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200 Motels Script
Opposite page bottom, extract from motel interior scene from 200 Motels (reproduction of actual shooting script); Cal Schenkel's original design for Motorhead's Newt Ranch exterior.

Opposite page top, front page headline resulting from desperate bureaucrat's response to the word "brassiere" in text pre-submitted for censorship to the Albert Hall office.

Zappa's so straight he's bizarre

At the electric organ is another of the new Mothers.

He is George Duke, San Francisco-born pianist who has been working with the "infamous and repulsive rocking teen combo" [...]

"So we're working now on [...]

So what's it like for a jazz pianist [...]

Mothers '70

Zappa at his bizarre best

Show review by Roy Carr

At the time of writing his '1812 Overture', Peter Tchaikovski considered it to be no more than a light hearted discriptive work of little importance. It was left to a much later generation to reflect upon it's merits.

I'm not drawing parallels, but I don't think it's too presumptuous to assume that to future musicologists the works of Francis Vincent Zappa will be looked upon as being indicative of certain aspects of our quickly disposable instant product society. And to present it he has used the most acceptable and quickest method of mass communication . . . a rock band.

Zappa may choose to cacoon his work in the most outrageous humour, but even this can't overshadow the strength and validity of his creativeness . . . but then perhaps it's not supposed to, just compliment it?

Though Sunday's soiree at the London Coliseum was a brief and informative excursion into some of his most bizarre antics, the music which fluctuated between sheer brilliance and haughty schoolboy pornography was still the prime focal point.

The evening's entertainment commenced with a situation which would have even inspired Fellini. Entering stage left, a dinner-suited pianist started vamping out "Moon River" on an upright.

Almost immediately, the stage was taken over by a midget lady tap dancer, a female juggler, an illusionist, and low-n-behold, a troupe of performing dogs who camped it up in the grand old tradition of the music hall.

Then to whoops and cheers of recognitin from a capacity audience, Uncle Frank welcomed us with "Hello boys and girls," while his Mothers of Invention cavorted about prior to roaring into an extended version of "Vegetables," which was followed by excerpts from his musical-documentary of group life on the road "200 Motels."

Though each member of the Mothers is an individualist, at one time or another during the non-stop performance they completely come under the almost Svengaliesque direction of F. V. Zappa to the point where they become the synthesis of his personality.

Continually drawing on the basic mechanics of Rock Americana. Much of the vocal overtones reflect the nostalgic "Noo Yoirk" monotones of a bygone era.

In ex-Turtles Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, the Mothers have an unequalled brace of singer-comedians. Completely uninhibited in their delivery, their camping about during "200 Motels" and the subsequent take-offs of the messrs. Daltry and Morrison turned it into an operetta. Without a doubt they are Zappa's main visual assets.

Of the rest of the group, the internal rapport which exists between Ian Underwood and our very own ex-patriot Aynsley Dunbar on drums is quite outstanding in his flexibility and precision.

I don't presume to fully understand what goes on in Frank Zappa's agile mind . . . I expect very few, if any, can admit to it. To pretend to would be facetious.

Though others may argue the point, I feel that Zappa takes his work most seriously. Above all his eccentric genius has to be admired and respected.


London, February 8, 1971
No. 27,696 6d.

Eleventh hour shock for 4,400 fans




In a shock announcement today, Royal Albert Hall officials cancelled tonight's pop concert starring one of the world's top groups, the Mothers of Invention, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.



Zappa and the mothers are a perfect microcosm of the schizophrenic nature of contemporary American society. Zappa weaves two seemingly disparate threads of musical consciousness together through superior musicianship and sophisticated recording technique. On one hand, he is experimenting with electronic music and musique concrete. He has obviously learned a great deal from Varèse and Stockhausen, and his use of polyrhythmic structures shows a highly evolved musical intelligence.

Running concurrently with this is his use of fifties "greasy" music. Zappa goes way beyond just a pale revival of old rock and roll. Songs like "Eddie My Love" and "In The Still Of The Night" are treated with great love and respect. They are always considered as perfectly viable esthetic entities. Zappa has absorbed the fifties culture along with the music through first-hand experience. Every nuance is reproduced with perfect fidelity for the actual psychic "feel" of that era.

Every Mothers album is a delicately balanced mixture of tape collage, brilliant jazz-rock improvization by talented musicians like Ian Underwood, Don Preston, Sugarcane Harris, and Zappa himself, integrated sound effects, and a profound retrospective of recent "pure" American music forms. Zappa is essentially an American "pop culture" scholar of the highest calibre. His genius transcends every form he deals with. If you already know all this, you're lucky. If this is the first time you've heard of Zappa, try entering his universe for a while. It's well worth it.


Disc, November 28, 1970


Lisa Mehlman, New York

Mothers of Invention were on with Sha-Na-Na. They still have Frank Zappa, but that's about the only thing that approaches the original group. Aynsley Dunbar is on drums, and ex-Turtle Howard Kaylan on vocals. The music was done extremely well, but some of the visual excitement is gone. I for one am getting a bit tired of Frank Zappa's cynicism and put-downs of the audience. He announced after about 40 minutes that they were through. But the kids were screaming for more. He came back on and said: "Oh, I guess we've been given a reprieve, we'll stay a bit longer." Sure, Frank. I left.



[...r:] I used to think Frank Zappa was a hero then I thought he was a person now I think he's just an old man in rock and roll clothes . . .

by Anne Marie Micklo

[...]aying It On The Line: You definitely should see this movie. If you have a [...o]rmant visual imagination, it will be rejuvenated beyond your wildest dreams. If you have a flair for the absurd, you will be enchanted—by the [...]ance of the newts, the industrial vacuum cleaner, Ringo's impersonation of [h]airy scary Frank, to pick just a few. If you've never thought of the horror a [...]our of one-night stands must be, you'll leave enervated by the very thought. If you have great expectations, only some of them will be fulfilled. What the hell—fifty-fifty ain't bad these days.

[...]edging The Point: The gist of the story of "200 Motels" is something like, touring can leave you crazy, lazy, jaded, faded, paranoid, horny, weary, [...]leary, and a host of other dismal stuff. Underneath the gist, however, lies the [g]istette, which is something like, the Invention Way is the One Way, the True Way, and if you dare to Leave The Mothers To Make It Big On Your Own And Form A New Supergroup you will die, die, die (fade from Grand Funk [s]ingle). Like most issues in the movie, this last is treated in the grand old Hollywood cliche style, with the hyperbole clearly stretched to its most absurd limits. But while the truth of it is certainly open to some question, it's downright eerie to see the theory unfolded in terms of the legio of ex-Mothers who have struck out on their own (the album is dedicated to "anybody who was ever in the Mothers"). Fodder for thought?

Reprise: I can't help feeling that Zappa says a lot more when he doesn't have anything moralistic (or immoralistic) to say; when his intent (disillusionment, bitterness) is obvious, as on most of "We're Only in it for the $$," for instance, he becomes the patronizing Frank Zappa of live concert fame: "Oh-kay boyz and girrls," deprecating gesture shuts off naive applause, etc. I can't buy it. "Uncle Meat," I feel, is far superior to "We're Only in it," because the music has no message—that is Frank Zappa's medium. Hearing "Absolutely Free" changed my life; seeing "200 Motels" gave me a pleasant afternoon and some imaginative ideas. Ah still loves yah Frank, but it's getting harder to figure out why.


Fillmore East

The promotional tour of Europe that year proved to be the archetypal road-life fiasco, with the group's equipment completely incinerated during a concert in Montreux, Switzerland (as per Deep Purple's hit "Smoke On The Water"), and Zappa nearly killed when a crazed buffoon pushed him offstage into the pit of London's Rainbow Theater. After a month in the hospital, Zappa retired to a 9 month wheel chair stint, during which he managed to do no interviews and simultaneously write a musical play an assortment of scores, put together for Mercury Records a real live touring version of Ruben & The Jets, and produce four albums: JUST ANOTHER BAND FROM L.A., WAKA-JAWAKA, RUBEN & THE JETS FOR REAL, and GRAND WAZOO. The latter event was prepared for roadability and shuttled across a couple of continents, heralding F.Z.'s return to the rock stage attractively bonded in a surgical brace

Grand Wazoo rehearsal

Right, F.Z., Joanne McNabb and Earl Dumler at the La Brea rehearsal hall preparing for Grand Wazoo recording session.

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