CD Rock Review

Frank Zappa – The Man Behind The Mask (& Gloves)

Title: Halloween 73

Label: Zappa Records

OK, I’m a little late on the Halloween thing but I just had to include this collection.. 

It includes two complete Halloween shows recorded on 31 October, 1973 in Chicago.

Both are previously unreleased. You’ll find music from LPs such as Over-Nite Sensation and then forthcoming Apostrophe (1974), as well as early arrangements of compositions like Penguin In Bondage and Village Of The Sun that would appear on later studio and live albums. 

Let’s look at this thing in more detail. Firstly, it arrives in a tall box measuring 30 x 20 x 13cm with a window set in the front which shows that you now have a sample of your very own Frank Zappa Halloween 1973 mask and, wait for it, green monster gloves!

There’s also four CDs containing four hours and 38 minutes of music, a 40-page booklet featuring images from the show and liner notes from Ruth Underwood and Ralph Humphrey – band members who played in the above shows. 

Oh and I almost forgot, you also get a fourth disc dedicated to unreleased rehearsals recorded just before the tour started.

Frank Zappa - The Man Behind The Mask (& Gloves)

The concerts were recorded on ½” 4-track analogue tape which was stored in Frank Zappa’s personal Vault.

The tracks were then digitally transferred at 24bit/96kHz from this tapes, in 2019. Then they were remixed and mastered.

Live sets are sonic compromises and are often a wholly mess in basic sound terms (Why hi-fi is traditionally supposed to emulate such a fractured ‘standard’ is quite beyond me, but still…) but these live recordings don’t suffer as much as many other concerts I’ve heard.

They hang together well, are consistent in tone and offer admirable detail.

This is a superb set both in terms of packaging but also content. Frank Zappa fans go get it!

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  • Reply
    Mike Janowski
    10th December 2019 at 10:54 pm

    I was there! Early show, first time I saw Zappa!

    Oh, and I’m a dedicated reader, thanks for all your research!

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      11th December 2019 at 11:38 am

      Blimey, you were? Any memories of the concert at all? What were your impressions of the gig? And thanks for you kind words 🙂

  • Reply
    Mike Janowski
    11th December 2019 at 1:47 pm

    Hey Paul!

    Memories? sure, a few. It was, as I mentioned, my first Zappa show. I’d been into him since I borrowed an 8-track copy of “Absolutely Free”, and when “Overnight Sensation” came out and got a bit popular, I was thrilled! At last, the people get Zappa!

    I drove up from Champaign, IL where I was a sophomore at Univ of IL; ran in and briefly said hi to my parents, and it was off to the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. The Auditorium was designed by Louis Sullivan, and is both a visual and aural masterpiece, and it had undergone a bit of a rehab, so it shone with golden lights (if you haven’t seen it, check it out).

    My impressions of the show? Well, they came out firing on all cylinders. I remember I felt they were playing a bit fast, and it was all very frenetic and entertaining on stage. They came out with two drummers (Ralph Humphries and Chester Thompson), and at leasst one of the Underwoods (Ruth for sure, not so sure about Ian). I remember being really impressed by Napoleon Murphy Brock’s voice. According to Setlist.FM, they started with “Pygmy Twilight”, but my mind tells me they played Camarillo Brillo as well. (I’ll believe Setlist.) I remember being thrilled when they launched into “The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbeque”, a great oldie from the “Weasels” album. And I seem to remember Frank had Ruth do some sort of percussion “challenge” running between instruments repeating phrases that the drummers would whip off while she was moving about. And finally, I remember “Montana” as being an absolute standout! Just that great THWACKA THWACKA beat while the band sang the chorus and NMB wailed!

    I saw Zappa dozens of times afterwards, and his shows never disappointed, and I try to catch Dweezil’s “Zappa Plays Zappa” (and f**k Ahmet for not letting him use that name any more) when I can. I’m by no means a slavering fanboy, but I can truly say that Frank Zappa, his music, and his attitude, had a huge affect on my life and my outlook. AND, propelled me to get better and better audio gear, the better to listen to and dissect his phenomenal music! Thanks for asking!

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      11th December 2019 at 3:56 pm

      Lovely memories. your thoughts serve as a Part 2 to my review – excellent stuff and much appreciated Mike.

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