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Music / Zappa in New York

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Zappa in New York is a 1978 Live Album by Frank Zappa. It is well beloved for the fan favorites "Titties & Beer", "Punky's Whips", "The Black Page" and "The Legend of the Illinois Enema Bandit". The stage show was accompanied by the Saturday Night Live band, including Lou Marini, Tom Malone, The Brecker Brothers and announcer Don Pardo.

The album was also part of significant Executive Meddling. It was released in early 1977, but quickly withdrawn on behalf of Warner Brothers' record label. They objected to the song "Punky's Whips", because it poked fun at Punky Meadows from the rock band Angel and removed it from the tracklist, along with editing "Titties & Beer", to remove a shout-out to this song. With not enough material to fill up side 1 of the double album "Big Leg Emma" was removed from side 2 to the end of side 1. So 1977 became the only year where no official Zappa albums were released, as "Zappa In New York" was eventually released in its edited version in 1978. All these decisions were made without Zappa's permission and he sued for contract violation, resulting in a long trial against his label and his former manager, Herb Cohen. This lead to a problematic situation where Zappa's production was put on hold. The only way he could make money during this period was by touring, so he continued doing this. Meanwhile new Zappa albums were released: Studio Tan (1978), Sleep Dirt (1978) and Orchestral Favorites (1979), but again without Zappa's permission and without the profits going to his own pocket. Eventually Warner Bros. lost and Zappa became owner of his entire catalogue.

The CD release restored the album according to Zappa's original intentions, with all the songs unedited and additional live bonus tracks: "Cruisin' For Burgers", "I'm The Slime", "Pound For A Brown On The Bus" and "The Torture Never Stops". The tracklist for that version is listed here.


Disc One

  1. "Titties & Beer" (7:36)
  2. "Cruisin' For Burgers" (9:12)*
  3. "I Promise Not to Come in Your Mouth" (3:32)
  4. "Punky's Whips" (10:51)
  5. "Honey Don't You Want a Man Like Me?" (4:12)
  6. "The Illinois Enema Bandit" (12:41)

Disc Two

  1. "I'm the Slime" (4:24)*
  2. "Pound for a Brown" (3:41)*
  3. "Manx Needs Women" (1:51)
  4. "The Black Page Drum Solo/Black Page #1" (3:50)
  5. "Big Leg Emma" (2:17)
  6. "Sofa" (2:56)
  7. "The Black Page #2" (5:36)
  8. "The Torture Never Stops" (12:35)*
  9. "The Purple Lagoon/Approximate" (16:40)

*Bonus track on CD releases.


  • Frank Zappa: conductor, vocals, lead guitar
  • Ray White: vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Eddie Jobson: vocals, violin, keyboards
  • Patrick O'Hearn: vocals, bass guitar
  • Terry Bozzio: vocals, drums
  • Ruth Underwood: percussion, synthesizer
  • David Samuels: timpani, vibes
  • Randy Brecker: trumpet
  • Mike Brecker: tenor sax, flute
  • Lou Marini: alto sax, flute
  • Ronnie Cuber: baritone sax, clarinet
  • Tom Malone: trombone, trumpet, piccolo
  • John Bergamo: percussion overdubs
  • Ed Mann: percussion overdubs
  • Lou Anne Neill: osmotic harp overdub
  • Don Pardo: narration

Tropies & Beer:

  • Admiring the Poster: "Punky's Whips" is about a fictionalized version of Zappa's drummer, Terry Bozzio, who falls in love with a publicity photo of Punky Meadows, the guitarist for the Glam Rock band Angel. The song consists mostly of Bozzio staring at the photo and lusting after Meadows in an over-the-top fashion while vehemently denying that he's gay.
  • Alliterative Name: "Titties & Beer" talks of a "Mountain of Mystery".
  • Anti-Love Song: "Honey Don't You Want A Man Like Me?", where a couple meets each other, but the man gets angry when she doesn't want to be kissed by him. As a result he calls her bad names, but when he wants to leave his car battery is dead. He then rings on her door again to use her phone and at that point she gives him oral gratification, at which point the song abruptly ends.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Occurs with Terry Bozzio in "Punky's Whips", in reference to androgynous male singer and guitarist Punky Meadows, a member of the Glam Rock band Angel.
  • Audience Participation:
    • During "The Illinois Enema Bandit" Zappa mentions that the criminal is brought to court and addresses someone in the audience:
    Then they'll put out a call-yooou! for the jury folks
    (That's you over there)
    • Near the end of "The Torture Never Stops" he also sings: "Look at him" and then points out to someone in the crowd: "Yeah, you!"
    • During later live performances of "Titties & Beer" the Devil would brag he had the soul of Ayatollah Khomeini instead of Nixon and Agnew (incidentally, Khomeini died just a year before Zappa was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, while Nixon conversely outlived Zappa by roughly a year). During a live performance captured on film in Baby Snakes Zappa said he was unafraid of anything in Hell— because he was signed to Warner (Bros.) Records for eight fuckin' years..
      • Similarly Zappa would have the protagonist in "Honey, Don't You Want A Man Like Me?" insult the woman by calling her a "Republican".
    • The "favorite group" of the girl in "Honey Don't You Want A Man Like Me?" is Helen Reddy. During 1980s live performances Zappa would change this into Twisted Sister or Echo & the Bunnymen.
  • Badass Biker: Parodied with the protagonist from "Titties & Beer"; he's a motorcyclist who rides through a spooky forest at night with a busty babe and a six-pack of beer, only to come face-to-face with Satan himself, who devours the lady and the beer. The biker is completely unperturbed by this, and responds immediately by whipping out a gun and opening fire — and when the Devil proves to be Immune to Bullets, the biker instead defeats his foe by annoying him into giving up.
    I'm mean and I'm bad; you know I ain't no sissy!
  • Bawdy Song: "Titties & Beer", "The Illinois Enema Bandit", "Honey Don't You Want A Man Like Me?" and even the instrumental track "I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth" are all about sexual topics.
  • Being Watched: "The Illinois Enema Bandit''
    Then they'll drag in the bandit for all to see
    (...)And then the bandit might say: "Why is everybody lookin' at me?"
  • Big Beautiful Woman: "Big Leg Emma"
    She was my steady date, until she put on weight
  • Big Red Devil: The Devil as described in "Titties & Beer" certainly sounds devilish by his description.
    He had a red suit on, and a widow's peak
    He had a pointed tail, and like sulfur reeked
  • Black Comedy Rape: "The Illinois Enema Bandit" runs on this trope, mainly focusing on the absurdly obtuse method by which Michael Kenyon assaulted his victims (if you don't know what it was, it's spelled out right there in th etitle).
  • Body Horror: Frank Zappa defeats the Devil by invoking the power of Titties and Beer... and burrowing right into his body (or does he? Some might argue that that interpretation of the lyrics doesn't stand up).
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: During "Titties & Beer" the believability of the sketch is briefly interrupted when Zappa receives a note with the question he could call somebody from the audience. He fulfills the request and continues without the background musicians ever skipping a beat. But Zappa then takes the opportunity to crack up his drummer (who plays the Devil in the sketch and wears a mask).
    Zappa: Wait, is that a note for me? Is somebody passing me a note? What does this say ... ? "Frank, please do me a favour, I can't find a brother of mine, I could dig it if you could call him from stage. His name is Dirty Tom Nomads M.C.," signed "Thanks, Bear" or "Bean," I can't tell ... Well, if he's out there ... Dirty Tony De La Nomads M.C. get in touch with Bean or Bear ... ) And as I was sayin'(...)
  • Call-Back and Continuity Nod:
    • Some tracks appeared on earlier albums, but in a studio version: "Cruisin' For Burgers", "Pound For A Brown" (Uncle Meat), "I'm The Slime" (Over-Nite Sensation), "Sofa" (One Size Fits All) and "The Torture Never Stops" (Zoot Allures). "Big Leg Emma" was originally a single the Mothers released in 1967 and didn't appear on an album until the CD re-release of Absolutely Free.
    • Most of the live material on this album was originally intended for a triple double album project called "Läther". Due to the objections of Warners this idea was put on hold and Zappa could only release Läther in 1996, three years after his death. Interestingly enough, the track "I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth" was renamed "Läther" on that album.
    • "Titties & Beer": The Devil flosses his fangs after havin' eaten Chrissy, bringing up the dental floss imagery from "Dental Hygiene Dilemma" from 200 Motels (1971) and "Montana" (Over-Nite Sensation (1973)). The biker drives a motorcycle, another conceptual continuity item.
    • "Punky's Whips" has Terry Bozzio singing: "I promise not to come in your mouth", which is also an instrumental track on the album. In "Titties & Beer" Zappa tells the Devil (played by Bozzio): "I happen to know that you jerk off to a picture of Punky Meadows when you get home. Ever since I told you he's more fluid than Jeff Beck you've been trying to outdo him."
    • "The Illinois Enema Bandit" mentions a hose ("he's got a rubberized bag and a hose on his arm"), which is part of Zappa's conceptual continuity. provides a shout-out to Potato-Headed Bobby from "San Ber'dino" from One Size Fits All and "It Can't Happen Here" from Freak Out (1966).
    • "Honey Don't You Want A Man Like Me?". The man in the song has an Irish setter, revisiting dog imagery in Zappa's conceptual continuity. The Irish setter makes "hratche pltche" sounds, which were mimicked earlier during "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" (Absolutely Free) and "Florentine Pogen" (One Size Fits All). The girl weeps on the sofa, bringing "Sofa" from One Size Fits All into mind. A frenzy is also mentioned, something Zappa alluded to earlier during "Dirty Love" (Over-Nite Sensation), "Father O'Blivion" (Apostrophe (')) and would do again on "Water Melon In Easter Hay" (Joe's Garage) and "Smell My Beard" (You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Volume 4). On Läther the song is a bit longer due to a scene where a heckler can be heard halfway the song shouting "Fuck you, Zappa", to which Zappa quickly retorts:
    Fuck you too, buddy! You know what I mean? Fuck you very much!
    • "Manx Needs Women", is a pun on the 1967 SF film "Mars Needs Women", tying in with Zappa's love for B-movie imagery in his work.
  • Chirping Crickets: "Titties 'n' Beer"
    I noticed even the crickets were actin' weird up here
  • Country Matters: "Honey, Don't You Want A Man Like Me?"
    He called her a slut (slut, slut, slut), a pig (pig, pig, pig) and a whore (whore, whore, whore) / a bitch (bitch, bitch, bitch) and a cunt (cunt, cunt, cunt) and he slammed the door...
  • Deal with the Devil: In "Titties & Beer" the Devil tries to make a deal with Zappa: he will give Zappa back his girlfriend in exchange for Zappa's soul. When Zappa immediately agrees, the Devil lampshades this trope by claiming that Zappa "ain't that bad" and points to the souls of Nixon and Agnew to show that he had far worse people in his collection. Then Zappa subverts the trope by offering to make a deal with the devil, to which the devil replies: "Wait, you ain't supposed to wanna make a deal with me."
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The black-and-white picture on the album cover.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: "Honey, Don't You Want A Man Like Me?"
    He was the Playboy type, he smoked a pipe
  • Double Entendre: "Titties & Beer"
    Zappa: You ate my Chrissy?
    Devil: Titties and all!
    Zappa: Well, what about the beer then, boy?
    Devi: Uh... were the cans this tall?
  • Epic Rocking: The 7:36 "Titties & Beer", the 9:12 "Cruisin' For Burgers", the 10:51 "Punky's Whips", the 12:41 "The Illinois Enema Bandit", the 12:35 "The Torture Never Stops" and the 16:40 "The Purple Lagoon/Approximate".
  • Fetish: Michael Kenyon, the titular character (and real-world criminal) of "The Illinois Enema Bandit", who loves giving women an enema.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The Devil ate the biker's girlfriend in "Titties & Beer".
  • Immune to Bullets: Zappa tries to shoot the Devil, but in vain.
    ''So I shot him with my shooter, said: "Bang Bang Bang!"
    Then the sucker just laughed 'n' said: "Oh put it away, you know, I ate her all up... now what you gonna say?"
  • Instrumental: "Cruisin' For Burgers", "I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth", "Pound For A Brown On The Bus", "Manx Needs Women", "The Black Page", "Sofa" and "The Purple Lagoon/Approximate".
  • Lampshading: "Honey Don't You Want A Man Like Me?"
    And that's the end of the story!
  • Live Album: All the tracks are live, with overdubs.
  • Mars Needs Women: "Manx Needs Women", see Pun-Based Title for more explanation.
  • Mickey Mousing:
    • When Zappa mentions the band name Angel in "Punky's Whips" some angelic music starts playing.
    • "Honey Don't You Want A Man Like Me?" has musical sounds and sound effects illustrate various scenes in the story.
  • Miniscule Rocking: The 1:39 "Manx Needs Women".
  • Monster Fan Girl: Some women in court want the Illinois Enema Bandit to be freed.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Some of the epic jams are about veritable Toilet Humour topics, such as a biker who is only interested in "titties and beer", a criminal who gives his victims enemas, a man who insults a women but does get oral gratification afterwards and a drummer with a homo-erotic fascination for a publicity photo of a metal singer.
  • Non-Appearing Title: The title does not appear in any of the lyrics, though Zappa does say: "Live here in New York on stage" after performing "The Illinois Enema Bandit".
  • No Sympathy: "The Illinois Enema Bandit"
    Don't nobody, no no, have no sympathy
  • Obsession Song: "Punky's Whips", about drummer Terry Bozzio's obsession with a publicity photo of Punky Meadows.
  • One-Man Song: "Punky's Whips", "The Illinois Enema Bandit"
  • One-Woman Song: "Big Leg Emma".
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: "Titties & Beer"
    There was a werewolf honkin' 'long the side of me.
  • Pun-Based Title: "Manx Needs Women" is a pun on the 1967 sciencefiction movie Mars Needs Women, where Martians abduct women from Earth because they don't have females on their planet. Manx are the inhabitants of the British Isle Of Man, making the pun a case of Fridge Brilliance.
  • Questioning Title?: "Honey, Don't You Want A Man Like Me?"
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Terry Bozzio was indeed fascinated by a publicity photo of Punky Meadows, pouting his lips. Michael Kenyon, the criminal who gave his victims enemas, was arrested in 1975 around Chicago. Zappa and his band first heard of him on their car radio and were immediately amazed that such a bandit would exist. Kenyon's notoriety was enough to have a 1976 erotic thriller called "Water Power" to be based on his life. The Cinema Snob reviewed it in 2014 and even used a snippet from Zappa's song during the opening credits. Though it must be said that the courtroom scenes in "Illinois Enema Bandit" didn't happen in real life (as Zappa points out in the album's liner notes).
  • Refuge in Audacity: Naming an instrumental track "I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth", anyone?
  • Rewritten Pop Version: The album features two versions of "The Black Page", the second being the "disco easy teenage New York version".
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: In "Honey Don't You Want A Man Like Me?" various things are imitated by the band, including an irish setter and a hockey match. During "Titties 'N' Beer" Zappa also says: "Bang Bang Bang!" to imitate the sound of a gun.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Titties & Beer" has Zappa making a deal with the Devil. This is loosly inspired by Igor Stravinsky's "L' Histoire du Soldat" ("The Soldier's Tale"), which was Zappa's favorite piece by this composer. The Devil even mentions Stravinsky as one of the things Zappa would be "interested in". The Devil also brags he has the souls of Richard Nixon and Agnew note .
    • Both "Titties & Beer" and "Punky's Whips" reference guitarist Jeff Beck:
    I heard a rumor he's more fluid than Jeff Beck.
    • "Punky's Whips" provides a shout-out to Punky Meadows, lead singer of the band Angel. When Bozzio says: "Isn't it Romantic?" the melody of this 1920s song of the same name starts playing.
    • "Manx Needs Women" is a Pun-Based Title on the science fiction movie Mars Needs Women.
    • The "favorite group" of the girl in "Honey Don't You Want A Man Like Me?" is Helen Reddy. During 1980s performances Zappa would change this into Twisted Sister or Echo & the Bunnymen.
    • On the album "Price iz hibernacije" (2011) by the Serbian rock band Mononukleozni Rodjaci the song "Slepi Tuljan" samples the intro of "The Legend Of The Illinois Enema Bandit"
  • Singer Name Drop: The album title namedrops Zappa. Also, near the end of "The Illinois Enema Bandit" Zappa provides a shout-out to former band member Roy Estrada, who was convicted of sexual assault of an underage child around 1977, probably explaining why he is mentioned in context of an enema giving bandit. Estrada was arrested for the same charges in 1994 and 2012 and now serves time in jail, not eligible for parole.
    Wait a minute. This is for Roy Estrada, wherever he is. Wanna, wanna enema, e-nemààààà, wanna, wanna enema, e-nemàààà
  • Step Up to the Microphone: The part of the Devil in "Titties & Beer" is played by drummer— and future Missing Persons founder— Terry Bozzio, who speaks his lines in a kind of whacked out Peter Lorre accent.
  • There Should Be a Law: According to Don Pardo in "The Illinois Enema Bandit", there wasn't a law against forcibly giving women enemas, implying that Michael Kenyon was never charged for doing that.
  • Transparent Closet: "Punky's Whips" depicts a fictionalized Terry Bozzio as aggressively denying being gay while simultaneously detailing his over-the-top sexual fantasies about Punky Meadows, another male musician.