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FREAK OUT!

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.88 | 432 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Frank Zappa: Freak Out! [1966]

Rating: 8/10

This is it: the beginning of Frank Zappa's enormously prolific and extraordinarily multifaceted career. Freak Out!, technically a Mothers of Invention album, is a diverse debut packed with humor, social commentary, and downright weirdness. Although this album falls just short of being a masterpiece, I consider it to be one of the best and most creative debut albums ever. The material here ranges from psychedelic rock to doo-wop to blues rock to krautrock to abstract experimentalism; everything, however, is uniquely Zappa. The more straightforward moments provide a hilarious parody of 60s pop music, and the experimental tracks are bizarre masterpieces.

"Hungry Freaks, Daddy" is basically a three-minute summary of Zappa's 60s rock period. The lyrics are fantastic, combining humor and biting social criticism, and the guitar solo is immediately representative of Zappa's unique style. "I Ain't Got No Heart" is the first of the many doo-wop styled songs on the album, creating a great parody by combining a light musical style with cynical lyrics. "Go Cry On Somebody Else's Shoulder" continues in the same vein. "Who Are the Brain Police?" is a heavily psychedelic and krautish track. "Motherly Love" is another twisted 60s rock song, and is absolutely hilarious. "How Could I Be Such a Fool?" is probably the least interesting thing here, with neither funny/subversive lyrics nor intriguing composition. "Wowie Zowie" and "You Didn't Try to Call Me" continue with the dark and humorous doo-wop. "Any Way the Wind Blows" is the catchiest song on the album despite the fact that the lyrics and musicianship aren't particularly interesting. "I'm Not Satisfied" is the most darkly funny song here; the lyrics about depression and contemplation of suicide are sung over happy and light instrumentation. "You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here", which closes the album's second side, continues in the same style. The absolutely sublime third and fourth sides contain some of my favorites from Zappa. "Trouble Every Day" is a blues rock song (progressive blues, if you will) with some of Zappa's best lyrics ever concerning the civil rights movement and other aspects of 60s political culture. "Help I'm a Rock", the first krautrock song ever, is a meandering psychedelic romp centered on a repeating riff/beat and manic vocal rambling. This song, along with "Trouble Every Day", is one of my all-time favorites. "It Can't Happen Here" proceeds directly from "Help I'm a Rock." It alternates between a-cappella experimentation and free-jazzy piano playing. The album ends with the eleven-minute "The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet." This song is a lengthy soundscape consisting of krautrock-style jamming, spoken word passages, and vocal experimentation.

From the moment he began releasing music, Uncle Frank showed himself to be a zanily creative and incomparably unique musical force. Freak Out! proves this. Sides three and four are masterpieces, but sides one and two prevent the whole album from being such. While the satirical doo-wop songs are funny and quite enjoyable to listen to, they tend to blend together and don't quite live up to the rest of the album's standards. (The exception, of course, is "Hungry Freaks, Daddy", even though it isn't a doo-wop song.) I consider Freak Out! to be one of the first progressive rock albums ever; it is a fantastic work that will appeal to anybody who enjoys inventive and original music.

Anthony H. | 4/5 |

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