Originally scheduled for four shows from October 28-31, Zappa added two more shows due to intense popular demand, with the final total tallying six shows in four days. The full residency is presented as it happened with no overdubs or additional tinkering. The audio was remixed from scratch using fresh transfers from the master multi-track tapes, which all had to be heat treated for transfer by Travers.
The 1977 lineup of the band featured Terry Bozzio on drums, Tommy Mars and Peter Wolf on keyboards, Adrian Belewon guitar and vocals, Ed Mann on percussion and Patrick O'Hearn on bass; this band could really burn. Over the six shows, the ensemble averaged 25 songs per night with exciting improvisations and audience participation from "New York's Finest Crazy Persons" at every show, making each uniquely different. At these shows Zappa really got into the spirit with Halloween antics including bringing tech Thomas Nordegg on stage to perform some magic tricks and the band's tour manager, the "Road Mangler," Phil Kaufman, performing as the human trombone. Original Mothers' bassist Roy Estrada also joined the festivities.
The songs performed at this musical marathon spanned Zappa's then 11-year career with tracks from Hot Rats, Over-Nite Sensation, Bongo Fury, One Size Fits All, and his most recent album at the time, Zoot Allures. Many of the songs played were previously unreleased and would go on to be recorded for Zappa's acclaimed 1979 album, Sheik Yerbouti,including "Flakes," "Broken Hearts Are For Assholes," "Jones Crusher," "Bobby Brown Goes Down," "City Of Tiny Lites," "Tryin' To Grow A Chin," and "Wild Love." The October 30th show notably featured the world premiere of the Grammy-nominated Disco satire "Dancin' Fool," and the one and only performance of Zappa's infamous "Jewish Princess." The basic tracks from this performance were used on Sheik Yerbouti's controversial studio version which ultimately attracted attention from the Anti-Defamation League who asked the FCC to ban the record from being played on the air.
Halloween 77 is not only rife with fan favorites but also includes many rare and unreleased performances and arrangements. This box set includes the first official release of the instrumental version of "Conehead." These five versions are vastly different than the song that would be included on Zappa's 1981 record, You Are What You Is. The rarely played "Läther" was performed at all six shows and immediately followed by the equally rare, "Wild Love," which became a solo workout each night. This one-two punch was followed by the comedic song "Titties 'N Beer," ultimately released on Zappa In New York, made especially memorable each time for the caustic improv dialog Zappa spewed about a then ongoing legal battle with Warner Bros. Other highlights include six extended guitar workouts of "The Torture Never Stops" and the combustible Halloween night finale of "Black Napkins.