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A Token of His Extreme

4.3 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

EAGLE ROCK ENTERTAINMENT and the Zappa Family Trust are pleased to announce the first official release of A TOKEN OF HIS EXTREME, an original program created by FRANK ZAPPA for TV.

Recorded on August 27, 1974 at KCET in Hollywood, A TOKEN OF HIS EXTREME features Frank Zappa with five incredibly talented band members for this extravaganza of live music.
The line-up exists of Frank Zappa guitar, percussion, vocals; George Duke keyboards, finger cymbals, tambourine, vocals; Napoleon Murphy Brock sax, vocals; Ruth Underwood percussion; Tom Fowler bass; Chester Thompson drums.

The Program, as edited and thoroughly tweezed & produced by FZ for Honker Home Video includes these delights: The Dog Breath Variations/ Uncle Meat, Montana, Earl Of Duke (George Duke), Florentine Pogen, Stink-Foot, Pygmy Twylyte, Room Service, Inca Roads, Oh No, Son Of Orange County, More Trouble Every Day, A Token Of My Extreme.

Stereo Mixes Produced by Frank Zappa with Kerry McNabb at Paramount Studios, 1974.
Mastered by Bob Ludwig, Gateway Mastering, 2009

FZ: This was put together with my own money and my own time and it's been offered to television networks and to syndication and it has been steadfastly rejected by the American television industry. It has been shown in primetime in France and Switzerland, with marvelous results. It's probably one of the finest pieces of video work that any human being has ever done. I did it myself. And the animation that you're gonna see in this was done by a guy named Bruce Bickford, and I hope he is watching the show, because it's probably the first time that a lot of people in America got a chance to see it.
- FZ appearing on the Mike Douglas Show, 1976

Because Token has never been commercially released until now, it is one of the most sought after Frank Zappa programs.


Track Listing:
1/2) The Dog Breath Variations/ Uncle Meat 3) Montana 4) Earl Of Duke (George Duke) 5) Florentine Pogen 6) Stink-Foot 7) Pygmy Twylyte 8) Room Service 9) Inca Roads 10/11) Oh No/ Son Of Orange County 12) More Trouble Every Day 13) A Token Of My Extreme

Product Details

  • Actors: Frank Zappa
  • Directors: Frank Zappa
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 4, 2013
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00CA4S2PO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,128 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
For those who are wondering if the evasive "A Token of His Existance" television special that Zappa produced in 1974 - and was never aired in the US - is really coming out on DVd, I can attest to the fact that it is! With bonuses to boot! As a music journalist I got my copy this week and it will be released tomorrow! Between Eagle Rock Entertainment - which has been releasing some great DVDs at reasonable prices - and the Zappa Family Estate (led by FZ's widow Gail) - this is a class production and a must for FZ fans.

The 73 minute "concert" program was transferred from the Original 2" Quad Video Master in 2009 and looks and sounds great. The 11 songs are performed by FZ and the Mothers with George Duke on keyboards (and finger cymbals) and Ruth Underwood (percussion) and Chester Thompson (drums) providing the beat with Tom Fowler on bass and Napoleon Murphy Brock on sax and vocals. Performed in front of a live audience, a few of the numbers feature wonderful stop-action animation by Bruce Bickford (a name new to me).

But there is more to the DVD. Bonuses like a "Discography" and "DVDography" are merely a collage of images of album and DVD covers but then there is 17-minute (!) video of FZ's appearance on the Mike Douglas Show in 1976 (two years after ATOHE was produced. Douglas, who was very supportive of rock stars (John and Yoko spent a week as co-hosts) on his afternoon show from Philadelphia - chats with FZ and gives him a solo performance spot (with FZ accompanied by Douglas' house band). Frank discusses the film and his music tastes along with other guests Jimmie (JJ) Walker (from TV's "Good Times) and Kenny Rogers). This is obviously a rare TV appearance for FZ.

The DVD comes with a six-page foldout that resembles a TV guide cover and listing.
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This DVD is essentially an extended version of my favorite segment in Dub Room Special: Room Service, Florentine Pogen, Napolean Murphy Brock riding his small tiny hoss during Montana... if you're reading this review, you know this stuff is gold. This is Zappa's greatest assemblage of musicians playing some highly experimental music. It's a must own for any Zappa fan.

But, that doesn't mean it's perfect. This DVD has several lengthy stretches of video editing that hinders an otherwise beautiful audio-visual Zappa document. Most frustrating is the strobe effects used in countless sections of the concert footage in which the camera rapidly switches between various members of the band. It occurs so fast, it's impossible to see exactly what ANYONE is doing. So rather than taking in the performance and visualizing what is being played, the viewer is left to make sense of the headache inducing slideshow. It's a relief when one of these segments end.

The decision to use these moments is perplexing. Clearly, there is plenty of footage of each band member. Why ruin large chunks of it by splicing it all together? If they really wanted to give the fans what they wanted, they would have allowed the ability to switch between cameras. It might have taken a much larger investment of time and money, but I would shell out triple what I paid on Amazon for a feature like that.

My biggest gripe is the inexplicable scarcity of solo footage, most notably of Zappa on his guitar. I can understand us not getting to see ALL the solo's throughout the performances, but when Zappa is playing a guitar solo, that's what I want on the screen! I want to watch the man on his instrument!

So, in conclusion... yes, you should buy this.
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7 Comments 35 of 38 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I personally consider Frank the greatest composer of 20th century and possibly the best guitar player of all time /Jimi's fans should not be offended!/. Excellent DVD, considering the age, audio and video are very good and to me it's a pure pleasure to see as much as possible of Frank's legacy. Buy it and you're in for a treat!
1 Comment 7 of 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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If you want to see vintage Zappa in concert than this is the video to see. Now if we can get the Roxy performances released!
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As described above, this was a Zappa-funded, Zappa produced project capturing Frank's 1974 Band, with Bruce Bickford's animation. A very edited 3-5 minute piece of this film was aired by Wolfman Jack on the Midnight Special in it's 74-75 season.
The line-up consists of Frank Zappa guitar, vocals; George Duke keyboards, vocals; Napoleon Murphy Brock sax, vocals; Ruth Underwood percussion; Tom Fowler bass; Chester Thompson drums.

Aired on European TV, inferior PAL transfers to NTSC have been bootlegged in the USA for years. This is a Zappa fan's FIRST opportunity to legitimately purchase a copy of this DVD from the Zappa Family Trust, and it will be a MUCH BETTER copy than could previously be purchased, AND at an amazingly affordable price. Thanks Gail, Dweezil, Ahmet, Moon, and everyone else at the ZFT!
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This mainly consists of 1974 footage of the fine "Roxy shows" band: George Duke, Napoleon Murphy Brock, Ruth Underwood, Tom Fowler, Chester Thompson and FZ (the same lineup as on You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 2). The performance took place at the KCET studios in front of a live audience. There are some keys and rapid intercutting techniques, that might have been added by Zappa in post-production (it was originally intended as an hour-long program to be aired on American TV, though in the event it was only European stations that dared air it). The live shots are often intercut with some Bruce Bickford clay animations that will be familiar if you've seen Baby Snakes, The Dub Room Special, or The Amazing Mr. Bickford (which has never been officially released on DVD though you can catch it on YouTube as I write this).

Also included is an interview and performance of Black Napkins on the Mike Douglas show from 1976 that includes an excerpt from the DVD. Also on the set are Kenny Rogers and comedian Jimmie Walker (popular at that time from the contemporaneous Good Times television series). Douglas asks what music Zappa likes to listen to "to relax", and Zappa responds that for light relaxation he listens to disco since it's utterly predictable, but for more deep relaxation he prefers Webern and the string quartets of Elliott Carter (presumably the first three, given the date).
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