The Mothers: Just Another Band From L.A.

By Mike Bourne

DownBeat, 14 September 1972

JUST ANOTHER BAND FROM LA – Bizarre/Reprise MS-2075: Billy the Mountain; Call Any Vegetable; Eddie, Are You Kidding?; Magdalena; Dog Breath.
Personnel: Frank Zappa, guitar, vocal; Ian Underwood, winds, keyboards, vocal; Don Preston, mini-Moog, keyboards; Jim Pons, bass, vocal; Aynsley Dunbar, drums; Mark Volman, Howard Kaylan, vocal.

Rating: ★★★★★

In his inexorable odyssey toward gesamtkunstwerk (the Wagnerian "total" artwork), Just Another Band is the most perfect example of the synthesis of theater and music in the art of Frank Zappa.

Billy the Mountain alone is exemplary: the hilarious sage of the duel between a mountain and a draft board agent pursuing it across America. Up front, the narrative is bizarre – and at least not about genital size, the Mothers' too often prevalent theme. But above all, the music is the energy of the piece, reinforcing and contributing to the comedy throughout.

On the other side, the reverse is somewhat evident, with the music more to the fore, and with Kaylan and Volman at once musically and theatrically exquisite. Except for the parody of an LA fashion commercial on Eddie, the medley rocks as hard as any so-called "high-energy" band, and yet with consummate creativity. Dunbar especially moves, with Zappa directing the music into brilliant rhythmic and tonal colors throughout, particularly on Call Any Vegetable. And Magdalena for once integrates their bawdy burlesquing (this time about incest) with the music, without their lasciviousness eclipsing it.

In all, Just Another Band again proves the Mothers among the best ensembles and Zappa among the hest composers in popular music.

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