Monday, June 27, 2016

Freak Out! - The Mothers of Invention

Today marks the 50th anniversary of one of my favorite, and one of the most influential to me personally, release #1 by Zappa. This also happens to be the debut album by The Mothers of Invention, bestowed upon the unworthy Earth on June the 27th, 1966. Where to start, where to start.... Well, I don't really know? I think this is one of the greatest records ever made, and should be on the lists for guitarists to listen to, and for fans of music in general. In fact I'd go as far as the only reason for it to not be on a top 100+ list is only if you Rolling Suck, or you've never heard it prior to compiling it to the list. It also happens to be quite funny, and is not super serious (well at some parts). All and all its just a really a great rhythm & blues record. I can go on and on forever about the history but why do that. I wanted to note for this review that i will not be using the CD, because that's the most common version of the album (the '87 remix/'95 Rykodisk versions). I will be using the original vinyl mixes (Disc one of MOFO), and also my vinyl copy of the album. Why? Well, why not do the original version for the anniversary.
  1. Hungry Freaks, Daddy: Opening the album we get this, this rocker that just takes you there. With the help of Elliott's lead and the other Ray's tamborine, but it's the song in general. Something nice about this is it has something to say and it says it,  being pretty funny along the way (kinda). I think the lyrics are straight and the point I don't really think this could have opened better with what's present. Plus that solo, damn Winged Eel Fingerling.... 
  2. I Ain't Go No Heart: An instant classic, I love this song so much. This is a bit less punchy, like it doesn't feel like a rock song with a punch as much as a rhythm and blues number. This has a timpani and feels very large, again we get some great playing and this song is so crafted, and sounds so great. I love the middle eight and it's so fucking large. I'm serious you could easily turn this into a big band television/orchestral piece. Also that ending......... he's a bumber every summer.
  3. Who Are The Brain Police?: A complete change of tone. The first two tracks where upbeat, fast and exciting. Upbeat as in not downers sonically, this couldn't be any more opposite. This sounds as if you were on a bad acid trip and your senses were slowed down. There are moments, during the verses before the refrain, of the Umpalumpa song. The thing is, that came out 5 years after this. This also is pretty trippy, as mentioned, and I think (as much as it sounds like I'm sucking his dick) a really nice contrast from the first two. The sound isn't boring, and overall it sounds like a nice change of pace really. I can't every begin to tell you how much I love the freak out in this thing and it's such a fucking great song.
  4. Go Cry On Somebody Else's Shoulder: A doo-wop classic, sung by Ray Collins. This is a solid tune, and does a great job of replicating the sound and style. This isn't quite as silly sound ling as say, Oh in the Sky, but its a got some boy soprano from Roy. This tune also works and feels like its fit in a movie from the 50s very snugly. Great tune that really "is very greasy". The song progresses, though it's probably an inside joke, it contains one of my favorite lyrics about khakis. And the song becomes more silly after that but it's still done pretty straight for the style. Also fuck, Eugene that's some fucking fire piano playing.
  5. Motherly Love: This is rather funny. I could be misreading this, but I feel like when you hear Motherly Love its like (and as the lyrics hint) love from a Mom. But the lyrics also hint at it being "love" from a Mother. Thus is a solid R&B number, and just rocks. This also has some funny little sounds here and there and some nice playing, as with the rest of the record. But it's solid bro.
  6. How Could I Be Such a Fool: This is a song that's grown on me oh so much. It's sort of weird, where the others thus far rocked or were kind of shallow this song musically is sad. Like I feel like Zappa could be making a joke, but this song is so fucking good. Like if he wasn't a cynic I feel like this could be a great break up song. The arrangement..... Fucking Amazing, and it comes and goes so fast. I feel like it is like a relationship, grasp it and get what you can and give what you can to it while its still here. This might be one of best songs here to be honest. Also Carol Kaye plays 12 string guitar on this track.
  7. Wowie Zowie: This is a fun little ditty that could very easily be a children's song. I feel like he was going for that too with some of the lyrics. But then, I mean it's bizarre.... I still love it. The xylophone makes it more playful but it still has the that great hook. 
  8. You Didn't Try to Call Me: This is another huge song that is phenomenally put together. Pet Sounds is a masterpiece, fuck that noise everything here kills that fucking notion. This song is a great and I really don't have much to say other than this is hilarious, but sonically it's great.
  9. Any Way the Wind Blows: Another break up song, another classic. This song is very memorable and has that fun Wowie Zowie feeling but is a bit more serious maybe. You know the whole gauntlet of what this album puts you thought, why can't all music be this compelling, fun, exciting, scary and interesting. Also there's a neat background to this story in the liner notes of the original Lp
  10. I'm Not Satisfied: Is it wrong to find this track funny. While it isn't as mellow dramatic as the lyrics, well extreme, to ITIGKM this sonically sounds like a "depressed" teenager. Don't get me wrong, it's a great tune, it's just it fits so well with this shallow, one dimensional character. Like really, I can't help but laugh at this song. The music is so big and so large, as with all the other tracks.
  11. You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here: This title is a bit misleading. but it's such a weird song. Like really, it's got that kooky feeling to it but I also feel like it might be a love song. But then again, most love songs aren't really that deep, so maybe it's just the satire :) I love the music and the lyrics have me rolling on the floor and I can so fucking quote this. The call and response, in the Zappa's dead pan. Plus I caught that Caravan reference.
  12. Trouble Every Day: One of the best blues song ever. Seriously; not only does the music have balls and kick ass, the message is equal to that of the music. Actually the lyrics might be more relevant today than back then, at the very least are still relevant today. This really is s song to aspire to pull off if your a musician who isn't just in it for quick doe, but rather the are, craft and power of music. Really, I'm serious, flawless.
  13. Help, I'm A Rock: On the vinyl this and the following track were the two sections of one track, but for the sake of the way the thing is why not. This is a bizarre track, which I don't really know how to describe. I know the rhythm section is really doing a great job keeping the beat but the voices sound like they're freaking out. This also has some kind a funny stuff, but it feel a bit like an experiment. There is a section that changes but I believe it to be the In Memorium of Edgar Varese but yeah, hear it yourself, but I personally love it.
  14. It Can't Happen Here: Another quotable tune, that is just all kind of wonderful. I love it and it makes sense that it follows what just happened. Also this is an all a capella tune. Well that's at least for most of it, there's this piece spliced in there..... it's fucking great. Feels sort of improvised. I also think parts of the next track, or parts of this track, are in the next track. But they mention Suzy.
  15. The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet: "Suzy, Suzy Creamcheese. What's gotten into ya darling" what a way to end the record, that voice introduction then go straight into the Varése quote with the lion or whatever it's called. Love the drum beat in that beginning and this is the sound of chaos. I really think you need to hear it yourself, also it's nice to hear it not so reverby as on the Freak Out! cds. I love sounds and how stuff works and Zappa obviously know how to do dat shit. The thing picks up pace and starts to sound like white noise almost. As the song progresses it becomes complete chaos until it becomes a sort of reprise of It Can't Happen Here then going into a sort of Mr. Bungle/Were Only In It For The Money/Lumpy Gravy thing for the last four or so minutes. It's really something to hear, not only does it make me smile, but I love every second.
Overall I have to give this a 11/10. I didn't highlight anything because there are kind of all my favorite songs. Actually upon re-visitation I might like this more than Abbey Road. Even if you think his humor is stupid, his writing is to silly, or his music is to complex to swallow; I am under the belief there is still something here for you to find and take home. From the novelty to the political messages to the blues rockers and doo-wop tracks. From the avant-garde experiments and musique concrete compositions to the down right and instantly quotable song. No matter your taste, no matter your style, there will be something for you to take from this 1966 classic double album. And to be honest, these songs are so damn catchy I can't imagine you not coming away with something you sing. I mean I can't stress that enough. This is the perfect starting point to get into Frank's enormous body of work, and its also one of his best. Also if I didn't make it clear, check the lyrics out, it'll be worth it trust me.

LISTEN TO THIS RECORD, I couldn't fit it in the Albums to hear before you die with the amount of characters in the Blogger label section. 


  1. Great job Dan. It really is a fine record, and almost encompasses everything Zappa to come. Stellar. Amazing that it has been 50 yeArs.

    1. Thank I appreciate the compliment. It really is something great :). I'm hoping to also have out a Pet Sounds and Revolver review by August. But again thanks for the love :)