Frank Zappa: Joe’s Corsage

An agonizing 15 month wait was on the cards for Zappa fanatics after the release of Halloween and it did sort of feel as if the Vault may have involuntarily sealed itself up, especially as the ZFT had begun their curious policy of less than helpful information distribution: i.e, you got a new Zappa album in your hands roughly a few days or so after they announced it, with precious little promotional build up and little or no explanation as to why any particular release had been chosen. So it was with Joe’s Corsage that appeared somewhat unexpectedly in May 2004. The Zappas though had really shot themselves in the foot in terms of fan expectations by making available the film trailer for the Roxy Performances a few years before, as any release that didn’t in some way feature Frank and the Mothers live on stage in December ’73 would inevitably be a tad dissapointing. Despite that though, the concept of the “Joe’s” series was an interesting one: Joe Travers, now firmly trusted with the alarm code for the Vault had been given a further licence to collate releases of particularly unique historical value, that might otherwise not fit in to any other project.

First up in the collection (which at the time of writing is currently at four volumes) were a selection of pre – Freak Out demos by the “original” Mothers featuring, on the first four tracks, second guitarist Henry Vestine, plus a few covers (the Wedding Dress Song/Handsome Cabin Boy combo makes an early appearance here) and a few brief spoken word sections with Zappa talking about the early days. There’s also a fun early version of Take Your Clothes of When You Dance with different lyrics. Sound quality is quite stunning considering the era, and overall this brief CD makes a nice little companion to both Freak Out and the Mystery Disc and Lost Episodes albums. But, you can’t help feeling that maybe it’s real home would have been on the giant MOFO boxset from a few years down the line. The following “Joe’s” albums (each with it’s own bewilderingly obscure rhyme for Garage) would produce even more controversey regarding just what Zappa fans were prepared to pay for. But before that there was yet another unexpected release in the form of Quaudiophiliac….


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