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MOTHERS OF INVENTION/Freak Out: In which we find Zappa kicking off the run of the Mothers of Invention with an indictment of the system that still rings true today. Coming on like gang busters with nothing that had sounded like anything that came before it, Zappa took on both sides of the generation gap giving both sides an equal ass kicking. With Tom Wilson at the wheel fresh from going to places not heard before with Dylan, 46 years later, it's easy to say this dada sonic attack was years ahead of it's time. In retrospect, we can firmly see that Zappa was planting himself as the patron saint of malcontents for the ages, the only thing that would have made this more perfect would have been to wait four more years to release this and make a 50th anni tsimmis. Now more than ever, I think we need to find out who are the brain police. I haven't listened to Zappa in quite a while and I'm amazed how well this has aged, particularly in light of the many things of past eras that I've outgrown and now hear differently. After several growth misfires, such was the auspicious beginning of one of the most glorious runs in pre-alt.rock rock. Check it out once again!

MOTHERS OF INVENTION/Absolutely Free: Bouncing back from what should have been a wad blowing debut. Zappa and the gang fire back with a flaming indictment of the hippies, right in their face. It wasn't that you had to be high to get this stuff, being high didn't help. Way more disenfranchised than Simon & Garfunkle could ever hope to be (as you can tell by how easily S&G hit the target with the masses), the Mothers continued to reinvent dada for the 60s on the fly as they went along---with remarkable results. Before the age of home video, this is what you got when music came across as cinematic.

MOTHERS OF INVENTION/Cruising with Ruben and the Jets: Just after you got used to the fact that there were two Zappas, the musician and the comedian, along comes a totally confounding session where Zappa let's you in on his love of 50s music with something that takes you back in the day, but his way in his own time. Upon release, no one knew what to make of this date and he didn't release it under how own name to further confuse things. Now, we can easily accept it as another piece of the canon and it's wild how it only took 45 years for that to happen.

MOTHERS OF INVENTION/We're Only in it for the Money: The landmark early period Zappa album which is unarguably his Sgt. Pepper, on first listening it sounds like a rock/audio version of a ‘relevant' movie of the late 60s, but hold on to your hat. An utterly mind blowing session where everything you know about any pop/rock dictate gets blown to bits, this is the date that launched a million alt.clichés, none of which could ever come close to matching the original. A masterpiece that exists in it's own dimension and time zone, this is essential listening for anyone "into" music that has shot past network talent shows overloaded with bleating car alarms. Still a killer throughout.

MOTHERS OF INVENTION/Burnt Weenie Sandwich: Released at a time when the Warner family of labels was busy singing bands it had no clue what to do with (that, of course, would go on to change the face of ‘pop' music) this set was almost like Zappa and the gang taking a breather. It was in it's usual off the wall vein, and would have a hard time co-existing on FM as the format was beginning to calcify (forget about AM), but that didn't stop this from being the kind of stuff that divided the college kids into cool kids and plastic people "cool" kids. Not only an uncatagorizable set, it was one that was showing the deeper side of Zappa's free form approach to jazz and instrumental music foreshadowing ‘experiments' to come.

MOTHERS OF INVNETION/Weasels Ripped My Flesh: A non sequiter title for a non sequiter album. Celebrating a hell raiser like Eric Dolphy, this was only a taste of things to come. Coming from the place where jazz met classical as seen through the wrong end of the telescope, this was the stuff for the hard core Zappa fan that found his musical voyages funnier than his spoken comedy riffs. A defining album that shows just where the rubber meets the road for the Zappa fan.

FRANK ZAPPA/Chunga's Revenge: A delightful transitional record where Zappa gets a handle on his jazz rock leanings and flashes some comedy to keep everyone on both sides of the fence involved. The barbs are toned down and less generationally focused, even if the contempt for mediocrity is hard to hide. A few years ahead of it's time, Zappa showed he was not a talent that could not be easily corralled or pigeon holed.

FRANK ZAPPA/Hot Rats: In which we find a generation got it's first taste of jazz/rock as Willie the Pimp made his first appearance as well. A wild album that continued to defy expectations, as long as you have left leaning tastes, you'd much rather spend time listening to this than talking about it. If you've never experienced "Hot Rats", it's one of those albums that defies the aging process and is a natch to awaken jaded ears anytime, any place. Killer stuff.

Volume 35/Number 293
August 9, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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