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"Somebody in that audience out there knows what we're doing, and that person is getting off on it beyond his/her wildest comprehensions." F.Z.
It's been over a decade now since Frank Zappa congealed ORGANISM ONE of his mutating musical telephone to the world . . . a rocking teen-age combo known to the trade as THE MOTHERS.
"Perhaps the most unique aspect of The Mothers' work is the conceptual continuity of the group's output macrostructure. There is, and always has been, a conscious control of thematic and structural elements flowing through each album, live performance, and interview." F.Z.
Progress-Bulletin, Pomona, Calif.
Friday Evening, March 9, 1962
Sneak Preview Planned Here
Ontario Man Writes Score for New Film
A 21-year-old Ontario musician, Frank V. Zappa, scored arrangements for a movie, "The World's Greatest Sinner," to be released in April.
The music was recorded by the Pomona Valley Symphony Orchestra, directed by Fred E. Graff, and augmented by other instrumentalists.
The movie was written, directed and produced by Tim Carey, Hollywood's "ugliest, meanest" character actor. Carey also played the male lead.
The filming company is named Frenzy Productions. Zappa reports the negatives are now being cut and as soon as they are completed a sneak preview of the movie will be held in the Pomona area.
Most of the performers are non-professional, Zappa said. He termed the movie, an "arty" story about an insurance salesman, dissatisfied with his life, who turns first to music, then religion, and then politics. The story ends with the ex-salesman repenting after an unsuccessful attempt to prove himself God.
Zappa began composing for the film last June. "The score is unique," he said, "in that it uses every type of music."
A small rock-n-roll group—eight musicians—recorded last November. In early December a 20-piece chamber ensemble recorded. The 55-piece orcehstra recorded Dec. 17, putting in a 12-hour stint at Chaffey auditorium.
Zappa reports the film was made on a $90.000 budget, with 80 per cent of the filming done in Carey's garage in El Monte.
Zappa, a former Chaffey College student, lives at 314 W. G St. He was graduated from Lancaster High School and began composing there in his sophomore year. He plays guitar, vibraphone, drums and piano.
His parents live in Florida.
Joe Perrino and The Mellotones, are rockin' the town from the band stand of TOMMY SANDI'S CLUB SAHARA on E. St. in San Bernardino . . . They're a real action group . . . . . .
Left, "The Boogie Men" rehearse Nite Owl for high school weekend job.
F.Z.'s garage, Ontario, California. Al Surratt—Drums, Kenny Burgan—Sax, Doug Rost—Rhythm Guitar, F.Z.—Lead, no bass player because we couldn't afford one.
Ontario Composer, Steve Allen To Play Wacky Duet
Frank Zappa, 22, Ontario resident and composer of music, serious and otherwise, will be seen on television tomorrow night playing a bicycle concerto for two with Steve Allen.
The show is at 11 p.m., Channel 5. "It's very funny," said Zappa. "You play a bicycle by plucking the spokes and blowing through the handle bars."
Other methods of producing "cyclophony" is to stroke the spokes with the bow of a bass fiddle, twirl the pedals and let air out of the tires.
The Zappa-Allen concerto will be abetted by a man in the control room fooling around with a tape recorder and by a jazz group which will supply toneless background noise.
Zappa studied music and art at Chaffey College. He wrote the score for "The World's Greatest Sinner," a low-budget tale about a sacrilegious imposter who repents. "Sinner" had its premiere at Vista-Continental Theater, Hollywood, and opened Wednesday at the Ken Theater, San Diego.
Zappa writes musical commercials for TV and radio. They are recorded at Pal Studio, Cucamonga.
1. Bill of Sale for Cucamonga recording studio.
2. Material rejected by this notice include Any Way The Wind Blows, Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance (original instrumental version), master recordings of Don Vliet (Captain Beefheart) singing Slippin' & Slidin'. Last item was rejected by Mr. Rogers when questioned by phone after receipt of this notice on the grounds that "the guitar was distorted."
3. Rejection notice for I Was A Teenage Malt Shop.
4. Rejection notice for Any Way The Wind Blows and Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance.
2 A-GO-GO—TO JAIL
Vice Squad Raids Local Film Studio
By TED HARP
CUCAMONGA—Vice Squad investigators stilled the tape recorders of a free-swinging, a-go-go film and recording studio here Friday and arrested a self-styled movie producer and his buxom red-haired companion.
Booked on suspicion of conspiracy to manufacture pornographic materials and suspicion of sex perversion, both felonies, at county jail were:
Frank Vincent Zappa, 24, and Lorraine Belcher, 19, both of the studio address, 8040 N. Archibald Ave.
The surprise raid came after an undercover officer, following a tip from the Ontario Police Department, entered the rambling, three-room studio on the pretext of wanting to rent a stag movie.
Sgt. Jim Willis, vice investigator of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office, said the raid suspect, Zappa, offered to do even better—he would film the movie for $300, according to Willis.
When Zappa became convinced the detective was "allright," he played a tape recording for him. The recording was for sale and it featured, according to police, Zappa and Miss Belcher in a somewhat "blue" dialogue.
Shortly after the sneak sound preview, the suspect's hope for a sale were shattered when two more sheriff's detectives and one from the Ontario Police Department entered and placed the couple under arrest.
Zappa, who recently was the subject of news story on his hopes to produce a low-budget fantasy film and thus bring a share of Hollywood's glamor to Cucamonga, blamed financial woes for his latest venture.
Inside his studio when the raid came was recording and sound equipment valued at $22,000, according to Zappa.
Also, a piano, trap drums, vibraphones and several electric guitars were stored among the Daliian litter of the main studio. On the walls, Zappa had hung such varied memorabilia as divorce papers, a picture of himself on the Steve Allen television show, a threat from the Department of Motor Vehicles to revoke his driver's license, several song publisher's rejection letters and works of "pop" art.
Among Zappa's completed musical scores were such titles as "Memories of El Monte," and "Streets of Fontana."
The latter, written before several utility companies had forsaken the budding composer, opens:
"As I was out sweeping the streets of Fontana.
As I was out sweeping Fontana one day.
I spied in the gutter a moldy banana.
And with the peeling I started to play . . . "
Assisting Sgt. Willis in the raid were sheriff's vice investigators Jim Mayfield and Phillip Ponders, and Ontario Detective Stan McCloskey.
Arraignment for Zappa and Miss Belcher next week will bring them close to home.
Cucamonga Justice Court is right across the street from the studio.
5. When asked for assistance in this case, the A.C.L.U. replied, "We can't take it, it's not big enough for us."
[ . . . ] what the other is doing.
I guess you might call it surrealistic paintings set to music.
Not content to record just two sides of musical gibberish, the MOI devote four full sides to their type of "artistry."
If anyone owns this album, perhaps he can tell me whatinhell is going on.
Mothers Invent Sounds Worse Than Music
By BOB LEVINSON
The Mothers Are Something to See
FRIEK OUT by The Mothers of Invention, Verve Records, V-V6-500502.
A new "singing group", the Mothers of Invention, have recently released their first album, entitled "Friek Out."
They needn't have bothered.
With voices that should put an alley cat on a fence at midnight to shame, these "mothers" have wasted two records and an album cover of indescribibly poor taste recording 80 minutes of pure trash.
If the recording, which fits its title beautifully, has a hidden message for its listeners (if anyone with any sense would ever bother to listen), it certainly can't be found in such classic lines as "I don't care if you don't brush you teeth." Which incidentlly comes from a jazzy little tune entitled "Wowie Zowie" The cover explains that this song is "to suck the 12-year-old listener into our camp." The 12-year-old listener would be better off playing in the streets.
One entire side of the album is devoted to a series of noises that sound like a herd of half-slaughtered cattle under the classic title, "The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet."
This horror is obviously a satire of today's longmopped singing groups, but it has failed. It is in a class by itself—if it can be classified.
FREAK OUT!—Mothers Of Invention—Verve V/V6-500502
A powerful rock outing on which the Mothers Of Invention live up to their name by using such instruments as finger cymbals, bobby pins & tweezers, and guitarron in addition to the usual complement of guitars, harmonica, tambourine, bass, and drums. The album is colorfully packaged and contains extensive liner notes. "Hungry Freaks, Daddy," "Who Areethe Brain Police?," and "Motherly Love" are among the better tracks.
FRIDAY, JULY 15, 1966
'If You Get Headache . . .
BY LORAINE ALTERMAN
Free Press Teen Writer
Mothers and fathers, you thought the Beatles were bad. You got up in arms about the Rolling Stones. Sonny and Cher made you cringe. Well, as the man said, you ain't seen nothing yet.
The Mothers of Invention are here with an album called "Freak Out" (someone suggested it should have been called "Flake Out"). They come from Hollywood. Their clothes are dreadful—and I dig mod clothes.
Their hair and beards are filthy. They smell bad. You just can't believe it.
Tuesday afternoon the Mothers appeared on Robin Seymour's TV show. As Art Cervi, "Swingin' Time" talent coordinator said, "We've never had anyone on the show that brought anything near the controversy they caused. The switchboard was flooded with viewers either saying the Mothers were great or awful."
If you missed them Tuesday, you can see them Saturday, July 23, on Dave Prince's "Club 1270" TV show. Pity the poor WXYZ switchboard operators!
Meanwhile here's what lead Mother Frank Zappa had to say.
"We play the new free music—music as absolutely free, unencumbered by American cultural suppression. We are systematically trying to do away with the creative roadblocks that our helpful American educational system has installed to make sure nothing creative leaks through to mass audiences.
"The same patriotic feeling expressed in songs like "The Green Beret" and "Day of Decision" are embodied in our every performance only on a more abstract level. Blatant flag waving gets to be a little nauseating. We represent the only true patriotism left.
"Here's instructions on playing our album. First you buy it. Second, don't leave it on the backseat of the car so it melts. Third, take out disc two and play the last side first . . . Turn off all the lights and sit in front of the stereo with your head in front of the speaker and turn the volume all the way up.
"Fourth, the cut lasts 12 minutes, 37 seconds. If by eight minutes you have a headache burn the album being careful not to inhale the fumes of the liner notes. Save the ashes because they're useful in the removal of warts and athletes foot. Fifth, if you live through the 12 minutes 37 seconds proceed . . . "
Why the Mothers of Invention? Explained Frank with a popsicle dripping on his mustache, "We're here to help them. Them being the non-thinking plastic robot targets of Madison Avenue nonsense, poverty programs and all that red, white and blue rigamarole."
So, mothers and fathers, next time the Beatles, the Stones, or Sonny and Cher come to town, welcome them with open arms. Next to the Mothers of Invention the other groups come on like the Bobsey Twins.
JUL 9 1966
NEW YORK, N. Y.
MGM Goes Way Out For 'Freak Out'
NEW YORK—MGM is massing a major promotion campaign, already well under way, to boom their new "freak-out" music pactees, The Mothers of Invention.
Bud Hayden, exec in charge of album pushing, and Tom Wilson, who produced the two-records-for-the-price-of-one introductory package "Freak-Out!" have already been to see distribs in a number of markets who have been extremely receptive, and the MGM men are readying a further push for this week's MGM meetings.
Jigsaw puzzles of the album cover have been sent out to tease deejays [...]
N. Y. 'Freak Out'
Times Square, New York, record dealer A. Jay hops on the Verve "Freak Out" bandwagon by displaying an eight-foot sign in front of his shop calling attention to the unusual "Freak Out" album. Sign is seen daily by hundreds of passers-by in the busy Times Square area.
RECORD WORLD—August 13, 1966
Fifty-Four Fab, Boss Questions
HOPES, DREAMS AND FANTASIES
From Frank Zappa
*LEADER* OF THE
MOTHERS OF INVENTION
SUPER GEAR SECRET
Exciting, Trippy, Super, Even Not Bad!
BY MICHAEL VOSSE
I first saw Frank Zappa last winter when David Anderle, music world "court painter" and also manager of Danny Hutton, called to invite me to a Freak Out recording session. The studio was opened at 1 a.m. on a Friday, and it was soon filled with a couple of hundred kids from the Sunset Strip, the Mothers of Invention, "chorus leader" Kim Fowley, and various guests like Paul Butterfield and Les McCann. It went on for hours and everybody participated—some singing, some moaning, others popping gum into speakers—I don't think there has ever been anything like it!
Well, that session and subsequent visits to concerts, and finally the release of the lavish two-lp "freak Out" album sold me on Frank's iconoclastic group. Meeting and talking to Frank personally three or four times always resulted in heavy talk and listening to his amazing collection of electronic music. One day I found out that everybody takes Frank so seriously no one has ever asked him the usual "fan" questions. So one night Frank and I got together with a bunch of fan magazines and picked 48 questions which he answered. So here they are, and here is the incredible living ZAPPA!
1. What is your full name?
Francis Vincent Zappa, Jr. II (The second means junior which means I have the same name as my father.)
2. Where and when were you born?
December 21, 1940 in Baltimore, Maryland.
3. How tall are you, what do you weigh, what is your coloring?
Six foot tall and 135 pounds. Dove grey complexion, jet black hair, jet brown eyes, jet pink gums—the rest all matches.
4. Do you have brothers and sisters?
Yes. A sister named Candy, and two brothers—Carl and Bobby. They all lived.
5. Where do you live?
I live in the middle of the great hallucenogenic wasteland—Laurel Canyon—on one of the hot streets with the rest of the stars . . . lotsa action, having a wonderful time, wish you were here.
6. What kind of clothes do you like to wear?
I like a snappy sports ensemble—something neutral and easy to care for, wash 'n' wear mostly.
7. What is your conception of your Dream Girl?
She is an attractive pariah, with an I.Q. well over 228, with complete mastery of "Br'er Rabbit," any five Indian cookbooks, the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Pat Butram Story (she gotta know all the words to the album!); no interest whatsover in any way in sports, sunshine, deoderant, lip stick, chewing gum, carbon tetrachloride, television, ice cream . . . none of that stuff!
In short—a wholesome young underground morsel open to suggestion!
P.S. I don't even care if she shaves her legs. Jest about anybody will do if they can dance. I'm not really sure any of this is true. I'll have to check it out a couple of times. Wait! Any girl is all right as long as she doesn't have hair like Bob Dylan, or maybe she could even have that if she knows how to ride a motorcycle. I might even like her better if she can play Stockhausen on the piano—Klaviarshtuck XII.
8. What is your favorite record in 1966?
"Revolver"—Our first album (Freak Out) is a hoax, in case you haven't noticed!
9. Who is your favorite actress?
10. Who is your favorite actor?
11. What are your favorite movies?
The Killer Shrews, The Beast of Haunted Cave, Wasp Woman, Mothra, Dead of Night, Freaks and Alice in Wonderland.
12. What do you do when you are alone?
I am never alone. I have a house with six dwarfs who take care of me. The dwarfs change from week to week so I don't get bored. But if I ever was alone, I'd probably dance and sing and play my guitar, oh boy, would I! I might sew, I might read, I might draw—I might do all of that stuff simultaneously. Maybe someday I will be so rich I can hire people to help do all those things when I am alone . . . maybe not; I have a lot of fantasies, you see.
13. Do you have any secret longings?
I long to turn Sunset Boulevard into a parking lot.
14. Do you ever date fans?
Of course, they are the only ones who like me!
15. How would you describe your personality?
16. What do you like to do on a date?
Well, mostly I just like to hold hands, intimately sharing conversation.
17. Who are your closest friends?
The ones that are still alive. I keep to myself mostly, jes me and my pup dog, Po Po—walking alone together all through the canyon, what care I for friends?
Seriously now, my friends made me promise if I ever got famous not to tell their names—it might get back to them. Something like that on your record could keep you from getting a civil service job.
18. Where would you like to live if you get married?
What makes you think I'm gonna get married? What makes you think I want to be on any street but this street—where the action is—besides, Po Po likes to roam the hills. Good boy, Po Po.
19. What are your favorite colors?
Avacado green, yellow orange and robin's-egg blue.
20. What are your favorite flowers?
Morning glories, honeysuckle.
21. What is your favorite food?
22. Who are your favorites in music?
In the old days, back before Rock 'n' Roll was what was happening, I used to go for Sacco & Vanzetti. And as I grew up I found that it got harder and harder to dance to them—when you get old coordination is more difficult. I had to switch my preference, and now all I really like is Gary Lewis and the Playboys!
THE NEW YORK TIMES, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 25, 1966.
'Son of Suzy Creamcheese'
By ROBERT SHELTON
The most original new group to simmer out of the steaming rock'n'roll underground in the last hour and one-half is an audacious crew from the West Coast called The Mothers of Invention. The eight-member group will be appearing through New Year's Eve at the Balloon Farm, the new haven for young hippies at 23 St. Mark's Place, atop the Dom.
The Mothers of Invention are primarily musical satirists. Beyond that, they are perhaps the first pop group to successfully amalgamate rock'n'roll with the serious music of Stravinsky and others. Both in their material and in their looks, they are also furthering some of the more outrageous elements of anti-convention, thus contributing to a new style that might be called "shock rock."
Compared to the Mothers of Invention, such earlier big-beat groups as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones emerge as Boy Scouts with electric guitars. The hairier-than-thou personnel of The Mothers, include at this writing ("everyone in the band has quit three times") performers on harmonica, tambourine, percussion and timpani, electric bassoon, soprano saxophone, tenor sax, flute, gongs, electric clavichord and "mouth." There is a lot of alternation of instruments among the band members. No one knows for sure who plays drums.
The father (or Dada) of The Mothers of Invention is 26-year-old Frank Zappa, spindly-framed, sharp-nosed gamester whose appearance suggests some of the more sinister aspects of Edgar Allen Poe, John Carradine and Rasputin. In truth, Mr. Zappa is no more sinister than a cultural revolutionary bent on overthrowing every rule in the music book.
On arriving here, Mr. Zappa took a moment off from worrying about when the plane carrying the bands 18 boxes of equipment would be found by the airline, loosened his pink-on-pink tie from his Carnaby Street collar and explained to a visitor just what he is up to:
"I am trying to use the weapons of a disoriented and unhappy society against itself. The Mothers of Invention are designed to come in the back door and kill you while you're sleeping." A smile crept through the undergrowth of mustache and goatee, and he continued:
"One of our main, short-range objectives is to do away with the top-40 broadcasting format because it is basically wrong, unethical and unmusical . . . Sure, we're satirists, and we are out to satirize everything. Most of the guys in the band feel that we're going to do something to help."
Mr. Zappa was not explicit about how he was going to lead his crusade against the pop and serious music Establishments, other than to get his band's work more widely heard. Audiences at the Balloon Farm have been listening to variations on Mr. Zappa's themes with considerable delight. They have heard such Zappa originals as "Help, I'm a Rock" (" . . . dedicated to Elvis Presley. Note the intersting formal structure and the stunning four-part barbershop harmony toward the end. Note the obvious lack of commercial potential. Ho hum"), "Motown Waltz," "Who Are the Brain Police?" "Wowie Zowie" (" . . . carefully designed to suck the 12-year-old listener into our camp") and "The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet."
Other works are entitled "The Mother's American Pageant," "The Duke of Prunes," "Plastic People," and "Son of Suzy Creamcheese." If all of this sounds even a bit outlandish, Mr. Zappa has apparently hit his mark, for he thinks that "freaking out" is an important method of expression and effecting change. He defines "freaking out" as "a process whereby an individual casts off outmoded and restrictive thinking, dress and social etiquette in order to express creatively his relationship to his immediate environment and the social structure as a whole."
Not the least of the fascinations of hearing The Mothers at work are the incidental uses of classical or serious music in rock arrangements. Besides Stravinsky, Mr. Zappa has scored rock adaptations of Mozart's Symphony No. 40, Holst's "The Planets" and a touch or two of Edgar Varese. Mr. Zappa began serious composition at the age of 14. "At 15 I gave it up and decided to become a plumber. How long did I stay in plumbing? I'm still plumbing . . . "
The Baltimore-born, West-Coast-reared musician has had a turn at nearly every form of music extant. He has written "serious" works for string quartet, chamber orchestra, scores for the films "World's Greatest Sinner" and "Run Home Slow." He describes the latter as the only known cowboy picture using electronic music, in which the good guys presumably head off the bad guys at the oscillator.
Mr. Zappa had almost despaired of "making it" in serious American music, but admits that he might make it through the back door of rock'n'roll. But "rock is not just a stepping-stone," he cautions. "Rock is tha only living music in America today. It's alive. I'm bringing music music [serious or classical concepts] to our rock arrangements. Stravinsky in rock is like a get-acquainted offer, a loss-leader. It's a gradual progression to bring in my own 'serious' music."
Listening to The Mothers of Invention is an adventure, in which the auditor is warned to expect veering curves and sudden changes. Some of it is psychedelic sound (without the drugs), some is a marvelous spoof on the late-1950's teen-scene nonsense, some of it is social comment on the hypocrisies of contemporary life, and some of it is just, to use Mr. Zappa's phrase, "music music."
Mr. Zappa urges that every lover of pop music run out and buy the Vanguard recording of Varese's futuristic "Ameriques." "It blows my mind. It's my favorite top-40 record."
THE POP BAG
The Balloon Farm became much more than a discotheque last weekend, and the resident combo became much more than a pop-music ensemble.
The occasion was the first New York appearance of The Mothers Of Invention, from deepest, freakiest, L. A. They are the perfect embodiment of all that is super-hyped and stunningly creative about West Coast rock.
Forget that one Mother wears a sweat shirt which advertises "Folk you" in bright buttonese. These eight musicians made the Balloon Farm a concert hall. They seized the stage and belted the world's first rock 'n' roll oratorio to an audience that was either too engrossed or too confused to do anything but sit and listen.
The show was a single extended number, broken into movements by patter, and fused by repeated melody-themes. Especially notable was the use, as Leitmotif, of music from "Boris Gudonov," sewn into the fabric of the song so that it became an integral part of the melody and not a sequin pasted on for class. On another evening—I have it by word-of-ear—the group lit into Stravinsky, with a rocking beat.
The Mothers use the secondary technique of pop-parody with devastating effect. They goof brilliantly on the bass-falsetto hang-up of '50s teen music, and on the cocktail-clinking orchestration of the '40s. Their lyrics leave the Fugs gnawing seraps.
The whole show—call it a theatre piece and tell Beck and Malina to tail it back from Europe to catch this one—is surrounded by a pulsating lightscape. Oily color globs merge and counterpoint. It all flows freely, and for once, in sync with the music.
The Mothers Of Invention haven't arrived yet, but they strive with outstretched fingers toward something perceptively unique. Their first album, "Freak Out," is the most poorly produce package since the Hindenburg Zeppelin, but don't let this baby-dribble fool you. The Mothers Of Invention are to be watched, and leader Frank Zappa deserves your attention, and your three bucks.
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