The life and times of Frank Zappa

By Caroline Boucher

Disc, September 1, 1973


NEXT YEAR the Mothers of Invention will be ten years old. Not that the original band is still together – Frank Zappa is the only constant factor, the rest of them are scattered to the four winds, but Frank does agree that it calls for something of a celebration.

He was in London recently prior to setting off for the opening European dates of the new Mothers tour. He was staying at the Royal Garden Hotel and eating a lot of creamed spinach which he only likes eating in Britain.

"I plan on releasing a four-record set next year as an anniversary gesture," says Frank. "It will be material of perhaps four different groups of Mothers of Invention of previously unreleased stuff.

"lt will probably include live recordings of two concerts we did in England – one at the Festival Hall, when we did a play, and one at the Albert Hall when Noel Redding was used as a human projectile and launched by one of the roadies while Ian Underwood played a Mozart piano concerto."


Meanwhile over here a new Mothers album is out this week called "Overnite Sensation." It features the current Mothers line-up plus a few additions (their current line-up is Ian and Ruth Underwood, George Duke, Jean Luc Ponty, Ralph Humphrey, Bruce Fowler and Tom Fowler).

It's followed in a couple of months by a solo Zappa album, called "Apostrophe," some of which feaures a brilliant tape of Frank, Jack Bruce and Jim Gordon recorded in New York last year.

Frank and his current Mothers have been busy so far this year. They've done two tours of the States and one of Australia – the first time Frank has ever been tbere.

"The audiences there were different from any place else in the world. In Sydney we walked out on to the stage and it was absolutely quiet – not a sound anywhere. We played something and they clapped, and so it went on.

"But I had to look out past the lights to see if there was anything in the hall – they weren't even breathing."

Besides keeping up a constant out-pouring of Mothers and solo albums, producing groups like Ruben and the Jets, and touring, Zappa is now working on another film. The whole thing has actually been shot – was done so in 1970, but he is busy editing and putting the final touches to it. He won't say much about it except that it features a monster, and as yet he has no film company to release it through.

His manager – the fabled Herbie Cohen, whose favourite food is cornflakes with double cream – wanted Frank to reform the original Mothers for some anniversary performances next year, but Frank declined. He said it would finally drive him insane "and anyway, the only song they'd all know would be 'King Kong', because every time you change a band you change the repertoire."