The Mothers of Invention
Freak Out!



by Pechorin USER (23 Reviews)
April 10th, 2006 | 49 replies

Release Date: 1966 | Tracklist

There are some debut albums that truly stand out in music. My Generation and Murmur both set fire to different musical areas of their time. Freak Out! is another one of those classic debut albums, introducing the musical world to the mad scientist of rock, Frank Zappa. A true musical genius, Zappa made it okay to write weird rock music. With his distinctive writing style, guitar work, and sardonic wit, he was a rarity in rock music -- a true composer.

In only a few words, Freak Out! can be described as abstract pop. Much of the album is surprisingly accessible, yet there is still that touch of strangeness that makes it distinctly Zappa. He combines doo-wop, psychedelia, and straight-up rock and roll into an amazing musical statement. The style of the album is so strange and diverse, I feel it merits a TxT style review, so here it goes:

The very instant the album starts, you are treated to the anthemic Hungry Freaks, Daddy. It features great guitar work, vibraphone, and even kazoo in the background. Throw in some very strong social commentary and a great guitar solo, you have an album opener to remember. I Ain't Got No Heart is another exercise in Zappa's excellent composing skills. Similar to the opening track, it features slightly heavier drumming and a good horn section. It's not the anthem the opener, but still a great song, nontheless.

Who Are the Brain Police? is where we first see that this isn't your ordinary '60's rock album. Even forty years later, it still remains one of the creepiest songs I have ever heard. With its scary political lyrics, plodding instrumentation, and chaotic breaks, it is a scare song for the ages. But when it ends, we are treated to Zappa's satirical wit in the doo-wop parody Go Cry On Sombody Else's Shoulder. Featuring some of Zappa's funniest lyrics and hilarious vocal harmonies, it pokes fun at youth culture at the time, yet is still a musically competent piece.

Motherly Love is one of the most straightforward songs on the record, being straight rock. It highlights Zappa's guitar work and his love for weird instruments such as the kazoo. The subject matter is lewd, but it again uses Frank's sardonic humor as an effective social commentary tool. How Could I Be Such a Fool? is another song that mimics the sound of the fifties and sixties pop while making fun of it at the same time. not an album stand-out track, but still a good one to listen to.

Zappa obviously thought pop music at the time was silly and trivial, and Wowie Zowie fits his sentiments on popular music at the time to a tee. With nonsensical lyrics that openly mock the flower-power culture starting to emerge at the time and the overly happy-sounding instrumentation, he once again makes his social statement in the subtle, funny Zappa way. You Didn't Try to Call Me and Any Way the Wind Blows are more pieces mocking love songs and teenage love in general, though it they are definitely some of the more average (still worth listening, though) songs on the album.

I'm Not Satisfied delves into the more serious matter, with its subject matter about depression and suicide (wich, incidentally, is easy to miss if you don't pay attention to the lyrics). With good guitar and a horn section, it effectively passes its message in Frank's unique way. Next is one of my favorite songs, the silly You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here. With goofy lyrics, kazoo, and random interjections from a stereotypical doo-wop bass vocal, it's pretty hard not to like this song.

Up until this area, most of the album, while making social statements, remains fairly lighthearted and conventional. With Trouble Everyday, the tone changes. It's a straight-rocker that reminds me of some material on Apostrophe. Dealing with racial tensions at the time. It's probably the best guitar track on here, and it's often regarded as one of the best songs from this era of Zappa's career. We also start with the crazy songs in Help, I'm a Rock. With a strange riff, bizarre vocals, then the band members screaming "Help, I'm a Rock" and "Help I'm a Cop," However chaotic it seems, it still has that level of control that even the strangest Zappa songs have.

It Can't Happen Here is another one of those weird songs; it almost sounds like an out of tune barbershop quartet. After the strange vocal introduction, we're treated to some avant-garde piano work. Again, it first seems almost totally random, yet at the same time perfectly ordered. There is a seamless transition into the strangest song on the album, the 12 minute long The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet. With strange noises, random vocals, and a steady drum beat, it definitely sounds like nothing around in the day. It's hard to get through all twelve minutes, but it's worth it.

This was my second Zappa Album (My first being Apostrophe), and sadly, I only have those two. Thus, I am unable to easily compare it to his other material. However, many people say it isn't the best way to start out with his music. Anyhow, overall, it remains a great album. Yes, some parts remain dated, but it still is an excellent listen. If you want to hear some great musicianship melded with hilarious social commentary, I highly recommend this album. It does take some getting used to, especially for the stranger bits, but you will not be disappointed.

Final rating: 4.5/5

Recent reviews by this author
Rush Test for EchoThe Presidents of the United States of America II
The Proclaimers The Best Of...87-02R.E.M. Dead Letter Office
R.E.M. EponymousBlur The Best Of
user ratings (631)
other reviews of this album
Cyan isn't a shade of blue. (4.5)
The beginning of a legacy: Zappa’s career turns 50....

GeorgeNelson (4.5)

Comments:Add a Comment 
April 10th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

I was going to review this, but you a great job. I agree with the statement about debut albums, Murmur is a perfect example of an awesome debut album.

Hungry Freaks Daddy and How Could I be Such a Fool are my favorites off of the album. I don't think I enjoy this album as much as others do, there are just to many tracks that I wind up skipping simply because they are to basic or I don't really enjoy the parody or humor. That being said this is a great album featuring many well done and hilarious tracks.

April 10th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks. I really wish that I had more Zappa stuff to compare it to and all, but, well, I don't. Over the summer when I get a job, though, I'll probably buy some more.

April 10th 2006


Great review, this is some of Zappa's finest work.

April 11th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

A great Zappa album, although I loathe "It Can't Happen Here" and especially "The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet." A really bad way to end an otherwise spectacular album, in my opinion.

April 11th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

I do think Monster Magnet drags on a bit long. But I do like It Can't Happen Here. But the length of Monster Magnet was one of the small things wrong with the album that made it a 4.5 instead of a 5 in my eyes.

September 2nd 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

man i really want some zappa

this looks like a great place to start

January 18th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

My personal favorites off this album are You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here and Who Are the Brain Police?

December 18th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

Frank Zappa rocks

June 26th 2010


Album Rating: 4.5

I can listen to this album over and over and over and over and....

Never gets old.

February 21st 2012


Favorite alltime album, its genious. And hey, nice review.

June 3rd 2012


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Listen to the vinyl, it sounds so much better than CD. You can find good vinyl rips on the web.

August 22nd 2012


Album Rating: 4.5


August 22nd 2012


Frank Zappa and The Mothers? Were at the best place around.

October 16th 2012


is it ''Frank zappa & the mothers of invention'' or just ''the mothers of invention''

April 12th 2013


Album Rating: 5.0

I recently started digging this album again after years of ignoring it. I've been jamming "Go Cry" and "Monster Magnet" on repeat for days. Nice job covering the album, man. POS'd.


It's just 'The Mothers of Invention', but either way is fine really.

April 12th 2013


Aw thanks man, I'm obsessed with names being proper lol

April 12th 2013


Album Rating: 4.5

Great review great album

POS sir

July 7th 2013


Album Rating: 5.0

I got detention in school for playing Hungry Freaks,Daddy in class x)

March 10th 2014


Album Rating: 3.0

I'll gives this a fair rating of 3 it does have some good songs although a bit weird sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse LOL.The opening track hungry freaks daddy is probably my favorite but didn't care for some of the doo wop/greaser stuff and don't really know what to think about the whole suzy cream cheese concept it's possibly good for a few laughs I guess LOL.

May 11th 2014


I don't even care if you shave your leg

Wowie zowie baby LOVE ME DO

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2023 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy