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Frank Zappa - Absolutely Free CD (album) cover

ABSOLUTELY FREE

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.10 | 364 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Frank Zappa: Absolutely Free [1967]

Rating: 8/10

"Take a day and walk around, watch the Nazis run your town. Then go home and check yourself: you think we're singing 'bout someone else."

Absolutely Free, the second album from the Mothers, is another eclectic mix of innovative experimentation and quirky humor. While Freak Out! was divided between satirical pop music and avant-garde craziness, this album is more stylistically even, focusing entirely on experimental rock. The instrumental complexity and virtuosity that characterizes Zappa's music is introduced here; guitar soloing, wind/brass instruments, and unorthodox composition mesh together perfectly with absurdist humor and social commentary.

"Plastic People" opens the album with classic Zappa-style social criticism. This short track combines free jazz and pysch rock with spoken word passages and a simple chorus. The other 6 tracks on this side form a suite with some of my favorite weird Zappa lyrics. This suite consists mainly of psychedelic jazz backing up wonderfully zany vocal ramblings. However, "Invocation & Ritual Dance of the Young Pumpkin" deviates from this trend. This lengthy guitar piece one of my favorite Zappa solos. It combines surf-rock and jazz, foreshadowing the jazz-rock Zappa would later create. "Big Leg Emma" is one of the two tracks added on the rerelease and is one of my favorite straightforward Mothers songs. The same applies to "Why Don'tcha Do Me Right?", which includes some strong bluesy guitar work. "America Drinks" opens the second side with more political satire. "Status Back Baby" is a fairly straightforward and catchy song (by Zappa standards), and features some more great lyrics. "Uncle Bernie's Farm" is another short piece of abstract music backing political lyrics. "Son of Suzy Creamcheese" probably features my favorite chorus here. "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" is an opus from Zappa's early period. This is a hard song to describe; it consists mainly of constantly changing vocal rambling set over blues, jazz, longue, and psychedelic motifs. The lyrics here are some of Zappa's all-time best. His satire is at its peak. "America Drinks and Goes Home" is a faux-lounge number that closes the album.

This album joins its predecessor as one of the first progressive rock albums ever recorded. Creativity, wit, and beautiful weirdness abound here. Although the Mothers had not yet perfected their style, Absolutely Free is a seminal album that should not be overlooked by anybody who appreciates subversive quirkiness and unrestricted inventiveness. And remember: don't forget to tell a vegetable how you feel about muffins, pumpkins, wax paper, Caledonia, mahoganies, elbows, and green things in general.

Anthony H. | 4/5 |

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