Wax Poetic: Frank Zappa presents Freak Out

It’s not that deep… no resounding nor 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.


  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!

  2. I love Frank Zappa-He was Pure Genius
    “Mock Wars fought by little boys swinging chains of thought in the empty boxcars of my train of thought!
    My 3rd eye was on the blink, but I think I saw it wink! Expressions were set like braces, we did a dash for the cash!
    There was a scream on the racist faces and some brother was left lying there mashed on the track and someone said the ego is back!
    As the former terra firma farmer defects to the city, driven by his karma and the horror of his aura. Blinded by the the flashes from the past, but evolution is the only revolution that last!
    Then my four year old, she turns to me is a childs’ rich simplicity and says ” Dad you sure are heavy!”
    But what she means is that I’m strong and that it won’t be long before I’m able to deal with my petty lower self, that deformed elf from off the astral shelf hidden in the closet of one of my seven houses.
    You see we are ll novelties obviously, but why must we be for sale!
    I say that we are all novelties obviously, but why must we be for sale!
    And where can you go to be sure that you know except deep inside?
    There is no place else to hide from the mile high wide tide orf tired lies,
    as all of our decisions flow from our televisions!
    As all of our decisions flow from our televisions.
    That subliminal criminal silently schemes. His sermon is terminal, his targets your dreams!
    Got you floating in limbo, you’ve chosen to lean,
    but you don’t let them know if you know what I mean.
    The subliminal criminal will kill off our kids, and fill them with chemicals so sales pyramid,
    He’s so subliminal, your television is a criminal!

    As the contents of our stupor markets kill the mice in the labs of Naders’ Raiders
    and we sit in judgement on one child’s behavior, never knowing that what you eat is what you are by far.
    You see, we are all novelties obviously, but why must we be for sale?

    All rights reserved, copyrighted 1990 by William D. Burton
    The San Francisco Bio-rhythm & Blues Mystic