Wax Poetic: Frank Zappa presents Freak Out

It’s not that deep… no resounding or epic thought patterns provoked my foray into Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. It was quite the opposite. This album, it was a breach of epic proportions… a breach of steadfast moral and virtue. Some perverted little lyrics wrapped up in shiny parchment paper.

I was starry-eyed and up in flames. I can bop to this set of tune, but I’ve got no rhythm. I could laugh at this joke, but it’s passed me by. I could sit and listen to this album for an eternity without ever breaching the pact I made with myself. Stay sane gal. Put it together woman. Pretend the world doesn’t exist simply within the confines of your record machine and get out and breathe that fine city air you’re so lucky to be strangled by. To hell with it. With parched lips I’ll just sip some boxed wine instead.

He’s a monotone patriot, composing clever abundance and splashing it all atop a psychedelic canvas. It’s colorful, it takes you on a journey. I liken it to being a kid again and hearing something for the first time. There may be melody similar but not a soul has brought this mania into such pristine view. It’s over nourished and underworked. It’s clandestine. Reveling in the upbeat sentiments and oddball lyric. I focus, it’s raw.

Zappa, you trap me. Your wayward heart captures the essence of music patterns in overdrive.

Freak Out is not particularly deep or metaphorical, this collection simply takes an absurd and mellow escape into the mind of its delusional captor. An ode to the beats of Motown, whimsy and chaos looming.

The lyrics… the sort that you come up with as you’re standing stark raving mad in a mist of a sprinkler. It’s a hot summer day, that’s your only escape. You babble incoherently and yet it makes perfect sense. You rush home, soaked…wet clothes leaving a trail on your pristine kitchen floor. Pen meets paper and lyric is reduced to song. Set to a beat that derives its inspiration from soul’s heyday groups, lending genius to otherwise absurdist ideas.

You’re an old pro, Zappa, and at this point you’d not even been in the game that long. Revered for your inane sense of distraction and entertainment… lauded as composer laureate. You succeed here. And, you succeeded there and… hell, we all wanted to vote because you said so. You’re more popular than ever and I still can’t make it past this record to covet your other goods.

Way before the times, and times they were a changing. This album had sex appeal and it was fat with cynicism and off-beat rhetoric. It kept a keen eye on the prize and left malcontents quaking in their trousers.

A side of far-out activism with a sprinkle of pop n’ roll. A middle finger aimed slightly at the fashion police. Popular sentiment be damned. This album took a rollicking glimpse into the famous notion of keeping up with the Jones’s. It didn’t, it killed their damn cat and buried it under a totem pole for safe keeping.

All in all, a sly record for a grumpy day. Or a grumpy record for a sly friend. I’ll be a fan for life, even if Lester Bangs disapproves. Even if he found Zappa addled with ego and preaching to the nearest choir of bellboys and busmen.

He was a clever nincompoop and a composer of perfectly sloppy prose set to the tune of whatever he deemed fit that day. He was a leader, not a follower and he presents his first tiny opus as this album ignites under that quirky, trembling needle.

May we all get together and simultaneously, Freak Out!

-Holly Jones, editor, OnTour Magazine

Photo Credits: A large thank you to the Zappa Family Trust for granting we, humble writers, a likeness of Frank. For use in our obtrusive ramblings on his innate talent for all things music.
Interesting Zappa Fact:
He adored coffee and nicotine. He loathed rampant drug use of any kind. He urged the American masses to get out to vote. He was a kind and gentle fellow and a family man.

One Comment

  1. Colin wrote:

    Loved this. Also pretty sure the whole album was produced over a 3 day weekend by sneaking into a studio. Apostrophe is still my favorite though. Thanks for posting!