Mothers of Prevention

By Rip Rense

Spin, January 1986

Zappa has blown it again. He's probably shattered all his respectability with his new album Frank Zappa vs. the Mothers of Prevention – mainly because of a track on it called "Porn Wars," a musique concrète number that features as guest artists no less than Senators John Danforth (R-MO), Albert Gore, Jr. (D-TN), Ernest "Fritz" Hollings (D-SC), Paula Hawkins (R-FL), James Exon (D-NE), Paul Trible (R-VA), Slade Gorton (R-WA), and Jeff Ling, a minister and consultant to the Parents' Music Resource Center.

Frank has taken their granite words uttered during a Senate hearing on "porn rock" this past September, and bent them to his will. He took key words and phrases, programmed them into his synthesizer, then weaved them against a backdrop of ominous electronic noises, cosmic hog snorts, and a drum track. Interspersed in this aural soup are a couple of snippets left over from Frank's 1968 ballet, Lumpy Gravy, and a brief monologue by Zappa's "Thing-Fish" character. The Lumpy Gravy quote: "This must be the end of the world / All the people turning into pigs and ponies / I can't let it happen to me."

Among recurrent motifs:
– Hawkins chanting, "Burn! Burn! Burn!" and the phrase "fire and chains and other objectionable tools of gratification in some twisted minds."
–Trible quacking, "Rape!"
– Hollings intoning, "Maybe I could make a good rock star," "outrageous filth," and "pone rock."
– Ling quoting lyrics from "Golden Showers" by the Mentors, including "I will drive my love inside you," and the now immortal "bend up and smell my anal vapors."

Frank's exchange with Hawkins over what kinds of toys the Zappa kiddies play with is also included, as is Gore's unctuous compliment to Zappa: "I respect you as a true original. . . " This is followed by Hollings chattering like Alvin, Theodore, and Simon, "Maybe I could make a good rock star." Gorton's denunciation of poor old Frank is here, too, punctuated by ungodly snorts.

Frank took the people who don't like to hear nasty things said on pop LPs – and made them say nasty things on a pop LP! The voices range in tone from lowland gorilla to mega-chipmunk to mosquito.

Why'dja do it, Frank?

"I thought they needed to have something nice in their stockings for Christmas."

Aw, come on. . . .

"You testify before one of those Senate hearings and see how arrogant those bastards are, and what relative position they think they hold in the universe. They have blown themselves out of all proportion to reality. There are a couple that are OK. I thought Exon was OK, a rational guy."

But, but. . . .

"There's no way that I could have just walked away from Washington, D.C. and laughed it all off. It's too depressing."

"Porn Wars" ends with a remark Hollings apparently intended as an aside – "We haven't got 'em whipped on this one yet. We've got a bear by the tail here. Jesus."

Zappa, who is on a media campaign against censorship of rock albums, is also working on a video documentary about the problem. Possible title: "Congress Eats the Young."