Zappa Tiny Nightmares

[The back cover has Frank (in bib-and-braces overalls) and Gail with one of their babies.]

In 1977/8 Frank Zappa made a movie called Baby Snakes combining live footage from his Halloween concert at the New York Palladium with “backstage antics, band interviews, and some outlandish clay animation from Bruce Bickford, with whose work Zappa was obviously smitten. Onstage, Zappa is a live wire, the audience is appropriately rambunctious, and the band–an especially potent incarnation of the famous Mothers of Invention–is tight as could be.”

Now, I’m no Frank Zappa fan but this is amazing stuff that I want to hear again & again.

When the nearly three hours long oeuvre was done no distributor would touch it, “fearing that Zappa’s “cinematic style” had lost considerable appeal in post-’70s pop culture”. This attitude did not change after the movie was edited down to a more “commercial potential-enhancing” 90 minutes, nor after Bruce Bickford’s sequences won first prize at a French animated film competition. Zappa ended up distributing the movie himself and selling it directly to the public via mail order. The release date was December 21, 1979.

Zappa Zurkon Music

Part of the NY Palladium show was released on this bootleg (ZX 3659) and Hot Wacks claimed Tiny Nightmares copied this album – although as Ken was famous for mining KBFH broadcasts for his TAKRL series, maybe this was not a copy after all..

Side 1: Intro/ San Ber’dino/ I Wanna Be Dead/ Tiny Lights/ Big Leg Emma (23:25)
Side 2: Audience Participation Time/ Black Page No. 2/ Camarillo Brillo/ Black Napkins (24:17)

An alternate and more likely explanation is that this was not taken from the video soundtrack but from a 1978 KBFH broadcast:

Beacon Island then repackaged Tiny Nightmares together with another release taken from a ZX release named:

Zappa Stringban

One website claims only “100 pressed in 1978/79 with b/w gloss front and back slipsheets. Contains June 28 1973 Melbourne (slipsheets have relevant concert photo, ticket & reviews)”.

A1    Uncle Meat         
A2    Dog Breath         
A3    Uncle Meat         
A4    Montana         
A5    Fifty-Fifty         
B1    Mudshark         
B2    Father O’blivion


Beacon Island retained the same album title:

Zappa Tiny Nightmares

Zappa Tiny_Nightmares_Back

Cover images “borrowed” from the photo book The Concerts by Laurie Lewis, released in 1979 and mined by Ken for a number of front and back covers for his Beacon Islands label.

From an review: “There has been more than one Frank Zappa bootleg circulated under the title Tiny Nightmares. An earlier bootleg included the entire broadcast of Zappa’s Halloween 1977 Felt Forum concert (the first of two shows there that evening) as heard on the syndicated King Biscuit Flower Hour program in early 1978; this Australian product is a two-LP set that adds excerpts of a June 1973 audience tape (taken from a 2 ½ hour concert tape that was circulating among collectors in the mid-’70s), which had been previously issued separately as the bootleg Ultra Modern Stringbean. The 1973 songs have okay fidelity, though there is some distortion. Zappa’s opening medley includes a prelude that hints at “Uncle Meat” before segueing into an energetic version of “Dog Breath,” which is immediately followed by “Uncle Meat.” Zappa’s humorous (but excessively long on this occasion) tribute to dental floss, “Montana,” and a rather distorted instrumental version of “Fifty-Fifty” conclude the first side. The remaining 1973 tracks consist of the lengthy and somewhat tedious “Mudshark,” made famous during Zappa’s Fillmore East June 1971 LP, which segues into a portion of “The Be-bop Tango.” The band on this occasion included keyboardist George Duke, violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, and percussionist Ruth Underwood.

At the beginning of the 1977 concert, Zappa walks on as the band plays a musical excerpt (which eventually appeared in his song “Flakes”) and introduces the group. This concert gives a better idea of what a Zappa concert was like in his later years, where his musicians had been so tightly rehearsed they moved directly from one complete song to the next. At the time of this spring 1978 broadcast, many of the songs had not appeared commercially, including the hard rocking “San Ber’dino,” the great punk parody “Tryin’ to Grow a Chin,” the intense “City of Tiny Lites,” the dark instrumental “The Squirm,” “Black Page No. 2,” and another hard rocker, “Jones Crusher.” Some of the tracks were later re-recorded with overdubs for the LP set Sheik Yerbouti. Also present are oldies like “Big Leg Emma,” the mildly amusing “Camarillo Brillo,” the somewhat silly “Dance Contest” (this version was included in one of Zappa’s commercially issued videos), and one of Zappa’s most brilliant instrumentals, “Black Napkins.” Zappa’s band includes keyboardists Tommy Mars and Peter Wolf, guitarist Adrian Belew, bassist Patrick O’Hearn (prior to his journey into new age), percussionist Ed Mann, and the superb drummer Terry Bozzio. “


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