“Freak Out!” by The Mothers Of Invention - album review

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TJR says

The counter-culture revolution is underway all around, evidenced here via Frank Zappa’s double-album debut of June ’66. The stormy Mothers of Invention, even if it wasn’t so clear at the time, would prove to be an ever-revolving cast of musicians, always with Zappa at the epicentre. On this occasion, the Californian rebels lined up: Frank Zappa (vocals, guitar), Ray Collins (lead vocals, tambourine), Elliot Ingber (guitar), Roy Estrada (bass, vocals) and Jimmy Black (drums). With informed eloquence, dangerous minds.net notes: “The Mother’s uncompromising sound was an unheard of combination of corny doo-wop (which Zappa both loved and parodied mercilessly), R&B, tape manipulations, musique concrète ala Zappa’s idol Edgard Varese, free jazz, shifting time signatures, classical music touches and trenchant satirical social observations. Zappa was nasty to both ‘straights’ and ‘hippies’ in equal measure, even his own audience had their noses tweaked by Frank Zappa, one of history’s ultimate non-conformists.”

The double album here is used deliberately to separate key aspects of the production. Whilst the first record is closest to conventional templates (in relative terms) the second delves deeper and deeper into the avant-garde, ending with suites rather than tracks. The all-important album opener, “Hungry Freaks Daddy”, serves as a party political broadcast for the new-wave of thinkers who would influence Gen X: “Mr. America, walk on by your schools that do not teach, Mr. America, walk on by the minds that won't be reached, Mr. America try to hide the emptiness that's you inside, But once you find that the way you lied, And all the corny tricks you tried, Will not forestall the rising tide of HUNGRY FREAKS DADDY!” The light ripping of “Can’t Get No Satisfaction” is surely no coincidence; just as the introduction of Kazoo was irksome genius. The agitators made quite a statement right there. Also on Side A, “Go Cry On Somebody Else’s Shoulder” is a doo-wop piss-take which is so good that it can only have been made with love for the genre; it’s hilarious and endears me further still to the crazy ones. Side B benefits most from “Any Way The Wind Blows” and “I’m Not Satisfied”; two fantastic blasts of cerebral pop for the new thinking generation, or, as Zappa puts it in the liner notes: “intellectually and emotionally accessible for you”. Wot? Slagging off his readership? No commercial potential.

Side C boasts the mighty “Trouble Every Day” which, as Zappa explains: “is how I feel about racial unrest in general and the Watts situation in particular. It was written during the Watts riot as it developed. I shopped it briefly all over Hollywood but no one would touch it… everybody worries so much about not getting any air play. My my.” The man himself takes the lead vocal for this one. Side D ends on a low with the 12 minute nothing-noodle of “The Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet (Unfinished Ballet In Two Tableaux)” which takes up the entirety of the side and, according to Zappa is: “what freaks sound like when you turn them loose in a recording studio at one o’clock in the morning on $500 worth of rented percussion equipment. A bright snappy number. Hotcha!” No commercial potential he says. Accurate. All in, “Freak Out!” is a great title for this imaginative and spirited debut release, blessed with a caustic wit and a bonkers musical brief. And praise-be for the left-behinds not afraid to speak their minds.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:32] 9.1.png The Mothers Of Invention - Hungry Freaks, Daddy (Frank Zappa) Proto-Punk
A2 [02:34] 7.0.png The Mothers Of Invention - I Ain’t Got No Heart (Frank Zappa) Proto-Punk
A3 [03:25] 6.5.png The Mothers Of Invention - Who Are The Brain Police? (Frank Zappa) Psychedelia
A4 [03:43] 7.7.png The Mothers Of Invention - Go Cry On Somebody Else’s Shoulder (Frank Zappa, Ray Collins) Rock n Roll Ballad
A5 [02:50] 6.0.png The Mothers Of Invention - Motherly Love (Frank Zappa) Blues Rock / Soul Rock
A6 [02:16] 7.3.png The Mothers Of Invention - How Could I Be Such A Fool? (Frank Zappa) Cerebral Pop
B1 [02:55] 6.2.png The Mothers Of Invention - Wowie Zowie (Frank Zappa) Pop
B2 [03:21] 6.6.png The Mothers Of Invention - You Didn’t Try To Call Me (Frank Zappa) Blues Rock / Soul Rock
B3 [02:55] 8.0.png The Mothers Of Invention - Any Way The Wind Blows (Frank Zappa) Blues Rock / Soul Rock
B4 [02:41] 8.0.png The Mothers Of Invention - I’m Not Satisfied (Frank Zappa) Cerebral Pop
B5 [03:41] 7.7.png The Mothers Of Invention - You’re Probably Wondering Why I’m Here (Frank Zappa) Psychedelia
C1 [05:53] 9.5.png The Mothers Of Invention - Trouble Every Day (Frank Zappa) Blues Rock / Soul Rock
C2 [08:37] 8.9.png The Mothers Of Invention - Help, I’m A Rock (Frank Zappa) Trance Rock
C3 [03:56] 6.2.png The Mothers Of Invention - It Can’t Happen Here (Frank Zappa) Psychedelia
D [12:22] 5.5.png The Mothers Of Invention - The Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet (Unfinished Ballet In Two Tableaux) (Frank Zappa) Avant-Garde

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