Mothers Of Invention – Zappa De Guthrie

By Thomas Utne

Hundred Flowers, July 10, 1970

– Larry Mondello Comes –

Larry Mondello, presently a member of the Mothers of Invention, a popular rock group, was in town last week to make a personal appearance for the Bring Back the Beaver movement. [1]

Mondello and Jon Bjornson, chairman of the local chapter (the Ken Osmond Radical Action Committee), discussed the current situation with Hundred Flowers after the conclusion of the Mothers’ concert at the Guthrie.

The concert, last on a three week road tour for the Mothers and their inventive father Frank Zappa, was their second appearance in a year at the Guthrie. [2]

The first concert came shortly before the Mothers of Invention split up to go their separate ways.

The new Mothers, with Ian Underwood the only mainstay, got together just six weeks ago (on Mother’s Day, natch).

Amongst the new Mothers are the two fat guys from the old Turtles, including the one with the incredible voice and the one that used to be on “Leave it to Beaver.”

The Ken Osmond Radical Action Committee (KORAC) has been fighting for three years now to get “Leave it to Beaver” back on TV but apparently the fight has been in vein.

After collecting over 5000 signatures to replace “McHale’s Navy” with the Beav, KMSP-Channel Nine slapped KORAC in the face by substituting Jolly Ernie Borgnine and the boys with “The Farmer’s Daughter”, which stars an ex-stripper from Sweden (where American deserters are welcomed with open arms and legs).

Now, KMSP (“otherwise our favorite station” – Bjornson) has added insult to injury by sticking “Truth or Consequences” in the 6:00 slot. It was this latest move that prompted Mondello to come to Minneapolis on behalf of KORAC with his fellow Mothers. “And it’s about time,” Mondello told us, reviewing the situation.

The old obscenities no longer shook, and possible for the first time are no longer timely. They are presented more awkwardly, more childishly, less satirically, and (wisely) less often than in the past. Zappa and Underwood do the least of such messing around (and when they do they do it with an acknowledging grin).

Perhaps after the new members become accustomed to playing Mothers of Invention they’ll gain a bit more perspective about how sophomoric becomes the idea (Remember Alice Cooper?) of challenging the audience’s sociological precepts unless the challenges are continuously and rapidly changing.

Ah! For the good old days when Larry Mondello lunched with Beaver Cleaver on TV and ate his dessert first to make sure he’d have room for it.

Mondello finds it difficult to understand why KMSP would rather “pour rubbish like the Farmers Daughter or the mindless Steve Allen Show on our God-fearing public. The people appearing on these shows are of every moral persuasion, and we are forced to watch it because we have no honest American alternative.”

For this reason KORAC ask everyone who loves America to put pressure on “our favorite” TV station, channel nine, to put the real America back on TV.

If you’re seriously interested in helping to bring back Beaver, call Jon (pronounced YONE) at 729-4993, or call the station directly at 339-9911. This is for real – a genuine movement to GET BEAVER BACK.

Bjornson stresses that Beaver is “almost as good as going to church” and Mondello adds that “that’s why we picked ‘Leave it to Beaver for a better America’ as our slogan, which we repeat when picketing the station or when pamphleting.”

Except for Mondello and the other ex-Turtle, neither of whom plays an instrument, the Mothers remain magnificent musicians.

Zappa is brilliant on guitar (listen to his solo ten minutes into “Burnt Weenie Sandwich”) and when Underwood isn’t laying down smooth or funky organ lines he’s playing some exceptional jazz on his electric sax.

The drummer is the most surprising new entry considering Zappa’s distaste for musicians who fit as smugly as this one into the rock and roll star world.

His desired exceptions to that rule though must be his cool simplicity and steady beat.

His biggest mistake was his drum solo. There’s at least a dozen better soloists just in North Country and it could only serve to momentarily break down a tight group.

A suggestion for Zappa: It’s a surprise that you’ve never heard the Turtles’ classic “Battle of the Bands.” There’s an obvious waste of potential considering what Larry Mondello and the other fat guy have to offer.

Mondello and Bjornson were quick to dispel the rumors that both Jerry Mathers (the Beaver) and Ken Osmond (Eddie Haskell) had been killed in Vietnam.

Both are playing small roles in Hollywood now, and Beaver was recently seen as a friend of the married son in “My Three Sons,” wearing a moustache. [3]

The Mothers played almost completely different sets in the two shows, and the predominance of old songs during the evening suggests a significant breakthrough on Zappa’s part.

The early Mothers were constantly moving in new directions before their fans could understand the old and the frustration that resulted had as much to do as anything with their breakup.

Maybe the notion that in music, evolution is growth will be considered less dogmatically now that the Mothers have taken this step.

Most of these old songs had never been done live before (”the other people”).

A suggestion to Larry Mondello and the other fat guy: your own voices are too good for you to mimic the voices on the record. The most sorely missed aspect of the concert was that beautiful voices we used to hear on all the Turtle singles.

Mondello took issue with Bjornson’s suggestion (heartily endorsed by Hundred Flowers) that they change the name of KORAC to the Ken Osmond Revolutionary Action Committee, keeping the same initials while putting a little “now” into the name.

“Aw, the revolution is over”, Mondello, who played Beaver’s pal, commented.

“You can grow your hair as long as you want and nobody has to wear underwear … But don’t ask me. I’m just a musician.”

Frank Zappa, Ian Underwood, Larry Mondello and the rest of you mothers: Good show.

1. Charles Ulrich: " I think Kaylan looks more like Larry Mondello. But the article refers to 'the one with the incredible voice and the one that used to be on "Leave it to Beaver."' That sounds like he describing the two ex-Turtles, not describing the same ex-Turtle in two ways. Kaylan was the lead singer and thus more likely to be credited with an incredible voice. So that leaves Volman as Larry Mondello.

2. The MOI played two shows at the Guthrie Theater on July 13, 1969.

3. Jerry Mathers appeared in episode 10-25 "Love Thy Neighbor", which was broadcast on March 28, 1970.

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