The Mothers of Invention, released in 1970. It consists of both studio album and live elements. In contrast to Weasels Ripped My Flesh, which is predominately live and song-oriented, most of Burnt Weeny Sandwich focuses on studio recordings and tightly arranged compositions.
The LP included a large triple-folded black and white poster ("The
Mothers of Invention Sincerely Regret to Inform You") which has never
been reproduced in any of the CD reissues. Until the 2012 Zappa Family
Trust reissue campaign, CD editions had a severe dropout
at the beginning of "The Little House I Used to Live In" that wasn't
present on the original LP pressing. This is Official Release #9.
The album's unusual title, Zappa would later say in an interview,
comes from an actual snack that he enjoyed eating, consisting of a burnt
Hebrew National hot dog sandwiched between two pieces of bread with mustard.
Burnt Weeny Sandwich and Weasels Ripped My Flesh were also reissued together on vinyl as 2 Originals of the Mothers of Invention,
with the original covers used as the left and right sides of the inner
spread, and the front cover depicting a pistol shooting toothpaste onto a
The album was essentially a 'posthumous' Mothers release having been released after Frank Zappa dissolved the band.
Ian Underwood's contributions are significant on this album. The album, like its counterpart Weasels Ripped My Flesh, comprises tracks from the Mothers vault that were not previously released. Whereas Weasels mostly showcases the Mothers in a live setting, much of Burnt Weeny Sandwich
features studio work and structured Zappa compositions, like the
centerpiece of the album, "The Little House I Used to Live In", which
consists of several movements and employs compound meters such as 11/8
with overlaid melodies in 6/8 and 4/4.
The guitar solo portion of the "Theme from Burnt Weeny Sandwich" is an outtake from an unused extended version of "Lonely Little Girl" from the 1967 sessions for the We're Only in It for the Money
LP. Zappa and Art Tripp later added multiple percussion overdubs for
the released version (The source recordings for the percussion overdubs
were issued in 2012 on the posthumous Zappa release Finer Moments under the title "Enigmas 1-5").
"Valarie" was originally intended to be released as a single coupled with "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama". However, either Zappa or his label, Reprise Records, cancelled its release, resulting in its inclusion on the LP.
"Igor's Boogie" is a reference to a major Zappa influence, composer Igor Stravinsky.
Cal Schenkel has noted that his unique cover art for Burnt Weeny Sandwich was originally commissioned for the cover of an Eric Dolphy release.
The piano introduction of "The Little House I Used to Live in" appears in Yvar Mikhashoff's four CD set "Yvar Mikhashoff's Panorama of American Piano Music"
After guiding the Mothers of Invention to significant critical respect and even modest commercial success over the second half of the ‘60s, Frank Zappa welcomed 1970 as a newly minted solo artist. But you wouldn’t necessarily know it based on his recently disbanded group’s lingering presence all over Zappa’s first album of the new year, Burnt Weeny Sandwich, which arrived in stores in February 1970 and was credited to the defunct group.
Named after one of Zappa’s favorite snacks in times of hunger emergency, the burnt weeny sandwich essentially consisted of flash-roasting a hot dog over an open flame, sticking it between two slices of bread, and snarfing it down while expediently returning to work, which, in Zappa’s case, entailed filling endless pieces of paper with little black dots called notes.
‘Burnt Weeny Sandwich’ in many ways mirrored the recipe for the snack in that it somewhat hastily and haphazardly threw together songs of radically diverse style and origin, as was aptly represented by artist Cal Shenkel’s chaotic collage adorning the LP cover. As such, two doo-wop covers — the Four Deuces’ “WPLJ” and Jackie & the Starlites’ “Valarie” — book-ended the other musical contents like thin slices of white bread. They may have harked back to Zappa’s earliest musical influences, but they had pretty much zero in common with the musical condiments they surrounded.
These included a dazzling display of the Mothers’ ensemble virtuosity in “Theme From Burnt Weeny Sandwich” (complete with blazing lead guitar and found sound effects), a mutant sea shanty named “Aybe Sea” (named after its A-B-C chord progression) and a quartet of bite-sized avant-classical pieces in “Igor’s Boogie, Phases 1 & 2,” “Overture to a Holiday in Berlin” and “Holiday in Berlin, Full Blown.” Though consistently stimulating, and typical of Zappa’s fearless genre-hopping tendencies, many of these songs were essentially leftovers from previous recording sessions with the recently unemployed Mothers, and mostly an exercise in closet cleaning.
The biggest single ingredient packing this savory musical hoagie was a near-20-minute concert performance entitled “The Little House I Used to Live In.” Recorded at London’s Royal Albert Hall in June 1969, the song’s extended improvisations provided an epic send-off to the beloved Mothers, in all of their eclectic audaciousness under the leadership and in the service of Zappa’s singular vision. The recording even contains a snippet of heated repartee between Zappa and an audience member that spawned his famous critique of all the flower children present: “Everybody in this room is wearing a uniform.”
Everyone, that is, except for Zappa, who would almost finish clearing out his vaults of Mothers material later in the year with the release of Weasels Ripped My Flesh. In October, Zappa released Chunga’s Revenge, which introduced the first of many new Mothers lineups that would back him over the decade ahead.
Burnt Weeny Sandwich is the first of two albums by the Mothers of Invention that Frank Zappa released in 1970, after he had disbanded the original lineup. While Weasels Ripped My Flesh
focuses on complex material and improvised stage madness, this
collection of studio and live recordings summarizes the leader's various
interests and influences at the time. It opens and closes on '50s pop
covers, "WPLJ" and "Valarie." "Aybe Sea" is a Zappafied sea shanty, while "Igor's Boogie" is named after composer Igor Stravinsky, the closest thing to a hero Zappa
ever worshipped. But the best material is represented by "Holiday in
Berlin," a theme that would become central to the music of 200 Motels,
and "The Little House I Used to Live In," including a virtuoso piano
solo by Ian Underwood.
Presented as an extended set of theme and variations, the latter does
not reach the same heights as "King Kong." In many places, and with the
two aforementioned exceptions in mind, Burnt Weeny Sandwich sounds like a set of outtakes from Uncle Meat,
which already summarized to an extent the adventures of the early
Mothers. It lacks some direction, but those allergic to the group's
grunts and free-form playing will prefer it to the wacky Weasels Ripped My Flesh.
All songs written and composed by Frank Zappa except where noted.
No. Title Length
1. "WPLJ" (The Four Deuces) 3:02
2. "Igor's Boogie, Phase One" 0:40
3. "Overture to a Holiday in Berlin" 1:29
4. "Theme from Burnt Weeny Sandwich" 4:35
5. "Igor's Boogie, Phase Two" 0:35
6. "Holiday in Berlin, Full Blown" 6:27
7. "Aybe Sea" 2:45
8. "The Little House I Used to Live in" 18:42
9. "Valarie" (Jackie and the Starlites) 3:14
Frank Zappa – organ, guitar, vocals
Jimmy Carl Black – percussion, drums
Roy Estrada – bass, backing vocals, Pachuco rap on "WPLJ"
Janet Ferguson – backing vocals on "WPLJ"
Bunk Gardner – horn, wind
Buzz Gardner - trumpet
Billy Mundi – drums (uncredited, left group in December 1967, possibly played on "Theme from Burnt Weeny Sandwich")
Lowell George – guitar, vocals
Don "Sugarcane" Harris – violin on "The Little House I Used to Live In"
Don Preston – bass, piano, keyboards
Jim Sherwood – guitar, vocals, wind
Art Tripp – drums, percussion
Ian Underwood – guitar, piano, keyboards, wind
John Balkin – bass on "WPLJ", string bass on "Overture to a Holiday in Berlin"