The Mothers Of Invention: The **** Of The Mothers

By Don Heckman

Stereo Review, January 1970

THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION: The **** of the Mothers. The Mothers of Invention (vocals and instrumentals); Frank Zappa arr. and cond. Status Back Baby; Wowie Zowie; You Didn't Try to Call Me; Invocation & Ritual Dance of the Young Pumpkin; Soft-Sell Conclusions; and six others. Verve V6 507-IX $1.98.

Performance: Mothers revisited
Recording: Very good
Stereo Quality: Very good

I am convinced that Frank Zappa possesses one of the most fascinating musical minds of the decade. He has been passing in disguise as a teen-age idol, a rock-&-roll star, a freak, and a nonpareil humorist, but such masquerades should not distract us from the innovative excellence of his music. It's easy to forget how few jazz influences were active in rock in 1966 when the Mothers' first jazz-tinged recording was released, and easy to assume that Blood, Sweat & Tears was alone in developing new arranging and textural ideas for rock, but, in actuality, Zappa has always employed ensemble voicings for the horns in his groups, running the gamut from Stravinsky to Count Basic. And it's easy to forget how much of the surge of interest in Fifties rock-&-roll followed the release of the Mothers' "Ruben and the Jets" – a satirical take-off on the whining teen-age music of the Fifties that was so convincing that one radio programer was fooled into mistaking it for the real thing.

This is the second reissue that Verve has assembled from its Zappa material. Since the group is no longer in existence, collections like these will be particularly valuable to those who missed the Mothers the first time around. But don't overlook the original recordings; they're still available. If, like me, you find the music of the Mothers one of the rare delights in today's too-bland market, you may want to have all their ****.