Absolutely Free

Frank Zappa / Mothers Of Invention

Rykodisc Records, 1967

REVIEW BY: Eric E5S16

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/08/2000

Frank Zappa was a genius. His albums reflected the times. And for some of his albums, they may have been classic to some, and strange to others. Strange pretty much best defines his second album with his group The Mothers Of Invention, Absolutely Free, released in 1967.

As the album begins, "Plastic People" is political, as it starts out with Zappa as The President of The United States, singing about the ups and downs of Plastic People. "The Duke Of Prunes" is a jazz-oriented song, yet it does feature some strange (yet unique) vocals, which merges into the next two songs, "Amnesia Vivace" and "The Duke Regains His Chops". (Consider this a three-song medley.)

"Call Any Vegetable" is another unique song, as Zappa sings about - what else? - vegetables. The yodeling at the end of this song about rutabegas is quite funny and unique. "Invocation And Ritual Dance Of The Young Pumpkin" is a seven-minute composition that mixes rock and jazz. It features very little vocals, and throughout the ending of the song, features a five-minute rock + jazz jam, which features horns, an instrument probably not much used back in the late Sixties rock and roll music.

"Soft-Sell Conclusion" is another rock/jazz tune, as it continues the story of vegetables. "Big Leg Emma" features what was recorded many times by Zappa - songs with a comedical sense, both in lyrics and in sound. This one is very bouncy, and jazzy, as it tells the story about "a big dilemma / bout my Big Leg Emma... She was my steady date / until she put on weight." (To those who may think that this album may be too much to handle hearing-wise, "Big Leg Emma" maybe the only song those people could actually listen to and enjoy it.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"Why Dont'cha Do Me Right" is a psychedelic tune with Zappa on frog-type vocals. It's definitely psychedelic - vocals and guitars, as this was the popular music at the time. "America Drinks" is another "comedical" lyric song, and like others heard on this album, it's strange, and somewhat psychedelic. Best put: It's strange. "Status Back Baby" is another bouncy-comedical song, but not as cooly bouncy as "Big Leg Emma". It then merges into another bouncy tune, "Uncle Bernie's Farm" (another medley, if you want to call it). Again, it's not as bouncy as "Big Leg Emma". Both songs are, again, strange.

"Son Of Suzy Creamcheese" is the continuing saga from Zappa's first album with The Mothers of Invention, Freak Out. The character Suzy Creamcheese continues as the band keeps asking "What's got into you?" "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" is another strange tune, and again, it does bring a comedical touch to it, as it changes its musical style throughout the song, featuring rock, a slice of jazz, and theatrical rock. It clocks in at just over seven minutes in length. Ending the album is another theatrical style song, as it also has a broadway touch to it, is "America Drinks And Goes Home".

Zappa's music may not be for all people. Some may think he was a genius, others a demented comedian. If you're a fan of Dr. Demento, you can see the strangeness in how the mad doctor gets his musical knowledge and compare it to the music heard on Absolutely Free. Probably the most "demented" tune on Absolutely Free is the seven-minute-plus "Brown Shoes Don't Make It". At first some may think this album is just so bizarre, you may just want to give up on it during the first six songs or so. Especially the first seven-minute tune, "Invocation And Ritual Dance Of The Young Pumpkin," where it features "speed-jazz" as if it was "thrash-speed-metal."

But giving an overview chance in listening to this album straight through, it features jazz with rock in a unique blend, obviously unheard of back in the rock and roll days of the late psychedelic rock years of The Beatles, the early Pink Floyd, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience (to name a few). Zappa's Absolutely Free may have to be listened to more than once, to get the ideas where Zappa was referring to. But all in all, it's an album that is unique... and that pretty much sums up the career of Frank Zappa. Absolutely Free being his second chronological release, it was truly amazing how he came up with his ideas for future releases, with and without The Mothers Of Invention.

Rating: B-

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© 2000 Eric E5S16 and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Rykodisc Records, and is used for informational purposes only.