Frank Zappa’s final U.S. concert — a March 25th, 1988 gig at New York’s Nassau Coliseum — is the next archival release from the Zappa Trust and UMe.
Zappa ’88: The Last U.S. Show, due out June 18th, marks the first-ever posthumous release of a live album from the guitar legend’s 1988 touring band and boasts 29 unreleased recordings from the concert, plus a pair of tracks culled from the same tour: Covers of the Allman Brothers Band’s “Whipping Post” from the March 16th show in Providence, Rhode Island, and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” from the March 23rd Towson, Maryland, show.
In addition to a setlist that culls from all corners of the Zappa discography, the live album also sees the first-ever release of Zappa’s “The Beatles Medley,” which includes “Norwegian Wood,” “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” and “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and is embedded with lyrics inspired by a sex scandal involving televangelist Jimmy Swaggart.
The concert took place months before the 1988 presidential election, with Zappa setting up voter registration drives at his concerts. The Synclavier piece “One Man, One Vote” that Zappa performed at the show also nodded toward the voter registration efforts, as did the performance’s final song, a rendition of “America the Beautiful.”
Ahead of the release of Zappa ’88: The Last U.S. Show, UMe and Zappa Records shared the concert’s rendition of “I Ain’t Got No Heart,” a Freak Out track that the 1988 touring unit updated to include a five-piece horn section:
Following the U.S. tour, Zappa and his band played a series of European concerts, but the touring lineup disbanded before a planned second leg of the American trek.
“Sadly after the European run was over,” Zappa archivist Joe Travers writes in the live LP’s liner notes, “Frank Zappa chose to disband the group and cancel the rest of the tour, reportedly forfeiting $400,000 in revenue and depriving additional audiences the opportunity to witness how special this group really was. With all of the time and money spent to prepare and promote the tour, not to mention the potential within the talented band and crew, now in 2021, it’s an even more historic loss considering FZ was to never tour again.”
Zappa ’88: The Last U.S. Show will be released digitally, on two CDs, or as a four-LP 180-gram vinyl box — available on both black vinyl or as a limited-edition 180-gram purple vinyl variant, exclusively through the official Frank Zappa online store or uDiscover — and is up for preorder now. The album — newly mixed from long-vaulted 48-track digital master tapes — features liner notes penned by Travers and 1988 touring drummer Chad Wackerman, who celebrated his 28th birthday onstage with the band during what ultimately became Zappa’s final U.S. concert.
Zappa ’88: The Last U.S. Show Track List
1. “We Are Doing Voter Registration Here”
2. The Black Page (New Age Version)
3. I Ain’t Got No Heart
4. Love of My Life
5. Inca Roads
7. Who Needs the Peace Corps?
8. I Left My Heart in San Francisco
9. Dickie’s Such an Asshole
10. When the Lie’s So Big
11. Jesus Thinks You’re a Jerk
12. Sofa #1
13. One Man, One Vote
14. Happy Birthday, Chad!
15. Packard Goose Pt. 1
16. Royal March From “L’Histoire Du Soldat”
17. Theme From the Bartok Piano Concerto #3
18. Packard Goose Pt. II
19. The Torture Never Stops Pt. I
20. Theme From “Bonanza”
1. Lonesome Cowboy Burt
2. The Torture Never Stops Pt. II
3. City of Tiny Lites
4. Pound for a Brown
5. The Beatles Medley
6. Peaches En Regalia
7. Stairway to Heaven
8. I Am the Walrus
9. Whipping Post
11. America the Beautiful