Although one should not necessarily judge an album by its cover, in this case, it is acceptable to do so. Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention unleashed this interesting and primarily satirical record in 1968, way before the direct satire of Punk bands like The Sex Pistols a decade later. In any case, Frank Zappa was a pioneer in his unusual style of music and identity, and this should be a very interesting album to listen to. Let’s listen to it and judge what we have on offer, apart from a satire on the corporate agenda of most Rock music from the outset.
Are You Hung Up? begins this record with weird electronic noises and it is a strange joke on Hippy slang. It is really bizarre, with a whispered breakdown in it, showcasing the unusual brand of essential humour that Frank Zappa and co. had to offer. Shortly afterwards are some interesting guitars part, followed by a brief vocal sample before segueing straight into the next song.
Who Needs The Peace Corps? begins with joyful instrumentation, before launching into an anti Hippie statement that is perfect satire. John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) may have appreciated this mockery of Hippie lifestyle and ideals. The instrumentation is perfectly matched, with some saxophone in the background. A good joke about the counterculture in West Coast America, and this sounds like a perfect attack on the movement indeed. Fantastic and laugh out loud, this is awesome, segueing into the next track.
Concentration Moon begins with some interesting noises, before going into a parody of an old-style song that would not exist in today’s musical landscape. It is another great piece of music that has singing about many interesting subjects, and some more whispering follows in the midsection, before launching straight back into this obviously satirical song. An interesting song about hairy Hippies, very strange but to the point. A good listen all the same.
Mom & Dad begins with an interesting mixture of thunderous drums, and nicely mixed instrumentation and launches into a satirical tirade about not being accepted by one’s parents from different points of view. A weird and strange addition to this album, but nonetheless a great listen to hear, this is a direct expression against a selfish mentality that people may have. It’s good, but perhaps not the greatest song on here.
Telephone Conversation is just that, beginning with a ringing phone. Some talk occurs with a phone operator (which existed in those days) and there are some interesting and random conversations present. Not 100% essential to the album, but wacky anyway.
Bow Tie Daddy is another short pastiche that sounds weird. It sounds like Frank Zappa ripping apart the Kinks, which is weird, yet cool. Interesting 30-second long piece.
Harry, You’re A Beast begins with drum rolls in the right channel and glorious piano in the left channel. It then goes straight into another satirical piece aimed squarely at people and their sexual habits. Weird, yet wonderful, this segues into the next part of the album.
What’s The Ugliest Part Of Your Body? comes next and it is a Beatlesque parody aimed at the listener, once again. It dramatically changes in the second half and continues the legacy of sexual stupidity that people may have. Dramatic, cynical and direct, this album has surely aged better than Sgt. Pepper? It may indeed have done so in its own way, although no doubt was not as popular as that album by The Beatles.
Absolutely Free begins with a clanging piano that sounds very soothing. It is a strange step aside from the rest of the record and sounds like Frank Zappa and co. had a large bowl of musical influences. It quickly launches into an attack on the corporate nature of the Hippie movement, at least as The Mothers Of Invention saw it. A good piece of parody style music, this basically points to the sell-out nature of the music that was mainstream in the late 1960s. Rather catchy and very interesting listening, this is full of bizarre twists and turns throughout. There is an unusual sense of humour throughout. It ends with chanting, harpsichord and other dramatic time and melody changes. Excellent piece of music.
Flower Punk is another interesting joke track that is directly aimed at the hitchhikers who travelled up to San Francisco to join the Hippie scene there and other strange actions. The Hippie scene was massive in the USA in the late 1960s and this makes a direct attack on those who had joined the Hippie movement at the time. Weird, wonderful and enjoyable, there is a lot of sampled chatter that makes zero sense in the second half. Pretty weird and random, this is an odd piece to conclude with. Definitely unusual to listen to.
Hot Poop has more whispering in a track that is less than 30 seconds long, followed by reverse tapes. It’s weird all right, but remember, this was the late 1960s. Anything goes.
Nasal Retentive Calliope Music begins with some strange and futuristic sound samples, some of which are really out there musically. This sounds more like an experimental pastiche, rather than something typical of Pop/Rock of the day. It is likely to be a joke on the Hippie movement following along the lines of The Beatles Revolution 9, itself very much an experimental piece of music. Some drum beats finish this weird tune off, followed by more brief electronic sounds.
Let’s Make The Water Turn Black begins with some drum rolls, piano flourishes and acoustic guitars, before launching into another parody piece against the Hippie movement of the time. It sounds weird yet wonderful, and The Mothers Of Invention put in an odd story to hear. A good and unusual piece about railing against the Hippie movement, which was arguably needed at the time.
The Idiot Bastard Son begins with out of tune vocals and other staple Rock instrumentation of the day such as wah-wah guitar. This is about a child who suffers an unlucky fate. It goes into some completely random studio chatter, before returning to the main song at hand. Completely weird and not to be taken out of context, but entertaining nonetheless. A very unusual piece of music, this sounds very strange to hear. Full of strange sound effects, it ends with more whispering and nonsensical sound effects to match. Wacky music.
Lonely Little Girl begins with some fuzz electric guitar and rolling drumbeats, before launching into a parody tune that sounds really unusual. It has a huge amount of sounds and sound effects to conclude with, which is super weird.
Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance is more of the same out there strangeness from Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention. Another parody tune, this has an oddly normal sounding solo section, which is followed by more weird singing, chanting about the silly things people do. Interesting tune.
What’s The Ugliest Part Of Your Body? – Reprise begins with some loose bass guitar parts, before launching into a very good reprise of the earlier song on this album. The piece is cleverly pitch shifted and finishes with a decent twist. Out there.
Mother People begins with a strange concuction of sounds and multitracked vocals, before launching into a good piece with wah-wah guitar. It is a rather funny and catchy short piece of music that makes great sense, considering what the album is about thematically. A great piece of music, it quickly launches into an instrumental pastiche with clarinet and strings in the second half, before finishing with the refrain of the song, before concluding. Weird.
The Chrome Plated Megaphone Of Destiny is the last song here and the longest song as well, lasting over six minutes long. It begins with dark spacey sounds that go between the channels and it sounds super foreboding. It is likely a take on The Rolling Stones 2000 Light Years From Home. It certainly sounds weird and warped, more so than any other song on this album. It then proceeds into a strange and eerie instrumental that doesn’t sound normal at all. Avant-garde? Yes, definitely. The beeps and bleeps present do not make for comforting listening in the first half, but nonetheless this instrumental finishes off one of the most odd satirical albums ever. In any case, a bizarre listening experience. It goes into some interesting bass frequencies, before launching into some multitracked and multipitched laughter which is really strange. This perhaps is supposed to be like a bad LSD trip? The album takes a real aim at the Hippie movement, and this is unlikely to be any different in that sense. The sounds swirl in and out of audibility, and the whole instrumental is totally weird. There are various musical sounds throughout that sound like proto-Industrial Music. Eventually, an elongated bass note finishes this piece off, just like The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Silence then follows, as this album wraps up.
This is a good album that had what it took to destroy the Hippie movement. Despite that, the music on offer is incredibly weird and that can be off putting when considering how Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention were aiming to mock the Hippie movement. Nonetheless, a good listen from time to time that, although not great, made perfect sense in 1968. An interesting sonic journey all the same.
Beyond weird, yet wonderful in its own way.