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Frank Zappa - Absolutely Free CD (album) cover

ABSOLUTELY FREE

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.10 | 365 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Chris H
Prog Reviewer
5 stars What a shift we have here. "Absolutely Free" is the perfect bridge-album between the semi-safe sounding songs of "Freak Out!" and the completely intense freak-show cabaret of "We're Only In It For The Money". Although the last 3 tracks on "Freak Out!" were far from safe sounding, "Absolutely Free" completely steamrolls these tracks. The album is an intense concept, which is driven by Frank's cynical lyrics that are mostly aimed to criticize the government and politics of the time. This albums a complete blender of genres, including some rhythm and blues and teenage pop spoofs all culminating into the mock cabaret lounge finale. The album is divided into two parts, with tracks 1-7 being the "Absolutely Free" section (A side on vinyl) and tracks 10-15 being the "The Mothers Of Invention American Pageant", B side on vinyl. On the CD re- master, the gaps is filled with the single "Big Leg Emma" and its B side, "Why Don'tcha Do Me Right?".

The "Absolutely Free" part is one of the most musically challenging pieces Frank has ever written, and it still stands the test of time today as the most eclectic piece on the market. "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" is a brilliantly disturbed track that is considered by many to be his first magnum opus of sorts. The two back-to-back suites are things of absolute beauty. "The Duke Of Prunes/Amnesia Vivace/The Duke Regains His Chops" is a comical, under 5 minute long suite which is a near-classical piece about, you guessed it, The Duke of Prunes. The next three songs form the un-officially titled "Vegetable Suite", with this suite being comprised of "Call Any Vegetable/Invocation & Ritual Dance Of The Young Pumpkin/Soft-Cell Conclusion". "Call Any Vegetable" is the very first song that the Mothers really use their fusion style on, and "Invocation & Ritual Dance Of The Young Pumpkin" is the first instrumental track where they finally find their rhythm and start to groove and jam in harmony, with their full repertoire working simultaneously. The first track on this part is really the only track that isn't part of a suite. "Plastic People" is an excellent track nonetheless, although it is dated because of its lyrics that talk about 'American womanhood', and that is no longer an issue today.

"The Mothers of Invention American Pageant" is not quite as good as "Absolutely Free", but it still has its strong points. "America Drinks" starts this side of the album and it is a really shoddy spoof of an American cabaret lounge that is really a complete lack of substance, although I do enjoy the drumming by Jimmy Carl Black. "Uncle Bernie's Farm" is the second song, and it is a very refreshing, short song that has no apparent subject but still sounds fresh every time you listen. "Son Of Suzy Creamcheese" is another very short song, and as you may have guessed it is the same character that appeared in "The Return Of The Sun Of Monster Magnet" on "Freak Out!", although this song also lacks a little bit of substance. The next song is not only the stand out track of this side, it also the best on the album itself. "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" is a brilliantly disturbed track that is considered by many to be Frank's first magnum opus of sorts. "America Drinks & Goes Home" is the closer of the album, and it is really just the same song as "America Drinks", except this is a little better because it features some funny spoken word by Frank.

So if you really think about it, the first 3 Mothers albums could, in theory, be combined to form an amazing masterpiece of music. "Absolutely Free" has the most important role of the 3, as it is the bridge between the safe and easy majority of "Freak Out!" and the freaky and intensely acidic "We're Only In It For The Money", and this album really does its job. It brings you into it slowly, introducing the true fusion of the band on "The Vegetable Suite" and then going all out on "Brown Shoes Don't Make It". The only down points of the album are the two "America Drinks" songs, which really lack any sort of substance but are still quite comedic, and the "Big Leg Emma" single in the CD re-master.

Overall, I would give the first part more than 5 stars, and I would give the second part 4 stars, meaning that this whole album together is an intense, true masterpiece of rock n' roll combined with jam band fusion. Highly recommended to any Zappa fan!

Chris H | 5/5 |

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