Frank Zappa Electric Orchestra Period Documented On Upcoming ‘Waka/Wazoo’ Box Set
Preview the collection with an alternate take on The Maestro’s “Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus.”
By Nate Todd Oct 18, 2022 • 10:57 am PDT
The Frank Zappa vault is thrown open once again with the announcement of yet another archival release, Waka/Wazoo, due out on December 16 via Zappa Records/UMe. The five-disc, multi-format box set documenting Zappa’s Electric Orchestra era is previewed with an alternate take on the quick but complex favorite “Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus.”
In late 1971, FZ came to the Rainbow Theatre in London for a two-night stand, which he tragically could not finish. During a cover of The Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” a deranged fan pushed Frank off the stage resulting in horrific injuries.
“My head was over on my shoulder and my neck was bent like it was broken. I had a gash in my chin, a hole in the back of my head, a broken rib and a fractured leg. One arm was paralyzed,” Frank recalled in his 1989 autobiography, The Real Frank Zappa Book. The ill-fated concert was captured and is included in the 2022 box set, The Mothers 1971.
Although confined to a wheelchair and suffering intense pain while recuperating at his home in Los Angeles, The Maestro’s legendary work ethic could not be dampened. 1972 would become one of the most prolific years of a famously prolific career. The era saw Zappa realizing his vision to work with an Electric Orchestra, assembling a 20-piece ensemble for recording sessions and an eight-city tour.
Players across the collection include drummer Aynsley Dunbar, bassist Alex “Erroneous” Dmochowski, longtime Mothers keyboardists George Duke and Don Preston, guitarist Tony Duran, percussionists Alan Estes and Bob Zimmitti as well as a horn and woodwind section including Sal Marquez, Malcolm McNab, Kenny Shroyer, Earle Dumler and Tony “Bat Man” Ortega among others.
FZ would tour further with a trimmed-down 10-piece group which came to be known as the “Petit Wazoo.” The period produced two studio albums, Waka/Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo, as well as a trove of alternate takes and live recordings.
Produced by Ahmet Zappa and Zappa Vaultmeister Joe Travers, the Electic Orchestra era recordings are being presented in the Waka/Wazoo box set in celebration of the period’s 50th anniversary and arriving on December 16 just days ahead of what would have been Frank Zappa’s 82nd birthday. The set boasts unreleased alternate takes of nearly every composition captured during the album sessions, outtakes and oddities, along with the complete final show of the “Petite Wazoo” tour from San Francisco’s storied Winterland Ballroom on December 15, 1972. Additionally, the collection includes Frank’s unreleased production and guitar work on George Duke’s solo material and more.
Preview Waka/Wazoo with “Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus” (Alternate Take) below:
Head here for tracklist info and more.