The Record Room / The Rubber Room / Archives / 07-08-2011 / Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned on Freak Out!

Topie: Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned on Freak Out! Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
December 11th, 2010 07:13 PM
halleluwah wrote:
By the way, I listened to the most recent installment last night with the Zappa/Mothers interview, and like the one before it, it's also entertaining as all hell. The first interview, with Zappa alone talking about all the technical aspects of record-making, is really fascinating. That guy totally knew his shit in the studio; it's fascinating hearing him give such a long and detailed explanation of the techniques and equipment he used to make those records. And then the second part, where some of the other Mothers are present, was just a riot. Motorhead and Jimmy Carl Black both have the type of speaking voices where pretty much everything they say is funny, no matter what. Motorhead especially; before this thread, I had always assumed for some reason that all the stuff about girls and cars from Lumpy Gravy was somebody putting on a goofy voice and making fun of people who kind of talk like that, but even in regular conversation, that's exactly the way that guy speaks. Even when he's just talking about the proper way to make strawberry salads, he's just hilarious to me. And the creepy voice/sound effects improvisation was kind of amazing; did they just do that entire thing live in the studio as it was broadcast? The thought of tuning in and hearing something that cool in a live rock band interview on a radio station is kind of incredible.

ALRIGHT!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for listening to this stuff and commenting, J.
December 11th, 2010 07:18 PM
the captain
IanWagner wrote:

Jeff Simmons' Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up
I didn't realize he had a solo album. Around the 200 Motels / quitting? Looking forward to hearing about that.
IanWagner wrote: as well as Jean-Luc Ponty's King Kong album.
Looking forward to reading what you have to say there.
December 11th, 2010 07:46 PM
the captain wrote:
I didn't realize he had a solo album. Around the 200 Motels / quitting? Looking forward to hearing about that.

Jeff's Zappa-produced album is actually from just before he joined The Mothers. He had two solo albums on Bizarre, actually. The first was the soundtrack to Naked Angels.
December 11th, 2010 07:51 PM
IanWagner wrote:
And that Ruben And The Jets album For Real.

Another tearjerker.
December 11th, 2010 07:53 PM
Jon Okay, I spent ALL DAY on this. Which is probably ridiculous, but there you go.

From what I can tell, this was all found in an auction of Zappa-related stuff. It's included with info about a Lather test pressing -- I don't know what label. It has lots of documentation about what's on each side, timing, etc. and also this image:

...which is apparently the cover whichever label designed for the proposed box.

Out of which I extrapolated this:

(edit: added the upgraded photo!!)

Let me tell you how hard it was to get the "Joe's Garage" lettering off the photo. Let me just tell you. Took the better part of the afternoon that I wasn't shoveling!!

(Edited by Jon)
December 11th, 2010 07:55 PM
G2 Swell done!
December 11th, 2010 07:57 PM
IanWagner That looks fucking great. That's gonna appear all over the Internet soon, I bet.
December 11th, 2010 08:14 PM
Jon Slight upgrade. Nobody else will be able to tell the difference, but if this thing's going to be all over the interwebs at some point, I want it to be perfect!!

December 11th, 2010 08:55 PM
the captain
Jon wrote:
Took the better part of the afternoon that I wasn't shoveling!!

Why were you wasting your time? I gave it a go and within about 45-60 minutes you couldnt tell I'd been there. So now I'm holding off til tomorrow. Fuck it. (Great work on the cover, btw.)
December 11th, 2010 11:50 PM
Jon Ruben and the Jets, "For Real." Great album. Bet nobody has a good cover scan of THIS little sucka!!

December 12th, 2010 12:20 AM
Leo K Listening to the mono Absolutely Free.

Just amazing all the way. I can't get over how great this stuff is.

December 12th, 2010 12:22 AM
Jon Jean Luc Ponty's "King Kong." I've not heard this one -- can't wait 'till we get there!

December 12th, 2010 12:37 AM
Jon ...and Jeff Simmons!! With the correct Straight logo instead of the reissue label.

December 12th, 2010 01:05 AM
Jon wrote:

Let me tell you how hard it was to get the "Joe's Garage" lettering off the photo. Let me just tell you. Took the better part of the afternoon that I wasn't shoveling!!

Oh man, yeah. Stuff like that, where you're just laboring with those clone tool adjustments, trying to make sure it doesn't LOOK like a bunch of clone tool marks, can be a total nightmare. Especially when part of what you're removing is over somebody's face and hair. Really nice job getting that to look that good, Jon.
December 12th, 2010 11:20 AM
IanWagner Aww, those look great! The Simmons in particular is a work of art.
December 12th, 2010 11:29 AM
Jon They are such beautiful designs to begin with!!
December 12th, 2010 01:40 PM
Jason Penick Jon... Is there any way I could implore you to work your magic on Pretties for You? I know Ian said he wasn't going to cover it, but it's one of my favorite records and quality scans of the cover are really hard to come by. Plus the painting itself was one that hung in Frank's living room!
December 12th, 2010 02:20 PM
Jon A ha, right. I looked at that one online, it's a nifty cover, very ahead of it's time. Could have graced a new wave album in the early 80s. I'll take a look at it.
December 12th, 2010 02:29 PM
Jon Who has a vinyl copy?? I found a great scan I can work off of, but what the heck is the correct color of the background? Is it white, or purple? And is the yellow lettering darker or lighter than the purple? How does it stand out from it?
December 12th, 2010 02:50 PM
December 12th, 2010 03:54 PM
Jon Light greyish purple, light yellow. Got it.
December 12th, 2010 05:29 PM

Here ya go!!
December 12th, 2010 06:37 PM
Leo K
Jon wrote:

Here ya go!!

What an interesting cover! What does this album sound like?

December 12th, 2010 07:05 PM

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December 12th, 2010 07:12 PM
Leo K wrote:
What an interesting cover! What does this album sound like?

Like driving in the interstate at top speed in a 68 camaro with your windows down while a bunch of sweaty cross-country runners shout/sing fuzzed out nursery rhymes on cheep beer and brown acid. Kinda.
December 13th, 2010 03:24 PM
IanWagner Chronology 1967 Part 8-1968 Part 1

A short home/field recording from late 1967, later released on The Lumpy Money Project, provides a clear picture of the home life of Frank Zappa and family. The excerpt begins with various coos and cries from baby Moon Unit. Frank then plays one of his tape constructions, which ends with a menacing feedback/echo explosion. Frank asks if it scared the baby, but Gail says Moon liked it. Zappa funnily responds "What's wrong with her?". Moon's fondness for her father's music would later, of course, produce hit results a decade and a half later.
Also around this time, despairing of The Mothers' lack of paying work, drummer Billy Mundi was lured away by Elektra head Jac Holzman, to become a part of the label's created "supergroup" Rhinoceros. After this group failed to set the world on fire, he would be a part of The Mothers' brief "reunion" tour in May 1970.
Apostolic engineer Dick Kunc suggested Mundi's replacement, the classically trained talent Art Tripp. Art was immediately accepted into the fold, becoming a major part of The Mothers' sound for the next two years.
Hailing from this era is a 25-minute, stereo soundboard-recorded section of a Mothers show, from one of their infrequent late-1968 touring excursions. This tape has been attributed to a performance on December 3rd at the Detroit venue Fifth Dimension, but this is uncertain.
Wherever it is from, the recording is important, bridging a significant gap in live Mothers history, between the overseas tour of fall 1967 and the spring 1968 shows.
The tapes cuts in with an in-progress conducted horn-percussion-snork improvisation. After a particularly long snork, Zappa states "Theoretically, this music is for pigs", and then cues the band into America Drinks, which receives warm applause from the audience.
Drinks segues into Hungry Freaks Daddy. It is interesting that the group were still playing their earliest, simplest material on stage, when their studio recordings had progressed so rapidly over the last year.
The newest piece of material on the tape is King Kong, given here a blazing, 15-minute reading. In terms of furious power, this is the finest live Mothers performance to this date. Coming out of the Kongfest, the group play Status Back Baby, and the tapes cuts out about halfway through this.
One final piece of audio dating from approximately this time in late 1967 is Randomonium. This is another of Zappa's sped-up, garbled tape-collage pieces, and has only been released on the bootleg circuit.
Just before the end of the year, Frank undertook one of the most surprising and infamous assignments of his career, a guest spot on the TV show of the alternately beloved and despised artificial (real "plastic") pop group The Monkees.
The Monkee members had each been given the go-ahead to select a guest star to interact with, as episode filler for the second season of the show. Davy Jones chose composer friend Charlie Smalls, Micky Dolenz chose Tim Buckley, Peter Tork chose Pete Seeger (a spot never filmed), and the "difficult" member of the troupe, Mike Nesmith, chose Frank Zappa.
Though this meeting of the minds seemed unlikely at the time, the group were in the process of systematically dismantling their own "plastic" image, and Zappa was all too happy to help out.
In the spot, Zappa and Nesmith switch identities, Frank donning Mike's trademark wool hat and one of the Monkee blue stage uniforms, Mike donning an un-tucked white shirt, unkempt wig, falsebeard and mustache, and a big false nose, which repeatedly falls off during the spot. This was likely to have been Zappa's idea, as he would employ a similar ruse in 200 Motels, with Ringo Starr taking his place.
During the "interview", some very funny quips are exchanged. When "Mike" asks "Frank" how The Mothers got together, "Frank" says "it was more of a "come on guys, let's go" kind of thing", which "Mike" responds to by saying "That's like The Beach Boys!". "Mike" says that when he quits The Monkees, he is going to join The Byrds, a reference to current popular rumour after Mike actually had joined that group on stage recently.
"Frank" then criticises The Monkees music as "banal and insipid", and in the exchange that follows, Frank seems to forget the identity swap. "Frank" then reminds him of it, declaring himself "dirty, gross and ugly". At this, Frank looks at the camera and actually seems fairly peeved. This points to the main feature of the clip in Zappa history, which is that for one of the only times in his history, he is not fully in control of his environment. He has met his match in terms of a powerful artistic personality prone to outbursts of patronising anger and cutting wit.
The two then take to the piano for a cruel parody of Davy and Charlie Smalls' demonstration of soul through time signatures in their spot. The conclusion of the segment features the two "playing" a car, smashing and deconstructing it to the tune of The Mothers' Mother People. The final shot is the pair setting off a fire extinguisher directly at the camera-viewer. One of the most bonkers, madmen-at-the-controls moments in American TV history, the Zappa-Nesmith meeting is a true classic.
The exposure that Zappa must have gained due to this highest of high-profile TV appearances is incalculable. And Frank loved promotion. When he was offered a cameo in The Monkees' upcoming feature film, he gladly accepted.
As 1968 began, Frank again appeared on TV (the local Allan Burke Show, an appearance that has not survived), and the second set of Uncle Meat sessions took place early in the year.
A piece that has been aired in collectors' circles (dubbed "1968 Studio Fun"), where Frank and the group tell various exaggerated personal anecdotes and jokes, backed with various studio tricks, has been attributed to this time.
One of the Uncle Meat tracks worked on in this era was the classic Zappa composition Dog Breath. As with many of his vocal-oriented works of the time, this was initially composed as an instrumental piece, with lyrics composed very late in the process.
A mix of the song lacking lyrics and lead vocals, but containing the various twisted doo-wop background vocal chants from the full group, was later issued as the flipside of the My Guitar single in September of the following year. This highlights not only the backing vocals, but the guitar and horn parts, as well as the gorgeous melody.
Zappa conducted a few studio interviews for the Meat project, with various participants explaing how they entered the Mothers orbit. One of these, involving Ian Underwood, was included on the eventual LP release. Another, featuring Dick Kunc telling his own wonderfully coincidental story, was not issued until the archival compilation The Lost Episodes.
Another piece that has only appeared on bootleg releases is The Revenge Of The Knick Knack People, a heavily-treated 6-and-a-half minute avant tape construction.
One of the finest Zappa "field recordings" was captured during the Meat sessions, one that very clearly, and hilariously, portrays the situation faced by working in the low-rent Apostolic Studios.
Responding to yet another noise complaint from local residents in the early morning hours, two very caricaturistic-sounding policemen confront the studio inhabitants, while of course the entire incident is recorded.
Patrolman LaFamine seems fair enough, but he reminds the Apostolic crew that he and his fellow policemen look very bad responding to noise complaints night after night, and taking no serious action:

"Now if we ever get called down, if this ever goes to a big explosion, and they say, "Officer, what did you do, did you issue summonses?" They get, this is all in the rekkid book, how many times we've been up here. This is all rekkids. Now if these people wanna subpoena these rekkids, they can subpoena these rekkids. An' they can find out how many times we've been. This is us on, wait! This is us alone! An' they say, "Officer, what did you do? Warn 'em? You mean to tell me you were up here about twenty times an you never issued a summons?" "

At this, Frank jokingly tells everyone to stop making so much noise, and then offers the patrolmen a bun, which is refused, and the police leave. This entertaining segment was originally slated to be part of the original triple-album No Commercial Potential form of Uncle Meat, but was deleted when the project was scaled back. It was eventually released on The Lost Episodes.
Two more recordings from the Meat sessions that were left off of the final album were Dwarf Nebula Processional March & Dwarf Nebula, and the vocal version of Oh No. These were later selected for inclusion on the 1970 Weasels Ripped My Flesh LP.
A studio version of the frequent Mothers stage piece, Wedding Dress Song/Handsome Cabin Boy, was also recorded during the Meat era. An excellent recording, it is strange that it was not included on any of the albums released in 1969 and 1970. It eventually featured on two archival Zappa collections, Mystery Disc and The Lost Episodes.
One more outtake from early 1968 was Agency Man, another slightly paranoid government-obsessed song from Zappa's pen. Beginning with a humourous Don Preston piano solo, the song is not one of Zappa's most memorable, though it does contain this amusing verse:

When he's closed the schools
And burned the books the way we've planned
We'll get the press together
And the Barry Sadler Band!

All available studio versions of the song are presented as a work-in-progress, with much chat and joking between the band members, several of which are taking part in the vocal session. This interaction is the best feature of the recording.
Two different edits of the studio take are available on the collectors circuit, both featuring sections removed for the version officially released on Mystery Disc, which was segued out of a live version recorded in London later in 1968.
As the Uncle Meat project became tied to a film concept that Zappa was cooking up, Frank and Ray Collins came up with the concept for yet another album, to be titled Cruising With Ruben And The Jets.
The two men had decided that slow, close dancing was a lost art, and that they would provide just the sort of album that would reignite the romantic fires of teenage America. This album would consist entirely of the simplistic, three-chord, basic rock/R&B/doowop that Zappa and Collins were so fond of.
Some initial work towards this end (including the basic recording of the album's closing track) had actually been enacted at the beginning of the Money sessions the previous summer, but had been halted when Collins temporarily left the band.
In a quick, concentrated series of sessions early in 1968, the album was finished and set aside for future release, producing few outtakes.
On the Greasy Love Songs deluxe archival release devoted to the Jets LP, three alternate mixes of album tracks were included.
A mono mix of album highlight Jelly Roll Gum Drop highlights Zappa's acoustic guitar overdubs, Art Tripp's tympani and the delightful Mothers backing vocal work.
Another mono mix of the track was created for projected usage on a single, but unfortunately this never occurred.
The wonderful new Zappa composition No No No, on which he played the entire backing track himself, and is also responsible for all the many varispeeded vocal tracks, is presented in a vocal-centered alternate mix.
The Jets album wouldn't be among Zappa's most ambitious artistic ventures, but nevertheless, it would be among his most perfectly conceived and executed.
December 13th, 2010 04:19 PM
Dude ll Doo I'm grooving (slowly) on every word!
December 13th, 2010 04:31 PM
Jon As Am I!
December 13th, 2010 05:39 PM
Jason Penick Thanks for the Pretties cover, Jon!
December 14th, 2010 09:03 AM
Steak All great stuff in this embarrassment of riches!
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