Playground Psychotics

Original Recordings

Liner notes by FZ, 1992

Most of the dialog recordings were made by me on a portable Uher 7 1/2 ips recorder, except where otherwise indicated. The musical selections are from live analog recordings originating from either the Fillmore East NYC (16 track), the Pauley Pavilion, UCLA (4 track), or the Rainbow Theater, London (8 track).


The Official Mothers Of Invention Bootleg Album

Mark Volman, interviewed by Co de Cloet, fall, 1993

Well, I don't know if Frank tells you the story of Playground Psychotics the way I will tell you the story, but it's no secret that Frank used to carry his Uher tape recorder with us on tour constantly, and Playground Psychotics' basic foundation started during a weekend when we travelled to Spokane, Washington, Seattle, Washington, to the Edgewater Hotel, which was the foundation for the "Mudshark" and the whole story on the white Live at the Fillmore East [Fillmore East, June 1971] album, and we also played Portland, Oregon, and Eugene, Oregon, it was a trip to the northwest of the United States. And Frank edited together that weekend into an album that he gave to Warner Brothers Records, and it was called the Official Mothers of Invention Bootleg Album, and [...] that was given to Warner Brothers right after we did the album "Billy the Mountain", Just Another Band From L.A., and Frank gave it to Warner Brothers as our album, as his new album. 'Cause he was trying desperately to leave Warner Brothers, he had two albums that he owed them. And what he was trying to do was to put together two records quickly, back to back, and one of them was this live touring record, which was kind of an offshoot of what had really transpired during the movie 200 MOTELS, which was really life on the road with a band, purely documentary.

And Warner Brothers turned it down. And so the Official Bootleg Album went up on the shelf, and Frank basically sat on it, and squelched it. It was a bit too . . . I guess you could say listening to it now, for that time, 1973 or 1974, it was way far ahead of its time, obviously, as alternative music goes—there wasn't very much music on the Bootleg Album, it only had "Easy Meat" at a rehearsal and it had another, maybe, "Tears Begin to Fall" ["Tears Began to Fall"], a live version of it. And those didn't actually even make it to Playground Psychotics, in fact, what he did was basically took the outtakes of the live Fillmore East recordings with John Lennon and a few other things, "Billy the Mountain", the original version, the 30-35-some-odd minute version, excellent version, with Studebaker Hoch, all of the ramifications of Studebaker Hoch . . .

It was, I went up to the house the day he got copies, and we sat at his house and listened to the record, and I swear, I cried and I laughed and he, him and I just listened to it with relish because here we were hearing this history, and those intimacies, I mean, the girl on the airplane, and the things that you thought you'd never see, let alone being released to the public! To be made available!


disc 1

1. "Here Comes The Gear, Lads"

Liner notes by FZ, 1992

As we depart for the first date of the tour [...]

Mark: "Hey, John Lennon here . . . "

Like to welcome you aboard United's flight 664 to Spokane.

Charles Ulrich, Frank Zappa Gig List: 1970, December 12, 2012

70/09/17, Spokane, WA, Coliseum, CONFIRMED

Charles Ulrich, August 29, 2005

I don't list any shows for the preceding 26 days. So it does indeed seem to have been "the first date of the tour," as stated in the notes for "Here Comes The Gear, Lads."

"Here Comes The Gear," Lads was recorded in the airport (presumably LAX) en route to Spokane.


2. The Living Garbage Truck

Bruce Bisell: The FM chart that's put out here in Vancouver, has a distribution of about fifty thousand.

FZ, interviewed by Beetle, September, 1971

I understand that Bruce Bissel met you at the airport in Vancouver with a garbage truck. Whose idea was that?

Warner Brothers. We arrived and there was Bruce with this garbage truck. He was ecstatic about the idea and said it would be a real gas if we were photographed beside it.

Oh, you mean you weren't happy with the idea?

Well, we would have actually preferred the more conventional limousine but after all, what could we do? Here was this promotion man who thinks that it's a great publicity stunt (after all, we'd never met him, and we didn't want to offend him or Warner Brothers) so we did it. It was more like what we were into in '67.

Charles Ulrich, Frank Zappa Gig List: 1970, December 12, 2012

70/09/19, Vancouver, BC, Canada, Coliseum, CONFIRMED


3. A Typical Sound Check

Ben, January 3, 2020

Hey i have a tracklisting for the 9 LP set of the history and collected improvisations of the mothers and just found out a typical soundcheck is from spokane washington

Volume 2 Side 5 1:42 Soundcheck in a spokane skating rink


5. The Motel Lobby

Mark: Hey, what is this, man? Is this the Can-Can Room?
Howard: This place waits for us, man
Mark: This place waits us! Is there a piano?
Howard: There's a juke box with a lotta hokie country songs on it. I am coming in here and getting blotto in about ten minutes
Mark: Oh, man, me too!

Charles Ulrich, August 29, 2005

If the Can-Can Room was really the name of the lounge in the motel in Spokane, then The Motel Lobby was recorded in Spokane too.

[...] Howard indicates his intention to get drunk in ten minutes. So I would guess that they got to Spokane a day before the concert. That would make the recording date September 16, 1970.


6. Getting Stewed

Howard: And we're sitting here in Spokane, Washington.
Mark: The Can-Can Room.

Charles Ulrich, Frank Zappa Gig List: 1970, December 12, 2012

70/09/17, Spokane, WA, Coliseum, CONFIRMED


7. The Motel Room

Charles Ulrich, January 31, 2019

What's playing in "The Motel Room" on Playground Psychotics is season 4, episode 2 [of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In], which was broadcast on September 21, 1970. So, yes, it must have been recorded in Portland, Oregon.


8. "Don't Take Me Down"

Charles Ulrich, August 29, 2005

There were two opening acts at the 9/17/70 Spokane show, Notary Sojac and Sleepy John. A member of Notary Sojac told me that it's not them on "Don't Take Me Down." So if this is from Spokane, it's presumably Sleepy John (from Lewiston, Idaho).


12. Zanti Serenade

Liner notes by FZ, 1992

This was the opening vamp for the ill-fated Rainbow Theatre show. One week earlier, all of our gear was destroyed in a fire at the Montreux Casino. We cancelled a week's worth of dates, went shopping for new gear, and were still trying to make it all work correctly as the show began. What purports to be some sort of avant-garde extravaganza was really just a sound check with the audience in attendance.


13. Divan

Liner notes by FZ, 1992

This recording from the Pauley Pavilion is all that remains of a larger piece which included "Sofa" and other material.


15. "Don't Eat There"

Charles Ulrich, November 24, 2005

The background music at breakfast is "Moonlight Bay".

Charles Ulrich, March 22, 2012

Howard quotes Autumn Leaves at the end of Don't Eat There (2:21-2:26), with the last note extending into the first second of Brixton Still Life.

It's much easier to identify the quotation on the audience recording of 12/10/71 London.


19. Sharleena

right here at the Rainbow Theatre where Melanie ripped it up last night

Charles Ulrich, January 7, 2009

Melanie [Safka] had played a sold-out concert at the Rainbow the previous night. Her "Brand New Key" reached #1 in the Billboard chart later that month.


21. Diptheria Blues

Liner notes by FZ, 1992

From a Florida dressing room. While Dunbar keeps time on a bottle of Scotch whisky and a wooden table, Howard relates the tale of the San Antonio diptheria epidemic which we had just escaped.

Play the harmonica, boy.

Oh, diphtheria got me down
Oh, San Antonio epidemic now

Charles Ulrich, Frank Zappa Gig List: 1970, December 12, 2012

70/10/09, Tallahassee, FL, Tully Gymnasium, Florida State University, CONFIRMED


22. Well

davmar77, Zappateers, February 24, 2012

this is really from the june 6, 1971 late show. i went the night before to the late show and still have my stub.

FZ, Picture Disk Interview #2, 1984

The day before the show, a journalist in New York City woke me up—knocked on the door and is standing there with a tape recorder and goes, "Frank, I'd like to introduce you to John Lennon," you know, waiting for me to gasp and fall on the floor and I said, "Well, Ok. Come on in." And we sat around and talked, and I think the first thing he said to me was, "You're not as ugly as I thought you would be." So anyway, I thought he had a pretty good sense of humor so I invited him to come down and jam with us at the Fillmore East.

We had already booked in a recording truck because we were making the "Live at the Fillmore" album at the time. After they had sat in with us, an arrangement was made that we would both have access to the tapes. He wanted to release it with his mix and I had the right to release it with my mix—so that's how that one section came about.

The bad part is, there's a song that I wrote called "King Kong" which we played that night, and I don't know whether it was Yoko's idea or John's idea but they changed the name of the song to "Jam Rag," gave themselves writing and publishing credit on it, stuck it on an album and never paid me. It was obviously not a jam session song—its got a melody, its got a bass line, it's obviously an organized song—little bit disappointing. I've never released my version of the mixes of that night.

"Hello Goodbye: Guest Of The Month—Frank Zappa," Stereo, April, 1976 [English translation by Tan Mitsugu]

Q: You look much better than your photograph.

Zappa: John Lennon said the same thing.


disc 2

1. Beer Shampoo

Liner notes by FZ, 1992

An argument in Ohio regarding beer being poured on Howard during the

Charles Ulrich, Frank Zappa Gig List: 1970, December 12, 2012

70/10/21, Cincinnati, OH, Music Hall, CONFIRMED


2. Champagne Lecture

Liner notes by FZ, 1992

Somewhere in the midwest, the intimate details of our adventures in Jacksonville are revealed.


5. The Mudshark Interview

Martin Tickman: This is the Edgewater Inn
FZ: In Seattle, Washington.

Charles Ulrich, Frank Zappa Gig List: 1970, December 12, 2012

70/09/20, Seattle, WA, Moore Theater, 2 shows, CONFIRMED


9. The Spew King

Howard: Walterdale.

Charles Ulrich, Frank Zappa Gig List: 1970, December 12, 2012

70/09/18, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Kinsmen Field House, CONFIRMED


10. I'm Doomed

Howard: We gotta do two shows tonight?
Jeff: Yep. [...]
Aynsley: And there're two shows in Portland, I mean.

Charles Ulrich, Frank Zappa Gig List: 1970, December 12, 2012

70/09/20, Seattle, WA, Moore Theater, 2 shows, CONFIRMED
70/09/22, Portland, OR, Lewis + Clark College, 2 shows?, CONFIRMED


11. Status Back, Baby

Liner notes by FZ, 1992

An unreleased cut from the Fillmore East 1971 recording.


12. The London Cab Tape

Liner notes by FZ, 1992

Dunbar and I were hanging out one night after the gig in my motel room. Mark knocked on the door and offered to play a cassette recording he had made of Howard, Simmons and Underwood, riding in a London cab, planning to have some sort of confrontation with me. As he played the tape, I turned on my Uher. This is a recording of the three of us listening to Mark's very own anthropological field recording.


14. The Sanzini Brothers

Liner notes by FZ, 1992

Back to the Fillmore East for a moment.


18. Intro To Music For Low Budget Orchestra

Mark: Photography by Art Laboe


19. Billy The Mountain



20. "He's Watching Us"

Liner notes by FZ, 1992

More tape from Mark—later in the script reading session.


23. Going For The Money

Jeff: Smurf mee!
Howard: Smurf meee!

FZ, interviewed by Don Menn, "The Mother Of All Interviews, Part 1," Zappa!, 1992, p. 45

When we went to Holland for the first time with the band with Mark and Howard in '70 or '71, the whole place was riddled with fuckin' Smurfs advertising BP. And the joke in the band was "Smurf mee," because on the billboards that's what they said. "Smurf me" spelled "me-e-e." I don't know what it means.

Corné van Hooijdonk,, September 4, 2003

I think there were big BP (British Petroleum) billboards in the street then (in the Netherlands that is), saying: 'Smurf mee!'. You could get Smurfs then at the BP gas stations.

'Smurf mee!' means: Smurf along!
mee (dutch, double e), instead of me (one e, English).


24. Jeff Quits

Liner notes by FZ, 1992

More tape from Mark—the following evening at the second script reading. Jeff is advised by his wife, quits the group and bails out of the movie.

Jeff: This is what I joined for. This I don't think is pertinent.

Justin Devlin, January 1, 2015

"Prudent" is the word I hear Jeff Simmons say there rather than "pertinent."

Charles Ulrich, January 6, 2015

I admit that it's not completely clear, but it still sounds like "pertinent" to me.


31. I Could Be A Star Now

You could have played the blues with John Mayall.



Research, compilation and maintenance by Román García Albertos
This page updated: 2020-01-05