2. I ain't got no heart
3. Who are the brain police?
4. Go cry on somebody else's shoulder
5. Motherly love
6. How could I be such a fool?
7. Wowie zowie
8. You didn't try to call me
|9. Any way the wind blows
10. I'm not satisfied
11. You're probably wondering why I'm here
12. Trouble every day
13. Help I'm a rock
14. It can't happen here
15. Return of the son of the monster magnet
How can I describe the experience of hearing the very first album by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention for the very first time at the tender age of 16? "Oh fuck, this isn't rock 'n' roll, this is...I don't know what the hell it is!" Of course this came to me after I was well into the second record of this two-record set and there had been plenty of rock 'n' roll before that but that wasn't anything like what I had expected either.
Let me tell you about 1966. There was major crap radio. Luckily there was some decent blues and rhythm and blues to be heard if you knew where to tune in. In addition there were The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds and The Animals and The Kinks and The Who and all those British bands that were at least a cut above crap. Locally there were dozens of local rock bands that varied from crap to semi-crap. Finally there was a growing underground music thing that was only just beginning to penetrate the radio airwaves with names like The Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, Lothar and The Hand People, The Grateful Dead, The Doors, Clear Light, Blue Cheer, and Cream. Did I forget to mention Bob Dylan? He was in there somewhere too.
What I heard on 'Freak Out' was like nothing the previous paragraph had prepared me for. Even though I had caught Frank and the boys on a local dance program and briefly at a Washington, DC club, that hadn't prepared me either. I was expecting another album of 'underground music,' vaguely blues-based and recognizable from the regular crap on the radio and all that Brit semi-crap. The problem I encountered is that my expectations had nothing to do with what I found on 'Freak Out.'
The first record of the set was in fact pretty recognizable rock 'n' roll though most of it was in a style that seemed conventional and rather old fashioned to me. It was the lyrics that got my attention...
There was one song tha I would listen to over and over again because of the way it made me feel. It must have been some kind of masochism because the song made my skin crawl! It included an instrumental section that was even creepier than the words (which were bad enough). I'm convinced I had nightmares because of this song...
Then it really got weird. The rest of the album wasn't even anything I recognized as music, let alone rock 'n' roll. I was hearing harmonies that weren't harmonius and rhythms that I was pretty sure weren't even rythmic. Does that make any sense? Return of the son of the monster magnet was an orgy of percussion creating rythms of a type I'd never heard before along with screaming and singing that didn't make any sense in any context with which I was familiar.
That's when I learned my first lesson from Frank Zappa. 'If it sounds good to you, it's music.' This sounded good to me; Hell it sounded great to me even though I could have never articulated why. I didn't know anything about polyrhythms or what it meant for a note to be outside the chord. All I knew was that I was excited enough to dance and laugh. Sometimes I wish I could hear that album without 30 years of experience and personal history the way I did in 1966.
Now I was hooked...