Top Tunes

By Ronnie Oberman

Washington Evening Star, 1966
taken from Los Angeles Free Press advertisement, September, 1966

“Freaking out” moved a bit closer to the East Coast earlier this week when the chief proponents of the movement swooped down on Washington.

 The Mothers of Invention, a West Coast group with a liking for the unusual both in music and dress, visited the Kerby Scott dance party on WDCA-TV, where they engaged in a “happening,” and then paid a surprise visit to Georgetown’s Roundtable nightclub.

“Freaking out on a personal level is an individual expressing himself as creatively as possible within his environmental framework,” explains the group’s spokesman and writer, Frank Zappa. “Out stuff is what I’d like to describe as free music. It takes elements from different sources.”

“Freak Out” is the title of the group’s album on Verve Records, and it’s on the way to becoming one of the most controversial LPs of the year. It’s a double-album package (selling for the price of one) and features some of the wildest rock-and-roll ever.

Frank says they preferred releasing an album before a single so that listeners could hear what a wide range of sounds they can come up with. One of the album’s cuts, “How Could I Be Such a Fool?”, will probably be their first single.

Baltimore-born Frank (he’s the one with scraggly black hair, beard and mustache) joined the group about nine months ago when the other members, Ray Collins, Jim Black, Roy Estrada, and Elliott Ingber, put out a call for a guitarist.

Frank, who has lived on the West Coast most of his 25 years, is somewhat of an expert on the happenings on Sunset Strip, where all the youths who want to be “in” are gathering these days.

He puts those who hang out there into several classifications, including “teenieboppers” or “bubblegummers,” young people who are getting out for the first time; “freaks” (his group is included in this category), those 16 to 20 years old who are in the “mainstream” of activities there, and “swingers,” the “ones who still get their hair done with a razor cut, and wear patent leather shoes and sport coats at night.”

In the over-20 age group, he adds, there are a number of hippies, or freaks. The freaks are known for their wild tastes in clothes and long hair.

Frank is against the “rigid, stereotyped” dances such as the swim, frug and monkey, and “I hate records that tell how to do such and such.”

 “The way kids dance in LA is very advanced socially,” he says. “It’s completely improvised.”

One of the most serious problems among youngsters on the Coast is drugs, he says. “I don’t use any and I’ve, never encouraged it.” “Anyone who takes acid (LSD) is taking his mind in his own hands.

“The same state of psychedelic happiness can be induced through dancing, listening to music, holding your breath and spinning around, and any number of the old, easy to perform and 100 percent, legal means — all of which I endorse.”

Frank believes that much of what the group is trying to put across on records is explained in the following lyrics from one of their songs, “Who Are the Brain Police?”:

“What will you do if we let you go home,

And the plastic’s all melted and so is the chrome?

Who are the brain police?

What will you do when the label comes off and the plastic’s all melted and the chrome is soft (insert instrumental interlude)?

What will you do if the people you know were the plastic that melted and the chromium too?

Who are the brain police?

Read by OCR software. If you spot errors, let me know afka (at)