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AllMusic Review: Aside from the experimental side project Lumpy Gravy, Hot Rats was the first album Frank Zappa recorded as a solo artist sans the Mothers, though he continued to employ previous musical collaborators, most notably multi-instrumentalist Ian Underwood. Other than another side project — the doo wop tribute Cruising With Ruben and the Jets — Hot Rats was also the first time Zappa focused his efforts in one general area, namely jazz-rock. The result is a classic of the genre. Hot Rats’ genius lies in the way it fuses the compositional sophistication of jazz with rock’s down-and-dirty attitude — there’s a real looseness and grit to the three lengthy jams, and a surprising, wry elegance to the three shorter, tightly arranged numbers (particularly the sumptuous “Peaches en Regalia”). Perhaps the biggest revelation isn’t the straightforward presentation, or the intricately shifting instrumental voices in Zappa’s arrangements — it’s his own virtuosity on the electric guitar, recorded during extended improvisational workouts for the first time here. His wonderfully scuzzy, distorted tone is an especially good fit on “Willie the Pimp,” with its greasy blues riffs and guest vocalist Captain Beefheart’s Howlin’ Wolf theatrics. Elsewhere, his skill as a melodist was in full flower, whether dominating an entire piece or providing a memorable theme as a jumping-off point. In addition to Underwood, the backing band featured contributions from Jean-Luc Ponty, Lowell George, and Don “Sugarcane” Harris, among others; still, Zappa is unquestionably the star of the show. Hot Rats still sizzles; few albums originating on the rock side of jazz-rock fusion flowed so freely between both sides of the equation, or achieved such unwavering excitement and energy. — atlantis casino contests slot contest

Track Listing

Side one
No. Title Length
1. “Peaches en Regalia” 3:38
2. “Willie the Pimp” 9:21
3. “Son of Mr. Green Genes” 8:58
Side two
No. Title Length
4. “Little Umbrellas” 3:06
5. “The Gumbo Variations” 12:53
6. “It Must Be a Camel” 5:15
Total length: 43:11

 

Schill Score: 9.5/10

 

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We’re Only in It for the Money is the third studio album by American rock band the Mothers of Invention, released on March 4, 1968 by Verve Records. As with the band’s first two efforts, it is a concept album, and satirizes left and right-wing politics, particularly the hippie subculture, as well as the Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was conceived as part of a project called No Commercial Potential, which produced three other albums: Lumpy Gravy, Cruising with Ruben & the Jets, and Uncle Meat.

We’re Only in It for the Money encompasses rock, experimental music, and psychedelic rock, with orchestral segments deriving from the recording sessions for Lumpy Gravy, which was previously issued as a solo instrumental album by Capitol Records and was subsequently reedited by frontman Frank Zappa and released by Verve; the reedited Lumpy Gravy was produced simultaneously with We’re Only in It for the Money and is the first part of a conceptual continuity, continued with the reedited Lumpy Gravy and concluded with Zappa’s final album Civilization Phaze III (1994).

Track Listing

Side one
No. Title Length
1. “Are You Hung Up?” 1:23
2. “Who Needs the Peace Corps?” 2:34
3. “Concentration Moon” 2:22
4. “Mom & Dad” 2:16
5. “Telephone Conversation” (Included in “Bow Tie Daddy” on the original LP.) 0:48
6. “Bow Tie Daddy” 0:33
7. “Harry, You’re a Beast” 1:22
8. “What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body?” 1:03
9. “Absolutely Free” 3:24
10. “Flower Punk” 3:03
11. “Hot Poop” 0:26
Side two
No. Title Length
1. “Nasal Retentive Calliope Music” 2:03
2. “Let’s Make the Water Turn Black” 2:01
3. “The Idiot Bastard Son” 3:18
4. “Lonely Little Girl” (Listed as “It’s His Voice on the Radio” on the original LP sleeve.) 1:09
5. “Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance” 1:35
6. “What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body? (Reprise)” 0:57
7. “Mother People” 2:32
8. “The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny” 6:25
Total length: 39:15

AllMusic Review: From the beginning, Frank Zappa cultivated a role as voice of the freaks — imaginative outsiders who didn’t fit comfortably into any group. We’re Only in It for the Money is the ultimate expression of that sensibility, a satirical masterpiece that simultaneously skewered the hippies and the straights as prisoners of the same narrow-minded, superficial phoniness. Zappa’s barbs were vicious and perceptive, and not just humorously so: his seemingly paranoid vision of authoritarian violence against the counterculture was borne out two years later by the Kent State killings. Like Freak Out, We’re Only in It for the Money essentially devotes its first half to satire, and its second half to presenting alternatives. Despite some specific references, the first-half suite is still wickedly funny, since its targets remain immediately recognizable. The second half shows where his sympathies lie, with character sketches of Zappa’s real-life freak acquaintances, a carefree utopia in “Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance,” and the strident, unironic protest “Mother People.” Regardless of how dark the subject matter, there’s a pervasively surreal, whimsical flavor to the music, sort of like Sgt. Pepper as a creepy nightmare. Some of the instruments and most of the vocals have been manipulated to produce odd textures and cartoonish voices; most songs are abbreviated, segue into others through edited snippets of music and dialogue, or are broken into fragments by more snippets, consistently interrupting the album’s continuity. Compositionally, though, the music reveals itself as exceptionally strong, and Zappa’s politics and satirical instinct have rarely been so focused and relevant, making We’re Only in It for the Money quite probably his greatest achievement. — blackjack card counting advantage

Schill Score: 7.5/10

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The Mothers Of Invention – Freak Out! (1966)

Freak Out! is the debut studio album by American rock band the Mothers of Invention, released on June 27, 1966, by Verve Records. Often cited as one of rock music’s first concept albums, it is a satirical expression of frontman Frank Zappa’s perception of American pop culture and the nascent freak scene of Los Angeles. It was also one of the earliest double albums in rock music, as well as the first two-record debut album. In the UK, the album was originally released as an edited single disc.

The album was produced by Tom Wilson, who signed the Mothers, formerly a bar band called the Soul Giants. Zappa said many years later that Wilson signed the band to a record deal under the impression that they were a white blues band. The album features Zappa on vocals and guitar, along with lead vocalist/tambourine player Ray Collins, bass player/vocalist Roy Estrada, drummer/vocalist Jimmy Carl Black and guitar player Elliot Ingber (later of Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, performing there under the pseudonym “Winged Eel Fingerling”).

The band’s original repertoire consisted of rhythm and blues covers, but after Zappa joined the band, he encouraged them to play his own original material, and their name was changed to the Mothers. The musical content of Freak Out! ranges from rhythm and blues, doo-wop, and standard blues-influenced rock to orchestral arrangements and avant-garde sound collages. Although the album was initially poorly received in the United States, it was a success in Europe. It gained a cult following in America, where it continued to sell in substantial quantities until it was discontinued in the early 1970s.

In 1999, the album was honored with the Grammy Hall of Fame Award, and in 2003, Rolling Stone ranked it among the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. In 2006, The MOFO Project/Object, an audio documentary on the making of the album, was released in honor of its 40th anniversary.

Track Listing:

Side one
No. Title Length
1. “Hungry Freaks, Daddy” 3:32
2. “I Ain’t Got No Heart” 2:34
3. “Who Are the Brain Police?” 3:25
4. “Go Cry on Somebody Else’s Shoulder” 3:43
5. “Motherly Love” 2:50
6. “How Could I Be Such a Fool” 2:16

Side two
No. Title Length
7. “Wowie Zowie” 2:55
8. “You Didn’t Try to Call Me” 3:21
9. “Any Way the Wind Blows” 2:55
10. “I’m Not Satisfied” 2:41
11. “You’re Probably Wondering Why I’m Here” 3:41

Side three
No. Title Length
12. “Trouble Every Day” 5:53
13. “Help, I’m a Rock (Suite in Three Movements)
I. Okay to Tap Dance
II. In Memoriam, Edgard Varèse
III. It Can’t Happen Here”
8:37

Side four
No. Title Length
14. “The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet (Unfinished Ballet in Two Tableaux)
I. Ritual Dance of the Child-Killer
II. Nullis Pretii (No Commercial Potential)”
12:22

Total length: 60:55

AllMusic Review: One of the most ambitious debuts in rock history, Freak Out! was a seminal concept album that somehow foreshadowed both art rock and punk at the same time. Its four LP sides deconstruct rock conventions right and left, eventually pushing into territory inspired by avant-garde classical composers. Yet the album is sequenced in an accessibly logical progression; the first half is dedicated to catchy, satirical pop/rock songs that question assumptions about pop music, setting the tone for the radical new directions of the second half. Opening with the nonconformist call to arms “Hungry Freaks, Daddy,” Freak Out! quickly posits the Mothers of Invention as the antithesis of teen-idol bands, often with sneering mockeries of the teen-romance songs that had long been rock’s commercial stock-in-trade. Despite his genuine emotional alienation and dissatisfaction with pop conventions, though, Frank Zappa was actually a skilled pop composer; even with the raw performances and his stinging guitar work, there’s a subtle sophistication apparent in his unorthodox arrangements and tight, unpredictable melodicism. After returning to social criticism on the first song of the second half, the perceptive Watts riot protest “Trouble Every Day,” Zappa exchanges pop song structure for experiments with musique concrète, amelodic dissonance, shifting time signatures, and studio effects. It’s the first salvo in his career-long project of synthesizing popular and art music, high and low culture; while these pieces can meander, they virtually explode the limits of what can appear on a rock album, and effectively illustrate Freak Out!’s underlying principles: acceptance of differences and free individual expression. Zappa would spend much of his career developing and exploring ideas — both musical and conceptual — first put forth here; while his myriad directions often produced more sophisticated work, Freak Out! contains at least the rudiments of almost everything that followed, and few of Zappa’s records can match its excitement over its own sense of possibility. — Steve Huey

Schill Score: 9.5/10

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