The live recording was part of the encore of a Mothers show that took place at the Fillmore East in New York. ‘Jamrag’ was the second of the four-song encore featuring Lennon and Ono, and followed a cover of The Olympics’ 1958 song ‘Well (Baby Please Don’t Go)’; the other songs played were ‘Scumbag’ and ‘Aü’.
‘Jamrag’ was actually an uncredited Zappa song, ‘King Kong’, from his 1969 album Uncle Meat. The live version featured a prominent keyboard solo by Don Preston, as well as wailing vocals from Ono.
The concert was recorded as Zappa was making the Live At The Fillmore album, the artwork for which Lennon adapted for the inner sleeve of Some Time In New York City.
I thought he [Lennon] had a pretty good sense of humour, so I invited him to come down and jam with us at the Fillmore East. We had already book 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 out.
For reasons unknown, the song’s title was listed as ‘Jamrag’ when Some Time In New York City was released, and credited to Lennon-Ono, despite it being a Zappa composition.
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 ‘Jamrag’, 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 – it’s got a melody, it’s got a bassline, it’s obviously an organised song.
The Fillmore East encore was also released by Zappa on a 1992 compilation, Playground Psychotics, with a new mix. Curiously, ‘Jamrag’ was split into two songs, titled ‘Say Please’ and ‘Aaawk’, with no mention of ‘King Kong’.