Yeh, just another band

By Martin Hayman

Sounds, 1 July 1972


ANOTHER ASSEMBLAGE of cleverly-juxtaposed objets trouves by America's most popular advertising man, yes folks, roll up to hear Frank Zappa and his funloving sidekicks Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan send up everybody, yes everybody. And all it costs you is your soul. Why does Zappa not get back to composing and playing some music instead of pissing about with funny histories recounted by Mark and Howard? "Billy The Mountain", which occupies no less than one whole side, is a tortuous and very trying vaudeville piece with no apparent punch-lines. I could forgive it if there was a good pay-off, once in a while. Maybe it will still make a lot more sense when the movie arrives, but that is what they said about "200 Motels". That seemed like a collection of ad-film hits. This runs like a collection of ad slogans. The advertisements are for Zappa. The other side makes more sense. Also recorded live, it's revisiting a couple of old faves – notably "Call Any Vegetable" and "Dog Breath". There is a brilliant bit when Mr. Zappa gets out his guitar and turns in that fine wah-wah noise, but for the most part he limits himself to fake-raunchy riffs. Zappa's outlook on the world, on the strength of this record, is as saturnine and reductionist as his guitar-playing.