1001 Albums 0069-0070

Published July 01, 2014

My continued journey through the albums featured in the book
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

0069: The Mothers Of Invention: Freak Out! (1966)

In 1979, Frank Zappa had a big hit in Sweden with a song called 'Bobby Brown', followed by 'Joe's Garage', and then, in 1980 'I Don't Wanna Get Drafted'. I guess at some point I've also listened to his jam session with John and Yoko on their Sometime In New York City album. That, my friends, was about the extent of my familiarity with Frank Zappa's music. I think I enjoyed those hit singles at the time, but other than that I've always had a hunch that his music wasn't for me.

Listening to this album (only rock's second double-album, after Dylan's Blonde On Blonde, according to the 1001 Albums book), recorded when Zappa and his band-mates traded under the name The Mothers Of Invention, I was prepared to be pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately, I wasn't. Quite simply, much of the music here sounds as if it has travelled through the brain before reaching the heart and soul of the people who made it - perhaps even bypassing them completely -  which is not something that appeals to me.

The album is obviously supposed to be satirical and I can sort of imagine some stoned late Sixties drop-outs listening to this and chuckling at how Zappa and friends are really sticking it to "the man" and challenging the expectations and conventions of suburbia. Why anyone in his right mind would voluntarily listen to 'It Can't Happen Here' or 'The Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet' is beyond anything I could possibly comprehend. I guess you had to be there. And perhaps it helped if you were stoned as well.

It appears the appeal of this album is conceptual rather than musical, and I'm sure it was important at the time, but...

Verdict: Too much intellect, not enough heart.

Listen on Spotify

0070: The Rolling Stones: Aftermath (1966)
An album I've already heard.

Of The Rolling Stones albums I've heard, perhaps with the exception of Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed, I don't think I've enjoyed any of them from start to finish. I've never been one for blues-based workouts, and there's always a few too many of those for my liking.

Up until 1967 I think they were at their best when they were a pure pop band, so on the Aftermath album, despite the disturbing misogyny of some of the lyrics, I like 'Mothers Little Helper', 'Stupid Girl', 'Lady Jane' (which is gorgeous), 'Under My Thumb', 'Out Of Time' (although the version here drags on a bit), 'It's Not Easy' and 'I Am Waiting'. So that's about half the album, which in my book makes it worth owning.

Listen on Youtube


The Mothers Of Invention: Freak Out!


The Rolling Stones: Aftermath.