Zappa and the Crawling Eye
By Lon Goddard
THE CRAWLING Eye (Cert. 'X') has been inside on many a secret session, reviewed with delicacy the cream of the concert crop, fizzled the felonious and praised the proper. The Underground has become a warped and misused phrase which simply annoys and restricts the press while disgusting musicians.
Nobody wants 'their thing' described ineptly as 'their thing' and no reader has been able to distinguish between 'things' lately. Therefore, that inquisitive escapee from a forgotten hothouse (Cert 'X') has volunteered its slithering services to this column. The exaggerated mindless noise of the psychedelic era is breathing its last and the brass knuckles of the music world are just recovering. intelligent listening is once again becoming a habit.
"Taste has returned", exclaims the Eye.
Downstairs in the Regents Park Hotel, Frank Zappa sat glancing over the British music papers. He appeared harmless enough, but from somewhere behind the newspaper, he cased the joint with a razor-sharp stare. On his right flank sat "The Captain", bulgy and boistrous.
"They stole my last LP!", blurted Beefheart. "They took the tapes and put them out on the Blue Thumb label while I was over here in England."
"There were some curious business transactions going on over the Captain's tapes", said Zappa. This guy obtained the tapes illegally, invented the Blue Thumb label overnight and released them while the Captain was here. He was never really on any label until now. Of course there were suits over it. Eyebrows were raised everywhere. Not only did they do it without permission, but they left parts out, injected phasing all over it and changed a lot of the tracks. Some very good parts were left out in the finished product, including a great horn solo."
"He didn't want me playing horns, I guess", said the Captain, "He wanted me to be a sort of pill-coloured blues singer – whatever that is".
Whatever in creation would cause you to leave the Mothers, asked the Awful Orb.
"It wasn't a question of leaving the Mothers", replied Zappa, eyes ablaze atop his sharp nose, "I simply stopped the whole operation. I didn't think my point was getting across and there were too many other opportunities with other media that could be better. Audiences had been very ungratifying on the last tour and we wound up with a debt of about ten thousand dollars."
Not measly, poked the Putrid Peeper.
"It was too hard to drag around a ten piece group and divide mediocre sums ten ways when nothing was even accomplished. I'm really responsible, because you can't hold people responsible for what they don't know; I have to admit, however, that they were slow. They had no reason to focus on us because they resist thinking seriously when so much entertainment is going on. Even the funny things we did were misconstrued."
Frank originally created the Bizarre Records label in conjunction with Warner Brothers and put the Mothers on that. What happens to it without them and why the instant new label, called Straight Records?
"There are still about twelve Mothers LP's in the can", he winked, "we did a lot of stuff.
The Bizarre label had several provisions in it concerning recordings other than the Mothers. These extra releases had to be approved and I needed a vehicle to dispose of the material I wanted to put out, so the answer was Straight Records (first releases are albums by Alice Cooper, Judy Henske & Jerry Yester and Captain Beefheart at last on a legitimate label). In the States, I'm starting a T.V. programme, but I will include the musical things I've wanted to introduce as well. For guests, I have compiled a list and possible first choices are Hubert Humphrey, Captain Kangaroo and Mick Jagger. A lot of it will be political, because that is how you supply the best in comedy."
"It will be one of the weirdest things ever seen", croaked the Captain.
"Be frank", mustered the Obstinate Orbit.
"Politics need change", continued Zappa, "Government has no idea what young people need. The people in high positions should be just a bunch of flunkies running certain kinds of business for you – instead they tend to be a load of megalomaniacs taking quick shots at power, making a deal for a dam here, a bridge there, fixing real estate and pocketing dollars. All you need to be a politician is a grey suit, a lame smile and a slogan about stopping crime in the streets."
Then it was picture time as cameramen whisked lights, removed ash trays, journalists and tentacled freaks.
"I should have had a manicure maybe," said the Captain, scrutinizing his nails. As the bulbs popped, he placed his top hat at his chest religiously and grinned a big toothy one.
"Just think", he declared, "This will be on a stamp someday ..."
Help stamp out, mused the 'orrible Optic.
Read by OCR software. If you spot errors, let me know afka (at) afka.net