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Frank Zappa - The Mothers Of Invention: Freak Out! CD (album) cover

THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION: FREAK OUT!

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.92 | 573 ratings

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TCat
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Yes it is true that this is the first official Frank Zappa/Mothers of Invention album released. However, FZ was involved in a lot of doo-wop style bands and recorded a few things that involved the presentation of some of his early avant garde classical style music and if you can locate some of those recordings, they are definitely interesting enough if you are a big FZ fan. But, this was the first official major label recording. The Mothers were actually around before this release also, doing r&b covers under the name Soul Giants. When Frank joined the band, he convinced them to do his own original songs and they changed their name to The Mothers.

The band was signed on when Tom Wilson heard the song "Anyway the Wind Blows" which was the first song the band recorded. The record company thought they were signing on a white blues band. When the band next recorded "Who Are the Brain Police?", the execs were a little surprised and worried. They were suddenly getting a mixture of r&b and psychedelia and some really weird music they didn't understand. But Frank pushed on and was actually excited and pleased with what was coming together. Frank's love for doo-wop music and avant garde classical music came together in the songs that were made while the record company scratched their heads and wondered what was going on.

Most of America didn't understand this music at first either. However, in Europe, the album would become a hit and eventually it would become an underground hit in the States when the beatniks thought the album was made to represent an LSD trip of some kind. It was also strange that an album would be released as two discs, even though it had been done by Bob Dylan and a few others, I don't believe it was ever done as a debut album. Somehow, Frank got away with it. In Europe though, it was released as a single disc.

Historically, this is a very important album as far as prog is concerned. It was one of the first concept albums ever made, the concept being Frank's view of pop culture and his satirical take on it. The first disc is mostly made up of short doo-wop inspired songs and 60's inspired psychedelia. There are a few hints of progressive rock, even though it wasn't a genre yet, Frank used his classical training to add an extra dimension to the music. Some of the music is quite straightforward r& b while other songs are completely out in left field.

The 2nd disc includes the longer tracks which were "Trouble Every Day", "Help I'm a Rock (Suite in Three Movements)" and "The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet (Unfinished Ballet in Two Tableaux)". The first of these is a blues influenced rock number with a strong political message at the time, the Mothers own protest song. "Help I'm a Rock" has a great driving rhythm, but quickly becomes an unconventional song as the lyrics are ridiculous and often don't convey any consistent theme. This was all on purpose, making fun of psychedelia and protest music. The music breaks down in the 2nd movement with a bunch of vocal sounds and chaos and is a homage to Edgard Varese who is one of Zappa's favorite musicians, then it suddenly goes to an accapella type craziness for the 3rd movement with some a sudden interruption with a piano interlude that is an avant garde jazz section before returning to more acapella sounds. The last track "...Monster Magnet" is a sound collage made into another avant garde piece that continues on for 12 minutes. At first listen, this all sounds like a chaotic, random composition, but it is actually a brilliant composition that shows it's similarity to other sound collages performed by The Beatles and other psychedelic bands, but this has a structure unlike any of those with a lot more vocal sounds than just random sounds.

This is definitely an essential recording especially when it comes to progressive rock music. It shows the existence of progressive elements were around even before progressive music became an official genre. FZ was one of the innovators and this album is a testament to that. You might think it is a strange recording at first, but as it grows on you and the genius of the album becomes apparent, you will begin to agree. FZ fans must have this and prog fans need to be familiar with it, it's all a part of your history. 5 stars.

TCat | 5/5 |

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