It's the end 60's. The hippie empire is growing and growing, flower power is filling the air. Live was beautiful, love was beautiful, sitting around listining to the Beatles, Grateful Dead or Jefferson Airplane with an awful lot of dope, walking around in long indian dresses, beads around your neck and flowers everywhere. Hundreds of happy people are going to San Fransisco to dance, to take some Lucy in the Sky, to join psychedelic bands. The world was so beautiful....
The first hippies were a small group of people with ideals. And they weren't just happy flower power people. But when Sergeant Peppers came out, hippiedom became a rage. It became commercial and everyone became hippie, without the idealism but just as a fashion style. They didn't mind there was war, teenage alienation, violence against demonstraters, things like that. They just liked the hippie free love and the LSD.
A bunch of musicians, with the real ideals but with a great disgust for the commercialisation, lived around LA. They were called the Mothers of Invention, led by one of the world's best composer of the past decades: Frank Zappa. They wanted the people to realise the modern commercial hippiedom was totally wrong and naive.
At that moment, The Mothers exsisted of (according to the booklet):
Frank Zappa: Guitar, Piano, Lead Vocals, Weirdness and Editing
Billy Mundi: Drums, Vocals, Yak & Black Lace Underwear
Bunk Gardner: All woodwinds, mumbling weirdness
Roy Estrada: Electric Bass, vocals, asthma
Don Preston: Retired
Jimmy Carl Black: The indian of the group, drums, trumpet, vocals
Ian Underwood: Piano, Woodwind, Wholesome
Euclid James Motorhead Sherwood (visible on back cover) Road Mamager, soprano & baritone saxophone, all purpose weirdness & teen appeal (we need it desperately)
Suzy Creamcheese: Telephone
Dick Barber: Snorks
So.... Let's start with:
1 - Are You Hung Up (1:29)- The album starts of with a couple of noises, while hearing something from a telephone conversation, whispering voices, talking about the Mothers of Invention. It ends with a guitar solo and the great quote: "Hi boys and girls, I'm Jimmy Carl Black and I'm the indian of the group. Not the best album opener you can imagine, but it's nice and I'd say 7/10
2. Who Needs The Peacecorps (2.35) - Shows the naivity of the hippie movement. It tells what the hippie movement is like, with a lot of sarcasm. It ends with a monologue from a hippie lovng everyone, loving the police who kicks the *** out of him. He is going to Frisco, buying a wig and beads, become stoned, become the Road Manager of a psychedelic band. It's a nice 8.5/10
3. Concentration Moon (2.17) - This is a good song. It starts off with a drum roll and a happy 3/4 song about hippy freedom, Than it begins to be a more aggressive and serious 4/4 song about the police killing the creeps (the real hippies) on the streets. After a minute, the music stops and you hear a man talking about him working with Frank Zappa and the day after that, he has to work with the Velvet Underground, which is by his meaning a ***tier group as Frank Zappa's. Then, you hear Jimmy Carl Back again presenting himself proudly as the indian of the group. Then the song starts again, following the same structures. I think the ending is the best from the song, where they sing: "Don't cry, gotta go bye bye, suddenly die die, cop kill a creep, pow pow pow". I'll rate it 9.5/10
4. Mom and Dad (2.19) - A more serious-sounding song about a child being afraid. "Mama, mama, someone said they made some noise, the cops have killed some girls and boys". It tells both about parents neglecting their kids, never showing their real emotions, as well as the police using violence at the violence. It is a sad yet beautiful song, the lyrics are really sad too. Again, I like the end the most, with Frank singing: "Mama, mama, your child was killed in the park today, shot by the corps in the park today, by the side of the cops she knew, they killed her too. 9/10
5. Telephone Conversation (0.45) - That's indeed what it is. A telephone conversation with Suzy Creamchease, with another man and a girl. It's meant to change the subject of the songs. 6/10 I'd say.
6. Bow Tie Daddy (0.33.) - TA really shorts song. It's a funny song with a '30s feeling to it. It's about a suburban father who doesn't care about his hippie son and let just do what he wants to do. 7.5/10
7. Harry, You're a Beast (1:21) - About someone having sex. The man wants to, but the woman don't. "Madge I want your body/Harry, get back/Madge, it's not merely physical/Harry, You're A Beast. On some versions of the song you hear: "Don't come in me" after that, but on some other versions you hear it backwards, as it is censored. Not a bad song, though there's a lot better on this album. 8/10
8. What's the Ugliest Part Of Your Body (1.03) - Like this one. This is a great track. It starts of with a doo-wop 3/4 song featuring the brilliant lyrics: "Whats the ugliest part of your body" Some say your nose, some say your those, but I think it your mind." Then it changes to a changes to a 7/8 song with Frank Zappa singing: "All your children are poor unfortunately victims of systems beyond their control" and he is having a critics on the politics of his time. Also, there's another 3/4 part in it again, with another voice singing: "Were did Anna go, when she went to town, who were all these creeps, that she brings around." It's a very good song I think and it deserves the 10/10 rating.
9. Absolutely Free (3:27) - Before the songs starts, Frank gives us some education: "The first word of this song is discorporate. It means to leave your body." This is again a parody of the hippie movement. It's about hippie freedom. Due to the 3/4 rythm, it gives me a bit of a carousel feeling. The end is really great, with the "tadadadadadada" put into it. I give it 9/10
10. Flower Punk (3:04) - This is a really cool song. It was my favourite the first time I heard it and still I really love it. It mainly consist of someone questioning a hippie who is going to Frisco what he is going to do. It's shows how the hippie movement has become a style of fashion, losing it's idealogy and become much more commercial. It's a quite swinging song, though it's build upon 7/8 and 5/8 rythms. After one and a half minute, the song gets in reprise, with two monologues crossing eachother: one of the idealogist hippie and one from the commercial hippie, who plays in a band but just wants to earn money. It's a 10/10 again I think
11. Hot Poop (0.29) - Well, It's kind of short, isn't it. That's all I can say about it. You hear some noises and some backwards lyrics. But it isn't really annoying, as it is so short. It's quite refreshening. 6.5/10
12. Nasal Retentive Calliope Music (2:02) - It's quite strange. As the booklet says, it is "an instrumental overture to a series of songs about people with strange personal habits... many of which happen to be my dearest friends). It is the first song of the second part of the LP and is comparable to Are You Hung Up, though this sounds somewhat stranger. You hear a lot of weird noises, Eric Clapton shouting "God, I can see You", some surf-rock noises and waves. Sometimes I think this song is very annoying, sometimes I like it. I give it 6/10
13. Let's Make the Water Turn Black (1:45) - Very happy song, it sounds like a children song. It's about to High School friends of Frank, Kenny and Ronnie Williams, who experimented after school with their urine and their poo, noticing it got strange colours and strange wormlike figures appeared in it. It is totally true according to Zappa, as it is also written down in his biography. Again I think the end is the most beautiful part of the song, with repeating 3 times: Wait till the fire turns green. 9/10
14. The Idiot Bastard Song (2:43) - A rather well-known Zappa song from this album, as most of the other songs never were played live as full songs but only in medleys. It is the son of a Nazi and a hooker and again, Zappa's high school friends appear, this time taking care of the idiot bastard son. The song is also an offense against the listener: "The child will thrive and grow and enter the world of liers and cheaters and people like you, who smile and think you know what this is about". It's a good song. 9/10
15. Lonely Little Girls (1:45) - Starts off with a monologue, but after circa 30 seconds a guitar riff goes in and the real song begins. It is again about parents neglecting their kids. The begin of the song is rather happy, but it becomes much more sad during the song. On the half of the song, there is a little reprise of the last part of What's The Ugliest Part Of Your Body, and some instrumental. It's a very good song I think. 9.5/10
16. Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance (1:34) - A very happy and cheerful song. Again, this song is a parody of the hippie movement. I like the strange dudledudleduu/dididididi part in the song very much, it makes me really happy. It's a good song I think and it deserves at least 9/10.
17. What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body (reprise) - Parodying the Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band with it's reprise, this features the first and most recognisable part from the song. It ends in a serie of strange voices muttering and shouting and things like that, very Zappa. It's a good song, though not as good as it's original (8.5/10)
18. Mother People (2.31) - This song is, just like some other songs on the album, about the really ideals of the early hippies in contrary to the commercial flowerpower freelove hippiedom. It is also about how the authorities react on this idealists. It's a nice song I think, though it don't have the catchiness of some other songs on the album. 8/10
19. The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny (6.25) - This song is good, but it doesn't fit the rest of the album. It's very stranged and influenced by avant-garde composers like Edgar Varèse. It is more like Zappa's next album, the solo-album Lumpy Gravy. You have to be rather musically broad-minded to like this song, because it is absolutely no easy listener and I should chose another album ender, but hey, I'm not Zappa. As I said, a good song, but totally out of the context of the album, so I make it 6.5/10.
All with all this is a really classis. Containing as well pop parodies, strange instrumentals, hard critics against police and commercialised hippiedom and things, absurd Zappa-songs, many see it as the very best Zappa production, which of course is arguable, because Zappa made so much great albums with so much different styles, but it is definitively one of better Zappa productions and very good I think to get into Zappa, as his songs are quite catchy here and there on the album, although they're definitively real Zappa gems. For me, it really earns the 10/10.
PS: Sorry if my english is rather bad, it's not my mother tongue.