Frank Zappa

ARTICLE ABOUT Mothers of Invention (Frank Zappa) FROM New Musical Express, March 11, 1967

A small but golden nugget for the Zappa fanatics out there!
Read on!


*** Mothers of Invention: Freak Out (Verve, SVLP 9154).

Record review by Allen Evans

This music sounds Eastern at times. Lyrics are sung off-key, off-tune and a la Dylan, with news of what a mess America is in — including racial unrest, social-sex relations, an Elvis send-up, and a car melting. All the tracks are composed by Frank Zappa, who arranged and conducted various other musicians behind the Mothers themselves — Ray Collins (lead vocal, harmonica), Jim Black (drums), Roy Estrada (bass) and Elliot Ingber (lead and rhythm guitar). VERY different.

Titles: Hungry Freaks Daddy, I Ain’t Got No Heart, Who Are The Brain Police, Motherly Love, Wowie Zowie, You Didn’t Try To Call Me, I’m Not Satisfied, You’re Probably Wondering Why I’m Here, Trouble Comin’ Every Day, Help I’m A Rock, Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet.


If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

ARTICLE ABOUT Frank Zappa FROM SOUNDS, April 26, 1975

A well written article by Mike Flood Page with an artist that should be of inspiration for anyone that waves the flag for artistic freedom. The article doesn`t give any answer to how the case in question ended, but I can tell you that the judge, Mr Justice Mocatta, was none too impressed when Zappa’s song “Penis Dimension” was played in court, asking: “Have I got to listen to this?” Zappa lost his claim for £8,000 damages.
Read on!


Frank and his law suit – he wears it well

Our man in and out of court Mike Flood Page

There are three or four great interviews in rock and roll. Lennon obviously, Pete Townshend certainly, one or two others. Zappa is one. A master of outrage from the moment `Freak Out` had mothers (the other kind) locking up their daughters, and record companies wondering if there might not be a fast buck in all that nonsense somewhere.
If you thought the Stones or the Pretty Things gave long hair a bad name, then the Mothers were gonna convince you. Why even their pictures smelt bad.
Last week Frank Zappa was in London, to appear as witness in a case for damages he is bringing against the Royal Albert Hall, to afford a preview of his new album `One Size Fits All`, and to talk to the press. Who could resist it?
But first, before we get to the bit about how Captain Beefheart has teamed up with Zappa again, or the weird and wonderful story of the Groupie Papers, or any of that, let`s go to court:
This would be bloody funny if the implications weren`t so tragic. By a door in a gloomy stone corridor in a cavernous mock-gothic cathedral of a place on the Strand, a notice baldly announces: Queen`s Bench Division. Court 7. Before Mr Justice Mocatta. At half past 10. Non Jury list. 74/NJ/911 Bizarre Productions Inc. v. Corporation of the Hall of Arts & Sciences and ors pt Ind.
Opposite the notice sits what the legal circles call the plaintiff: Francis Vincent Zappa, For once in his life he is wearing a suit, of a pronounced brown check. He has a pale long-collar American shirt and is uneasily trying to loosen the tie at his neck. Beside him his manager Herb Cohen, also besuited, eyes us with envy and wants to know why everyone doesn`t have to suffer a tie. Frank concurs: “Everyone`s neck should hurt.”
It is the third day of the case. In the blue corner and coming on strong with a case for damages for his cancelled gig at the Albert Hall on February 8, 1971 designed to showcase `200 Motels`; smiling Frank Zappa! In the red corner with some deft manouevres of defence: Mr R. Albert Hall! We are waiting for the day`s tedium to begin.

Many times in the past ten years or so, I have had the dubious pleasure of witnessing the infinitely slow spirit of British Justice work its way through a case. Every time I have been struck most forcibly by the seemingly unbridgeable gap between those whose home is the court and its surreal Alice-In-Wonderland rituals, and those real people who, for want of a better word, we shall call its victims. No matter that on this rare occasion Frank Zappa was bringing the case against some other party, instead of being the victim.
Once the rarified and musty atmosphere of the legal profession got stuck in it was hard to tell.
Frank first took the witness stand on Tuesday, the scene could not have afforded a more outrageous contrast:
Francis Vincent, famed for his satirical and iconoclastic career was patient, composed, polite and restrained, he gave his evidence lucidly, succinctly, and always stuck to the point.
The defence counsel began with cool standard questions and then began to probe Frank`s lyrics for `200 Motels` which had arrived at the Royal Albert Hall in the form of excerpts from the film shooting script. Day one of the cross-examination by the defence ended with a discussion of the word `groupie`. That set the tone for what was to follow on Wednesday.
Tuesday night Warner Brothers threw a small reception at Rags, a Mayfair Club, to let the press meet Frank and get a sneak preview of his new album `One Size Fits All`, and a solo project he is working on.
Frank buried himself in conversation with the new London Warners managing director, Derek Taylor, and tried not to look too pained as the assembled hacks got stumbling drunk, wolfed down some nifty buffet grub, talked loud and fast to each other and generally ignored his latest platter.
Asked why he put up with it, he turned to your scribe and enquired patiently: “Do I have any choice? If you had the choice between being a public person and getting your music played, or staying at home and not hearing it, what would you do?” There is no answer to that. Then unable to restrain himself he called for hush in the locality to cop a listen to a really strong passage of the kind that should send most heavy metal bands back to the drawing board.

Why had he never taken those decibel and riff merchants on on their own ground? Well he had once tried, he had a gig lined up where the Mothers would appear anonymously behind Silverhead`s old singer Michael Des Barres, but Michael was so full of himself that he went and blew the story to the press, and the gig was blown out.
Would Frank like to give us an exclusive, unbiased personal review of `One Size`? He`d be delighted: “Excellent!” That`s all? “That`s all”. On the case itself he could not speak, it`s all subjudice, but on everything else he was easily approachable.
Over the years I guess I`d built up a vision of Zappa as a real shrewd, hard character – brilliant but sarcastic, and though you`d probably always get an interesting interview out of him, you might undergo heavy psychic traumas to get it.
Not so, he`s certainly smart, but he`s not smart ass. He sat through the reception taking asinine questions in his stride, dealing politely and patiently with fools, and generally acting like a real handsome human being.
Next day in court, he continued in the same low-key vein. It got so Frank was the most normal thing around, what with the bewigged and begowned legal types, and the setting: a dull chapel-like room with a high ceiling, green velvet drapes, old Victorian wooden benches, and stained glass windows. Lewis Carroll would have loved it.
The defence went through the `200 Motels` lyric line by line at times, ferreting out the most blatant sexual implications while Frank tried to suggest that in almost every case you had to see the sections in the light of the overall context so that `Lonesome Cowboy Burt` for instance is depicted as getting off on the idea of having a waitress sit on his face, because that is the kind of character Zappa set out to portray and the lines in question came from some graffiti he had seen on the wall of just the sort of bar you`d expect Cowboy Burt to hang out in.
Frank indicated where he had used irony and humour so you`d get an exchange between him and defence counsel that would go something like: “Mr Zappa, you have a song here called `Would You Go The Whole Way`. That means: would you have sexual intercourse, does it not?” And Frank would point out that it was an archaic 1950s usage designed to generate laughter.

At one point the defence cousel admonished Frank in a schoolmasterish way: “Mr Zappa, you wrote it. What did you mean? I think you understand very well what I mean.” And a few moments later confessed to the Judge: “M`Lord, once one starts reading this sort of script,” waving a sheaf of lyrics, “one starts making errors”. he further suggested once: “Mr Zappa! Let us come into the real world for a moment!” The irony could hardly have been greater.
Slowly the court had elucidated the meaning of `groupie`, `to score`, `hot action`, `to ball`, and other exotic terms, with the aid of a Webster`s slang dictionary. But by the time the defence got around to suggesting an intelligent adult would see hidden salacious meanings in the word `newt`, Zappa was moved to reply: “Only if that person had such a limited reading comprehension as to be pathetic.”
Frank summed up his attitude to the proceedings when he protested to one persistent line of enquiry: “Your attempt is to direct the meaning of all my lyrics towards sexual intercourse, which I don`t think is fair or accurate.”
To an outsider the court presented a spectacle of two worlds separated by a sheet of glass so thick, that though they could maybe wave to each other, the finer points were getting misunderstood along the way.
Bizarre productions indeed! If it weren`t the case that Frank stands to send good money after bad if he loses, I`d almost believe he and Herb Cohen had set it up between them. But no, this is for real. But even for laughs, my interest was wearing thin after half a day of slow torture, so I left Frank to it, and met him that evening to talk.
Frank that evening in his Dorchester suite (check that out for incongruity) was holding court, in his street threads, pink slacks and a ribbed sweater. Anyone who had come to interview him had stayed to listen to him talk, and to chip in. He takes people that way, he is not only one of the most prolific and varied composers in pop (sixteen albums of outrage satire and good music so far, three due in the next twelve months, and a nine album set in the works) but also talks a blue streak, ideas spilling out in a never-ending stream.


I caught the end of a discussion of the Mothers latest group of fans: real screaming pubescent females. Frank gets teen appeal in his tenth year of business! Even more surprising since a study he conducted in `69 showed his audience to be mainly seventeen year old white male middle class Jewish kids – with short hair! “I`m lucky to have anybody listening to me!” Quoth the prince of outrage rock and roll.
Next up was Lenny Bruce, a long standing influence on the Mothers who once played second billing to Zappa & Co. on one of his attempts to fight back after yet another bout of law-suits. As he got into a discussion of the enigmatic Captain Beefheart, I switched on the National Panasonic: This obviously wasn`t going to be a straight interview, more like rolling with the flow.
Three months back Beefheart, or Don Van Vliet to his intimates, an old school chum of Frank`s who had been bad-mouthing Zappa for the past six years, had holed up in a trailer with his mother in his home-town of Lancaster, California, and rung Frank up to apologise. From there he went on to ask help in getting out of his current management and record contracts and shown interest in joining the new Mothers.
“So I auditioned him – twice! The first time he flunked; and the second time he was worth a try.” Commented FZ drily.
Why didn`t Frank want to continue singing? “My voice is not really a singer voice. I can hold a tune under duress. With Beefheart in the band there`s a guy who`s really into words and what they can do. I respect his literary ability, especially as in some instances I wonder if he`s literate at all.” It emerges that Beefheart`s early lyrics had to be written down by someone else. “He still desperately clutches onto the paper with the lyrics on it; he`s got a bag full of harmonicas and this bundle of lyrics.
“The way he relates to language is unique. With somebody else in the band who`s into it at that level, he gives me the chance to do things I haven`t been able to do before. The way in which he takes my text and brings it across to an audience is something to behold. He can really make the words come to life. One of the new songs is called `Poofta`s Froth Wyoming Plans Ahead` – it`s a C & W number that deals with the merchandising of the up-coming American Bicentenery in 1976.”

And that kind of thing is what he and the Capn. both get off on, they share a view of language where: “A single word can have a life of it`s own that`s a whole universe. Like `Pudsey`. When I saw that on the side of a truck I went: Pudsey! How could anybody do that? If Vliet could have seen that he would have just beat his leg until it decomposed, from here (gesture) to here.”
Zappa admits he can “talk like a sonofabitch” but when it comes to putting it across in song, no-one can cap the Capn. “For all his psychological and technical limitations he`s really an artist. He`s got this great mind that functions in a realm for which there is little use in this society. What do you do with a guy who has these advanced concepts and wants to sing them in a voice like the Howlin` Wolf?”
Apart from the fact that as schoolkids they used to cruise the burger joints together and sing along to the radio, a mutual affliction with Howlin Wolf mania has meant a constant affinity between Zappa and Beefheart, Frank considers Wolf: “The ultimate vocal experience.”
For those who are counting, this is the tenth incarnation of the Mothers and includes Terry Bozio on drums – “he`s a monster”, old faces Bruce Fowler, George Duke and Napoleon Murphy Brock, with Tom Fowler on bass and another old school mate Denny Whalley on slide guitar.
They have `One Size` coming out soon, and plan to record the present group live at Texas` Armadillo HQ in Austen in late May, a place Frank describes as: “more like the early days in San Francisco than anything else. It has the same vibe as the Fillmore West in 1967.”
We then talked of outrage, how the rest of the rock world had slowly caught up with Zappa`s innovations, so that artists (businessmen?) like Alice Cooper (a former Zappa protegè) were using theatre, and shock tactics, in a way Zappa had done years ago. “What does constitute outrage today? Most of what has been perpetrated as outrage has been pure jive.

“From the time when the Jefferson Airplane went protest, it was just so fake.” That, he suggested, had been a management decision to cash in, not as in the Mothers case, a group commitment expressed onstage, from the days when the Mothers all caught longhair, to today. “I think that what I`m doing today has quite a bit of outrage in it, if you look at it for what it`s really doing.”
On the projected nine album set, (Warners are busy trying to figure out a way to sell ten thousand, which would be enough to make it worth while). Frank offers a resume of his career. There is stuff from before the Mothers, live stuff and stuff left off albums through lack of space. Since he tapes all his concerts there`s plenty to choose from. It even includes what he believes is the first use of a fuzz-bass, taped back in 1963. Over time his concerns have changed:
“I`ve been writing music for a very long time, and I`ve said most of the stock protest things. Our first three albums had a lot of protest in them, and I believe that stuff still stands. So why should I keep saying the same thing over and over again? There are other things that interest me.
“I`m a different person to what I was ten, eleven years ago when I started in rock and roll. Anybody that doesn`t change in that period of time has to be frozen. And as my interests change, I`m trying to be honest in what I do. The work that I do reflects the changes in my personality so audiences who are very enthusiastic about repeating glimpses or experiences of what I was doing eight, ten years ago are apt to be disappointed because I`m just not feeling the same things.
“I`m married, I have three kids, three law suits.”
And one of those begins in August when he will haul his previous record company, MGM, into the dock on a variety of counts.
One reason was the series of attempts at censorship, the delays in album releases, oh and other things, says our Frank.
The censorship issue is important here because when you are into outrage, there is a danger that you will become just a rather bizarre commodity to be packaged in a different way, but packaged and sold in a freakier version of what the Mothers have always satirised, the Madison advertising game.
For Zappa whose medium is record primarily, this entails keeping a close watch on the business end of things:
“Otherwise the machinery that transmits it to the listener is gonna chop it up and do bad things to it.”
To stay outrageous, to keep an edge on your satire and to outlive many of your targets, be they plastic hippies or cheesy TV, to do that for over ten years takes some doing. “Well there was a good reason for that… I was right!”


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Yes, Gladys Knight, Women In Rock, Betty Wright, Steve Harley, Peter Frampton, Labelle, Peter Skellern, Ray Davies, Larry Uttal, Chris Spedding, Anne Murray, Sweet Sensation, Bernard Purdie, Mike Harding, Ronnie Lane.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

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ARTICLE ABOUT Frank Zappa FROM SOUNDS, September 23, 1972

Yes, I am sure that Frank Zappa was a thorn in the side of many conservatives, but his attitude to work beats most of the blue-collar people to the ground. What he left behind is amazing and I think he will be one of in a small group of people that will be quoted and listened to 100 years from now. Only time will tell and it all depends on a lot of factors, but I think I will be right. Enjoy this great interview in the Talk-In series.


The Zappa Talk-In

Interview: Steve Peacock

It`s been a long time since the Rainbow: for the rest of us, life`s been going on, but for Frank Zappa a large proportion of that time has been spent lying in hospital beds, and resting in his Californian home, recovering from the disastrous incident in London which left him badly injured. Lately though, he`s been writing and playing music; he did the “Wawa Jawaka” album, and started a tour with a 20 piece band based on essentially the same ideas as that album. Lying in his hotel room last week, an air of weariness and a brace on his leg the only outward reminders of the Rainbow, he talked with not a little bitterness in his voice of his experiences in the world of rock and roll.

THE new band…

… is called The Mothers of Invention Hot Rats Grand Wazoo, or Grand Wazoo for short. It`s a 20-piece electric orchestra, and the group is only going to be together for a total of eight concerts. The Hollywood Bowl, the Oval, the Hague, Berlin, two days in New York, Boston, and back home.

Have you decided against having a regular band now?

Pretty much, yeah. I think that of all the unreliable phenomena that exists in the 20th century, the musician may come up in first place.

Unreliable in what way?

Just in unreliability. So, rather than keep something together to the point where it becomes 100 per cent unreliable, it`s better to just put things in small doses and do a variety of things, because I`m interested in exploring a lot of different kinds of music and a lot of different textures, and I see no reason why it should not be possible to put together a 20-piece orchestra for one tour, and then if I feel willing to put myself through the work of putting together another group of a totally different instrumentation for another tour, then I`ll do that.
As a matter of fact as soon as I get off the road after this tour that`s exactly what I`ll do, put together another group. We have a tour lined up for the United States and Canada at the end of October.


Have you any idea yet what that will be like?

The main thing in it will be that I`m going to be playing a lot of guitar, and it`s possible that it may have some vocals. I may do some vocals with it and probably have another vocalist – probably some brass, rhythm section, and there`s another man who plays an unusual instrument who I haven`t contacted yet.

You`re still finding it necessary or satisfying to go out on the road and play? Because you must be in a position now where you don`t have to.

Not necessarily. I think the only time you don`t have to go out on the road is when you`re in the position of a large phenomenon like the Beatles or the Stones where you sell large, frightening numbers of records automatically. I would rather face an audience and let them see what I`m doing and let them hear what I`m saying exactly than deal with them second or third hand, conversing to them through the print media or something like that.
Certainly I enjoy playing music and a tour is a good way to keep people informed of what you`re doing, and if they like what you do then of course they`ll follow it up with records.


You wouldn`t feel able to get to them sufficiently closely with just records?

Not really, because I’ve got so much stuff all ready to release now that I can’t put out, because you’ve got to wait three or four months between albums because the company who’s distributing your stuff say they don’t get a chance to recoup their money if you do it in less.
In fact we just had a jam session all night, I guess about a month ago. Jean Luc Ponty happened to be in town and so did George Duke and a number of other west coast jazz men, so we had a jam session in the mix room upstairs in a recording studio in Los Angeles. It was unusual because the only thing that was being picked up by a microphone was the drums and everything else was being plugged directly into the board through transducers.
So consequently everyone except the drummer was standing around the console and they could hear themselves perfectly at high volume in quad – no charts, and nobody even said we’ll play this or that, we just turned the tape recorder on and started cranking away.
We recorded all different combinations of instruments from seven in the evening to seven in the morning, and I can’t release it because I already have another album in the can that’s set for release in three weeks’ time in the States, and then we’re doing some live recording over here, and I won’t be able to put that out until … And whenever you put out an album people assume that I’m totally committed to that at the time, that that’s my new direction or something.
I may have been doing eleven different things simultaneously at the time the album was made. but they don’t get to find out about that until the release schedule catches up.

After the Rainbow, did you want to keep those Mothers together, or were you going to disband them anyway?

I didn’t have much choice in the matter. I couldn’t work so I couldn’t employ them. What could I offer them if we couldn’t go out on the road? But even before that last tour we were getting into some kind of recording contract with Mark and Howard so that they could do their own album, however they chose not to mention the fact that we (Zappa and manager Herb Cohen) fought to get them out of their previous recording contract so…

Really? And then they put you down in their press interview.

Well. I would imagine that that’s just the beginning of it, and that there’ll probably be a lot more of that shit. But I find that distinctly unethical because what happened when we got back to Los Angeles was that I started figuring out ways that I could get the guys some money, because our tour was cut short and we didn’t do about six jobs, and also the insurance money on our equipment that got burned in Montreux only got settled last week – they haven’t given us the cheque yet, but we’ve agreed on an amount.


So while I was in Los Angeles I tried to find a way to give them some bread, and I happened to have a tape of a concert we did just prior to the European tour, so I decided to release that as an album and I managed to work a deal where I got each member of the group an advance payment of 2,000 dollars, which is way in excess of what they would have gotten if I’d just done it under normal circumstances. I find no mention of that in their press releases. And another thing they’ve been garbling about in some of the papers in Los Angeles is that I didn’t call them up or go to see them or anything. Shit. I’m sitting up in my house in a wheelchair with my leg up in the air, and they never bother to come over and see me either. I think the attitude they’ve shown so far has been strictly commercial.


It seems to happen that people who work with you and leave, end up bad-mouthing you in the papers.

Yep. A lot of people automatically assume that because somebody says something like that it must be true, and not once for any article that says something, like that, has any body bothered to call me or the office to corroborate anything that was said.
I guess if you took the combined work of all the interviews where people have said things like that and sat down with all the receipts and all the contracts I think you’d find out that all of them were liars. And that the sole reason for people saying something like that was for publicity purposes, because if you say something that is sensational you wind up getting more press.
So one guy says he’s really hot shit, and the next guy reads it and says look, they did it over there and it worked for them, let us do it, and then the next one and the next one and so on. It does work.

I spent some time with Captain Beefheart when he was over here, and from them I got more of a general anti-Zappa feeling than any specific complaints…


Well, yes and I’ve seen some of those specific complaints, and I can’t see there’s really any logical foundation for what they say, let alone what they do. It seems peculiar that they forget all the things that our office did to make things easier for them. to help them get started. Like we’ve got receipts for pumping their cesspool, a tree surgeon for his house… just little things down the line that would go wrong, and they’d call up, and we’d fix it for them. It’s just such a weird attitude.
If we’d used the Motown attitude to our acts none of this would have ever occurred, because when you sign with the label you also get locked into a management thing which is also controlled by the office. But I don’t like the idea of doing that, and consequently the only artist we ever had under contract that I produced was Wild Man Fischer, and the reason for that was that nobody else would touch him. We hoped that we could get him some work in order for him to promote his album, and when he wanted to have his contract back, Herbie just handed it to him.


Does the whole thing hurt you very much?

It depends on the relationship I had with the artist prior to the press releases that they put out. I felt especially uncomfortable, well guess it was just painful in the cases of Beefheart and Mark and Howard. I just felt that that was extremely low behavior, in the case of Beefheart I just don’t understand it because he’s so erratic that he’s likely to say something like that, and then the next day turn around and say the opposite, but unfortunately that hasn’t happened, and he just kept on trying it. Probably he discovered the more he said it the more press coverage he got.

If I can change the subject for a moment, can I ask how long you were laid up after the Rainbow?

I was a month in the Harley Street Clinic, and then I had about another three months in Los Angeles pretty much incapacitated, and I then gradually started improving from there. I’ve had this brace on my leg for about two months, and before that I had a cast on, sitting in a wheelchair. The leg’s not healing very fast, but it is healing now at last. I had a whole assortment of injuries, and it bugged me a little bit to see the way it was handled in the press, a kind of semi-humorous treatment, here and also in the States, yeah. Yo ho ho, he fell in the orchestra pit.



Well, I’m sure that wasn’t intended.

Maybe, maybe I was feeling a little crazy and over sensitive in that hospital. I had a broken rib, I got a broken shin tibia, I had a giant hole in the back of my head, the side of my face got mashed in, and for the first two-and-a-half or three weeks in the hospital I couldn’t move my hands, and I didn’t know whether I had any brain damage or what. I couldn’t even hold a guitar up by the time I left the place, it was too heavy for me.

But now it’s just the leg?

Yeah, just the leg.

Did you start writing soon after you got back to LA?

Oh yeah, I wrote a whole bunch of stuff as soon as I was able to sit at a table.

And are you still planning on “Billy The Mountain” as the next film?

Well, I was planning to do that with Mark and Howard, so I’m going to have to shelve that until I can come up with a new way to package it. And I’d rather not discuss the next one until I’ve made a deal for it. It’ll be a feature film not a cartoon though.

Do you see film-making now as important as much as music?

I see that as just another thing I do. I certainly like to do it. It gives you a slightly different advantage because you can use things like close-up that you can’t do in a concert, build up a little more character that way. I’d say the next film I do won’t be near the standard idea of a rock and roll movie based on the exploits of a certain fixed group; It’ll probably be a little more into being professional actors, and with a slightly different premise to work from.
I’m about finished with investing large amounts of my time in the development of other people so that they can do press interviews and rip me off.


This is the unreliability of musicians, you were talking about. Would actors be any better?

I guess not, but seeing as I haven’t had any actors do bad press releases about me yet, I’ll explore that field. As soon as I find out I have trouble with actors, then it’s cartoon’s all the way.

You seem to be very pissed off this time round, disillusioned and a bit down.

Well I’m tired to tell you the honest-to-God truth, got a bit of the jet lag. But something like that would tend to change your attitude towards people in general, musicians in particular, and also audiences, by the way. You just have to view them as a completely different phenomenon, and as I told one guy at the press conference, something like this shows you who your friends are. if you ever had any.


So whatever you do now it’ll be for yourself.

Well, to be more specific about it, I just won’t be doing some of the things that were normally expected of me before.

In the way of patronage and so on.

Right. I’ve had it about up to the ceiling, or maybe up to three floors above, of that sort of activity.

Are you carrying on with Straight/Bizzarre?

Yes we are. But as far as actually producing records for people myself, that’s going to be severely limited because I just don’t like the idea of the personal aggravation of getting the playback from it. So my involvement in the record company will probably be to the extent of approving or disapproving of what’s available to sign, and I’ll turn the actual production over to some other people.
That’s what I’d like to find right now, is some competent producers, who know what to do with people of unusual abilities. There’s a lot of guys that can go out and make a straight, slick record, but what if they had to deal with Alice Cooper in the early stage?

Going back to that Beefheart thing: the one specific charge they did make was that you didn’t create, you just take things and put them together.

Yeah. Is that to imply that Beefheart’s music is 100 per cent pristine and comes from no point of origin, or is that to say that anyone listening to Beefheart’s music is befuddled to the point where they can’t trace his sources? Because I certainly know where it comes from, but I wouldn’t tell any body for fear of embarrassing the dear Captain.
I don’t know what one is supposed to say about taking things from other people and moulding them into something of one’s own, but I’ll tell you exactly what I take and it’s not like taking it either, because in all the groups that I’ve had, the personalities of the individual musicians I felt were important enough to build into the pieces they were performing.
When a person is working on the road a certain number of months out of the year and, if they have to play a set repertoire in order to keep some sort of programme and to ensure some standard of quality for the shows that you have to do night after night, it’s better if the people who are performing it have a chance to have some thing they can identify with. That seems logical, it has to me all along anyway, and what I would do was when I wrote for the group I’d take what you might call the folklore of the group and transmute that into musical terms so that the people playing the music got the chance to play something that represented them as much as me.


Unfortunately, some people didn’t like the way I saw them or what I recognised as their folklore contribution, and other people just didn’t like the idea of performing, period. They’d say we were going on the road too much, and then other people felt we weren’t going enough, because if you don’t go on the road you don’t get paid.
In the case of the old Mothers, at the point that they broke up I was in a very embarrassing situation, because in order to tell the whole truth about I would have had to say some awfully bad things about them – about their musical ability, their attitude, their reliability. It was at a point where I knew they had to get together other ensembles and I didn’t want to do any bad press that might encumber them in their new career, whatever it was.


But to tell you their attitude at that point now: they were receiving 250 dollars per week, guaranteed, whether they worked or not, and had been for a couple of years. And that was a burden I could not bear any more, because the money we were getting in from concerts was just not enough. At the time we broke up I felt that at rehearsals they slopped through the music, taking no interest in refining their technique or expanding musically to new horizons.


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: John Kay (Steppenwolf), Sandy Denny, Head, Hands and Feet, Maggie Bell, Ten Years After, Manassas, Hawkwind, Rick Nelson, Barry Dransfield, Andy Brown, Carly Simon.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to:
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.


ARTICLE ABOUT Frank Zappa FROM SOUNDS, December 4, 1971

A nice interview that is actually the second part of the last one with Zappa that I posted here. Enjoy!


Frank`s turtles in disguise

By Steve Peacock

The time is right, thinks Frank Zappa, to unleash on an unsuspecting public the long-awaited nine-album anthology of Mother`s music, together with a 30-page booklet. It`s set for release next March.
A year ago, I asked Zappa when he`d ben releasing the set, and he said: “In about five or 10 years when they assume more historical importance.” Things have obviously moved a lot faster than he`d expected.


“I think now is the time, because what with the release of “200 Motels”. I think if anybody has any questions about where things come from in that film, it would be appropriate to answer them through this set. There`s a lot of documentary stuff on it.”
The nine albums go right through from 1962 to now, and none of the material has been released before. A lot of it`s live, and about 20 per cent of it is live versions of stuff that`s been on other albums.
“There`s a lot of improvisation,” says Zappa. “The old group`s strongest point was collective improvisation, where the group itself would put together a piece on stage from nothing. There`s some good examples of that. A lot of it was recorded in Europe – there`s a bunch of stuff from the Festival Hall concert we did here in `68, some stuff from the Albert Hall in `69, quite a few American concerts, some stuff from Copenhagen. And then from the most recent Mothers there`s some things we recorded on the last tour.


“Then there are examples of what our rehearsals sound like – I`ve got a tape of the original Mothers from before we recorded “Freak Out”. That`s us doing “How Could I Be Such A Fool”, on side two of the first album; and then it goes forward in time to `68 when we had a 10-piece band rehearsing a song called “Boogie For Berkley”, and the third one is the Mothers 1970 rehearsing “Fluted Transoms” – the new organised Mothers rocking out on a sort of atonal jam.”
The anthology will obviously be of great interest to people who already know the Mothers, and who`ve followed them through from the early days, but Zappa feels that an important reason for putting it out will be to give people who have only picked up on them recently a chance to find out about their history.
“The number of people who own all our albums, or who`ve heard them all, is very small. I meet people who think that “Hot Rats” was our first album, or that “Chunga`s Revenge” was our first album, and there are even people who think the Fillmore album was our first. And then there are the people who have only the “Freakout” album, and who don`t know about the others. They`re amazed when you tell them there are 13 albums.”
We got on to talking about the way the Press had treated the Mothers in general, and the film in particular. Zappa does feel a bit ill-used, especially in America, though there “200 Motels” has had better reviews than here.
“I can sympathise with somebody who earns his living as a critic – I should think that would be a very difficult thing to do, to be put in a position where you have to tell people what`s good and what`s not.”
Was that how he saw the job of reviewers?
“That`s what it usually comes down to. Most of them don`t really do the formal service of saying `this, this, and this could have been improved` – and be able to say it because they know something about the medium in a technical way. It`s usually so subjective that it doesn`t deal with technicalities at all. They don`t perform a service for the artist – it might be handy to have someone who knew what a mix was supposed to be – listen to an album and say: “I don`t like that mix because there`s not enough of this or there`s too much of that.



“But normally what happens is that the person is involved with his own job of being a writer, in expressing himself as a writer rather than being involved in what he`s writing about, and so the basic game of being a writer is to collect words that are going to provide for the reader the sensation that the person who`s writing is really hot shit. Therefore anything that looks good on paper is generally what comes out in reviews, so if it seems attractive to call “200 Motels” a home movie, well then that`s cool. But I wouldn`t say it was a home movie – you should see some of my home movies.”
How much did criticism affect him, especially put-downs based on half-grasped ideas?
“Well, it depends on the person who`s doing it, and the generalised intention behind why they might say what they say. Talking about the film, I made it for people to enjoy, so if nobody enjoys it then it affects me – I should feel I had failed in my duty as an entertainer, because it`s supposed to provide a pleasurable experience for the audience that sees it. But anyway audiences vary in their sense of humour, and it`s especially un-natural when people who write about films go to see them in the presence of other people who write about films.
“You`re there with all the other people in your trade of film writing or music writing, or whatever it is, and everyone`s there to be who he is, or do what you do, and the general attitude is `Oh, let`s see what we can enlighten the world with about this Zappa movie.` I`ve been to a lot of screenings with Press and watched the reactions, and I`ve also been to theatres where the film`s been on display for a regular audience – and there`s a big difference.


“But the final decision is usually left to the people who`ll go and see it when it`s on general release. They`ll either enjoy it or they won`t. It wasn`t made for critics, it was made for people, and if some day a critic decided he wants to become people, then maybe he can get off on it.”
In one way and another, the things Zappa`s thinking and talking about at the moment tend to relate to his films – this one, and the new project “Billy The Mountain” (see last week`s SOUNDS). When he gets back from this tour he has to finish off the script, music, and organisation for that, write the book for the anthology, edit live recordings they`ll be making of their British dates in December.
He`ll also be playing guitar on a few sessions that the Turtle/Mothers are doing to complete a double Turtles` album for Bizarre. Come to think of it, now Jim Pons is with them on bass, the present Mothers are almost Turtles in disguise.
“It`s fairly evenly balanced – three Turtles, three Mothers, and an Aynsley Dunbar. There`s a comedy group if ever I heard one.”
Ah, yes the comedy group. That`s something which has grown out of Press reviews – in America for a long time  the Mothers seemed to be regarded in the same way as the Barron Knights were seen here – and they stress it a lot in the film. The point is, of course, that they`re musicians who happen to enjoy being funny as well, but people seem to find this hard to accept. Even, apparently, their former bass player, Jeff Simmonds couldn`t take the combination. Was his leaving the group really as it was shown in a cartoon sequence in the film?
“It`s pretty close. He was being counselled by his girlfriend or his wife or whatever she was, that he was too heavy to be in the group. I feel sorry for Jeff because he had great comedy ability, but he has this feeling of ambivalence about being funny and being a heavy musician at the same time, and his main interest lay in being recognised as a heavy musician. He figured nobody would ever believe he was heavy if he had a sense of humour, and that opinion was being bolstered by his old lady.”
It`s a combination of approaches that the Mothers seem to have come to terms with, but did he ever feel that the comedy sometimes took away from the music?
“Only in as much as some people can`t comprehend certain musical aspects of the group, so the comedy predominates for them. I do it because there are certain things that strike me as funny, and I like to share that with people who are similarly interested. I don`t see any reason to go on stage and treat the whole thing as a solemn affair – life is too short.


“There really is a lot of funny stuff, and I think we need some of that these days. Spread it around a little bit, give somebody some relief. I think a lot of people relate to the comedy and don`t even realise there`s music there – that`s why we keep referring to the Comedy Group in the film, that kind of stereotype that`s been laid on us.”
But he never felt tempted to tone down the funnies so people would get more directly to the music?
“No. I`m certainly not going to throw away the enjoyment that I have out of having humours sensations on stage in order to accommodate someone who doesn`t have a sense of humour.
“Look, if you`re going to play 22 jobs in seven weeks, you better have a sense of humour. You better.”


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Deep Purple, Rikki Farr, Bob Dylan, Nicky Hopkins, Bunk Johnson, Country Joe and the Fish, Steve Marriott, Ian Hunter, Roy Harper, Emitt Rhodes, Charlie Wills, Melanie.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to:
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Frank Zappa FROM SOUNDS, November 27, 1971

I do love a little bit of Zappa in between all those rock bands here. One of the most talented musicians in modern music history have his natural place here, as he also have in my record collection.
Be well dear readers – until my next update!


Zappa`s latest box of tricks

A interview by Steve Peacock

Frank Zappa is pretty pleased with his first movie, “200 Motels”. Ask how he feels about it now that it`s all finished and he`ll say: “I think it turned out pretty good.” Tell him that British pop pundit Tony Palmer, who worked on the film, thinks it`s the worst pop film he`s seen, and he`ll say: “That`s quite a distinction. But then he`s such a controversial little rascal.”
Ask him if he can see any reason for Palmer to describe it that way, and he says: “Self publicity for himself perhaps?” It`s not so much arrogance, it`s a strong belief in what he`s doing, and as he says, he does things for people to enjoy, not for critics to write about.
He enjoys it too. He enjoyed making it, and he enjoys watching it. I`d been saying that it was a bit difficult to take in all at once, the first time. “It is a bit difficult. I remember the first time I saw it when it was completed, and I`d been looking at it for months and months in various stages of development but when the final colour print first came back, I went to a screening, sat there, and I didn`t even listen to it – I just looked at it, because I couldn`t believe what it looked like.


“I wasn’t even connecting the dialogue or the music with the pictures up on the wall, it was a silent movie as far as I was concerned. After the third or fourth time I began to assimilate it all.”
I was starting to ask about the way he’s approached making the movie. He’s explained at length before what the film was about how it showed that touring makes you crazy, but presumably he’d seen other pop films and he had ideas about how to do it himself. He immediately picked up on the phrase “pop films”.
“I’m not an avid fan of pop films, but you get dumped into that category by virtue of the fact that the film revolves around a group of people who happen to be musicians. I think I would use the same people whether they were musicians or not. I happen to be interested in making a musical film, but a lot of the music in it is not pop. In a way that’s unfortunate because it’s not like one of those regular rock and roll movies.
“But as far as the ideas for the technical things went, I had seen many examples of the special effects you can get, and I had some idea of the capabilities of video technique. 99% of the effects in the movie happen live while you’re working, which means you can see how they’re going to turn out at the time, and you don’t have to send them away to a lab and get them to do it for you. If you don’t like it you just erase it and do it again. It was extremely appropriate for this film.”
Was there anything in the film he felt didn’t work as well as it could have done, or anything he had to leave out?
“There was plenty of stuff that was left out that might have been more interesting to leave in, if certain other parts had been shot. But you must remember that we only had a seven day shooting schedule and as it was one third of the script, which was 320 pages long, didn’t get shot at all, and so there was a certain amount of restructuring to be done at the point where we were putting the thing together.”
But had he had, say, two weeks on the sound stage, it would have been a very different film? “It very definitely would have been, but that’s beside the point really. What’s there is there, that ‘200 Motels’, that’s the way Fate has made it occur. I also would’ve liked to have had the soundtrack in stereo, but I didn’t have the budget for that either.”


Perhaps with the success of “200 Motels”, he’ll get a better budget for his next project, “Billy The Mountain”. Part of the script and some of the music for this is already written, and the Mothers may be performing extracts from it at their Rainbow Theatre concerts in London next month. After the current tour, Zappa will be going back home to finish work on the script and the music. Will he be using the same techniques to make the next film?
“No, there’ll be some improvements in terms of technique. There’s a possibility of involving computer technology in conjunction with the videotape to do even more outrageous things. I don’t want to be too specific with you because a lot of the things are patentable, but say I’ve invested some money in research and development on some machines to extend the capabilities of video, and you might be hearing something in the next few weeks about the success of those experiments.”
The music for the film will be played by the Mothers – “doing our rock and roll comedy music” – and by a synthesiser orchestra. “There’ll be a number of special devices that are in development right now, that’ll do a number of unusual things to the human voice, and also extend the capabilities of the voice by enabling a person’s speech or singing voice to trigger circuits which will cause that voice to be accompanied by synthesised orchestral ensembles, that will be exactly in synchronisation and exactly on pitch with that voice, no matter what it’s doing.
“Say you’re talking. There’s a device that will find out the important information harmonically about the content of your voice, and generate a signal which’ll turn on other devices which will poop out of a speaker on the other side of the stage a sax section that’ll play chords that’ll accompany exactly the rhythm of your speech and the inflection of your speech. It could produce a very interesting kind of music.”

How far advanced is the work on these devices? “They’ve been tested and they work. The only thing I’m waiting for is to get off the road, go back to Los Angeles, and have the guy that’s working on the project hand me a completed box. It’s just a question of putting it all into a little black box with knobs on.”
And learning how to use it? “Right, but that’s not too bad, because once you have the proper amount of rehearsal with the members of the group, all they have to do is adjust their ear to the fact that every time they talk there’s going to be an ensemble of some sort cranking along behind them, that they can’t get rid of. There’s no way you can fool it – if you go out of tune it goes right out of tune with you.”
How do they feel about that? “Oh, they’re interested in doing it. The Mothers of Invention? You know how experimental they are.”
The way they’re going to make the film this time, is to shoot the Mothers straight. playing the music and narrating the story of Billy The Mountain. After that, they’ll use insets and superimpositions, and other fiendish tricks, to illustrate the story; shots of the Mothers acting out the story in costume, and animation sequences.
Would it be as fast moving as the first movie? “Oh yes, at least as fast, but I think you’ll be able to follow it because there’s a linear story – this definitely has a plot. It’s a kind of fairy tale situation and it has events that follow each other in the acceptable plodding manner that people like to identify with.”
Would he like to outline the plot? “Ah let’s see. I don’t want to get too specific, and give the whole plot away, but it’s something like this:
“It tells the story of the creation of life on this planet and in this version, it begins with an empty sky, a fat maroon sofa floating around in it, God sees the sofa, admires it, and decides to explain to the sofa the basis of their future relationships, and he does this, singing in German.


Then he decides he needs some entertainment so he summons his girlfriend The Short Girl, and her assistant, Squat The Magic Pig, and proceeds to shoot a home movie using the girl and the pig and the sofa. And when he’s finished shooting the film he has some Winged Holy Children take it to a lab where they don’t ask any questions, and while he’s waiting for his rushes to come back he lays down on the sofa to take a nap, and as soon as he goes to sleep, he has a great dream, and when he dreams the Devil appears.
Now the Devil walks out of a cave and he introduces himself with a song and dance routine, and he has these cloven hoofs, you see, and he’s stomping around on the rocks outside the cave and the sparks from his hoofs ignite all adjacent moss, and the moss goes up in flames, the smoke is billowing around, and as he sings in a low voice the smoke turns to stone forming several lumpy new mountains, and one of them can talk. And the one that can talk is named Billy the Mountain.
Billy The Mountain has a tree growing off his shoulder named Ethel, and Ethel is his girlfriend, who soon becomes his wife, and Ethel the Tree is under the control of Old Zircon, the phased-out Byzantine devil. Old Zircon induces Ethel the Tree to trick Billy the Mountain into taking her on a vacation. And so he gets up on his massive granite foot, and starts walking across America, and he’s destroying America as he walks from California to Virginia Beach.
Meanwhile, in a small neat room behind a grocery store, there’s this mysterious figure named Studebaker Hawk, and Studebaker Hawk is dressed in a chequered tablecoth with waxdrips on it from some candles stuffed up a Chianti bottle, and he’s wearing dark green denim trousers such as a bus driver might enjoy, and he sits before a glowing view screen on which he monitors all things potentially dangerous to civilisation as we know it. And on this screen he’s watching Billy the Mountain.

Now Billy has this large cliff for a jaw, and when he talks the cliff goes up and down, and clouds of brown smoke puff out, and rocks and boulders hack up, and he (Studebaker Hawk) sees the new brown clouds coming out of Billy’s mouth and he sings about it because he becomes worried about the implications of brown clouds in terms of the ecology. He gets on the phone to informed Sources in Washington DC. and finds that the line is busy.
Meanwhile, all these disasters keep happening in the Mid-West. On his way. Billy gets hungry, and he eats a diner. You know what a diner is? Well in the United States they have these restaurants that are made out of old street cars, and he eats one. He sees it’s got all this rancid food in it so he eats the whole street car – all the stale lemon pies and bacon drips, he eats the cash register and the chlorophyll lozenges and gum displayed nearby.
But as he’s walking, he finds that it’s interfered with his delicate granite intestinal membranes, causing severe gas, fire, and molten lava, and Billy the Mountain becomes Billy the Volcano, about the time he gets to Indiana. He’s vomiting all these melted chrome diner appliances all over the countryside.
By this time Studebaker Hawk has finally gotten a call through to his informed sources in Washington, and he meets a character called Little Emil, who gives him a code, and when Studebaker Hawk manages to figure out the code he discovers that the Government wants him to stop the rampaging volcano.
And the way they want him to stop it is by sneaking up on it with a special new bomb which will not only destroy the volcano but it’ll wipe out the middle of the United States to a width of about a thousand miles. And this upsets him because he thinks of the long range ecological consequences of such a disaster.”


“So he thinks to himself that there must be some mistake, that the computer in the Pentagon must have gone apeshit, because their rationale for doing this, as explained by the code, is you can go ahead and blow up the Mid-West because those dumb f-king farmers will never know the difference. That’s what the computer print-out had said. So he gets suspicious, and he refuses to obey his orders and calls Washington back, and says he has another better way to stop Billy the Mountain.
And the rest of the story is the part I don’t want to give away, because it’s what Studebaker Hawk’s plan is, and who Little Emil really is, because he doesn’t work for the Government, he owns it.”


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Redbone, Elton John, Redwing, Carl Palmer, B.B. King, Bill Williams, Alice Stuart, Fanny, Robbie Robertson, Lesley Duncan, Dave Burland.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to:
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.