The Frank Zappa Blind Date


Melody Maker, October 5, 1968

DRIFTERS: “Ruby Baby” from the album “Rockin' & Driftin' ” (Atlantic 587 123).

Drifters – “Ruby Baby.” I went to High School with that record, I really like that. We'll have to bring it back! Does this album have “Steamboat” or “Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash”? This is very slick compared with the funky rhythm and blues sound they used to play.

I used to remember all the details and numbers on the record sleeves. Did you know A. Nugetre, who wrote “Yodee Yankee” is in fact Ahmet Ertegun, President of Atlantic records? He changed his name because his father is the Turkish Ambassador to the United States, and it wouldn't do to have it known that Ahmet Ertegun was the proud father of that masterpiece of song, “Yodee Yakee.”

BONZO DOG DOO-DAH BAND: “I'm The Urban Spaceman” (Liberty).

It's sort of bad taste. It's a good mix and the engineering sounds quite competent, and it's the true test of a record if it sounds okay on a crappy record player.

I've heard about the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, but I think this is rather opportunist. Every speed freak in the country will want to identify with this. I like the ending. I never was gone on old time music.

CRICKETS: “My Little Girl” (Liberty).

Sounds competently produced but basically it's a cross between Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers. A most acceptable teenage record that won't take too much trouble to understand, if you want to understand.

As a remake of an old style, it's not funky enough. The guitar break in the middle is modern, but they did it better in the old days.

I used to listen to Buddy Holly and the Crickets in the Fiftíes, but I was more interested in black music.

DON PARTRIDGE: “Top Man” (Columbia).

It lacks guts. I don't mind a record that sets out not to have guts, but when it pretends to have some, I lose interest.

I'm not a judge of this type of music because I'm too old, but this is liable to get thousands of teenagers into screaming ecstasy. The musicians don't sound as if they mean it or believe in it.

The people who started making rhythm and blues records didn't do it because it would be a hit, but because they WANTED to do it.

JON HENDRICKS: “No More” (Verve).

No idea who it is, but I like the drums. It's too slick, and it sounds English and white. The guy has been practising in night clubs.

Who is it? Oh, of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross? You know, the first time I heard Mose Allison I would have sworn that he was coloured. And a lot of coloured people thought he was coloured.

When they booked him for the first time into a coloured club in New York, they wouldn't let him work. He might have got killed. You can never tell with some of these clubs.

I like Mose Allison, I think he's a groove. I'm not too thrilled about black music that doesn't sound like their heritage and becomes too ethereal and sophisticated. It's a trend of reversing roles. I wonder if a guilty conscience causes that?

Tamla Motown have produced some detestable records, although I liked the Four Tops “Reach Out.” Some of the acts are so frighteningly plastic. One of the ugliest things I have seen is Diana Ross's smile. It gives me the creeps. It's like she's got props at the side of her mouth and a button that Berry Gordy switches: “Smile, Diana” and it goes boing!

Soul music lacks soul, yet the public believes in it. James Brown used to be funky when he just sang. Now he's got a jet plane and a silk suit and before you know it – stardom.

ELVIN JONES TRIO: “Reza,” “Sweet Little Maia” and “Kel Ko's Birthday March ” from the album “Puttin' It Together” (Blue Note BST 84282).

I must say it's a pleasure to hear this after the other records you have played me. Even the stylus skipping on the record sounds great. I like this very much and I don't even care who it is.

I just like it and it sounds so great compared to the other stuff. This has some emotional content and they are playing interesting things. I like jazz very much but I seldom listen to it because I don't listen to radio and I don't have many albums. I listen mostly to classical and contemporary music.

Sometimes the jazz stations on the radio can be as bad as the pop stations because the deejays always interrupt and tell you how much they really know about the music. They come on snapping fingers.

On a soul station in L.A. they have a deejay called Magnificent Montague who calls people up on telephone and gets them to say “Have mercy.” There is a special way of saying “Have mercy” and he's trying to make finger-popping spades out of all kids who call up.

I can't recognise jazzmen on records, so I don't know who this is. I can only recognise rhythm and blues guitarists like Johnny Guitar Watson. B. B, King and Clarence Gatemouth Brown, who played “Okie Dokie Stomp.”

Nice drum solo here. Good hand and feet co-ordination. I like Tony Williams a lot – he`s frightening. He'd make a good rock drummer. Shelly Manne plays on “Lumpy Gravy.”

TONY BENNETT: “Hushabye Mountain” (CBS).

I don't respond well to romantic music, because I always see a boy and girl in love swooning and crooning in front of old guys in evening dress on a stage covered in the star spangled banner.

5TH DIMENSION: “Good News” (Liberty).

Vocals sound a lot like Mick Jagger, but the drums are too good for Charlie Watts. Not that I'm saying Charlie Watts is a bad drummer, because I like what he plays, but this is a bit more complicated.

I'd like the record better if there weren't any singers because I can't understand a word. If I did know what they were singing, then I'd really be repelled.

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