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Frank Zappa - Frank Zappa Meets The Mothers Of Prevention CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.25 | 144 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars I know that there wasn't direct cause-and-effect at play here, but I still can't help but be amused that this album immediately followed Thing Fish. Basically, between the last album and this one, Frank Zappa and a few others (including John Denver for some reason) were hauled in before Congress to answer charges that they were making music that constituted pornography, and should be regulated as such. In addition to providing the inspiration for this album's title, these hearings also provided the source material for the album's conceptual centerpiece, the 12-minute "Porn Wars." Basically, Zappa took the audio from the hearings and made a collage out of it. Sometimes it features a small number of vocal samples that are played repeatedly, sometimes it features Zappa actually fast-forwarding through large parts of the hearing, sometimes it features the return of Ike Willis as Thing Fish (with some quotes from that album), and it ends with a senator basically telling Zappa he's full of crap. It even, amusingly and infamously enough, features Al Gore saying on record that he's a big fan of Zappa's music. Anyway, it's definitely a track every Zappa fan should hear once, but I have no idea why somebody would want to listen to it again. I'd much prefer to listen to the actual hearing, honestly.

The rest basically makes up a prototypical mid-80's Zappa album (I should note that the original US version had seven tracks, while the CD release has ten). Four of the tracks continue Frank's experimentation with the Synclavier, and they're ok, though only the last one (the creepy "H.R. 2911") has as interesting an atmosphere as the best stuff on Perfect Stranger. If I had to pick, I'd probably say that "One Man, One Vote" amuses me the most; I can't help but think that if C-Span were ever to come up with theme music like on The People's Court (maybe to be played when Congress is voting on something), it would sound like this. A couple of other tracks ("Alien Orifice," "What's New in Baltimore?") are instrumentals on par with the best stuff from Utopia, with moody synths, well- placed xylophones (or whatever they are), effective guitar lines and all that.

The remaining three tracks are "regular" songs, and they're inconsistent. I'm quite fond of "We're Turning Again," with some interesting lyrics that look back with scorn on the late 60's, a great use of the Thing Fish voice in a mid-song monologue, and a decent (if underwritten) chorus. The opening "I Don't Even Care" has something resembling a solid groove, but it's not that great a groove, and I tend to feel like the song, at just four-and-a-half minutes, is overlong. And finally, "Yo Cats," some weird cross between Broadway and jazz, is just uninteresting from start to finish.

I really get the feeling, overall, that if Zappa hadn't had a ready-made premise for the album, even he'd have been hesitant to release most of these tracks at this point. A lot of the album is fully listenable, yes, but this would be just another obscure 80's Zappa album were it not for the Big Cultural Statement. Still, there's a good amount of moderately worthwhile material here, so while I'd probably get 30 or so Zappa albums before this one, I wouldn't avoid this forever.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |


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