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Frank Zappa - Absolutely Free CD (album) cover

ABSOLUTELY FREE

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.10 | 367 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer
4 stars It's real and very new!

Being a self-professed fan of the Mothers' debut album meant I had to investigate more albums from that period of Zappa's career. ABSOLUTELY FREE is the second album from the Mothers, and here we see the band get comfortable in their own style. One pervasive problem from FREAK OUT! was that it used too much of the popular music scene styles as templates for the humourous banter. Despite a few ''borrowings'' (the opening number is clearly ''Louie, Louie'' purposely played atrociously), the Mothers get their own music style together whilst keeping the humour that made the debut a joy.

The 60's pop-rock scene still has a strong stench in the music, but it's so warped to the point of not being very generic. Things get pretty dicey with the faux-operatic ''Duke of Prunes'' and the oddball ''Call Any Vegetable'' as both sound insanely messy (the rough keyboard(?) sounds bring a harder edge to the music), yet pulled together by some mysterious cohesion that I can't explain. It must be the purpose of Zappa's music at that time; write great music, then play it chaotically and sing the words out of tune while for reasons unknown, the beauty of the piece is kept. The shorter tunes on the second side follow this trend although not exclusively. For example, ''Status Back Baby'' revisits the doo- wop influenced songs on the debut, but Zappa and co. (particularly Ian Underwood) still wreck the song (in a beautiful way) in the middle.

The actual album flows very nicely. In fact, each side on the original album represented a ''pageant'' performed by the Mothers in one continuous motion. There are only two disruptions of order; the first is on the CD remaster thanks to the debut leftovers ''Big Leg Emma'' (boring) and ''Why Don'tcha Do Me Right?'' (amusing). The other is the long thing in ''Brown Shoes Don't Make It'', a mini-operetta that goes through a multitude of styles but never really making any point other than cramming a bunch of stuff in the span of 7.5 minutes. ''Brown Shoes'' is the only time I ask myself, ''Why?''

The other seven-minute epic makes up for the brown shoes (must've been smothered in that chocolate syrup). ''Invocation and Ritual Dance of the Young Pumpkin'' is the best track off AF; it gives us an interesting precursor to Zappa's minglings with fusion (HOT RATS and the like) complete with the unearthly interplay of guitar and reeds. The pace of the jam makes this so enjoyable, easily one of the late Jimmy Carl Black's greatest recorded performances.

ABSOLUTELY FREE is an excellent follow-up to the monster of FREAK OUT!, taking everything that make the debut wonderful, having the band find their unique sound and push the instrumental dabblings farther beyond imagination at the time. One of the finer and funnier works of Frank Zappa that is suitable for any progressive music collection.

Sinusoid | 4/5 |

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