2001 Motels – Thus Spake Zappathusa

By Herbert Trenchcoat III

Oz, December 1971

London's fashionable rock milieu turned out of a cold mid-November nite to witness the celluloid testament of Frank Zappa's wit and wisdom : '. . . but he's so OLD ' . . . 'eah, but really clever. I mean to be so weird and yet so commercial, that's ballsy.

A fat blonde NY/LA husteltte turned to the druggies trying to get to their seats: 'Here are the boys; here they are; the Mothers are here. St John's Ambulance men (cleverly hired from Madame Tussaud's) blanched at the mention of the group's name, the extra police clenched their teeth on their special duty bits and – HERE ARE THE BOYS. Viv Stanshall looned a little while the canned musak brought on the light dimmer, and the butt-end clientele of Parsons and Chows recognised themselves. And at last, the first full-length from Zappa, who has promised for years and years that his garage is stacked with unedited albums and half-finished holiday movies. At last, the unedited album and half-finished holiday movie of all time.

'2001 Motels' takes a long long time to beat the meat out of the simple fact that rock musicians on the road get bored and balled a good deal, and mostly balled by a bunch of humourless, anti-nubile, overweight scags. Not an enviable life; repetitious, but colourful. Zappa's ideas, not his alone by any means (though the treatment, 'thankfully , is), are either so laboured that they are forgotten (after a struggle) or so self-indulgent that they will never register with any audience outside the 'privileged' few invited to the preview and the 'party' at the Rock Cafe afterwards.

So the usual question arises. Why did he do it? To make a huge feature film which will pack the picturehouses of the planet and tell the gaudy truth about rock 'n ' roll life content? With feeling now. O r. To be seen to be outrageous once more, to have a good time for a few days, and rip off the Royal Philharmonic, a film and record company , and Zappa's loving millions of teenage fans?

I can hardly bring myself to say this . . . god, it's so HARD, but much as I love the Mothers' music, I find Zappa the ripp-off Queen of our culture. Someone should get behind that and find out when he last made a positive creative statement, or aligned himself with ANY PART of the social advancement of the last 20 years thinking. He's a twentieth-century music-hall computor. Sure, the film is funny outrageous, and funny embarrassing (I don't know whether Ringo or his chauffeur is the worse actor, but lean tell who's the better little sucker. Hmm. and the musical content is very strong, but I have no compunction to see it again and find out why so many people apparently fell asleep . . .

At the Hard Rock beanfeast just a little later, Roman Polanski arrived shooting 35mm from his left eyeball, and hippies from the right. Your intrepid reporter decided to split before it got to o late.