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View Full Version : (Art Rock/Freak Rock)"Freak Out!" by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention


Zappa
12-20-2003, 05:01 PM
Allow me to start by saying that for those of you unfamiliar with the work of Frank Zappa, that this is a fairly good place to start, but doesn't really represent anything but his 1960s sound. This sound is guitar rock with a twist, self-proclaimed "freak rock." Frank Zappa's earlier records were full of character, probably more than any other era of his work. They were full of very daring musical and lyrical statements, especially for the 1960s. The basic sound of the album is hard to sum up, but when I review the individual tracks it should become more clear. "Freak Out!," FZ's first record, is perhaps the most daring and original debut albums in the history of rock 'n' roll. In fact, the liner notes declare on multiple occasions that it has "no commercial potential." This is notable because most debuts are at least a little poppy, so the artists can make the label happy with them before they really go far out and experiment with their next record. Also, "Freak Out!" was not only a double LP debut (can anyone think of any other band that would start by releasing two LPs/CDs of material on their first go around?), but it was the first rock double LP of all time. It also gets the label of "first rock concept album" fairly often, but this isn't something I think is really fair to assert.

<p>Straight from the liner notes, The Mothers of Invention on this particular recording are, in addition Frank, Ray Collins on lead vocals, harmonica, tambourine, finger cymbals, bobby pin & tweezers, Jim Black on drums (also sings in some foreign language), Roy Estrada on bass & guitarron; boy soprano, and Elliot Ingber on alternate lead & rhythm guitar with clear white light. This is without a doubt Frank Zappa's least musically proficient group, but one of the more interesting ones. Jim Black and Roy Estrada especially are very peculiar characters. The lineup is complimented by a horn section on various tunes, and many of Frank's friends on the last tune (more on that later).

<p> "Freak Out!" is interesting in that the liner notes include comments from Frank Zappa on every tune (with the exception of one). I will include all of these comments in quotes, and if i have any thing to add I will put that after in bold. All bolded words in the quotes are bolded in the liner notes, so they must be important. Here we go:

<p>1. "Hungry Freaks Daddy... (3:27) was written for Carl Orestes Franzoni. He is freaky down to his toe nails. Some day he will live next door to you and your lawn will die. Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you've got any guts. Some of you like pep rallies and plastic robots who tell you what to read. Forget I mentioned it. This song has no message. Rise for the flag salute." This is a pretty straightforward rocker whose lyrics sum up what Frank is talking about in the quote there. It's a great song. 10/5

<p>2. "I Ain't Got No Heart... (2:33) is a summary of my feelings in social-sexual relationships" This is a wonderful tune about a feeling of fed-upness with the media's potrayal of love. It features great vocals from Ray, and a neat trumpet part. It ends with shouting and dry-heaving, hinting at what's to come. 10/5

<p>3. "Who Are The Brain Police?...(3:33) At Five o'clock in the morning someone kept singing this inmy mind and making me write it down. I will admit to being frightened when I finally played it out land and sang the words." This is MUCH freakier than the last two tunes, and almost feels out of place. The way it hits you is just perfect for the scheme of the record, and I wouldn't have it in any other spot. Frank sings lead vocals, and he sounds deranged. It has a kazoo solo which is quite awesome. I love it, what can I say? 10/5

<p>4. "Go Cry On Somebody Else's Shoulder...(3:39) is very greasy. You should not listen to it. You should wear it on your hair." This is a doo-wop song that is about as tongue in cheek as possible. It's very silly, and very outstanding. Jim Black delivers some comical spoken parts about '60s teenager things. 10/5

<p>5. "Motherly Love... (2:43) is a body commercial for the band. It is sung during live performances to advise the female audience members of potential delights to be derived from social contact with us folks. Trivial poop." This is about groupies, like Frank so articulately stated. It's sort of bluesy, and it's nice. Frank sings lead vocal again, and he advertises quite well. If I were a woman, and they played this at their show, I'd take up the offer. 10/5

<p>6."How Could I Be Such a Fool...(2:11) is based on a modified nanigo rhythm. We call it Motown Waltz. It stays in 3/4 time throughout, but shifts in accents occur from section to section. AS an American teen-ager (as an American), this means nothing to you. (I always wondered if I could write a love song." The quote describes the song quite well. It is a love song, and probably my favorite of the less freaky tunes on the album. It's really quite pretty. I love Ray's voice, and I love this song. 20/5

<p>7."Wowie Zowie...(2:51) is carefully designed to suck the 12 year old listener into our camp. I like the piano and xylophone accompaniment in the second chorus. It is cheerful. It is harmelss. Woolly Bull. Little Richard says he likes it." This is a pop song, but it's a wonderfully written and arranged pop-song. The vocal parts sound funny, and some of the lyrics are comical. It's fun and upbeat, and the quote definitely describes it well. 8/5

<p>8."You Didn't Try to Call Me...(3:16) was written to describe a situation in which Pamel Zarubica found herself last spring. (Wowie Zowie is what she says when she's not grouchy...would would guess it could inspire a song? No one would guess. None of you are perceptive enough. Why are you reading this?) The formal structure of You Didn't Try to Call me is not revolutionary, bu tit is interesting. You don't care" This is another great rock tune, almost as good as "How Could I Be Such a Fool." The horn section shines on this one, and the lyrics are also good. I really love the arrangement, it's great. If you didn't gather already, it's about a guy who waits for a girl to call him, and she doesn't. 15/5

<p>9. "Any Way The Wind Blows...(2:54) is a song I wrote about three years ago when I was considering divorce. If I had never gotten divorced, this piece of trivial nonsense would never have been recorded. It is included in this collection because, in a nutshell, kids it is....how shall I say it?...it is intellectually and emotionally ACCESSIBLE for you. Hah! Maybe it is even right down your alley!" I really enjoy this tune. The piano parts are good, and I like the guitar riff. Ray Collins records another flawless performance. 10/5

<p>10."I'm Not Satisfied...(2:38) is okay and safe and was designed that way on purpose." This is a tune uncharacteristic of Frank Zappa. It's much darker in the lyric than most of his work. It is, however, a great, great song. Frank sings lead on this one again, and I like Ray's vocal harmony accompaniment. 10/5

<p>11. "You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here...(3:38)" Yeah, so Frank didn't write anything about this one. Not really sure why. It is a turning point in the record, beginning to really usher in the FREAKINESS of the 3 part suite at the end. It is basically a direct attack on audience member(s), with the lyrics bashing teenage stereotypes of the time. It's one of my favorite songs of all time. 20/5

<p>12. "Trouble Every Day...(5:49) is how I feel about racial unrest in general and the Watts situation in particular. It was written during the Watts riot as it developed. I shopped it briefly all over Hollywood but no one would touch it...everybody worries so much about not getting airplay. My, my." This is another great tune featuring Frank on vocals. It's got a bluesy background, with harmonica and jangling guitars. There are lots of words, delivered in a rhyming, almost rap-ish fashion. It's socially relevant, as described in the quote, and it basically arrives at the conclusion that racism is completely appalling earlier than most had figured this out. 10/5

Zappa
12-20-2003, 05:04 PM
Yeah, so it didn't all fit...

<p>13. "Help, I'm A Rock...(4:43)/14. It Can't Happen Here...(3:55) is dedicated to Elvis Presley. Note the interesting formal structure and the stunning four-part barber shop harmony toward the end. Note the obvious lack of commercial potential. Ho hum." For whatever reason, Frank decided to put these ones together like that in the liner notes. At this point we have arrived at the beginning of the end, the transformation is complete. This is completely freaky, avant-garde stuff with absolutely no pop-appeal. It's basically impossible to describe. I love them both, and you should too. 30/5 for both

<p>15. "Return of the Son of Monster Magnet...(12:15) - )Unfinished Ballet in Two Tableaux) I. Ritual Dance of the Child-Killer. II Nullis Pretti (NO Commercial Potential), is what freaks sound like when you turn them loose in a recording studio ate one o'clock in teh morning on $500 worht of rented percussion equipment. A bright happy number. Hotcha!" This is it. This is where it all ends up, and it's truly amazing. It is billed as a very freeform performance, but I'm almost positive Frank edited it a whole lot. With studio technology, Frank could always get his desired results, and this is an example. It's again, hard to describe. You MUST hear it. 30/5.

To sum up, well hell it's hard to sum this all up. This album is an almost linear journey from "pop" to the avant garde, with some pit stops along the way. All of it is incredible, and it hasn't really aged a day (save for some of the slang, I suppose). It's totally relevant today, and just about everyone should have it in their collection. Overall rating: 500,000,000/5

manuscriptreplica
12-20-2003, 10:29 PM
great review, but seriously, the 30 out of 5's got annoying. i didn;t think all songs deserved what they got, for example 'hungry freaks daddy' and 'i'm not satisfied' i though weren't quite as good as the rest of the album. but meh.
this album influeneced quite a number of albums, especially of the concept genre i.e. dark side of the moon, sgt peppers. so it gets a 5/5 from me.

Zappa
12-20-2003, 10:55 PM
great review, but seriously, the 30 out of 5's got annoying. i didn;t think all songs deserved what they got, for example 'hungry freaks daddy' and 'i'm not satisfied' i though weren't quite as good as the rest of the album. but meh.
this album influeneced quite a number of albums, especially of the concept genre i.e. dark side of the moon, sgt peppers. so it gets a 5/5 from me.

I honestly don't think any of the songs are anything less than perfect. If I did it out of 5, I'd just give them all 5/5. However, you can easily get an idea of which songs I like best from the way they're reviewed.

Zappa
12-21-2003, 09:05 AM
I gave "Hungry Freaks, Daddy" a try, and it's pretty catchy but not what I expected from your review. It would actually be better as a straight-up rock song without the kazoo/squishy synth noises. I'll give the weirder stuff a try though, I'm curious.

"Hungry Freaks, Daddy" really is the most straightforward song on the album, but that isn't to say it completely fits the 1960s rock idiom. It's probably one of the less amazing tunes on the album, but the way it starts things off works really well. I think you should definitely give the last three songs a listen, and maybe "How Could I Be Such a Fool" and "You Didn't Try To Call Me."

BirdsOfFires
12-21-2003, 04:56 PM
30/5? ... :rolleyes:

Zappa
12-22-2003, 10:20 AM
I've already explained why I put the ratings that I did. If you disagree with my review, I suggest you write one of your own, instead of simply criticizing what I have written.

Kaden
12-27-2003, 05:47 PM
Cool. Been wanting to get into some Zappa, bought about 4 albums yesterday, but this one slipped my mind, had I thought of it, I would of gotten it instead of the Spock's Beard.

MxShredder
12-27-2003, 07:52 PM
10/5
10/5
10/5
10/5
10/5
20/5
8/5
15/5
10/5
20/5
10/5
30/5

if it wasn't for these, i'd say great review :thumb:

manuscriptreplica
12-29-2003, 09:52 PM
^^ dude he's already explained the ratings.

Badmoon
12-31-2003, 05:09 PM
I do not have that Zappa album but now I'm thinking of buying it. :thumb:

Zappa
12-31-2003, 08:00 PM
I do not have that Zappa album but now I'm thinking of buying it. :thumb:

Hey, cool. Glad I could influence you to do so. Obviously, I definitely suggest picking it up. As for all those who are whining about the ratings I did, I believe the content of the review should be good enough that ratings aren't even necessary, and I think I basically gave an idea of how much I like each of the songs with the words. If the numbers I choose make it a bad review, what's the point of writing anything but numbers out of 5? As I said before, if I just gave 5/5's to all the songs, it would have been less descriptive than what I put, and I don't believe any of them are less than perfect within the context of the album. Anywhoo, enjoy the review or hate it, I don't care. If people get a better idea of how this album sounds, and realize that I personally like it very much, it does what I wrote it to do. Thanks.

dkpinhead
01-02-2004, 09:25 PM
Freak Out! is a great album, bought it about a month ago.

Led_Zep_Bonham
01-20-2004, 01:10 PM
Great review, great album, great ratings.

∞/5

(note, if the numerator doesn't show up correctly, it's the infiniti symbol)

BirdsOfFires
01-20-2004, 06:01 PM
My favorite track on this is "Trouble Coming Every Day."

Definitely a revolutionary album. I wouldn't call it the best album ever, as some (looks at Chris) have said. It's a good idea for anyone with a music collection to own this.

Led_Zep_Bonham
01-20-2004, 06:34 PM
I didn't call it the best, homeslicebucket. Don't cop my squat.

Zappa
01-20-2004, 08:54 PM
I didn't call it the best, homeslicebucket. Don't cop my squat.


But it is the best.

Kaden
02-26-2004, 02:08 PM
Zappa, I heard Wowie Zowie, and it was one of the worst songs I've ever heard. I was surprised, because I usually like your taste in music. It doesn't seem to me like the kind of thing people would listen to seriously, it's like little kid's music that they would play on a children's show.

-5/5 for that song.

Hot Rats
03-07-2004, 02:50 PM
Freak out! is awesome, not his best but still deserved the score you gave it.

Zappa
03-07-2004, 07:40 PM
Freak out! is awesome, not his best but still deserved the score you gave it.

I actually do think it's his best. A lot of people disagree with me here, but there's just something about it. It's perfect. Sure, "Roxy & Elsewhere," "Zappa In New York," "Hot Rats," and several others are perfect as well, but "Freak Out!" is just more perfect. It's hard to explain.

Edit: Oh, and to Kaden, you obviously missed the point. That's alright, not everyone is a Zappa fan. I'm not going to try and explain to you why you should like it. If you don't, you don't.

Zappa
03-24-2004, 07:01 PM
Please color code this one.

Kamikazee
05-15-2004, 09:29 AM
frank zappa is a musical genius. his hot rats album is just fantastic. it is one of my favourites.
waka jawaka is also fantastic, if any frank zappa fan or non frank zappa fan hasnt heard this i suggest very strongly they do.
a very good review.

Badmoon
05-15-2004, 12:06 PM
I actually do think it's his best. A lot of people disagree with me here, but there's just something about it. It's perfect. Sure, "Roxy & Elsewhere," "Zappa In New York," "Hot Rats," and several others are perfect as well, but "Freak Out!" is just more perfect. It's hard to explain.

Edit: Oh, and to Kaden, you obviously missed the point. That's alright, not everyone is a Zappa fan. I'm not going to try and explain to you why you should like it. If you don't, you don't.

I also think this album is his best. Hot Rats is great musically, and it has Beefheart, but it lacks The Mothers. And when Zappa was with The Mothers, the music was a lot more fun, and funny. I miss The Mothers :upset:

OrbDragon
05-17-2004, 05:03 AM
I think I'll be checking out Hot Rats...Beefheart & Zappa on one album should be great. I only own three Zappa records, it's all good stuff.

Zappa
05-20-2004, 01:41 PM
I think I'll be checking out Hot Rats...Beefheart & Zappa on one album should be great. I only own three Zappa records, it's all good stuff.

Beefheart's contribution is minimal. Vocals for about 2 minutes on a nine minute tune. It's a great album though, you certainly won't be disappointed by it.

CheeseyBread
06-11-2004, 03:35 AM
Nice review, zappa, do you want to write for the upcoming Everythingrock.com . If so email me At jvining@pointlessthings.com

Kingadamx
06-28-2004, 02:05 PM
Great Review, I've had this album for about Six Months Now. I listen to it all of the time. Freak Out is probably the best album that Frank will do with the mothers until Live at the Fillmore East in 1971 with Flo and Eddie.

Nowhereman 65
06-28-2004, 08:51 PM
Where's "It Can't Happen Here"

Zappa
06-28-2004, 09:11 PM
Where's "It Can't Happen Here"

Like in the liner notes, it is grouped with "Help, I'm a Rock."

br3ad_man
06-29-2004, 01:03 AM
I love Zappa, I have to buy some of his albums. Too bad they all cost like 30 bucks here :upset:

Nowhereman 65
07-09-2004, 09:08 PM
Like in the liner notes, it is grouped with "Help, I'm a Rock."

Thank You For Clearing That Up For Me

Bartender
10-27-2004, 09:52 AM
This is another album I've picked up recently. All I'd heard from it before was Hungry Freaks, Daddy, but since it was only 6.99, I figured it was likely to be well worth it. And it has been, it's an excellent album, though I'm far from being so enamoured with it as Zappa.

br3ad_man
12-31-2004, 01:23 AM
This is one of the best albums I've ever heard, an absolute masterpiece. 5/5

This is also one of the best track by track reviews I've seen on these forums.

Smackers
12-31-2004, 07:46 AM
I still need to give this album time to settle. I've had it for a while but I don't listen to it much. There is some interesting information at the beginning of the review that I found really nice to read. The only thing is that I thought Dylan had the first double album. I remember reading that somewhere or hearing it from someone, maybe I'm wrong.

pixiesfanyo
12-31-2004, 08:50 AM
I bought this for my dad.

So, I don't have to listen to Steve Forbert on car trips.