May 26, 2017

20,000 Vinyl LPs 89: The Mothers Of Invention ‎~ Absolutely Free










Fifty years ago today, on May 26, 1967, Frank Zappa and his group, The Mothers of Invention, released their second studio album, Absolutely Free.  













Absolutely Free 
vinyl LP gatefold album 
front cover photo by Alice Ochs
cover design by
Ferenc Dobronyi & Cal Schenkel 
photo of album by Styrous® 







The front cover photograph was taken by actress, director, writer, jeweler and photographer Alice Elizabeth Skinner Ochs, the wife of folk singer Phil Ochs from 1962 to 1976. She died on November 27, 2010.        

Absolutely Free
vinyl LP  front cover
front cover photo by Alice Ochs
cover design by
Ferenc Dobronyi & Cal Schenkel 
photo of cover by Styrous®


Absolutely Free is a mix of complex musical composition with political and social satire. Each side of the two vinyl LP album is a mini-suite. It contains musical references to The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, classical composers Gustav Holst and Igor Stravinsky, as well as Zappa himself.     




Absolutely Free
vinyl LP  back cover
back cover photos by
Jerry Deiter & Marshal Harmon
cover design by
Ferenc Dobronyi & Cal Schenkel 
photo of cover by Styrous®



My favorite work on the album is the almost 7 minute long, instrumental, Invocation & Ritual Dance of the Young Pumpkin. The intro references Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity from the seven-movement orchestral suite, The Planets, by Gustav Holst. It is a marvelous tour de force that races along at breakneck speed with a staccato, dissonant sax, played by Bunk Gardner, riding over the storm of music.       

   



Absolutely Free
vinyl LP gatefold album interior
photos by
Jerry Deiter & Alice Ochs
cover design by
Ferenc Dobronyi & Cal Schenkel  
photo of album by Styrous®




The most famous song on the album is Brown Shoes Don't Make It, a track which has been described as a "condensed two-hour musical" and by AllMusic as "Zappa's first real masterpiece". The song features 2 violins, 1 viola, 1 cello, 1 trumpet and 1 contra-bass clarinet. How's that for a mix?    

The title for Brown Shoes was inspired by an event covered by Time magazine reporter Hugh Sidey in 1966. The reporter correctly guessed that something was amiss when the fastidiously dressed President Lyndon B. Johnson made the sartorial faux pas of wearing brown shoes with a gray suit.         
The lyrics start off as a general attack on suburban American society: TV, greed and conformity are all mocked openly in the song. It then shifts in tone, dealing with a city hall official fantasizing about having sex with a thirteen-year-old girl.     

The music makes several stylistic shifts, covering hard rock, classical, psychedelic rock, music hall and jazz. The song lasts 7:30 and is the twelfth track on Absolutely Free. According to Zappa, the beginning background music was inspired by the song Have Your Way by Lightnin' Slim (link below).


Absolutely Free
vinyl LP gatefold album interior
photos by
Jerry Deiter & Alice Ochs
cover design by
Ferenc Dobronyi & Cal Schenkel  
photo of album by Styrous®


The band had been augmented since Freak Out! by the addition of woodwinds player Bunk Gardner, keyboardist Don Preston, rhythm guitarist Jim Fielder and drummer Billy Mundi. Fielder quit the group before the album was released and his name was removed from the album credits.   



Absolutely Free
vinyl LP gatefold album interior detail
detail photo by Styrous®



Frank Vincent Zappa was born in Baltimore, Maryland on December 21, 1940. He was an American musician, activist and filmmaker. His work was characterized by nonconformity, free-form improvisation, sound experiments, musical virtuosity, and satire of American culture. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa composed rock, pop, jazz, jazz fusion, orchestral and musique concrète works, and produced almost all of the 60-plus albums that he released with his band the Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist. Zappa also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. He is considered one of the most innovative and stylistically diverse rock musicians of his generation.            



Absolutely Free
vinyl LP gatefold album interior detail
detail photo by Styrous®




Zappa's output is unified by a conceptual continuity he termed "Project/Object", with numerous musical phrases, ideas, and characters reappearing across his albums.[2] His lyrics reflected his iconoclastic views of established social and political processes, structures and movements, often humorously so. He was a strident critic of mainstream education and organized religion, and a forthright and passionate advocate for freedom of speech, self-education, political participation and the abolition of censorship. Unlike many other rock musicians of his era, he personally disapproved of and seldom used drugs, but supported their decriminalization and regulation.     





Absolutely Free
vinyl LP  side 1
photo by Styrous®


Absolutely Free
vinyl LP  label, side 1
photo by Styrous®




While performing at Casino de Montreux in Switzerland, the Mothers' equipment was destroyed when a flare set off by an audience member started a fire that burned down the casino. The event was immortalized in the Deep Purple song, Smoke on the Water.    

His honors include an induction into the 1995 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the 1997 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at number 71 on its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time", and in 2011 at number 22 on its list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".           




Absolutely Free
vinyl LP  side 2
photo by Styrous®


Absolutely Free
vinyl LP  label, side 2
photo by Styrous®


Zappa died on December 4, 1993 at his home with his wife and children by his side. At a private ceremony the following day, his body was buried in a grave at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, in Los Angeles, California. The grave is unmarked. On December 6, his family publicly announced that "Composer Frank Zappa left for his final tour just before 6:00 pm on Saturday".  



Tracklist: 

Side one: "Absolutely Free" (#1 in a Series of Underground Oratorios)      

A1     Plastic People     3:40
A2     The Duke Of Prunes     2:12
A3     Amnesia Vivace     1:01
A4     The Duke Regains His Chops     1:45
A5     Call Any Vegetable     2:19
A6     Invocation And Ritual Dance Of The Young Pumpkin     6:57
A7     Soft-Sell Conclusion & Ending Of Side #1     1:40

Side two: "The M.O.I. American Pageant" (#2 in a Series of Underground Oratorios)      

B1     America Drinks     1:52
B2     Status Back Baby     2:52
B3     Uncle Bernie's Farm     2:09
B4     Son Of Suzy Creamcheese     1:33
B5     Brown Shoes Don't Make It     7:26
B6     America Drinks & Goes Home     2:43

Personnel:

The Mothers of Invention
Additional musicians:
  • Suzy Creamcheese (Lisa Cohen) – vocals on "Brown Shoes Don't Make It"
  • John Balkin – bass on "Invocation & Ritual Dance of the Young Pumpkin" and "America Drinks"
  • Jim Getzoff – violin on "Brown Shoes Don't Make It"
  • Marshall Sosson – violin on "Brown Shoes Don't Make It"
  • Alvin Dinkin – viola on "Brown Shoes Don't Make It"
  • Armand Kaproff – cello on "Brown Shoes Don't Make It"
  • Don Ellis – trumpet on "Brown Shoes Don't Make It"
  • John Rotella – contrabass clarinet on "Brown Shoes Don't Make It"
  • Herb Cohen – cash register machine sounds on "America Drinks & Goes Home"
  • Terry Gilliam, girlfriend and others – voices in "America Drinks & Goes Home"

Credits:   

    Composed By, Arranged By, Conductor, Performer – Frank Zappa
    Producer - Tom Wilson
    Mastering - Doug Sax   
    Engineer [Director Of Engineering] – Val Valentin  
    Engineer [Remix] – David Greene
    Engineer, Recorded By – Ami Hadani
    Layout, Artwork By [Cover Art, Collages], Liner Notes – Zappa*
    Performers – Billy Mundi, Bunk Gardner, Don Preston, Jim Black*, Jim Sherwood*, Ray Collins, Roy Estrada
    Performer [Uncredited] – Jim Fielder
    Photography By [Front] – Alice Ochs
    Photography By [Other] – Jerry Deiter, Marshal Harmon

Notes:     

Gatefold sleeve, top-opening on back, sealed with a small flap. Titles on spine.
Both sides with tracks normally banded.
Cat.no. on label is V6/5013, on front cover it is V/V6-5013.
Barcode and Other Identifiers

    Matrix / Runout (Run-out info [hand-etched] side A): V6-5013 SIDE 1 M𝒢S672
    Matrix / Runout (Run-out info [hand-etched] side B): V6-5013 SIDE 2 M𝒢S673
    Matrix / Runout ((Variant) Run-out info [hand-etched] side A): V6-5013 SIDE 1 M𝒢S-672
    Matrix / Runout ((Variant) Run-out info [hand-etched] side B): V6-5013 SIDE 2 M𝒢S-673

The Mothers Of Invention* ‎– Absolutely Free
Label: Verve Records ‎– V6/5013, Verve Records ‎– V/V6-5013
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Stereo, Gatefold
Country: US
Released: 26 May 1967
Genre: Rock
Style: Blues Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Avantgarde



Net links:        
       
            
        
Songs on YouTube:              
           
Absolutely Free (Full Stereo Album)         
Invocation & Ritual Dance of the Young Pumpkin 
Brown Shoes Don't Make It        
Lightnin' Slim ~ Have Your Way           

           
       
           
         
Styrous® ~ Friday, May 26, 2017     
~


~














No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated before they are posted, so do not appear immediately. Thank you.