Posts Tagged ‘Mothers Of Invention’

“Americans are ugly. This music is designed for them,” proclaimed Frank Zappa during the Mothers of Inventions first ever European show, their landmark concert at London s Royal Albert Hall. Yet although Zappa s work may have been designed as a critique of his homeland, he would discover that the Mothers output found its most loyal audience on distant shores. That legendary performance occurred on September 23rd, 1967, and seven days later the band were playing to another packed crowd at The Stockholm Concert Hall. This momentous event, broadcast nationally, is presented in its entirety and in superb quality on Go Ape!,

By the time of the performance Zappa and the first incarnation of the Mothers were at the height of their powers. Their extended residency at New York s Garrick Theatre between April and September, 1967, had given the band a chance to experiment with both their musical repertoire and their unpredictable onstage antics This combination of off-the-wall experimentation and musical dexterity is captured perfectly in the Stockholm performance. With a set-list that includes cover versions of rock and pop standards alongside snippets of Stravinsky and Tchaikovksy, the Mothers run through inimitable versions of Freak Out s You Didn t Try to Call Me and It Can t Happen Here and their classic B-Side Big Leg Emma . The centre-piece of the concert is a remarkable rendition of King Kong , a composition that Zappa would develop and hone for years.

Frank Zappa, live at the Konserthuset, Stockholm, Sweden this remarkable performance, broadcast from the Konserthuset in Stockholm, Sweden on national FM radio, “Big Leg Emma” (which had recently appeared as a 45 in Sweden), and an epic rendition of “King Kong” (in its first known live recording), as well as a couple of Elvis classics Blue Suede Shoes and Hound dog.

A section of it had previously appeared in orchestral form on Lumpy Gravy, and another version would eventually make up an entire side of the double LP Uncle Meat. The live rendition presented here is a unique 18 minute phenomenon, its first section highlighting the remarkable interplay between Bunk Gardener on clarinet, Ian Underwood on alto sax and Don Preston on keyboards, and its second section a Zappa-conducted explosion of improvised sound. For many, the first Mothers of Invention were the greatest group Zappa ever assembled. Go Ape! is a perfect example of what made them such a rare and remarkable beast.

Very interesting early show from the original Mothers. This set seems complete and the sound is top notch, and the performance of King Kong is a blinder! One to add to your collection for sure.

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Ambitious Zappa Classics Back On Wax

Fifty years on from the release of his debut album with The Mothers Of InventionFrank Zappa’s work remains the subject of fascination. With many archival releases already celebrating his vast body of work, on 9th December Zappa Records/UMe will release five of Frank Zappa’s most ambitious outings on 180g vinyl, spanning a decade’s worth of innovation.

Earlier in the year, the 3CD Lumpy Money Project/Object release offered an unprecedented look at the making of two of Zappa’s classics, his debut solo album, Lumpy Gravy, and his acerbic, hippie-baiting third album with The MothersWe’re Only In It For The Money. Released in 1967, the first marked Zappa’s first foray into modern classical, mixing musique concrète with pioneering tape-editing techniques, and combining the 50-piece Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra with LA’s famed Wrecking Crew to create a truly unique sound. Following a year later, Money” gleefully took both the counter-culture and mainstream to task in a politically charged, no-hold-barred attack on contemporary politics. No less potent in today’s charged political landscape, it remains a high point in a career stuffed with them.

Frank Zappa We're Only In It For The Money Album Cover - 300

The trio of 60s reissues in this batch closes with 1968’s Cruising With Reuben And The Jets, in which Zappa and The Mothers revisited their beloved 50s doo-wop and R&B. Not that this was straight homage: despite sounding like an uncharacteristically straight attempt to capture the music, keen-eared listeners will hear nods to Igor Stravinsky in the music, while Zappa used the concept to both send up the doo-wop scene, even as he celebrated it.

Zappa called time on his original Mothers line-up in 1970, the same year that Weasels Ripped My Flesh was released. Pieced together from sessions that took place across 1967 and ’69, its mix of live and studio recordings shone a light on the wide-ranging influences that helped The Mothers of Invention become one of the most diverse groups of their generation. Featuring future Little Feat mainman Lowell George on guitar, and including everything from a cover of Little Richard (‘Directly From My Heart To You’) to an uncompromising barrage of feedback (the title track), it’s one of the most varied – but most insightful – albums in Zappa’s oeuvre.

Zappa’s confrontational streak only grew throughout the 70s. By the time he conceived of the three-act Joe’s Garage, which is here reissued as a 3LP set, the album surfaced at the height of punk and the new wave, and sees Zappa in as anarchic a mood as any of the young upstarts coming up beneath him. Envisioning a world where the government is trying to suppress music, Joe’s Garage is one of Zappa’s most successful satires, tackling religion, censorship and the government – and emerging as a typically wide-ranging release from a man for whom there were no boundaries.

Lumpy Gravy, We’re Only In It For The Money, Cruising With Reuben And The Jets, Weasels Ripped My Flesh and the 3LP Joe’s Garage are all due for release on 9th December.

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Frank Zappa was actually Frank Zappa’s real name,  Zappa, the rock’n’roll musician, freak-provocateur and contemporary composer and orchestral arranger influenced by Anton Webern, Edgard Varèse and Igor Stravinsky. This film allows him to speak “in his own words”, which means clips from his imperturbably droll, articulate performances in TV interviews over the years .

In a perfect world, “Zappa in his own words” would really mean nothing but his music and lyrics, which is where he would be truly himself – but this is nonetheless a thoroughly entertaining watch. He emerges as a radical, sceptical libertarian who derided what he saw as the occasional fascism of the left. In one edition of a TV debate show, he even describes himself as a conservative, while making mincemeat of the plumply suited disapprovers ranged to his left and right.

Zappa allied himself broadly within the counterculture but was obviously a pretty strict taskmaster with his own band musicians, like a cross between James Brown and Leonard Bernstein. He didn’t much care for drugs, and to one interviewer he reveals he had sacked musicians for drug-taking on the road, on the pragmatic grounds that they might get thrown in jail when he needed them on stage. Hundreds, of musicians were inspired by him; drop in a few nuggets of We’re Only In It for the Money or Hot Rats . Of course, Zappa was never one to do anything the easy, or easily comprehensible, way — we’re talking about an artist who composed a concerto for two bicycles and railed against the norm at every opportunity. Better, then, to honor his life and work with a jagged, collage-like assembly of archival footage. And, given the eloquence and biting wit he displayed in his lyrics

He was cautious of the term revolutionary (though he did not object to “genius”), on the grounds that it was coercive and aggressive. But actually he does seem like a revolutionary, and someone who couldn’t be categorised. This film could trigger a revival in his music – and maybe new performances of his orchestral work.