Frank Zappa "Frank Zappa Meets The Mothers Of Prevention"

By Bill Camarata

Scene, 27 December 1985

Frank Zappa
Barking Pumpkin

This Frank Zappa album has been rush released in order to bring to the public’s attention the controversy over rock record lyrics and the Senate hearing concerning it that Zappa testified at on September 19 of this year. The twelve-minute opus entitled “Porn Wars” on side two is the recap of the hearing, as seen through Zappa's synclavier music computer.

“Porn Wars” is an avant garde sound collage that paints a grim picture of the way the government can take something as harmless as rock music and turn it into demoralizing crap. Reminding old-time Zappa fans of “The Chrome-Plated Megaphone of Destiny,” “Porn Wars” could be very confusing to anyone not familiar with the rock lyric controversy. The spoken words that are speeded up, slowed down and manipulated are those of the actual Senators and their wives, for the most part. So be warned.

Expanding over the rest of the record, F.Z. MEETS THE M.O.P. is more of a mixed bag than most Zappa creations. Proceeding and following “Porn Wars” are two other synclavier compositions, “Little Beige Sambo” and “Aerobics In Bondage.” With a high density of notes-per-second Zappa’s knowledge of digital sampling and synthesis almost makes these two things sound like they are actually being played by human beings, but the melodies are so bionic that they remind me of Conlon Nancarrow, the composer that cut his own piano rolls by hand.

 On the first side of the album, we find some lighter material, such as “We’re Turning Again,” a tune from Zappa’s live repertoire that has finally found its way. onto vinyl. “Yo Cats,” a song about union musicians playing lounge music and sessions for their entire career, is the only other vocal tune on the record. The other two cuts, “Alien Orifice” and “What’s New In Baltimore?” are instrumentals, and both have a little screaming guitar from FZ himself.

I must admit that getting used to this record was a little difficult, with the schizophrenia between sides one and two, but there is a lot to like on F.Z. MEETS THE M.O.P. I really do hope that Zappa accomplishes what he wants to do with this record: Alert the public into fighting against this subliminal censorship of rock music. He can’t fight this battle all by himself!

Excuse me. I’ll get down off my soapbox now.