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John & Yoko jam with Frank Zappa, circa 1971
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18 August 2013
3.29am
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WETSRoosa
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Funny Paper said
Apparently this was filmed in 1971 during rehearsals for Zappa's Fillmore East concert in New York City.

(Note: There are some moments here and there where the video goes black, but stick with it, those moments pass)

Some of the things I took away from watching this fascinating footage:

1) It's neat to see John really getting into being a part of a larger ensemble, not only with his singing but also with his assiduous rhythm guitar playing and his interest in its sound (at the end, after arrogant Zappa and some of his buddies walked off to take a break, John is bending over fiddling with the amp dials trying to get some experimental sound)

2) The group screeches and shouts at the beginning are Dadaistically amusing

3) Note Zappa's subtle disdain for Yoko -- at one point he seems to stop the music and proceed to lecture her on the theme of the song, that it's about its title, "Scumbag".  After the little lecture, she seems to be chastened, but soon enough she starts screaming her way again, and it isn't long after that when Zappa and his buddies leave the stage -- I'm thinking he left because he got bored with her.

 

Ah yes, I did an episode about the King Kong/Jam Rag incident that Zappa/John/Yoko were involved in. That Fillmore East show you watched rehearsals for is where it happened. Zappa talked in the '70s about what that incident was like here: 

If you do watch the show where John and Yoko got on stage with the Mothers, watch when Yoko gets a burlap sack put over her head during "Scumbag." So maybe Zappa's disdain for her wasn't all that subtle... 

"There's no such thing as bad student... only bad teacher."
18 August 2013
6.14am
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Funny Paper
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wetsroosa, my impression of that moment where Yoko gets covered in a bag was that she orchestrated that.  Even if the idea was Zappa's and she didn't know about it, she seemed to play along.  Imagine if one of John's buddies walked over and put a sack over Zappa -- he wouldn't put up with that.  He'd probably fly into a self-righteous rage.

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18 August 2013
1.51pm
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WETSRoosa
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Funny Paper said
wetsroosa, my impression of that moment where Yoko gets covered in a bag was that she orchestrated that.  Even if the idea was Zappa's and she didn't know about it, she seemed to play along. 
Imagine if one of John's buddies walked over and put a sack over Zappa -- he wouldn't put up with that.  He'd probably fly into a self-righteous rage.

Oh, I'm sure Yoko granted him the go-ahead, but still I'm also sure there was a little sadisitic pleasure at putting the bag over her head... Howard Kayman (or I think it was Howard) got to do what probably millions of others wished they could have, even in a "joke" situation... 

"There's no such thing as bad student... only bad teacher."
20 August 2013
5.01am
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Von Bontee
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Funny Paper said

Von Bontee said
I didn't know this performance was filmed! Thanks for the link, FP!

I'm thinking he left because he got bored with her.

Well, Zappa would get bored with anybody who he felt wasn't giving his music the proper attention and respect!

You're welcome, VB.  I can understand a musician expecting attention and respect, but Zappa's whole style and worldview were experimentation and being outrageous -- then he has the gall to suddenly object to someone being artistically experimental and outrageous?  The problem with Zappa is that he was trying to have his cake and eat it too -- being an authoritarian ass like Sinatra while trying to be a free-thinking bohemian avant-garde artiste.

He was always completely in favour of artistic expression - but if it was gonna occur on his stage, in his band (and the bands were ALWAYS his), it was gonna be on his own terms. And he had a pretty good reason to be annoyed about the "King Kong" thing, since it just created one more business problem for a performer (TWO performers) who were always dealing with them. (Also there was money involved and J&Y were a lot richer than Frank!) Frank wasn't being disdainful of Yoko: He was addressing the audience (as he was wont to do) and inviting them to sing along. He wasn't acting any more authoritarian than usual; the hand signals were for everybody in the band to follow. The whole bag thing was most probably Yoko's own idea which they worked out beforehand. (It's exactly the kind of Dadaist onstage occurrence that appealed to the Lennons and Zappa both.) And the band weren't taking a break at the end - they left because the show (the encore, actually) was over. Leaving the guitars leaning against the amps to feed back was another little art gesture which was probably pre-planned.

In all, Zappa may have been disappointed with the results, but he did invite them to jam just for the hell of it. I don't think there was any professional discourtesy on display. Just Zappa being Zappa!

One day, a tape-op got a tape on backwards, he went to play it, and it was all "Neeeradno-undowarrroom" and it was "Wow! Sounds Indian!" -- Paul McCartney
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