The Mothers: Fillmore East, June 1971

By John Gabree

High Fidelity, November 1971

THE MOTHERS: Fillmore East, June 1971. Frank Zappa, guitar and dialogue; Mark Volman, lead vocals and dialogue; Howard Kaylan, lead vocals and dialogue; Ian Underwood, vocals, winds, and keyboards; Jim Pons, vocals, dialogue, and bass; Bob Harris, vocals and keyboards; Don Preston, mini-Moog. The Mudshark; Bwana DIK; Latex Solar Beef; Happy Together; Peaches en Regalia; seven more. Bizarre/Reprise MS 2042, $5.98. Tape: Ampex MB 2042, $6.95; MS 2042, $6.95.

Frank Zappa has put out a score of extraordinary albums, none more so than this set recorded in June of this year at the Fillmore East. Certainly it is the most complex and demanding collection heard on a live LP. Zappa's music – he wrote all the songs here except Happy Together, a tune performed flawlessly in the manner of the Turtles – demands more of its vocalists and instrumentalists, and its audience, than that of any other currently popular performer. In fact, it is probably also the most challenging and entertaining for anyone who takes the time to listen.

"Fillmore East, June 1971" is going to be remembered, as are most of Zappa's LPs, for the quality of several extended parodies of contemporary music and mores. The Mud Shark, What Kind of Girls Do You Think We Are?, Bwanda DIK, Do You Like My New Car, etc. together form one of the most biting contemporary satires, slashing away at sexual constraints and pop pretensions, and in general being outrageously up-front (when did you last hear a song applauding hemorrhoids?). What cannot be forgotten is the quality of Zappa's music. Each of these intricate dialogues is delicately arranged and flawlessly executed – so perfectly, in fact, that this album almost defies belief as a "live" effort. Combining influences from every form of electronic and electrified music – classical, pop, rock, jazz, and r & b – the Mothers range all over the musical map, forcing all these tendencies to coinhabit one small, confined but not incompatible musical environment. Also, Willie the Pimp offers a too rare chance to hear Zappa stretch out on guitar, and throughout there is the pleasure of the instrumental work of Don Preston, Ian Underwood, and others to be enjoyed. A very special release. J.G.

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