October 24-28, 1969
Mont de I'Enclus in Amougies, Belgium
October 25, 1969
AMOUGIES, BELGUIM: POP FANS CHASE AWAY TELIVISION CAMERAMEN AT INTERNATIONAL POP JAZZ FESTIVAL:
LN 11908 "BELGIUM POP" SHOWS: MCU TEENANGER ? SITTING AND AROUND: LS LIGHTS PAN TO STAGE: MS AUDIENCE THROWE GRASS ATY CAMERA: MCU YOUTH LEAPS AT CAMERA AND MAKES FACES: MS AUDIENCE THROW GRASS AT CAMERA: MS POP GROUP ON STAGE: MS PSYCHEDELIC BACKDROP: MCU SING: MS AUDIENCE SEATED WITH STROBE LIGHTS PULSATING: MS LIGHTS: MS AUDIENCE: MCU MAN THROW KISSES: MCU GUITARIST: CU MAN WITH BEARD: MS PYSCHEDELIC BACKDROP: GV POP GROUP: MS AUDIENCE APPLAUD:
(SHOT 10/24/69 33 FT)
GEORGAKA RAKOS, JEAN
UPITN / 33 FT / 16POS / COLOR / R23416
33 FT / 16FGM / POS
33 FT / 16DUPE / NEG /
Informant: Javier Marcote
October 29, 1969
1:32 min., B&W
Title : THE "HIPPY" RENDEZ-VOUS OF AMOUGIES. SMALL POSTER: POP MUSIC AND FREE JAZZ FREE A AMOUGIES. MGP MUSI
Duration : 00:01:32
Dates : First distribution : 29/10/1969
Color / Sound : Black&White, Sonore
Collection : Journal Actualité Journal Eclair
Rights : Accessible
Summary catalogue : The "hippy" rendez-vous of AMOUGIES. Small poster: POP MUSIC AND FREE JAZZ free A AMOUGIES. Mgp Music's and Free Jazz's Festival has just held its sitting with AMOUGIES. More than 15,000 hippies transformed for a few days this Belgian village into a world where one has its way of equipping oneself and to live. The Free Music Group, PINK FLOYD and another Frank ZAPPA cherished these thousands of musics-lover who gave the counterpart to the gatherings of WOODSTOCK and the WIGHT Island. AMOUGIES was, for five days, Mecca of the hippies with this difference near that is had just there celebrated live, i.e. Oneself even, love, the non violence and a certain refusal of the society. Hippy.
Informant: Javier Marcote
1:35 min., B&W
Title : THE NEW TIME. BELGIUM. MGP MUSIC'S FESTIVAL. MGP MUSIC'S AND FREE JAZZ'S FESTIVAL HAS JUST HELD ITS
Duration : 00:01:35
Dates : First distribution : 1969
Color / Sound : Black&White, Sonore
Collection : Journal Actualité Journal Gaumont
Rights : Accessible
Summary catalogue : The new time. BELGIUM. Mgp Music's Festival. Mgp Music's and Free Jazz's Festival has just held its sitting with AMOUGIES. More than fifteen thousand hippies transformed for a few days this Belgian village into a World where one has its way of equipping oneself and to live. The Free Music Group, Pink FLOYD and other Frank ZAPPA cherished these thousands of musics-lover who gave the counterpart to the gatherings of WOODSTOCK and the WIGHT Island. The phenomenon. Music and joy of understanding one another. AMOUGIES was for five days, Mecca of the hippies with this difference near that one has just there celebrated live, i.e. Oneself even, love, the non violence and a certain refusal of the Company. Fine description of the subject: the group PINK FLOYD on scene playing the piece "ATOM EARTH MOTHER". Close-upon NickMASON to the battery and of Roger WATERS to the guitar and singing. Music.
Informant: Javier Marcote
November 17, 1969
19 min., B&W
—Amougies Festival Belgian RTBF TV Documentry (French Language)—
main song title : Hang on to a Dream
video mpg Length: 18 min 53 seconds
Belgian B&W TV documentry made by TV station RTB
appears to have been shown on TV in Belgium in late 1969
this is only the first part of the documentry and it is missing
the opening title credits but catches the date
November 17, 1969 and the director : Marc Mopty
it opens with the Church bells tolling in Amougies with scenes
of the town and just outside the Festival site and tent being
prepared, interviews with town officals and scenes of teenagers
arriving, interviews with some shop keepers and teenagers
heading to the festival site.
music releated segments are at
4'14 audio music for 30 or 40 seconds
8'45 audio music for 10 seconds .........Who is this ?
10'33 an Amougies Festival poster visible in a store window
15'05 The Nice introduced play "Hang on to a Dream"
15'21 > 15'28 Frank Zappa seen in the crowd
16'32 Bill Bruford playing drums (obviously dubbed in)
In the last 5 minutes there is a few seconds of Frank Zappa in
the crowd just after The Nice start to play with a short glimpse
of Bill Bruford and a bass player ? while The Nice play
"Hang on to a Dream " the camera in a car drives through town
and you see some of one of the film crews making the movie
about Amougies "Music Power" standing on a street corner
then there is an ariel view of the site and just as the
song ends this tape ends.
I believe from the way this is set up this is only part of what
was shown it would be nice if someone in Belgium could inquire
at RTBF archives about the details of the rest of it.
Additional informant and screenshots: Oscar Bianco
Directed by Jérôme Laperrousaz & Jean-Noël Roy
Directors: Jérôme Laperrousaz, Jean-Noël Roy
Release Date: May 1970 (France)
Runtime: 215 min
From the book "Viva Zappa" by Dominique Chevalier: "1969. MUSIC POWER. A film by Jerome Laperrousaz, showing the festival at Amougies, October 1969. Zappa, the presenter, jams with Pink Floyd, Aynsley Dunbar and Archie Shepp".
I saw this movie in Montreal this past summer. There is some Pink Floyd footage, also FZ and some CB but no Intersteller Overdrive. Boy what a shitty movie, like woodstock on that brown acid! Zappa introduces the Captain, and plays a little guitar with an other band. PF plays a couple of songs, maybe Eugene and I forget the other one. I had read about the FZ/PF jam, and was dissapointed that it was not in the film. Boy what a horrible film!
He rushed off to the Festival D'amougies in Belgium and played there on stage with the Pink Floyd. And he brought Beefheart with him. The festival was filmed by one Jerome Laperrousaz, and the film was to be called Music Power. It never came out.
Mais, depuis le 20 mai, vous pouvez (si vous etes parisien) voir trois heures at demie sur Amougies, en deux films. Le premier, "Music Power", dure une heure et demie et passe à la Pagode at à l'Action République, le second dure deux heures et passe au Plaza et au Celtic. Il s'appelle, lui, "European Music Révolution". Ces films sont l'œuvre de Jérôme Laperrousaz et Jean-Noël Roy et l'enthousiaste Jacques Robert en supervise la distribution.
Ok, here we go:
From: Frank Zappa et les Mothers of Invention, by Alain Dister
Now on his own, Zappa takes time to work on some old projects and movies. Does a bit of tourism. He is invited by Pierre Lattès to the Amougies Festival. He plays with almost everybody, especially with Pink Floyd, Blossom Toes, Archie Shepp and Aynsley Dunbar, a fabulous drummer he will hire shortly thereafter. He introduces his friend Captain Beefheart, and he maintains during the three nights, regardless of the cold weather and late time, a presence that provides a powerful stimulant to all the other musicians.
In the same book on page 177:
Lors du festival d'Amougies, Jérôme Laperrousaz toune un film documentaire, Music Power, dans lequel on voit Zappa jouer avec Archie Shepp, Captain Beefheart, Pink Floyd...malheureusement retenu par des raisons de droits
During the Amougies festival, Jérôme Laperrousaz made a documentary movie, Music Power, in which Zappa can be seen playing with Archie Shepp, Captain Beefheart, Pink Floyd...unfortunately never released because of copyrights.
Released in France in 1970
Two films of 140'
Directors: Jerome Laperrousaz & Jean-Noel Roy
Production & distribution company: Pagode
Director of photography: Raymond Meyer
Music composers: Archie Shepp, Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd, Steve
Lacy Featured by Pink Floyd, Nice, Soft Machine, East of Eden, Frank Zappa, Don Cherry, Steve Lacy...
According to "Le Monde" (28/05 /'70) and "France-Soir" (30/05 /'70) I've
See press clipping from "Le Monde" ( 28/05 /'70, page 18)
where is announced the film Amougies (1969) in cinemas.
"Amougies (1969)," by Jean-Nöel Roy and Jérôme Laperrousaz, is divided
into two films in turn:
"Music Power"—Celtic Square ( ODE.4762 OPE 7455) : 1h: 35 '
"Music Power" is dedicated to "pure" pop music fans and the monitoring of
groups of pop style, free or contemporary music, such as Nice, Pretty
Things, Frank Zappa, Soft Machine, Art Ensemble of Chicago ( AACM), Archie
Shepp, G.E.R.M. of P. Mariétan, Don Cherry ... and Pink Floyd.
( See pic: Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Pretty Things...)
" European Music Revolution"—Pagode (551.12.15- Studio Republique vol.
51. 33 ): 2 hrs.
"European Music Revolution" is an anthology of moments from the festival as
impressionist documentary together the attendees, "hippies", and local
( See pic: Soft Machine, Nice, East of Eden...).
In relation to the style of camera used. It's not subjective but incisive
in the filming of musicians and groups and it transmits the feeling of
strength and musical closeness to viewer together with images of fog at dawn
& at night.
Jazz Mag # 180
Article on "Amougies en deux films" by Jean Patrick Capdeveille.
It mentioned some groups on "European Music Revolution" like: Nice, Pink Floyd, Musica Electronica Viva, Don Cherry.
On "Music Power": Joachim Kühn, Anthony Braxton, John Surman, The Pretty Things, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band ( by their difference and the presentation of Frank Zappa: "Listen well, even the silence, for fear of missing something important".)
And then, Zappa: bluesy with Dunbar Retaliation, hard rock with The Pretty Things, sideral with Pink Floyd. Zappa lost amid the black Archie Shepp (who, in less than ten minutes, offers a shortcut to the amazing history of jazz). It seems to be FZ said "This festival is a political success".
The CNC (Centre National du Cinéma et de l'image animée) web site has on record, three films by Jérôme Laperrousaz about the Amougies Festival:
1- Amougies Music Power
(AKA Amougies Free and Pop Festival I)
Produced in 1969
Released in 1970
Visa # 37202
2- Amougies European Music Revolution
(AKA Amougies Free and Pop Festival II)
Produced in 1969
Released in 1970
Visa # 37203
3- European Music Revolution
Produced in 1972
No Visa #
Reedition of 1 & 2 into a short version
Musiques à voir
á la cinémathéque québécoise
17 juin 7.30 h. 75c
Avec: Steve Lacy, Soft Machine, Captain Beefheart, Nice, East Of Eden, Pink Floyd, Noah Howard, Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Frank Zappa, Pretty Things, etc.
On a aimé, sans l'applaudir très fort, le reportage de Jerôme Lapérrousaz et Jean-Noël Roy, sur le festival d'Amougies, petite ville belge où se sont retrouvés en 1969 les Pink Floyd, Nice, Soft, Machine, East of Eden, Don Cherry, Art Ensemble of Chicago, etc. Ce fut peut-être une date pour la musique pop; ce ne l'est certainement pas pour le cinéma. La caméra de Lapérrousaz est un témoin passif, gêné, muet au milieu du tapage. Heureusement que des 215 minutes originelles, on n'en a retenu que 105.
We liked the report by Jerome Lapérrousaz and Jean-Noël Roy on the festival of Amougies, a small Belgian town where, in 1969, the Pink Floyd, Nice, Soft, Machine, East of Eden, Don Cherry, Art Ensemble of Chicago, etc. This may have been a date for pop music; it certainly is not for cinema. Lapérrousaz's camera is a passive, embarrassed, mute witness in the midst of the noise. Fortunately, of the original 215 minutes, we only retained 105.
2:30 "Amougies, et Laperoussay"
Fr. 1970 Reportage de J. Lapperousaz et J. N. Roy.—Le festival pop music qui se déroula en Belgique, en octobre 1969 (1h30)
Molson Dry Rock Fest
Amougies, 4 $.
11 Cinéma: "Amougies". Fr. 1970 Reportage de J. Lapperousaz at J.N. Roy—Le festival pop-music qui se déroula en Belgique, en octobre 1969. N.B.
Additional informant: Denis Griffin.
FZ watches The Imposter Drumbo, while Captain Beefheart And The Magic Band plays "My Human Gets Me Blues." Amougies, October 25, 1969.
This information I received from two different people:
"[...] I was pleased to hear that it is still possible to arrange a private screening of those two movies, but unfortunately, this can only be done in France, where the tapes are to be found. Some info here [...], in french:
The last commenter talks about how he arranged such a screening, and provides a link to the French Film archives. So who knows, if you ever go to France sometime...."
"Do you know I
recently had the chance to finally see the 2 colour movies about the
festival ? (4 hours !)
Well it was on a smal viewer at the french movies archives or CNC (and
of course I wasn't allowed to record it) but I have seen them !
The man who made for me the projection told me it will be out soon for
a movie musical festival (but I don't know where & when !)
There was a lot of free jazz but also Gong (great but too short !),
Soft Machine, Pretty Things (including a jam with Zappa), East Of
Eden, Caravan, Ame Son, The Nice, Captain Beefheart and a lot of Pink
Floyd (also including the jam with Zappa)
... But unfortunally no Blossom Toes
I hope these movies will see the light one day on dvd (with more Gong
footage & the Blossom Toes !) "
Considering it was Pink Floyd who had the film pulled back in 1970, and now they've made a deal with Jérôme Laperrousaz (the film's main director—the other was his late father-in-law) to include the footage in their recent box [...], the main obstacle to a revival of the film has been lifted. As I've said elsewhere, Laperrousaz is busy re-working the footage, and has held a private showing of some of the unearthed/reworked footage, which according to a friend of mine who was able to attend, was impressive. I have no further information on what the exact plans are, but I would expect an enhanced version of the original film(s) taken from the original masters with lots of previously unseen footage. Unfortunately the sound doesn't appear to be hi-fi but the visuals look fine to me. If this does happen, it promises to be exceptional!
MG: You were Captain Beefheart's road manager for a short time.
MG: And you went to Europe?
I was supposed to be MC for the first big rock festival in France, at a time when the French government was very right-wing, and they didn't want to have large-scale rock and roll in the country. And so at the last minute, this festival was moved from France to Belgium, right across the border, into a turnip field. They constructed a tent, which was held up by these enormous girders. They had 15,000 people in a big circus tent. This was in November, I think. The weather was really not very nice. It's cold, and it's damp, and it was in the middle of a turnip field. I mean mondo turnips. And all the acts, and all the people who wished to see these acts, were urged to find this location in the turnip field, and show up for this festival. And they'd hired me to be the MC and also to bring over Captain Beefheart. It was his first appearance over there. And it was a nightmare, because nobody could speak English, and I couldn't speak French, or anything else for that matter. So my function was really rather limited. I felt a little bit like Linda McCartney. I'd stand there and go wave, wave, wave.
I sat in with a few of the groups during the three days of the festival. But it was so miserable because all these European hippies had brought their sleeping bags, and they had the bags laid out on the ground in this tent, and they basically froze and slept through the entire festival, which went on 24 hours a day, around the clock. One of the highlights of the event was the Art Ensemble Of Chicago, which went on at 5:00 A.M. to an audience of slumbering Euro-hippies.
DM: In turnips. . . .
And to alert them to the fact that they were performing, one of the guys lit a flare and threw it fight out into the middle of the audience, which made some of them jump up and dance around wildly and try and put the fire out.
MG: Tell about the hot dogs.
Oh, yeah. Because it was located in a turnip area, and far away from anything that you would call necessary supports for civilization, the menu was limited. The people who were attending this festival, including all the talent, had access to these foodstuffs: Belgian waffles in plastic—these puffy little waffles in plastic, you could have that—or you could have a hot dog. Now the hot dogs were kept in this tank. When I was a kid, they used to have these big tanks for Nehi beverages, you know, a rectangular tank full of water, and there would be drink bottles in it. Well, in this case, there was a tank full of these Belgian weenies. Now, some of them would float to the surface, and the tips that would stick out were green, and we don't know what color the material under the water was, but it was a tank of green weenies poking out, and you could either eat that or the Belgian waffles. And you couldn't send out for a pizza. You were in the middle of nowhere.
It was that horrible. I think that the real reason I ended up going there in a cosmic sense was to finally wind up with Aynsley Dunbar in the band.
Capt Beefheart was there. FZ introduces him to the crowd.
Some of this Beefheart footage is inlcuded as enhanced video on the new Beefheart box set Grow Fins, on Revenant Records.
FZ and PF jammed on Interstellar Overdrive on 10/25/69 at the Actuel Festival in Belgium. Last I heard a private collector had the film of it but wouldn't release it. I think the audio is out there...has anyone heard it?
There was no show on 11/17/69. 10/25/69 is the correct date. The Actuel Festival was held at Mont de I'Enclus in Amougies, Belgium. It was going to be the first ever rock festival in France, but the promoters couldn't get a licence, so they tried another place in France and then finally ended up in Belgium.
Um...yeah, there is a film. Two documentaries were made of the festival and one called Music Power featured Pink Floyd and it went on the French cinema circiut in June '70. It is highly probable that the jam was filmed as it was played in the middle of the set (as opposed to an encore or at a different time all together). Now, I haven't seen the film and the jam may not be in it. It could be on the editing room's floor. But I read somewhere else that a private collector had it.
This was found on a Gong website, and mentions that FZ hosted the festival. "Shortly after the album was recorded, Karakos set up the infamous Amougies Festival, originally scheduled for Paris but, after a court order, hastily reconvened just over the Belgian border. An amazing affair, the acts included Beefheart, The Soft Machine, Blossom Toes, Caravan etc. etc., the whole thing hosted by Frank Zappa."
I did a bit of research on the net about the Amougies Festival. I found bits and pieces of information that more or less resembles to what we already know. The only thing that contains new information is here: (once on the page just use the "find in page" function using the word Amougies)
I will try to contact Martin Laplante and I will also try to talk to the people at the Cinemathèque. Hopefully they will tell me were the film came from and/or who is the owner. Looks like the screening took place at the Cinemathèque in Montréal on June 4, 1998 at 5pm. (where the f%#$ was I?)
Here is a nice picture of FZ & CB at the Amougies Festival. It's from the Alain Dister book.
Also an ad for the festival before it was moved to Belgium.
David Wills discovered another one, scaned and posted to organissim forums by Brandon Burke:
Another poster which appeared recently on eBay and United Mutations:
There has been a photograph published in the 1970's, that was re-printed in one of the Society Pages (USA) fanzines that shows FZ on stage with Pink Floyd at Amougies. I believe Dominique Chevalier forwarded it on to Den & Rob to help clear up the matter, after FZ stated in one of his interviews with Society Pages that he didn't play with the Floyd. Sorry but I don't remember which edition of SP it was in.
In Society Pages USA #2, Zappa stated unequivocally that he did not play onstage with Pink Floyd. Then two issues later, they turned up a photo of the jam, showing FZ ca. 1969 onstage with a guy who is identifiably Nick Mason and another guy with a P-Bass whose face isn't visible but whose hunched posture is that of Roger Waters...
An interview with PF drummer Nick Mason mentions this Amougies jam with Zappa; I remember him saying something to the effect that "very few people have the right personality to play with us", but what Zappa did was "terribly right".
Question: But, nevertheless, you played with Frank Zappa in the Amougies festival.
Nick Mason: Frank Zappa is really one of those rare musicians that can play with us. The little he did in Amougies was terribly correct. But he's the exception. Our music and the way we behave on stage, makes it very hard to improvise with us.
I have the picture that is mentioned in the article "Music Power". It's in the book "Frank Zappa et les Mothers of Invention" by Alain Dister, it's a French book.
I am a Pink Floyd collector and I have been desperately seeking the famous Amougies tape where Zappa and Floyd performed together. Does such a tape exist or am I just running in circles here?
Quite recently, such a tape has allegedly started to circulate a little in Floyd circles, as a "rare trade only".
(I heard about this in Japan; but I don't know if the tape itself is in Japan or where it is, or who has it exactly.)
apparently the recording in question is an audience recording; and there seem to be TWO... one recording by a zappa fan, and a complete floyd set taped by a floyd fan. pieces of the floyd's set are fairly common, but not the fz/pf jam on 'interstellar overdrive'.
ponder this neat little factoid: this was frank's first live performance after recording 'hot rats'...
There is a tape in circulation that is wrongly identified as being Pink Floyd with FZ at Amougies. This tape consists of Interstellar Overdrive, introduced as something they'd been playing since they were teenagers. But it doesn't feature FZ and it's not from Amougies. I believe it's actually from 5/1/70 Santa Monica. I don't know if the item Johan refers to above is legitimate, or if it's the same mislabeled tape resurfacing.
I'm not talking about an "Interstellar Overdrive" only tape, but a more complete set, alleged to have recently surfaced.
I was a teenager in 1968 and I remember that some parts of this festival were broadcasted "live" directly from site at the French radio broadcast "Europe 1" ( LW waves )
I was listening that at the time and I have recorded almost 1 hour about the festival especially a zappa-pinkfloyd jam session. I remember the studio "presenter" ( may be Pierre Lates ??) said "Oh! ça c'est zappa" ( "Oh! that it is zappa" ) at the beginning of a pink floyd piece.
Unfortunately I sold all my tapes ( + recorder ) 15 years ago and I lost all traces of that.. but I suppose there are archives somewhere on " Europe 1" radio ( Still alive !!!)
Looks like Zappa is in that picture twice, as a guitarist and drummer, had to search for Pink Floyd photo's to convince myself the drummer is Nick Mason. Btw Patrick the picture is on page 80 of the mentioned book and taken by Christian Rose. The text about that festival on p. 79:
Rendu a sa solitude, Zappa se consacre a quelques vieux projects, prepare ses films, travaille sa musique dans d'autres directions, fait du tourisme. On le voit au festival d'Amougies, en octobre 1969, ou il se rend a titre personnel, invite par Pieree Lattes. Il y fera le boef avec presque tous les groupes du programme, en particulier le Pink Floyd, le Blossom Toes, Archie Shepp et Aynsley Dunbar, en qui il decourvre un fabuleux batteur qu'il ne tardera pas a embaucher. Il presente son ami Captain Beefheart, et maintient tout au long de ces trois nuits, quel que soil le froid ou l'heure tardive, une presence qui est un stimulant puissant pour tous les musiciens presents.
sorry, my french is not that good, so I hope someone who knows to, translates this.
The Amougies picture comes from 'Livre Compact—Pink Floyd' by Jean Marie Leduc, published in 1987.
The photo is credited to Jacques Bisceglia from the Birmapress Agency.
Society Pages issue no. 2
"They're doing the Interview of the Century"
December 22, 1989
FZ interview by Eric Buxton, Rob Samler, Den Simms.
DS: Alright. Here's a controversy you can settle. There are many people who think that you performed, in 1969, at a festival in Belgium called 'Amougies'...
DS: ... performed onstage with Pink Floyd. True or false?
FZ: Not with Pink Floyd.
DS: That's what I thought. You introduced Beefheart to the audience...
FZ: Yes, and I introduced a lot of other acts, too. You see, that was a very weird thing. I was hired to be a master of ceremonies...
FZ: That was after the Mothers had broken up, and y'know, I had time on my hands. These people contacted me. They offered me ten thousand dollars to be an emcee at a festival, all expenses paid, and go over there, and, y'know, whatever I wanted to do, and I said, "Fine." So, I get there, and they neglected to tell me that nobody spoke English. (laughter) I mean, most of the people there spoke French, and all I could do was point and wave, (laughter) and furthermore, the festival was originally supposed to be in France. The French government stopped it, and so, at the last minute, it was moved across the border into Belgium, into the middle of a turnip patch, in the middle of nowhere, in a tent that was held up by steel girders. This tent held fifteen thousand people. Freezing cold, damp weather, constant log, the most MISERABLE (laughter) circumstances you could find yourself in, for three days, and it was a twenty-four-hour-a-day festival, and the kids would come there, and they had their sleeping bags, and they were sleeping through ... they were just in this tent FREEZING, laying on the ground, sleeping, while music went on around the clock with all these groups...
DS: How bizarre.
FZ: ... and they were filming it.
DS: A true war story.
RS: So, did you perform with anyone?
DS: Yeah. To nail that down once and for all, you did not perform with Pink Floyd, right?
FZ: No. I think I performed with Aynsley Dunbar, and then, there was a jam session that had Archie Shepp, Philly Joe Jones, and some other jazz guys that played.
9. Interstellar Overdrive with Frank Zappa 11.26
Amougies (Belgium), Actuel Festival
24 to 27 October 1969
source: audience recording
This is an amazing find that I'm sure will delight fans of Frank Zappa and the bands concerned alike. A little background : the Actuel festival was organized by the publication of the same name (who, under different editorship, went on to become a prime mover of the French counterculture in the early to mid-70s) in collaboration with the fledgling BYG label. It was originally going to take place in or near Paris, but French authorities forbid it and the marquee was eventually set up a few miles outside the French border, on Belgian soil. It took place over 5 nights, entertaining an audience of 15-20,000 to a unique mixture of progressive pop, free jazz and contemporary music.
Frank Zappa was present at the festival (well, the first four days, it seems) in a twofold capacity. First, as Captain Beefheart's road manager; secondly, as M.C., assisting Pierre Lattes, a famous radio/TV presenter at the time (and the pop music editor for Actuel magazine). The latter task proved problematic given FZ's very limited mastery of French, the prevailing language among the audience, who themselves didn't seem to understand much English. Instead, FZ relinquished his M.C. job for one of occasional guest guitarist.
As far as I know, with the exception of FZ's performance with Captain Beefheart, this collects all of his jams with participating bands. A couple of films, directed by Jerome Laperrousaz and Jean-Noel Roy, came out in 1970 but were instantly banned because of objections from various bands (most notably Pink Floyd) whose permission hadn't been properly secured. Zappa's performance with Beefheart is included in one of them, and since the audio of the film (unlike the film itself) is in circulation, possibly in better sound than I could provide, I decided not to include it.
The whereabouts of the master tapes for the festival, if any exist, are unknown. What recordings are circulating are either the soundtrack of the film, or taken from radio broadcasts (on Luxemburg's RTL and Belgium's RTBF). The source used here is an audience recording made by a young French member of the audience using a now antiquated amateur tape recorder. The original tapes have been newly transferred, but even so, the sound quality is rather poor. Still, it seems to be the only source available at this time, so that will have to do for now.
Most legendary, of course, is Frank Zappa's jam with Pink Floyd on a very extended "Interstellar Overdrive". Apparently, despite the wealth of Pink Floyd bootlegs in circulation, no one seems to have their Amougies set, so this will probably delight a lot of people. Browsing various PF-related websites, there even seems to be a debate on whether the jam ever took place. Well, here is the final proof that it did.
Now, the tracklist:
1. Aynsley Dunbar's Retaliation: Improvisation (7:08)
Victor Brox (vocals, harmonica); John Moorshead (guitar); Alex (Erroneous) Dmochowski (bass); Aynsley Dunbar (drums)
2. Pink Floyd: Interstellar Overdrive (20:25)
David Gilmour (guitar); Richard Wright (organ); Roger Waters (bass); Nick Mason (drums)
3. Caravan: If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You
Pye Hastings (guitar & vocals); David Sinclair (keyboards); Richard Sinclair (bass & vocals); Richard Coughlan (drums)
4. Blossom Toes: Improvisation (26:10)
Brian Godding (guitar, vocals & keyboards); Jim Cregan (guitar & vocals); Brian Belshaw (bass & vocals); Kevin Westlake (drums)
5. Sam Apple Pie: Moonlight Man (6:04)
Sam Sampson (vocals & harmonica); Danny Barnes (lead guitar); Andy Johnson (slide guitar); Bob Renny (bass & vocals); Lee Baxter Hayes Jr (drums)
(Note: FZ also jammed with the Pretty Things, but the taper inadvertently erased the tape in question many years ago; he also participated in a jam with some of the free jazz players, led by Archie Shepp; sadly the taper was into rock, not jazz, and didn't bother recording any of the jazz acts.)
FZ jamming with Archie Shepp, Earl Freeman. John Dyani, & Gracvhan Moncur III at Actuel Festival, Mont de I'Enclus in Amougies, Belgium (October 24-28, 1969) was really a musical enjoyment, when I first heart this recording at the International New Jazz Festival Moers in June 1979. [...] it was a private reel to reel tape of a taper who was chiefly interested in Shepp, AEoC &etc (a typical Free Jazz fan).
Informant: Javier Al FrescoMaintained by Román García Albertos