Frank Zappa Meets The Mothers Of Prevention

Frank Zappa

Rykodisc, 1985

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


In the middle of all the controversy regarding the Parents Music Resource Coalition, Frank Zappa became the hero for the cause of free speech, rallying against censorship and government intervention into an area they never should have gotten involved with in the first place. For that one reason, Zappa will remain a personal hero to me.

Yet the disc that Zappa released to coincide with his Capitol Hill clash with the Washington numbskulls, Frank Zappa Meets The Mothers Of Prevention, is unquestionably one of the weakest discs that Zappa ever put out. Relying more heavily on the Synclavier than ever, his backing band is reduced almost to guest-appearance status, and the music in turn suffers greatly. Add to that a limp-wristed shot at the bureaucrats who fought to label records (and, in a sense, won), and you have a disc that belongs at the bottom of the heap.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

For all of the bravado the title of the disc suggests, only one track, "Porn Wars," deals at all with the controversy of labelling records, and it is a hodge-podge of snippets from the Capitol Hill hearings and Zappa's testimony, intermixed with an instrumental powered by the Synclavier. The end result is about as strong as cold, month-old coffee - stale, bland, and lethargic. If one is familiar with Zappa's testimony, this track dares to weaken the stand he made. (Only one other track, "H.R. 2911," even refers to the proceedings in any manner; the rest of the tracks have nothing to do with the PMRC.)

What remains from Mothers Of Prevention is a pretty weak collection of tracks. About the only song worth saving from the cesspool is "We're Turning Again," a track that has shown much more life when performed live, but is fairly passable here. The same can't be said for the instrumental version of "What's New In Baltimore?," which loses a lot of its power when it lacks any lyrical input from Zappa and the boys. And the title of the lead-off track, "I Don't Even Care," pretty much sums up what seems to be the attitude of the full band - and, for that matter, Zappa himself.

The Synclavier-only pieces, such as "One Man, One Vote" and "H.R. 2911," are equally as lifeless and boring - a shame, coming from a composer who, while admittedly spotty in his output, had remained one of the more exciting songwriters and musicians of his time. To put out a half-hearted effort such as this was a crime.

So what could have changed Mothers Of Prevention from a zero to a hero? Had Zappa taken the same anger and determination that he brought with him to Capitol Hill and transferred it into the music on this disc, chances are it not only would have been the kind of disc to tie Tipper Gore's leaden panties in a knot, but would have been damn near unstoppable in its power. Instead, Zappa sounds like he's tired of the whole fight, and of the rock scene in general. Unfortunately, it's far too easy to get tired of this disc quickly, and it should be avoided.

2005 Christopher Thelen 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 the Zappa Family Trust / record label, and is used for informational purposes only.

Rating: D

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© 2005 Christopher Thelen 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, and is used for informational purposes only.