Freak Out! – The Mothers of Invention (1966)


Freak Out!, the 1966 debut album by Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention was one of the first two-record sets of the rock era (Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde beat it by a week) and it was definitely the first two-record debut by any group. Although the album wasn’t a commercial success, making it only to #130 on the Billboard charts, it immediately established the archly intellectual Frank Zappa in the very first rank of rock musicians. In fact, Paul McCartney was said to be so impressed with Freak Out! that the album apparently provided the initial inspiration for The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s album. At first there may not have been a lot of listeners, but most certainly the right people were tuning into Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention’s freaky vibe from the start. Freak Out!was produced by legendary African-American record producer Tom Wilson, who also worked with Simon and Garfunkel, Sun Ra, The Velvet Underground, Eric Burdon and The Animals and Bob Dylan (Wilson produced three Dylan albums and the ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ single). The story goes that Wilson signed The Mothers to MGM thinking that they were a white blues band. He had heard just one song. ‘Trouble Every Day,’ when he saw them at a club on the Sunset Strip and incorrectly assumed the group was something like Al Kooper’s group, The Blues Project! They were anything but. The Mother’s uncompromising sound was an unheard of combination of corny doo-wop (which Zappa both loved and parodied mercilessly), R&B, tape manipulations, musique concrète ala Zappa’s idol Edgard Varese, free jazz, shifting time signatures, classical music touches and trenchant satirical social observations (Zappa was nasty to both ‘straights’ and hippies in equal measure, even his own audience had their noses tweaked by Frank Zappa, one of history’s ultimate non-conformists). The story of the early days of the Mothers of Invention is a fascinating one, but basically, the Cliff Notes version is this. In 1965, Frank Zappa, a would-be film soundtrack composer, recording studio owner and rock guitarist living in the incredibly boring San Bernadino country city of Rancho Cucamonga, CA was invited to join a local rhythm and blues band called the Soul Giants. …”
Dangerous Minds – Hungry Freaks, Daddy: Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention’s ‘Freak Out,’ a listener’s guide
W – Freak Out!
Genius (Audio)
YouTube: Freak Out – full album 15 videos

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