Zappa’s ’73 Halloween Shows Released

From 1974 to 1984 Frank Zappa played a series of legendary costume-clad shows around Halloween each year in New York City to celebrate his favorite holiday. Sadly, most of those shows weren’t recorded due to exorbitant fees charged by the musicians union there – yet another example of labor unions outliving their usefulness and becoming impediments to productivity and posterity.

In ’73, however, Frank and his band at the time – including keyboardist George Duke, mallet master Ruth Underwood, drummers Chester Thompson and Ralph Humphrey and vocalist/flautist/saxophonist Napoleon Murphy Brock – played two shows on Halloween night in Chicago, where no such restrictions were in place. Thus, both shows were taped – and 46 years later they’re being released for the first time.

Out today, Halloween 73 is a four-CD set, three discs of which feature the full performances from each show, while the fourth is a bonus batch of rehearsals recorded just before the tour started. The accompanying 40-page booklet includes commentary from Underwood and Humphey along with a wealth of never-before-seen photos from the concerts. If that still doesn’t sell it for ya, the limited-edition box set also comes with a FrankenZappa Halloween mask (pictured) and gloves, so your lil’ spawn can really startle the wits outta your neighbors on his or her trick-or-treat trek this year.