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Frank Zappa - Just Another Band From L.A. CD (album) cover

JUST ANOTHER BAND FROM L.A.

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.14 | 98 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars

The above lines from Billy the Mountain shows well what this incarnation of Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention were about. Fun and more fun, but of course the music was great too and cleverly composed as well. Lots of Frank Zappa fans complain about the singing from Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman but Iīve always enjoyed their vocal approach and funny commetaries on and off stage. This is pivotal to the question of how much you will like this album as Just Another Band From L.A. is dominated by the singing from the two former Turtles frontmen. The rest of the band is more or less like the one playing on Fillmore East, June 1971. Frank Zappa on guitar and vocals, Ian Underwood on Winds, Keyboards and vocals, Aynsley Dunbar on drums, Don Preston on keyboards and mini-moog and Jim Pons on bass and vocals.

Just Another Band From L.A. is a live album recorded live in Pauley Pavilion on the campus of UCLA on the 7th of August 1971 and it was released on the 26th of March 1972. The album consists of five songs. Three new ones in the 24:47 minutes long Billy the Mountain, Eddie are you Kidding? and Magdalena and two re-worked Mothers of Invention songs in Call Any Vegetable from Absolutely Free and Dog Breath from Uncle Meat. To those of you who donīt know Frank Zappa he primarely play rock with avant garde tendencies.

Billy the Mountain starts the album and itīs such an excellent track. Hilarius ( and weird)lyrics and an overall great humour, brilliantly composed and above all brilliantly played. Billy the Mountain has all the ingredients that makes Frank Zappa so unique. The lyrics are about a mountain who has a small wooden wife growing of off his shoulder. He is drafted for the US army but refuse and then the trouble starts which includes Billy and his small wooden wife Ethelīs trip to Las Vegas, the destruction of Edwards Air force base and a fantastic superhero called Studebaker Hawk. Does this sound crazy to you ? Well it better. Donīt be fooled here though as Zappa of course mixes some more serious opinions with all the fun and weirdness. For example there is a critique here of the US governments fear of communism. At least thatīs how I see it. Billy the Mountain is one of my favorite Frank Zappa tracks.

Call Any Vegetable is a re-worked version of the song that first appeared on The Mothers of Inventionīs Absolutely Free. This version of course features the dominant vocals from Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman but Frank Zappa also contributes to the general madness of this song and the strange lyrics about vegetables. I think itīs a great re-worked version where there is also some great brass included.

Eddie, Are You Kidding? is a very vocal dominated song and itīs here that Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman really show what they are capable of. Itīs such an enjoyable song with lots of great vocal harmonies. The humour of the lyrics are of course great too.

Magdalena is another great song. Some might say that the lyrics are a bit insensitive to the subject of incest, but done the Zappa way it will always offend someone and itīs intended to. I still think that there is a grain of seriousness to the song that you shouldnīt ignore. Again the vocal work is astonishing.

Dog Breath from Uncle Meat has been given the Rockīnīroll treatment and has ended up being a really powerful tune. Some great guitar soloing from Frank Zappa makes this song excellent. Itīs very different from the original. The musicianship is just excellent throughout the album. You can feel that this incarnation of Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention were at their peak. The performance is thight but as always with Zappa there is room for improvesation.

The sound quality given that this is a live recording is good for the time. Itīs not the best Iīve heard but it has itīs charm and itīs certainly better than the sound quality on Fillmore East, June 1971.

This would be the last album with Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman still in the band. This version of the Mothers of Invention would be disbanded after Frank Zappa was pushed of the stage at the Rainbow Theatre in London in December 1971 by a member of the audience who alledgedly claimed that Zappa had been sending eyes at his girlfriend ( of course he was. He is a rock star. What did the idiot expect ?). Zappa was severely hurt when he hit the concrete floor of the orchestra pit and suffered damage to his head, back, leg, neck as well as a crushed larynx. Upon recovery this caused his voice to drop a third which is clearly heard on his first vocal performance after the accident which is Overnight Sensation. He would also have problems with his back and leg for the rest of his life.

This was not the only reason for disbanding The Mothers of Invention though. Just a week before Zappaīs accident in London all of The Motherīs gear was destroyed in fire that started while on stage at the Casino de Montreux in Switzerland. The fire not only destroyed The Motherīs gear but also burned down the entire Casino. The famous Deep purple song Smoke on the Water was written about this event as Deep Purple actually were present at this concert. So in addition to his accident Zappa didnīt feel it would be economically safe to continue. Zappa would of course do other things in his downtime from The Mothers of Invention ( Waka Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo).

This is not an essential Frank Zappa album but itīs a really excellent album and the best testimony to the incarnation of The Mothers of Invention which had Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman as lead vocalists. I think itīs more than worth the 4 stars that I will rate it.

UMUR | 4/5 |

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