would invite him onstage, give him a stool to sit on, hand him the microphone and stop the music. He would sit there and laugh —at nothing—and the whole audience would laugh with him for five minutes. Then we thanked him, and he'd leave.
As I passed the summer going daily to the [Garrick] theater, Frank invited me to come over to the studio for a recording session. Initially, we went to his hotel room to pick something up. [...] He had his drummer and base player with us. We stayed there for a short time and left without any drama happening.
When we arrived at the studio, it was completely empty and silent. Frank quickly went to work with us. He brought us to a piano, requested that we put our heads inside of the open top, then he covered the whole musical instrument with a blanket and asked us to remain silent with our eyes shut. After five minutes we (the drummer, base player, I) were told to imagine that we just awakened, not knowing where we were, how we got there or how long we have been there. The drummer spoke first, I believe, about finding himself in that piano without knowing how he got there . . .
For the next three hours Frank taped us talking about whatever came into our heads. I didn't have any idea what he wanted or what he planned to do with the recording session. It was just plain out good fun! The rest is history.
SPIDER (from a group that hasn't destroyed your minds yet . . .) is the one who wants you to turn your radio around.
Spider [Barbour] began his musical career in 1968 in a band called Chrysalis. He also spoke (under the piano lid) on Frank Zappa's 1968 album "Lumpy Gravy" while Chrysalis and the Mothers of Invention were recording projects at the same studio in New York City.
[In 1982] I asked Frank for examples of some of his other works, and he played me an improvisation where he had locked some people inside a grand piano and left them there for a long time with a microphone inside and a tape recorder running. It was a theater piece, but it made a fascinating improvisation. The tones were amazing: humans trapped inside a grand piano for hours on end, creating sympathetic vibrations on the strings and experiencing the gradual drifting away from rational to irrational thought. The sounds coming off of his tape were certainly as experimental as the most experimental work that I'd ever heard by composition students.
|LG (1995)||Other appearances||TLMPO (1984 Remix)||TLMPO (1967 Mix)||TLMPO (disc 3—Extra Tracks)||Content||1984 Overdubs||Recording Location|
|1. The Way I See It, Barry|
|00:00||00:00||Spider||Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967|
|00:06||00:07||10. Theme From Lumpy Gravy||Lumpy Gravy Theme (sped up 3 semitones)||vocals, drums, bass||Studio Z, c. 1964|
|3. Oh No|
|01:38||"Excerpt From Lumpy Gravy" on Transparency (1975)||01:44||II. 0:00-0:09||4. Unit 3A, Take 3 1:02-1:11 (different take)||World's Greatest Sinner (74:01)||drums, bass||Capitol, LA, March 1967|
|01:47||01:54||II. 0:09-0:30||1. How Did That Get In Here? 0:32-0:52||Run Home Cues #2||Capitol, LA, February 1967|
|02:08||02:14||II. 0:30-1:43||1. How Did That Get In Here? 1:57-3:19||Oh No||Capitol, LA, February 1967|
|03:20||03:26||II. 1:43-1:53||Oh No||Capitol, LA, February 1967|
|03:31||03:37||Son Of Orange County||bass||prob. Mayfair, NYC, summer 1967|
|4. Bit Of Nostalgia|
|03:41||Apostolic Blurch Injector|
|03:48||Apostolic Blurch Injector (from 14:07/14:16)|
|03:43||04:00||Spider||Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967|
|03:45||04:02||Hurricane (Conrad & The Hurricane Strings)||Pal Recording Studio, Cucamonga, 1963|
|03:48||04:05||Apostolic Blurch Injector|
|03:51||Apostolic Blurch Injector|
|04:08||Snork (from 6:41/6:51)|
|03:59||04:09||Apostolic Girls||Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967|
|04:47||04:58||John & Spider|
|04:51||"Excerpt From Lumpy Gravy" on Transparency (1975)||05:01||John & Spider||Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967|
|5. It's From Kansas|
|05:16||"Excerpt From Lumpy Gravy" on Transparency (1975)||05:27||John & Spider||Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967|
|05:18||05:28||High Steppin'||Pal Recording Studio, Cucamonga, January, 1961|
|6. Bored Out 90 Over|
|05:45||05:56||Apostolic Blurch Injector|
|05:51||06:01||Apostolic Blurch Injector|
|7. Almost Chinese|
|06:17||"Lumpy Gravy (Excerpt)" on The Old Masters Box One Sampler (1985)||06:27||Almost Chinese Music|
|06:19||06:29||Larry & Girls||Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967|
|06:21||06:31||Reverb Snork/Snorks/Motorhead voice||Mayfair, NYC, summer 1967|
|06:27||06:38||Almost Chinese Music|
|06:36||06:46||Celeste, Coughs & Snorks||Mayfair, NYC, summer 1967|
|8. Switching Girls|
|06:42||"Lumpy Gravy (Excerpt)" on The Old Masters Box One Sampler (1985)||06:52||Motorhead|
|06:53||07:03||11:59 sped up||Capitol, LA, March 1967|
|06:56||07:06||One piano note|
|06:57||"Excerpt From Lumpy Gravy" on Transparency (1975) / "Lumpy Gravy (Excerpt)" on The Old Masters Box One Sampler (1985) with overdubs||07:07||I. 0:21-0:24||Oh No||bass, drums||Capitol, LA, March 1967|
|07:00||07:10||06:57 sped up||Capitol, LA, March 1967|
|07:02||07:12||I. 0:29-0:38||1. How Did That Get In Here? 1:42-1:51 (without overdubs)||Capitol, LA, February/March 1967|
|9. Oh No Again|
|07:11||"Excerpt From Lumpy Gravy" on Transparency (1975) / "Lumpy Gravy (Excerpt)" on The Old Masters Box One Sampler (1985) with overdubs||07:21||I. 0:38-1:51||2. How Did That Get In Here? 1:57-3:09 (without overdubs)||02:08 with overdubs (thanks to Tan Mitsugu)||bass, drums||Capitol, LA, February/March 1967|
|10. At The Gas Station|
|08:24||"Excerpt From Lumpy Gravy" on Transparency (1975) / "Lumpy Gravy (Excerpt)" on The Old Masters Box One Sampler (1985) with overdubs||08:34||I. 1:51-2:44||Unit 2, Take 9 0:13-0:58 (same take) / 0:58-1:08 (different take)||Son Of Orange County||bass, drums||Capitol, LA, March 1967|
|08:31||08:41||Capitol, LA, March 1967|
|08:38||8:48||Capitol, LA, March 1967|
|Hampton Grease Band talking||Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967|
|Drums & Piano||?|
|11. Another Pickup|
|11:05||11:15||Harmonica, guitar & drums (MOI)||Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, CA
June 24-25, 1966
|11:27||11:37||Lonely Little Girl (The Single) (0:46-0:48) (Celeste & Cough; sped up)||Mayfair, NYC, summer 1967|
|11:28||11:38||The Big Squeeze (0:24-0:26) (Celeste & Coughs)||Mayfair, NYC, summer 1967|
|11:31||11:41||Harry, You're A Beast (0:44-0:51) (Celeste & Snorks; sped up)||Mayfair, NYC, summer 1967|
|11:35||11:45||The Big Squeeze (0:29-0:33) (Celeste & Snorks)||Mayfair, NYC, summer 1967|
|11:40||11:49||How Did That Get In Here? 18:50-19:25||Drums, piano & string bass (sped up 12 semitones)||Capitol, LA, February 1967|
|11:57||12:07||Snork & Cough (not sped up)||Mayfair, NYC, summer 1967|
|12. I Don't Know If I Can Go Through This Again|
|11:59||12:08||II. 2:34-3:44||Capitol, LA, March 1967|
|13:09||13:18||III. 0:00-0:38||World's Greatest Sinner(73:40)|
|13:46||13:56||Capitol outtakes sped up||Capitol, LA, March 1967|
|14:07||14:16||Apostolic Blurch Injector|
|14:20||14:29||IV. 0:00-0:26||Capitol, LA, March 1967|
|14:46||14:55||IV. 1:35-2:25||Capitol, LA, March 1967|
|15:36||15:45||Capitol outtakes||Capitol, LA, March 1967|
Spider: The way I see it, Barry, this should be a very dynamite show.
I think that would be Barry Imhoff, partner with Howie [Solomon] who owned the Cafe au Go Go/Garrick Theatre N.Y. 1967
THE PAL STUDIO BAND: High Steppin' (1:19) (Frank Zappa)
Personnel: Frank Zappa (guitar); Chuck Glave (drums); Caronga Ward (bass); Tony Rodriquenz (alto sax), Chuck Foster (trumpet); Danny Helferin (piano)
Producer: Paul Buff
Engineer: Paul Buff
Recorded: January 1961
Original Release: May 13, 1968 on Frank Zappa's LP "Lumpy Gravy" (Verve V/V6-8741)
It sounds to me like 2 trumpets with rhythm playing Zappa lines over the changes for "Out of Nowhere"
Helferin and Ward are only on Never On Sunday.
Rodriquenz plays trumpet on High Steppin' (as does Foster).
[John] Cage is a big influence. We've done a thing with voices, with talking, that is very like one of his pieces, except that of course in our piece the guys are talking about working in an airplane factory, or their cars.
Regarding motorheads dialog.
Mayfair Studios, 1967
[Harmonica by Ray Collins,] live tape at the Fillmore West, it was made the night we worked with Lenny Bruce.
|LG (1995)||TLMPO (1984 Remix)||TLMPO (1967 Mix)||TLMPO (Extra Tracks)||Content||1984 Overdubs||Recording Location|
|1. Very Distraughtening|
|00:00||00:00||Ronnie Sings? (0:24-0:25)||drums, string bass||Ontario, c. 1961-62|
|00:01||00:01||John & Spider||Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967|
|00:09||00:11||Calvin & Gail||Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967|
|00:20||00:22||Spider & Monica (with lots of micro-edits in the 1984 re-mix)||Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967|
|00:50||00:58||Some voices (including parts of Motorhead's monologue in At The Gas Station) over MOI music with FZ guitar solo sped up|
|01:20||01:28||John & Spider||Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967|
|2. White Ugliness|
|01:33||01:34||Louis, Roy & Motorhead||Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967|
|03:55||03:55||Louis & Roy||Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967|
|03:56||03:56||VI. 0:06-0:51||Capitol, LA, 1967|
|04:41||04:41||VI. 0:51-1:00||How Did That Get In Here? 19:25-19:35||Capitol, LA, February 1967|
|04:51||04:51||VI. 1:00-1:32||Capitol, LA, 1967|
|05:23||05:22||VI. 1:32-1:38||This part repeated at 09:09-09:12, sped up||Capitol, LA, 1967|
|4. Just One More Time|
|05:28||05:28||Does anybody know where this come from? (Michael Gula says it sounds like Ronnie, but John Atwell suggested it was Don Van Vliet, sped up anyway)|
|05:35||05:35||John, Spider & Monica (with many more micro-edits between the two versions)||drums, bass||Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967|
|5. A Vicious Circle|
|06:26||07:55||Unit 9 0:00-0:41||Capitol outtakes sped up||Capitol, LA, March 1967|
|06:47||08:15||"Pony!"||Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967|
|06:48||08:16||Capitol outtakes?||Capitol, LA, March 1967|
|07:17||08:45||Apostolic Blurch Injector?|
|07:18||08:46||VI. 1:44-2:05||Capitol, LA, March 1967|
|6. King Kong|
|07:39||09:06||VII. 0:00-0:42||Section 8, Take 22 0:05-0:47 (with overdubs)||King Kong||Capitol, LA, March 1967|
|7. Drums Are Too Noisy|
|08:21||09:48||VII. 1:45-2:05||How Did That Get In Here? 15:34-15:55||Capitol, LA, February 1967|
|08:41||10:08||VII. 2:05-2:30||Capitol, LA, 1967|
|09:07||10:33||Larry Fanoga||Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967|
|09:09||10:36||repeats 05:23-05:28 sped up||Capitol, LA, March 1967|
|09:12||10:39||John||Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967|
|09:19||10:46||John, Spider & Monica||Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967|
|09:26||10:53||VIII. 0:17-1:04||(Waltz #1 ?)||Capitol, LA, March 1967|
|10:13||11:40||Spider||Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967|
|9. Envelops The Bath Tub|
|10:16||11:43||IX. 0:00-0:35||How Did That Get In Here? 19:45-20:20||Capitol, LA, February 1967|
|10:52||12:18||IX. 0:35-1:49||Capitol, LA, March 1967|
|Capitol, LA, March 1967|
|13:43||15:08||Calvin||Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967|
|10. Take Your Clothes Off|
|13:58||15:23||Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance||Pal Recording Studio, Cucamonga, March, 1963|
Spider: Everything in the universe is . . . is . . . is made of one element, which is a note, a single note. Atoms are really vibrations, you know, which are extensions of THE BIG NOTE, everything's one note.
In the Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra album Lumpy Gravy there is a section on side two where several unidentified characters discuss the origins of the universe. One of the characters explains the concept of the Big Note: everything in the universe is composed basically of vibrations—light is a vibration, sound is a vibration, atoms are composed of vibrations—and all these vibrations just might be harmonics of some incomprehensible fundamental cosmic tone.
Research, compilation and maintenance by Román García Albertos