A letter to Unka Frank, MCP supreme

By Jenny Brown

Digger, 21 October 1972

Mothers – Live At The Fillmore – Reprise MS-2042.

What Kind of Girl Did You Think I Was?

O, Mister Frank-The-Yank Zappa, you are my Favourite Male Chauvinist Pig of 1970, 1971, and 1972. Because you do it with flair. And let’s face it, we’re all screwed in one way or another, but which of us is ready to show our glorioso, monstrous selves to the General Public?

You, Honest Frank, you are. And you were in June 1971; when you construed and did perform Live At The Fillmore East, with your oh-so-groovy band, The Mothers. I like the things you did to rock ‘n’ roll; I like the way you play your life out. Those rabid cosmopolitan rhythms give me pneumonia, when they creep like guerrilla hot-rod slugs into mafiatic melody. I loathe you, because you’re a bigot, a smart-arse, and a dictator. I laugh at you because you’re funny about it. What’s more, you’ve convinced me you’re a genius, and not really mad at all. Now picture this ...

Chorus: “MUDSHARRRK! ”

Dialogue: (either Phlorescent Leech or Eddie): “That’s right! You heard right! The Secret Word for tonight is “Mudshark Secret Word comes the Mudshark Arpeggio –” (Ian Underwood plays the Mudshark Arpeggio, on organ.)

Dialogue: “A marvellous little arpeggio! And now, the mating call of thé adult male Mudshark.”

Chorus: (lovingly) “Mah ah-ah-ah ah-ah Mud-sh-sh-shark ... ”

Dialogue: “The origins of The Mudshark are as follows ... there’s a motel down in Seattle, Washington, called the Edgewater Inn.

“The Edgewater Inn is built down on a pier ... that means that when you look out in your back yard ... you don’t see any dirt ... there’s a bay out there or somethin’. And to make it even more interestin’ ... in the lobby of the aforementioned motel there’s a bait an’ tackle shop ... where the residents can go down and, whenever they want, rent a fishing-pole ... and some preserved minnows ... and shlep back up to their rooms, open the window, stick their little poles outside, and within a few minutes ... actually catch a fish of some sort, which they can bring into their room and do anything they want with it, you know what I mean?”

Chorus: “Mud-sh-sh-shark ... ”

Dialogue: “Now in this bay there’s quite a variety of ... fish.”

Chorus: “Mud-sh-sh-shark ... ”

Dialogue: “Not only do they have Mudsharks up there, they have little octopuses you can catch ... And all of these denizens of the deep ...”

Chorus: “Mud-sh-sh-shark ... ”

Dialogue: “ ... come in real handy. Let’s say you were a travelling rock ‘n’ roll band ...”

Chorus (quivering): “Mud-sh-sh-shark ... ”

Dialogue: “ ... called the Vanilla Fudge ... And let’s say you checked into the Edgewater Inn with an eight millimetre movie camera ... ”

Chorus: “Mud-sh-sh-shark ... !”

Dialogue: “ ... enough money to rent a pole, and, to make it more interesting ...”

Ah Gee, Frank, why goon? You know the rest. All I can say, is that “The Mudshark” is one of those few songs you hear ... that you just know – for positive – you could not have done better yourself.

I always knew Ian Underwood was O.K. since he Whipped It Out on that sax on Uncle Meat; but keyboards, winds and vocals? I never knew anyone could say so much without opening his mouth. I wish (no I don’t) I could say the same for Volman and Kaylan, (or should I say Phlorescent Leech and Eddie); where did you get those guys? The Theatre of the Criminally Insane maybe? Or, worse still, the Turtles?

Still, there’s plenty to distract a nice girl like me from all that scary Latex Solar Beef stuff ... e.g. Aynsley “Rattlesnake” Dunbar, who, (along with Barriemore Barlow), plays some of the most awesomely aware drumming I’ve ever heard ... and despite making out like crazy, never plays a roll, or even a beat too many ... And Bob Harris, creaming out keyboards with Underwood; and Jim Pons, who perhaps should marry Aynsley, because his bass gets on so well with the drumming ... Don Preston, (as well as having a few tales to tell), really sounds bizarre with that squealing Mini-Moog synthetic thing in your “Lonesome Electric Turkey” – “Peaches En Regalia” part of the encore, too. And Frankie, this album has the best mess of vocal chords I ever heard. Six voices, five singers. I thought that kind of thing was only supposed to go on in operas, not in reamy, steamy, rock ‘n’ roll concerts at the Fillmore.

And can’t you just see what Rolling Stone would say?

“ ... Zappa has done it again. Utilizing the varied talents of the sauce of America’s rock musicians, Zappa, (who may even be a genius), performs one forty-five minute stream of vocal/instrumental harrassment, incorporating twelve compositions – which themselves enfold anything up to seven or eight separate parts ... mind-boggling social implications ... complex, intertwining rhythms ... automatic tonal gearchanges ... This album commemorates Zappa’s switch of emphasis from instrumental technique to brazen social comment, through use of multivocals and theatricality ... ”

Shit, I never understood all that stuff. All I know, my Catch-Me-If-You-Can, golden-fingered, Pop Star of a man, is that when you play me “Happy Together”, I’d ... I’d ...

Yours sincerely,
Jenny Brown

Read by OCR software. If you spot errors, let me know afka (at) afka.net