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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

3.91 | 588 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
4 stars A listener's enjoyment of this very first Frank Zappa album may depend largely on their age. If you are a reader born sometime after the year 1980 (like me), you will probably not be impressed. Freak Out! will probably come across as a somewhat bloated, anachronistic curiosity. If you were born at a time when Zappa and the Mothers were actually making music, and especially if you were around in the '60's, you'll probably find Freak Out! a riot of satirical humor and unapologetic finger pointing at the contradictions and hypocrisy of modern culture.

To put this into contemporary perspective, imagine if an incredibly talented group of musicians came together and used the cliches of today's pop-stars (auto-tune, over produced electronic sounds, dance routines, rap-infused vocals) to lambaste the fans of those very same musical cliches. It hasn't happened. It probably won't ever happen; and this is one of the reasons why I think every prog fan - and music fan in general - should give Zappa music a serious try. There's no one out there today like Frank Zappa, and Freak Out! is a great example of his early output.

So what will you hear on this release? Freak Out! is basically a mish-mash of '60's sounds, complete with twanging guitar, do-wop vocals, Beetles-esque rocking, sappy love ballads, psychedelic freak outs, and catchy melodies. You might sometimes be tricked into thinking that these are "normal" songs, but of course they're tongue-in-cheek at their most benign. For the most part the band is playing rhythm-centric music, with melodies carried by the vocalists. Don't expect monster Zappa guitar solos, but you will hear heaps of orchestrated moments as well, as the ranks of the Mothers of Invention add string, brass, woodwind, and percussion elements to many songs. Sometimes this is subtle, but usually it's wonderfully overblown, which adds to the satire of the songs. Half-way through, the freak out session begins. Things get psychedelic and weird, but lose none of their edge or bite.

The overall effect is an hour of sardonic joy. Freak Out! doesn't hit the same heights as some of the Mothers' more polished works, but this release is especially impressive given that it's their very first effort. Now that we're almost post-2016, listen to "Trouble Every Day" and tell me that it doesn't resonate with the times. Highly recommended.

Songwriting: 5 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 4 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Prog Leviathan | 4/5 |

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