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Frank Zappa’s Halloween 1981 Gigs Focus of New Box Set

Frank Zappa’s Halloween 1981 residency at New York’s Palladium will feature in the upcoming 6-CD box set Halloween 81, the latest entry in a series of collections dedicated to the guitar great’s legendary All Hallows Eve gigs.

Zappa Records and UMe — which previously released Halloween 77 in 2017 and Halloween 73 in 2019 — will showcase three full gigs from Zappa’s five-show, four-night stand at the Palladium: Both the early and midnight gigs from Halloween 1981, as well as the November 1st concert the following night. Halloween 81, available to preorder now, arrives October 2nd.

Portions of the Halloween gigs appeared on Zappa concert films like The Torture Never Stops and within his live series You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore, but Halloween 81 marks the first time the shows were released in their entirety, with over 70 previously unreleased live recordings, including first single “I’m the Slime” from the November 1st show:

Like the previous Halloween sets, the Halloween 81 is accompanied by a ready-to-wear Zappa-themed costume; in this case, it’s a Count Frankula mask along with a red and black cap. The box also comes packed with a 52-page booklet with rare photos from the residency and new liner notes by Zappa’s keyboardist for the residency Robert Martin, Vaultmeister Joe Travers and super fan Gary Titone, who penned a remembrance of the show.

“Halloween 1981 became one of Zappa’s most popular of all the Halloween residencies in New York City,” Travers writes in the set’s liner notes. “The image of Frank in his hot magenta jumpsuit has gone on to become an iconic one in the world of rock and roll.”

Taking place just a month after Zappa released his 1981 studio double-LP You Are What You Is, the Halloween gigs’ set lists are heavy on tracks from that album, with Zappa favorites from throughout his career mixed in. Zappa’s band at that time included veteran guitarists Ray White, percussionist Ed Mann and guitar virtuoso Steve Vai.

Martin writes in his liner notes, “All in all, the elements of sonic exploration and social commentary that run through all of Frank’s albums and tours are especially well represented in this release, perhaps amplified by the surreal aspect of Halloween and the openness of the crowd to participate even more fully in the ‘anything can happen’ experimental atmosphere that Frank lived in and personified.”

The 1981 Halloween residency marked Zappa’s final shows at the beloved New York Palladium, and his penultimate Halloween residency; the guitarist would stage one more slate of Halloween shows at New York’s Felt Forum in 1984.

A single-disc version featuring highlights from Halloween 81 will also be released; this 14-track collection will boast an exclusive version of “Strictly Genteel” culled from the November 1st show.

Halloween 81 follows the release of the Mothers 1970 set celebrating that band’s short-lived lineup.

Halloween 81 Track List

DISC 1 10/31/81 – 8pm Show 1
1. Chunga’s Revenge
2. “The Finest Night Of The Year”
3. You Are What You Is – Take 1
4. You Are What You Is – Take 2
5. Mudd Club
6. The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing
7. Dumb All Over
8. Heavenly Bank Account
9. Suicide Chump
10. Jumbo Go Away
11. Envelopes
12. Drowning Witch
13. What’s New In Baltimore?
14. Moggio
15. We’re Turning Again
16. Alien Orifice

DISC 2 10/31/81 – 8pm Show 1 – cont’d
1. Teen-age Prostitute
2. Flakes
3. Broken Hearts Are For Assholes
4. The Blue Light
5. Tinsel Town Rebellion
6. Yo Mama
7. Bobby Brown Goes Down
8. City Of Tiny Lites
9. “We’re Not Gonna Stand For It!”
10. Strictly Genteel
11. Dancin’ Fool
12. Whipping Post

DISC 3 10/31/81 – 12am Show 2
Black Napkins
2. “A Historical Event”
3. Montana
4. Easy Meat
5. Society Pages
6. I’m A Beautiful Guy
7. Beauty Knows No Pain
8. Charlie’s Enormous Mouth
9. Fine Girl
10. Teen-age Wind
11. Harder Than Your Husband
12. Bamboozled By Love
13. Sinister Footwear II
14. Stevie’s Spanking
15. Commercial Break

DISC 4 10/31/81 – 12am Show 2 – cont’d
1. Cocaine Decisions
2. Nig Biz
3. Doreen
4. Goblin Girl
5. The Black Page #2
6. Tryin’ To Grow A Chin
7. Strictly Genteel
8. The Torture Never Stops
9. “The Real Show Keeps Going”
10. Joe’s Garage
11. Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?
12. The Illinois Enema Bandit
13. “The Halloween Tradition”
14. King Kong
15. Auld Lang Syne

DISC 5 11/01/81
1. Zoot Allures
2. “The Last Of Our Halloween Shows”
3. I’m The Slime
4. Pound For A Brown
5. Dave & Al
6. Cosmik Debris
7. Montana
8. Easy Meat
9. Dumb All Over
10. Heavenly Bank Account
11. Suicide Chump
12. Jumbo Go Away
13. Envelopes
14. Drowning Witch

DISC 6 11/01/81 – cont’d
1. What’s New In Baltimore?
2. Moggio
3. We’re Turning Again
4. Alien Orifice
5. Teen-age Prostitute
6. Sinister Footwear II
7. Stevie’s Spanking
8. Cocaine Decisions
9. Nig Biz
10. Goblin Girl
11. The Black Page #2
12. Whipping Post
13. Broken Hearts Are For Assholes
14. The Torture Never Stops

Halloween 81 Highlights Track List
1. Chunga’s Revenge (Live at the Palladium – 10/31/81 – Show 1)
2. “The Finest Night Of The Year” (Live at the Palladium – 10/31/81 – Show 1)
3. I’m The Slime (Live at the Palladium – 11/1/81)
4. Montana (Live at the Palladium – 10/31/81 – Show 2)
5. Easy Meat (Live at the Palladium – 11/1/81)
6. Joe’s Garage (Live at the Palladium – 10/31/81 – Show 2)
7. Why Does It Hurt When I Pee? (Live at the Palladium – 10/31/81 – Show 2)
8. Sinister Footwear II (Live at the Palladium – 10/31/81 – Show 2)
9. Stevie’s Spanking (Live at the Palladium – 11/1/81)
10. Goblin Girl (Live at the Palladium – 11/1/81)
11. The Black Page #2 (Live at the Palladium – 11/1/81)
12. Strictly Genteel (Live at the Palladium – 11/1/81) – Exclusive Bonus Track
13. Whipping Post (Live at the Palladium – 11/1/81)
14. The Torture Never Stops (Live at the Palladium – 10/31/81 – Show 2)

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