Frank Zappa "Joe's Garage. Act I"

By Bill Camarata

Scene, 4 October 1979

Frank Zappa
Zappa Records

For his second album on his latest label, Frank Zappa has chosen as a follow up to this year's successful SHEIK YERBOUTI an opera, of sorts, to be released in two installments. It seems that JOE'S GARAGE is a story taking place sometime in the near future with the government trying to outlaw music. With tongue-incheek overtones hinting at shades of REEFER MADNESS, the story is narrated by a character called the Central Scutinizer, who enforces all of the laws that haven't been passed yet. We meet Joe, the main character, in his garage with his band playing the only song that they know, along with Larry, who later leaves and earns his keep as a roadie for a group called Toad-O (get it?). A Mrs. Borg calls the police on the boys for playing too loud and Joe is told to stick to church-oriented activities. This is where you find "Catholic Girls," the sequel of SHEIK YERBOUT'S "Jewish Princess." Here Joe and his girl friend Mary meet to hold hands at the CYO club with Father Riley officiating. Mary doesn't show up one week, for she is being conned by Larry to come on the road and be the "Crew Slut" for the roadies. She gets dumped in Miami after the crew gets sick of her, and had to enter a Wet T-Shirt Contest in order to win bus fare back home. Emcee Buddy Jones (a de-frocked Father Riley) fixes it so that she wins. In the meantime, Joe gets word of what Mary's up to, falls in with a fast crowd and gets VD from a girl who works a taco atand.

Sound confusing? It's funnier than it sounds, and you probably won't hear any of it on the radio. It's very well done, however, vocally and instrumentally, in the traditional hi-fi Zappa sound.

There are two more records in this series, and I feel as though I'm waiting for the next episode of "Another World" to come on. Will Joe get out of his current dilemma by joining the church of Appliantology? Will the government outlaw music, as it is in Iran?