Like Lawrence In Ara...Baby!
By S. L. Weingarten
I figure the new two-disc set from Verve, FREAK OUT! (V-0052) by the Mothers of Invention, is the greatest put-on since Mrs. Miller broke the sound barrier.
It's like a hippity-do-dah version of Lawrence Welk. But with that big Mother beat. No wunnah-tooah-threeah. Just bowwm, di-dee-dah-wah! You know the bit.
The first time 'round it sounds like noise – cool noise, but noise. It's ludicrous.
But the melody (sic) lingers on. And I dig the lyrics:
"Wowie zowie, baby, you're so neat ...
I don't care if you shave your legs."
Man, like that's soul. And it gets me right where I live.
"You're probably wondering why I'm here ...
And so am I."
Sheer poetry (sic):
"I dig you baby.
Why don't you dig me?"
"Forget about the brotherly love...
Watcha need is Motherly love."
"I wish I was anything but a rock ..."
You can't hardly find that kind of lyric anymore.
The sounds? Well, there are low-keyed groans, falsetto, and tunes filled with a combination of something like radio interference and the background of a Tarzan flick.
* * *
On the album's slipjacket a chick named Suzy Creamcheese is quoted as saying: "These Mothers is crazy ... one guy wears beads and they all smell bad."
I wonder what she meant by that?
The liner notes are supported by unfocused pictures that are so underexposed everybody's got black eyes. But the notes do explain what "freaking out" is:
"A process whereby an individual casts off outmodeled and restrickting standards of thinking, dress, and social etiquette in order to express CREATIVELY his relationship to his immediate environment and the social structure as a whole."
So help me.
* * *
And the notes explain that Frank Zappa leads the quintet. He plays guitar and sings (sic). As for the other Mothers: Ray Collins, lead vocalist, tinkers at "the harmonica, tambourine, finger cymbals, bobby pin and tweezers;" Tom Black pounds the drums and sings in alien tongues; Roy Estrada, "boy soprano," strums bass and plays the guitarron (???); and Elliott Ingber, alternate lead, plays rhythm guitar.
The notes also indicate all the songs (sic – as a matter of fact, sic, sic, sic) on the discs were penned by Zappa (obviously in the midst of an inky nightmare).
And the notes list those who "have contributed materially in many ways to make our music what it is." And then the plea: "Please do not hold it against them."
* * *
Among the elite listed are Sacco and Vanzetti, Tiny Tim, Lenny Bruce, Melvin Belli, James Joyce, Bob Dylan, Igor Stravinsky, Sonny Tufts (speaking of him, whatever happened ...?) and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
Incidentally, the notes indicate that "a very important man at Columbia records" heard the group and gave this verdict: "No commercial potential."
But I disagree. Numbers by the Mothers easily could become commercial. They could, in fact, replace that TV pitch showing the hammer clonking in some poor schnook's head.
I think the Mothers could be as big as – well, would you believe Sonny Tufts? I mean, didn't they laugh at Columbus – when he opened his pizza place.
Read by OCR software. If you spot errors, let me know afka (at) afka.net