Freak Out!

I’ve probably purchased and sorted through over 2,000 albums in my quest to build my collection in a little over the last year.    I’ve listened to hundreds of those, most of them for the first time ever hearing many of the songs.  And every once in a while I find something I consider special.

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Before starting this infatuation with vinyl, the most I knew about Frank Zappa was he gave his kids weird names.  I’ve listened to a couple of his albums, but I didn’t realize this album was apparently the debut Frank Zappa album; I didn’t even know it was a Frank Zappa album until it’s turn came up to be cleaned.   So before listening to it, I know this is an early pressing, a very early gatefold sleeve for the pressing, it’s apparently one of the earliest double albums by any rock artist and the earliest debut double album.  My copy appears to have been a specific Disc Jockey issue, as the label has printed on it “Disc Jockey Record, Not for Sale”

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The first few songs are interesting  lyrics, but not great musically.  The vinyl’s a little scratchy, and there’s a skip in the first song.  The third song though really catches me.  Who are the brain police? talks about melting plastic and chromium and gets really trippy.  The people become melting plastic, and I think there’s a kazoo at the end of the song.  Then the next track sounds like 50’s doo-wop love song, except it’s about not loving someone.  The liner notes say it “is very greasy.  You should not listen to it.  You should wear it on your hair.”  It reads like the 60’s musical version of an Arrogant Bastard bottle.

 

Probably 150 names are listed as contributing to making the groups music what it is.  “Please do not hold it against them” it reads.  Some of the names: Bram Stoker, John Wayne, Brian Epstein, Buddy Guy, Salvador Dali, Pete, Donna #1, and Donna #2.  Under relevant quotes there’s “no commercial potential” from ” A VERY IMPORTANT MAN AT COLUMBIA RECORDS.  This was issued on the Verve label.

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The music goes everywhere.   I think Wowie Zowie, the first track on side 2, is about luring young girls into inappropriate relationships.  Like the back of the sleeve says “These Mothers is crazy…none of the kids at my school like these Mothers….specially since my teacher told us what the words to their songs meant.  Sincerely forever, Suzy Creamcheese.”

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Side 3 starts with the track “Trouble Every Day” which was apparently written during the Watts riots.  It’s a driving blues rhythm, complete with harmonica.  The middle of the song Zappa speaks “You know what people – I’m not black, but there are times I wish I could say I wasn’t white.”   As weird and twisted as the album as a whole is, this song is worth the listen, and I think the entire disjointed collection speaks to the problems in America at the time – and maybe today.

The last side is one song: The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet.   From the sleeve:

(Unfinished Ballet in Two Tableaux) I.  Ritual Dance of the Child-Killer.  II. Nullis Pretii (no commercial potential), is what freaks sound like when you turn them loose in a recording studio at one o’clock in the morning on $500 worth of rented percussion equipment.  A bright snappy number.  Hotcha!

This one will stay in my collection for at least a little while.   So far, I’ve kept about 150 albums out of the few thousand that have passed through my hands in the last year.  This is one of the oddest.

 

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