Hear Frank Zappa's Rare 'Sharleena' Mix, by Roy Thomas Baker - Rolling Stone
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Hear Rare Mix of Frank Zappa’s ‘Sharleena,’ by Roy Thomas Baker

Track will appear on upcoming The Mothers 1970 box set

A few years before Roy Thomas Baker gained fame as the producer for some of the greatest albums by Queen and the Cars, he was one of several engineers to work with the ever-prolific Frank Zappa.

A new four-disc box set, The Mothers 1970, spotlights some of the work Baker did with Zappa, including a rare early mix of “Sharleena,” the track that closed out Zappa’s Chunga’s Revenge LP.

Interestingly, it’s cleaner sounding and doesn’t have as much of the mushy background guitar that creeps up in the Chunga version, or the heavy organ toward the end. Baker also didn’t play up the doo-wop harmonies as much as the better-known rendition did.

The collection, which comes out June 26th but is now available for preorder, contains 70 previously unreleased recordings and live renditions of songs from 1970. The Mothers lineup at the time featured Zappa, drummer Aynsley Dunbar, keyboardist and trombonist George Duke, organist and keyboardist Ian Underwood, bassist Jeff Simmons, and Flo and Eddie (the Turtles’ Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan). The membership remained the same for a year, when Simmons left during the making of the movie 200 Motels.

“It’s no secret that Frank was excited about this group,” Zappa family “Vaultmeister” Joe Travers said in a statement. “The cast of characters and their personalities, musically and personally, made for a very eventful and humorous chapter in Zappa’s career. Frank had a blast with these guys. Their sound was unique, their humor was like no other, and yet their time was ultimately short-lived.”

The group held a recording session in London on June 21st and 22nd, and that’s when Baker sat behind the mixing desk, serving as engineer while Zappa produced. The alternate interpretation of “Sharleena” came early in the mix-down process, and the finished version of “Sharleena” was the only recording from the session that came out.

The remainder of the London sessions compose the box set’s first disc, while the rest of the discs contain live recordings. The set lists feature a lot of material from early Mothers of Invention albums Freak Out!, Absolutely Free, and We’re Only in It for the Money, among others.

The Mothers 1970 track list

Disc One: Trident Studios, London, England, June 21-22, 1970
1. “Red Tubular Lighter”
2. “Lola Steponsky”
3. “Trident Chatter”
4. “Sharleena” (Roy Thomas Baker Mix)
5. “Item 1”
6. “Wonderful Wino” (FZ Vocal)
7. “Enormous Cadenza”
8. “Envelopes”
9. “Red Tubular Lighter” (Unedited Master)
10. “Wonderful Wino “(Basic Tracks, Alt. Take)
11. “Giraffe” (Take 4)
12. “Wonderful Wino” (FZ Vocal, Alt. Solo)

Disc Two: Live Highlights Part 1 – “Piknik” VPRO June 18, 1970/Pepperland September 26, 1970
1. “Introducing … the Mothers” (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
2. “Wonderful Wino” (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
3. “Concentration Moon” (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
4. “Mom & Dad” (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
5. “The Air” (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
6. “Dog Breath” (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
7. “Mother People” (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
8. “You Didn’t Try to Call Me” (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
9. “Agon” (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
10. “Call Any Vegetable” (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
11. “King Kong Pt. I” (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
12. “Igor’s Boogie” (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
13. “King Kong Pt. II” (Live on “Piknik” June 18, 1970)
14. “What Kind of Girl Do You Think We Are?” (Live at Pepperland September 26, 1970)
15. “Bwana Dik” (Live at Pepperland September 26, 1970)
16. “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy” (Live at Pepperland September 26, 1970)
17. “Do You Like My New Car?” (Live at Pepperland September 26, 1970)
18. “Happy Together” (Live at Pepperland September 26, 1970)

Disc Three: Live Highlights Part 2 — Hybrid Concert: Santa Monica August 21, 1970/Spokane September 17, 1970
1. “Welcome to El Monte Legion Stadium!” (Live)
2. “Agon” (Live)
3. “Call Any Vegetable” (Live)
4. “Pound for a Brown” (Live)
5. “Sleeping in a Jar” (Live)
6. “Sharleena” (Live)
7. “The Air” (Live)
8. “Dog Breath” (Live)
9. “Mother People” (Live)
10. “You Didn’t Try to Call Me” (Live)
11. “King Kong Pt. I” (Live)
12. “Igor’s Boogie” (Live)
13. “King Kong Pt. II” (Live)
14. “Eat It Yourself …” (Live)
15. “Trouble Every Day” (Live)
16. “A Series of Musical Episodes” (Live)
17. “Road Ladies” (Live)
18. “The Holiday Inn Motel Chain” (Live)
19. “What Will This Morning Bring Me This Evening?” (Live)
20. “What Kind of Girl Do You Think We Are?” (Live)

Disc Four: Live Highlights Part 3 — FZ Tour Tape Recordings
1. “What’s the Deal, Dick?”
2. “Another M.O.I. Anti-Smut Loyalty Oath” (Live)
3. “Paladin Routine #1” (Live)
4. “Portuguese Fenders” (Live)
5. “The Sanzini Brothers” (Live)
6. “Guitar Build ’70” (Live)
7. “Would You Go All the Way?” (Live)
8. “Easy Meat” (Live)
9. “Who Did It?”
10. “Turn It Down!” (Live)
11. “A Chance Encounter in Cincinnati”
12. “Pound for a Brown” (Live)
13. “Sleeping in a Jar” (Live)
14. “Beloit Sword Trick” (Live)
15. “Kong Solos Pt. I” (Live)
16. “Igor’s Boogie” (Live)
17. “Kong Solos Pt. II” (Live)
18. “Gris Gris” (Live)
19. “Paladin Routine #2” (Live)
20. “King Kong — Outro” (Live)

 

In This Article: Frank Zappa, Roy Thomas Baker

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