June 27, 2016

50 years ago today — The Mothers of Invention released "Freak Out!"

"Often cited as one of rock music's first concept albums, the album is a satirical expression of frontman Frank Zappa's perception of American pop culture. It was also one of the earliest double albums in rock music (although Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde preceded it by a week)...."

It's not too late to ask...

Who Are The Brain Police?

And the other important questions, still so relevant today: What will you do when the label comes off and the plastic's all melted and the chrome is too soft? and What will you do if the people you knew were the plastic that melted and the chromium too?

I've been asking that question for 50 years.


mezzrow said...

For me, formative. I wish we'd had him around a little longer.

YoungHegelian said...

I bought "Freak Out" when I was 14 (it had been out for a while by then). I brought it over to my friend's house a few days after he had been picked up by the police for some minor infraction. I played "Who are the Brain Police", & as the Zappa sang the line

What will you do if we let you go home..

my friend said "Huh! That's what the cops asked me the other day down at the station.".

YoungHegelian said...

Go look at the Wikipedia link above & check out the length in minutes of each side of the LPs. Twelve, thirteen minutes. WTF! All 4 sides of FO could be fit on one CD!

I know LP sides were shorter in 1966 than even a few years later, but 12 minutes! Verve (then primarily a jazz label) took all us little weirdoes to the cleaner on this one!

FullMoon said...

"Trouble comin' every day" but "It can't happen here".

Dan Truitt said...

I always hated Zappa and couldn't understand his popularity. He was supposed to be cool and contrarian, but I always thought he was a cacophonous hack.

Jim said...

who could imagine, that they would Freak Out, in Kansas?
As a Kobach loving, Brownback defending Kansan, I love it.

YoungHegelian said...

@Blog Admins (AKA Prof. Althouse & Meade)

Could you please delete News Every Hour Blog from this post & the previous post. He's a spammer & the links are fake.

Thank you!

Ann Althouse said...

I remember my brother and me annoying our parents on a long car trip, from New Jersey to Ann Arbor by singing "Who coukd imagine that they would freak out in" each of the cities we passed.

If you know anything about my parents, you know the exhibited exactly zero annoyance, no matter how many times we did it. My mother's longtime credo was: [if you react] You'll only encourage them.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Young Hegelian.

Marc Lowenstein said...

In response to Mr. Truitt --


He was a lot of things, a hack he was not. He might have copped to "cacophonous" at times, but would have taken you around the block a few times asking what you meant by that and why.

This is a famous video in music circles, and has some bonus relevance to you union postings, Ann . . .

Fernandinande said...

Help. I'm a rock.

Titus said...

I thought you were referring to LeFreak by Chic.

Freak Out!

Love old disco. I was devastated when they blew up those disco records in that Chicago Baseball Stadium. I was like 4 thought they hated me.


Joe said...

That was complete shit.

khematite said...

1966 was also the release year for the Fugs' first two albums. The two groups were often lumped together for the edginess of their songs. Certainly not as musically gifted as Zappa & The Mothers, the Fugs were much grittier--NYC Lower East Side vs. San Diego.

surfed said...

The answer depended on the acid. The answer on a tab of orange sunshine was different from the answer on tab strawberry fields. Chromium meled at diffent rates between the two and the plastic... Never mind. I guess you had to have been there. It was a different space time continuum.

We prefered Blonde on Blonde. We made our own joke about Lebanese blonde hashish and the little brass - blonde water pipes we used to spark it up with. It was more...organic.

Robert Cook said...

"I know LP sides were shorter in 1966 than even a few years later, but 12 minutes! Verve (then primarily a jazz label) took all us little weirdoes to the cleaner on this one!"

The technology of vinyls lps limits the maximum length each side can be. I think that limit is effectively about 20 minutes, but 15 or 16 minutes per side was usually the average. Some artists wanted the records to be "hot," that is, the wanted the music to be particularly loud and resonant, and this required that the grooves be wider, thereby shortening even more the length each side could be.

Also, pop artists then were expected to produce two (or maybe even three) albums a years...jazz musicians produced even more than that. How much music can touring (or even non-touring) artists be expected to write in any given year...(and be good)?

I sort of liked parts of Zappa's ABSOLUTELY FREE and I adore ALL of WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH. Aside from that, Zappa's music--and his alleged satirical
humor--is complete anathema to me.

Don Van Vliet--Captain Beefheart--now he was the real deal!

Ann Althouse said...

My favorite Mothers album is "We're Only in It for the Money."

Ann Althouse said...

And I've got a soft spot for "Live at the Fillmore East."

YoungHegelian said...


The technology of vinyls lps limits the maximum length each side can be. I think that limit is effectively about 20 minutes, but 15 or 16 minutes per side was usually the average

No, RC, it was the record companies bleeping us over. I have in my hands one of the first classical recordings I ever bought, within a year or two of my purchase of "Freak Out". It's a Seraphim/Angel recording of Andre Cluytens/Berlin Philharmonic doing Beethoven's 9th (Cluytens died in 1968). Side 1 --- 36:06! Side 2 --- 34:40 Those grooves are packed so tight in the pressing!

There's no difference between recording the Mothers & the Berlin Philharmonic as to how much sound could be crammed on a side. Classical recordings demanded it, & popular didn't, so the record companies gave away as little as they had to us buyers.

YoungHegelian said...

Frank Zappa was responsible for me getting into Edgar Varese, too. Zappa really loved Varese's music & talked it up repeatedly in interviews, which was more than enough for little geeko me to check it out.

Integrales has been my favorite since high school. I do not, however, recommend it as date music.

rightguy2 said...

I second touts for "We're Only in It for the Money". Probably the last time FZ was really funny.

I bought all those records in high school and listened to them a lot. Freak Out is a great record. And this was on it :


Really holds up well, I would say.

I still listen to Zappa, but mainly the serious instramental stuff. Some of this could still be listened to in the next century.


Clyde said...

My hippie uncle Leif had that album and played it for us. My favorite song was "Wowie Zowie" and the lines about "I don't even care if you shave your legs" "... brush your teeth" Etc. Amazing what will amuse a six-year-old.

YoungHegelian said...

We've gotten this far in a discussion of Frank Zappa, & no one has yet mentioned Hot Rats?

Admit it! If youse guys didn't eat yogurt, you'd have no culture at all!

ganderson said...

Ann- I too have a soft spot for "Fillmore East" , as well as "Just Another Band from LA". I always thought Frank should have had someone next to him saying "that's a good Idea, that's a bad idea..." He was a very good guitar player. I love the guitar work on "Roxy and Elsewhere" Eddie are you kidding?


Was a freshman at Case Tech when Raymond Wilding-White, holder of the Kulas Chair, produced a
concert of electronic music. After we took our seats, he stepped up to the (empty) stage and
pressed a button on a tape recorder. One of the 'selections' was 'Who are the Brain Police'.
Loved it at the same time as it blew my mind. (Donald Erb also involved with W-W in some
'happenings' which were quite fun. Cleveland a great city...may it survive the summer.)

('Freak Out' is actually in my car cd player rat now!)

Theodore James said...

Kind of the story of my life.

mikee said...

The lesson I took from Zappa as a teen was "Don't you eat the yellow snow."
Different album, I think, but so long ago, who knows?