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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 14th, 2010 10:22 AM
Jason Penick wrote:
Thanks for the Pretties cover, Jon!

No problem! As I go along, if I forget anything, let me know. I'm hitting the four "Lather split-up" or "Lather originals" album covers (depending on who you believe) next. Those are actually some of my favorites in the canon.
December 14th, 2010 12:34 PM
Jon The first of the four "Lather" split-up discs, "Studio Tan." Also my favorite of them. I believe these drawings are mid-70s Cal Schenkel, and they're magnificent.

(Edited by Jon)
(Edited by Jon)
December 14th, 2010 12:40 PM
Jon Number two: Sleep Dirt.

(Edited by Jon)
December 14th, 2010 12:44 PM
Jon I don't know if the varigated color in the "Studio Tan" lettering is brush strokes or bad jpeg artifacting, and I didn't wanna risk it, either, btw.
December 14th, 2010 01:06 PM
S Giacomelli Thanks for this batch, Jon! They were ackshully done by Gary Panter.
December 14th, 2010 01:17 PM
Jon Ahhhh -- good to know!

(Edited by Jon)
December 14th, 2010 01:48 PM
Jon I cleaned up Studio Tan a lot, and that's what you see in the thread here.

December 14th, 2010 02:58 PM
IanWagner Chronology 1968 Part 2

Cruising With Ruben And The Jets, finished at Apostolic Studios in early 1968, was the fourth album release by The Mothers Of Invention, and another classic.
Their "back to basics" album, it coincided with an overall movement in post-psychedelic rock and roll which began with The Beach Boys' Wild Honey and Bob Dylan's John Wesley Harding, continuing with The Beatles' Lady Madonna single, Ruben And The Jets, The Band's Music From Big Pink and The Rolling Stones' Jumpin Jack Flash single.
Zappa's aims were simple: to create a simple, basic rock and roll album, with simple chord changes, simple lyrics, altogether easy for the average rock and roll fan to relate to. The tape experiments and progressive arrangements of the latest Mothers releases were nowhere to be found.
The roots of Ruben And The Jets can obviously be found in Zappa's own collection of R&B 45's, but the early collaborations with Ray Collins at Pal Studios in Cucamonga was the place where the two men were returning to with the album.
At least three songs on Jets were originally recorded at Pal. Four songs were recastings of Freak Out! album tracks. One was recorded at the beginning of the We're Only In It For The Money sessions.
But this nostalgic simplicity was somewhat deceptive. Artistic and sonic progression and development of themes are fully present on Jets, as they are on any other Zappa release.
In a way, the album brings the Zappa-Collins collaboration full circle, as the singer would leave the group later in 1968. Jets is certainly Collins' finest hour as a singer, and he should receive a lot of credit for the effect of the album. At points, Jets is more of a Collins album produced by Zappa than anything.
Despite this, Zappa snuck in two fully-solo recordings onto the album, one of which is the opening track. Cheap Thrills is an underheard Zappa gem, never to reappear in future work. In this track, Frank utilises the same varispeed techniques heard on Money, on both instruments and vocals. The patented Mothers/Zappa sexual humour can be found in this song, but in a slightly more tame, Hank Ballard-influenced manner. One measure of the influence of this song and LP can be found in the theme for the Sid and Marty Krofft children's program The Bugaloos, where the main groove of Thrills is very closely aped.
No. No. No. is the other Zappa solo track on Jets, and is also excellent, an uptempo romp with subtle undertones of Zappa cynicism. Frank's varispeed vocal-choir methods are very well displayed on this track.
The three tracks from the Pal Studios 1963 era are Love Of My Life, the Collins-Buff composition Deseri and the Zappa-Collins composition Fountain Of Love.
Life is perhaps the quintessential Jets track, with the basic sound of the album perfectly displayed. Very spare rhythm tracks featuring a small piano-bass-guitar-drums combo (Ian Underwood, Motorhead and Bunk Gardner are rarely in sight), and a vocal trio arrangement, with Collins on tenor lead, Zappa on bass vocal, Roy Estrada on Pachuco falsetto.
There are also subtle doses of 60's texture, such as the strange delay-repeat effects that alter the percussion. Deseri is given a splendid, breezy revisit here, with a rare appearance of the Mothers horn section, mixed in a subtle fashion. Fountain Of Love is another delight, with a lovely double-tracked Collins lead.
The first of the four Freak Out recastings is How Could I Be Such A Fool. The broken-up rhythms of the original recordings are straightened out here, and the result is overall a more heartfelt-sounding take on one of Zappa's most personal compositions.
I'm Not Satisfied was the most radical of the new arrangements, as the song was almost unrecognisable from the garage-blues symphony of Freak Out. The song was now another piano-triplet-based ballad, and was sung by Collins. Where on Freak Out, the very personal composition had skewed towards anger, here the mood is that of desolate sadness. This Jets track was one of Zappa's own personal favourites.
You Didn't Try To Call Me is given a very basic-sounding arrangement, with minimal percussion. Zappa's sped-up lead guitar overdubs are a subtle touch of modern Mothersism.
Anyway The Wind Blows (which had also been first recorded at Pal before its Freak Out form) is now a midtempo ballad, far from the nearly British Invasion-style pop song familiar from Freak Out. When the song would reappear in the setlists of the Flo & Eddie-era Mothers, this Jets arrangement would be the one used.
The finest of the new songs was Jelly Roll Gum Drop, a true hit-single-that-should-have-been. An extremely catchy bubblegum-pop song, Jelly Roll was a sexual double-entendre in the time-honoured Zappa tradition, but surely a more subtle one than some bubble-hits of the era, such as Sugar Sugar, Yummmy Yummy Yummy and Chewy Chewy.
The track was actually prepared in a unique mono mix for single release, but this was never issued. Jelly Roll may be the album's highlight, and another of Zappa's least-hailed classics.
Anything, likely to have been from the Pal era though no recording from that era has turned up, was a solo Collins composition. This totally straightforward, beautiful ballad is possibly the singer's finest performance, and another true Jets highlight.
Though the album has been tainted by characterisation as a solely parodic work, in fact Jets is fairly straight-faced for its duration. One of the two obviously satiric moments on the LP is Later That Night, which takes the doo-wop ballad form to an exaggerated extent, featuring a funny spoken Collins rap:

"Don't go baby, don't put me out on the street. You threw my best sharkskin suit out on the lawn, right on top of some dog waste"

The closing track is Stuff Up The Cracks, the other obviously humourous Jets cut, a doo-wop/death-rock genre-splice recorded during the early Money sessions and spruced up for inclusion on Jets. The searing, extended guitar solo, the only one of its kind on the album, was originally indicative of a less retro-specified intent for the project, but as the Jets finale, it leads the listener out of the nostalgic dreamworld, and back into "normal Mothers programming".
It is tempting to read further levels of subversive intent into the contents of the album, but they simply aren't there, which of course in the context of the Zappa/Mothers career was surprising and subversive in itself.
In a sleeve note inside the gatefold jacket, Zappa states directly "We made this album because we really like this kind of music".
The most ambitious element of the album was its bizarre cover design. This Cal Schenkel drawing was initially a part of the Uncle Meat film story, wherein a manager turns a teenage rock group into anthropomorphic animals for promotional purposes. Once the Ruben And The Jets fictitious band concept (strangely reminiscent of the Sgt. Pepper concept-is this a coincidence or further Zappa satire?) was hatched, the Schenkel creation was appropriated for the Jets album. In this manner, Jets and Meat were tied together in a similiar fashion to Money-Lumpy Gravy.
The Jets name was the one trumpeted on the front cover, which along with the accessible musical concept pointed to another aim of the project: a further try at getting the group on the radio. This was noted in a speech bubble on the front cover. Leaving nothing to chance aster the relative commercial success of Money, MGM produced an artist-identifying sticker on early copies.
The back of the cover featured an early high-school portrait of Zappa in Pachuco guise, accompanied by a hilarious faux-history of Ruben Sano and The Jets. In the gatefold, the Varese quote familiar from earlier Mothers LPs was amusingly amended to "The present-day Pachuco refuses to die!".
Again, however, the protracted delay before release would make the group seem like latecomers to a musical movement they were actually among the first to explore. The Money LP hadn't even been released yet, and Lumpy Gravy was in line after that. Jets would have to wait until the final month of the year for release, and by that time the group were already signed to another label.
Jets would be another of the Mothers albums that Zappa would desecrate in the 1980's, by rerecording the rhythm sections. This process did even more harm to Jets than it had to Money, as the retro musical concept of the project was utterly destroyed. This "stoopid" mix of Jets was kept as the officially available version of the album for over two decades, even fter the Money mix was restored. Finally, in 2010, the deluxe set devoted to the album, Greasy Love Songs, restored the original LP stereo mix.

Jets was another album to receive very little attention in Mother live sets of the era. Jelly Roll Gum Drop had at least one outing on the overseas tour of 1967, but the other new compositions on the album (as well as Stuff Up The Cracks) would not be heard again in Zappa's career. Among the Pal-era songs, Love Of My Life would become a staple of 1980's setlists. Among the Freak Out-derived tracks, You Didn't Try To Call Me and Anyway The Wind Blows would be resurrected n the Flo & Eddie Mothers lineup. How Could I Be Such A Fool and I'm Not Satisfied would reappear in the mid-70's.
Jets wouldn't be among the most commercially successful or critically-lauded Zappa-Mothers efforts, seen as a typ of side-trip when in fact it was the clearest expression of one of the musical main-veins of Zappa's artistic identity.
But Jets has a devoted cult following within Zappa's devoted cult following, and it should be properly seen as another Mothers-era masterwork.
December 14th, 2010 03:00 PM
S Giacomelli Yes! Extended teenage lunchbreak time!
December 14th, 2010 03:41 PM
Jon My vinyl copy is one of my prized possessions. I see it as a crucial bit -- eventually Zappa would incorporate standard song structures and doo-wop even more than he did in the 60s, and this is kind of the first step that direction. Great writing, too!
December 14th, 2010 04:07 PM
halleluwah I really am fascinated by Zappa's level of affection for 50s doo-wop music, even when he was in his most high-minded, "I'm a composer!" moments. I love how in that Hit Parader interview, he pretty much scoffs away any of the other white rock and roll bands around him, but displays a real, glowing enthusiasm for only two musical subjects: Varese and other modern classical music, and doo-wop. And the thing is, the way he discusses them, you can tell they're on more or less equal footing in his heart. He's just about the only serious composer I can imagine taking 50s teenager music as seriously as 'real' composition, and discussing it with the same amount of reverence. That whole spiel he goes on about doo-wop, where he states, "to me, that is the only real folk music that Americans can look to," kind of says it all for me about why he loved that music.

So yeah, I totally agree that people who assume that the Ruben and the Jets album must be some kind of wicked satirical skewering of the genre are way off the mark. Once you hear Zappa speaking about his love for doo-wop, you know it's something he'd never want to make any attempt to tear down and destroy, like he wanted to for Top 40 pop. He might have gotten a little jokey with it at times, but never in a manner that sounded in any way malicious.
December 14th, 2010 04:09 PM
IanWagner J, you will LOVE the KSAN and KPPC broadcasts from late 1968 when he plays a large selection of his favourite R&B records and discusses them in detail.
December 14th, 2010 04:25 PM
IanWagner wrote:
J, you will LOVE the KSAN and KPPC broadcasts from late 1968 when he plays a large selection of his favourite R&B records and discusses them in detail.
Yeah, that sounds amazing. There's not much that's more infectious than hearing somebody talking about music they love in a really passionate, in-depth manner that shows you they have fucking STUDIED this stuff and know it inside and out. Especially when that person is that articulate, and does brilliant work himself. Stuff like that is a real treat.
December 14th, 2010 04:30 PM
Jon Barely had to even TOUCH this one. That weird pattern, btw, is on the vinyl. It's on every single scan/photo.

December 15th, 2010 10:03 AM
Jon Sheik Yerbouti!

Lots of color correction / black level stuff on this one. Most people's scans are too light, too yellow, or cut off an inch around the thing.
December 15th, 2010 02:22 PM
Jason Penick Ian, do you know anything about what Moop was or was supposed to be? I haven't been able to track down any info on the web, but from what I can ascertain from this Oct. '67 Hit Parader ad, it was perhaps an early name for what was to become Bizarre/ Straight. I'd love to know more!

December 15th, 2010 02:36 PM
IanWagner I don't know anything about that, but from the small type that reads "A product of Douglas International", I would presume that Zappa and Cohen were introduced to Alan Douglas while in New York, possibly by Jimi Hendrix, and temporarily considered going into business together.
December 15th, 2010 02:38 PM
Jon I'm sure Ian can fill in the gaps, but Moop was exactly that -- a label Alan Douglas wanted to start, and Frank and Cal Schenkel were gonna be involved in a marketing / design / production capacity. I know Cal's sleeve for "Burnt Weeny Sandwich" was originally done for an Eric Dolphy record that was gonna be on Moop. At the last minute Douglas pulled out and it was quashed, probably leading to what eventually would become Bizarre / Straight.

December 15th, 2010 02:38 PM
Jon Ha -- yes, we both said the same thing. I read about it in an interview with Cal Schenkel.
December 15th, 2010 02:52 PM
Jason Penick
Jon wrote:
I know Cal's sleeve for "Burnt Weeny Sandwich" was originally done for an Eric Dolphy record that was gonna be on Moop. At the last minute Douglas pulled out and it was quashed, probably leading to what eventually would become Bizarre / Straight.

Let me guess, Douglas wanted to replace all the original bass and drum tracks with his session guys and Frank bailed? =]

Just kidding. You guys seriously amaze me with your knowledge. Another small Zappa mystery solved.

Hmmm, I wonder if Frank decided to add new instrumentation to Money and Ruben after checking out Crash Landing and Nine to the Universe? Nah, couldn't be!
December 15th, 2010 03:08 PM
Jon It's not so much "you guys" as "just Ian" with the encyclopaedic knowledge -- I just happened to stumble across this in an interview when I was researching cover stuff!

BTW: Here is 200 Motels -- WITH RINGO RESTORED BACK IN, like he's meant to be!!

I don't know the story of why he was removed but presumably due to label intervention.
December 15th, 2010 03:11 PM
Jason Penick Amazing as always, thank you!!
December 15th, 2010 03:22 PM
IanWagner Jon, have you seen that retarded Tony Palmer-supervised DVD release of 200 Motels? That may be the absolute worst thing I have ever seen.
December 15th, 2010 04:10 PM
IanWagner wrote:
Jon, have you seen that retarded Tony Palmer-supervised DVD release of 200 Motels? That may be the absolute worst thing I have ever seen.

Oh my god -- no, I haven't. What's bad about it??

I didn't even know it WAS on DVD. I lost my VHS copy years ago. Thank god I know it BY HEART.
December 15th, 2010 04:15 PM
IanWagner It was copied from some terrible release print, is in the wrong aspect ratio, it looks worse than the VHS, and MUCH worse than the TCM broadcasts, and it has parts chopped out to mask print damage at reel joins. For instance, it doesn't have Ringo's comments about stuffing his pants, or, most tragic for me, Lucy's line "I get so hot thinking about perversions!", which is one of my favourite lines in the whole movie. Plus Palmer's commentary is the most untruthful, self-serving garbage I have had the misfortune to hear.
December 15th, 2010 04:48 PM
most tragic for me, Lucy's line "I get so hot thinking about perversions!"

YOU CAN'T CUT THAT LINE! You can't cut a single line out of that movie. Oh my god.

Will it ever get a proper DVD release? Is that in the capricious hands of Gail Zappa?
December 15th, 2010 04:56 PM

Oddly, Amazon doesn't even have a listing for said DVD. The top hit is for the VHS, which somehow they still have a copy in stock.
December 15th, 2010 05:03 PM
Jon It's jumping too far ahead in the chronology, but if anybody hasn't seen this yet, everybody NEEDS to see this.
December 15th, 2010 05:09 PM
Beckner I'm downloading it now, I've not ever seen it, but weirdo movies with Ringo cameos are like MY FUCKIN' FORTE.
December 15th, 2010 05:18 PM
Beckner wrote:
I'm downloading it now, I've not ever seen it, but weirdo movies with Ringo cameos are like MY FUCKIN' FORTE.

It's not a cameo. He stars in it. As Frank Zappa. Keith Moon is a cameo. He threatens to OD while wearing a nun's habit. It is one of the best movies ever made. Possibly my favorite music-related film.
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