By CR and Gordian
Frank Zappa and the Mothers. (Warner Bros/Discreet)
Another instalment in the strange unfolding of the secrets of that peculiar instrument, the mind of Frank Zappa. With all the fury of the rampant, pungent odour of a roadie's old underwear and the panoramic splendour of a cheap motel room, folks, this is a Very Funky Record.
It deserves a smell sachet attached, say Parmesan and Anchovy base with some spearmint in there for the hell of it. There are many lyrics, all salacious and amazin', like Sperm and Soda with Vanilla flavoured instrumental background. I suppose no one has any right to be surprised by each new form that the Mothers take as they cruise down the years, but this reviewer was expecting more tales of the Wazoo. Hah but no, flatfoot, this is all about Buttons and Zips and the furry, vibrant wonders that lie beneath.
Frank has assembled an Octet for the job and it includes the Underwoods doing things with flutes, marimbas, saxes and such, Jean Luc Ponty handles some nice violin breaks, Bruce Fowler plays trombone, his brother Tom handles bass, George Duke on keyboards and Ralph Humphrey is on the drums. They do everything competently enough and boogy when required. Frank and Sal Marquez and someone with the exotic tag of Ricky Lancelotti do the singing and there's a lot of words for them to get through.
Throughout Frank maintains a level of bizarre lewdness that although utterly unsavoury is sure to keep buzzing in your head while all the verbal implications and insinuations lock'on to your receptor cells. 'Dirty Love' for example contains this charming verse:
'III ignore your cheap aroma
And your little Bo Peep Diploma
I'll just put you in a coma
With some Dirty Love'
Then comes the glorious refrain:
'The Poodle Bites, Come on Frenchy.
The Poodle Chews It, Snap It.
The Poodle Bites and so on.
Yes it's that Dirty Love!
Just like your Mama make that Nasty Poodle Chew'
and in the stricter, more rigidly suppressed zones of the world, I believe they still castrate men and force women into Nunneries for such behaviour. 'Dinah-Moh Huram' is another example of fully exposed, up front verbals, as is 'Camarillo Brillo' an inspired glandular delivery.
While the band bounces through some grotesque little riffs, Frank works his way through the highly flavoured tale of Dinah Moh Humm, a story of such chauvinism and depravity as to redden the griddles beneath uptight sexual militants and delight all short forested toads that may be listening.
There's this delightful little chorus, sweet voices intoning between the spittle flecked lines:
'She was Buns up kneeling BUNS UP KNEELING (chorus) I was wheeling an' dealing I WAS WHEELING AN'DEALING'
just bound to promote grins and chuckles down in the clubhouse. It's just a warm, wonderful tale of a modern foreskin and it's adventures in our troubled society. Whether it would provoke anyone to social outrage is hard to say, but being dubious of its efficacy in this direction I have tested it on visitors and primarily it raised smiles. Whatever dark, murky thoughts-they may have had remained sheathed in convention: there were no disturbances.
As music, well, it's pretty well put together. Here and there it's exciting but not in the knockout fashion of Hot Rats or Weasels or even Wazoo, as I mentioned before, for most of the time we are obviously meant to be paying attention to the various and vile songs about all those lovely, soft, sticky, gooey, salt smelling, strange tasting plasms and secretions that the human body is just bursting with.
This testicular omelette with accompanying ovarian soup is all overshadowed by the stand-out track on the album: 'I'm the Slime'. A deep throaty rasp chugs slowly along while intoning some sharpish lyrics about the slime from your TV set.
'You will obey me while I lead you
And eat the garbage that I feed you
Until the day that we don't need you
Don't go for help ... no one will heed you.
Your mind is totally controlled
It has been stuffed into my mould
And you will do as you are told
Until the rights to you are sold'.
That's tellin' em, Frank.
Frank Zappa at the Empire Pool Wembley
Zap!!! The Merlin of Rock and Roll hit town in the wake of 'Overnite Sensation'. Majestically waving a gnarled finger Frank took control of the massive hall.
Commander of the stage he flung his troops into battle with many an exulting gesture. Responding with fervour the instruments gave forth tunes which were new to the Zappa tuned ear. New pieces of rhythmic convolutions, flashing sound colour, mirrored leitmotifs, reflecting images which filled the air. The Mothers, splendid concise instrumentalists ail, gave all of themselves to further Zappa's image of music. It was definitely one man's conception. An indication of the musical direction to come.
The maestro stood rigid and motionless on the stage, by his side a burly heavyweight boxer type bodyguard. A warning that this time he wasn't about to be hurled off stage by some jealous lunatic. His frame moved only when the rapid finger movements extended through his arm to his body. What a guitar playing dude. Though he occasionally lost control of the concept behind his music, and hid briefly behind flash formless flashes of technical speed and virtuosity, the majority of his guitar work was worthy of immortality. The loss of control, which happened periodically, extended to the rest of the band. It was as if the musicians briefly lost their way, the master had lost his wand, and it was their humour which helped re-establish severed connections. Zappa, the genius freak conducting his band of zany loons to create a myriad of emotions, a kaleidoscope of sound.
Many thanks to Warner Brothers for the best Press seats I have ever occupied.
Read by OCR software. If you spot errors, let me know afka (at) afka.net