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Frank Zappa - The Mothers Of Invention: Freak Out! CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.92 | 654 ratings

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5 stars It all began here for Frank & The Mothers, on a monumentally-weird double-album designed to both lampoon and celebrate - and occasionally eviscerate - the burgeoning 'underground' culture cliques of the 1960's. At the time, there was nothing quite like the surreal mixture of humour and psychedelia offered by 'Freak Out', and the album thankfully set in motion one of the most extraordinary and diverse of rock careers, whilst also encouraging the great wave of late-sixties acid rock. However, despite musically embracing elements of psychedelic rock, jazz and the avant-garde, Zappa favoured his own peculiar form of sonic satire, embracing the absurd above all else and thus remaining eternally unpredictable. His disdain for various components of the music industry - fans, groups, record executives - became the basis for much of his early comedy, and 'Freak Out', an album that hovers almost perfectly between the brilliant and the bizarre, set the trend. Issued in 1966 on the MGM-owned Verve imprint, 'Freak Out' only came about thanks to the hard work and dedication of not just Frank and The Mothers, but also because of the trojan-strength behind-the-scenes hustling of MGM staff producer Tom Wilson. Apart from The Beatles 'Rubber Soul' and the then-rather-insignificant Texan psych-rock of Roky Erickson's 13th Floor Elevators, psychedelia had yet to flower into the significant musical scene of two years later, and the only music suit with any power who believed in the Mothers sound was Wilson. With MGM executives reportedly less-than-impressed by Zappa's demo recordings and the group's bohemian look, and the fact that 'Freak Out!' actually got produced seems quite incredible. Originally, it was seen as a non-starter throughout the L.A. music biz However, despite the hurdles, 'Freak Out!' did get made, and the album launched a truly wonderful career. It may prove to be a slightly divisive album for Zappa fans - many love it; many others don't - yet it arguably merits a place in the lower echelons of the great man's all-time top ten. Highlights, then, are frequent. Opener 'Hungry Freaks, Daddy' features an infectious melody and witty late-night lyrics, initiating proceedings with giddy energy. 'Who Are The Brain Police?' and 'Wowie Zowie' alternate between sinister agit-rock gloom and surreal jitterbug psychedelia, whilst the intoxicating absurdist gusto of 'Help! I'm A Rock' features a strange, sub-mainstream pop slant brushed with glowering vocals and intricate jazz hues. Unlike many subsequent albums, Zappa doesn't dominate, and much must be made of The Mothers, each of whom add their own peculiar shades of madness and musical brilliance to a riotous blend of disparate styles and manic stream-of-conciousness lyricism. In the end, the effect proves almost cinematic, leaving behind a kaleidoscopic swirl of colours and sounds, and making for one of the most extraordinary musical debuts of the modern era. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2013
stefro | 5/5 |


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