The Mothers: Just Another Band from L.A.

By Mike Jahn

High Fidelity, July 1972

THE MOTHERS: Just Another Band from L.A.
Frank Zappa, guitar and Howard Kaylan, lead vocals; Ian Underwood, keyboards and vocals; Aynsley Dunbar, drums; Don Preston, keyboards and mini-Moog; Jim Pons, bass and vocals. Billy the Mountain; Call Any Vegetable; Eddie, Are You Kidding?; Magdalena; Dog Breath. Bizarre/ Reprise MS 2075, $4.98.

The feature piece of this recorded-live-in-concert LP is Billy the Mountain, a twenty-five minute extravaganza. The basic idea is that Billy, a mountain, and his wife, a tree, get a royalty check for some postcards they posed for, and leave their California home headed for a vacation in New York. They squash half of California on the way and a superdetective, Studebaker Hoch, is dispatched to bring them to justice. Like many Zappa constructions, most of the action is in the background, a maze of quips, stolen and mulched melodies, entertainment-business jokes, social commentary, and assorted obscenities.

It's really very funny in parts. I don't know where it stands in the spectrum of contemporary music โ€“ probably flatfooted โ€“ nor how long it will remain funny. It does represent a welcome return of the comedy on which Zappa built his early reputation. This is not to say that he should abandon his very valuable recent excursions into serious musical composition. Billy the Mountain is simply a nice aside. The other songs on the album aren't up to the first, but still have their own little things to say.

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