The following are some of the articles that are reproduced in the
   booklet that comes with the ten disk boxed set "The History and
   Collected Improvisations of Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention."
   unknown date/source
   Frank Zappa, 22, Ontario resident composer of music, serious and
   otherwise, will be on television tomorrow night playing a bicycle
   concerto for two with Steve Allen. The show is at 11 p.m., Channel 5.
   "It's very funny," said Zappa. "You play a bicycle by plucking the
   spokes and blowing through the handlebars." Other methods of producing
   "cyclophony" is to stroke the spokes with the bow of a bass fiddle,
   twirl the pedals and let air out of the tires. The Zappa-Allen
   concerto will be abetted by a man in the control room folling around
   with a tape recorder and by a jazz group will supply toneless
   background noise. Zappa studied music and art at Chaffey College. He
   wrote the score for "The World's Greatest Sinner," a low-budget tale
   about a sacrilegious imposter who repents. "Sinner" had its premiere
   at Vista-Continental Theater, Hollywood, and open Wednesday at the Ken
   Theater, San Diego. Zappa writes musical commercials for TV and radio.
   They are recorded at Pal Studio, Cucamonga.
   unknown date/source
   By Ted Harp
   CUCAMONGA -- Vice Squad investigators stilled the tape recorders of a
   free-swinging, a-go-go film and recording studio here Friday and
   arrested a self-styled movie producer and his buxom red-haired
   companion. Booked on suspicion of conspiracy to manufacture
   pornographic materials and suspicion of sex perversion, both felonies,
   at county jail were: Frank Vincent Zappa, 24, and Lorraine Belcher,
   19, both of the studio address, 8040 N. Archibald Ave.
   The surprise raid came after an undercover officer, following a tip
   from the Ontario Police Department, entered the rambling, three-room
   studio on the pretext of wanting to rent a stag movie. Sgt. Jim
   Willis, vice investigator of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's
   Office, said the raid suspect, Zappa, offered to do even better -- he
   would film the movie for $300, according to Willis. When Zappa became
   convinced the detective was "allright," he played a tape recording for
   him. The recording was for sale and it featured, according to police,
   Zappa and Miss Belcher in a somewhat "blue" dialogue.
   Shortly after the sneak sound preview, the suspect's hope for a sale
   were shattered when two more sheriff's detectives and one from the
   Ontario Police Department entered and placed the couple under arrest.
   Zappa, who recently was the subject of news story on his hopes to
   produce a low-budget fantasy film and thus bring a share of
   Hollywood's glamor to Cucamonga, blamed financial woes for his latest
   venture. Inside his studio when the raid came was recording and sound
   equipment valued at $22,000, according to Zappa.
   Also, a piano, trap drums, vibraphones and several electric guitars
   were stored among the Daliian litter of the main studio. On the walls,
   Zappa had hung such varied memorabilia as divorce papers, a picture of
   himself on the Steve Allen television show, a threat from the
   Department of Motor Vehicles to revoke his driver's license, several
   song publisher's rejection letters and works of "pop" art. Among
   Zappa's completed musical scores were such titles as "Memories of El
   Monte," and "Streets of Fontana." The latter, written before several
   utility companies had forsaken the budding composer, opens:
     'Sweeping Streets'
     "As I was out sweeping the streets of Fontana.
     As I was out sweeping Fontana one day.
     I spied in the gutter a moldy banana.
     And with the peeling I started to play . . ."
   Assisting Sgt. Willis in the raid were sheriff's vice investigators
   Jim Mayfield and Phillip Ponders, and Ontario Detective Stan
   McCloskey. Arraignment for Zappa and Miss Belcher next week will bring
   them close to home. Cucamonga Justice Court is right across the street
   from the studio.
   from Rolling Stone, October 18, 1969
   LOS ANGELES -- Frank Zappa, "tired of playing for people who clap for
   all the wrong reasons," has dissolved his Mothers of Invention. The
   first indication that the revolutionary nine-member band was
   aproaching the end of its musical career came with an announcement
   that the Mothers had cancelled all bookings from now until the end of
   the year so Zappa could concentrate on other projects long in
   progress. A talk with Zappa revealed the break was more complete than
   that. "It all started in Charlotte, North Carolina," he said. "We'd
   been booked by George Wein on a jazz concert date as bait to get the
   teenaged audience. We went into a 30,000 capacity auditorium with a
   30-watt public address system, it was 95 degrees and 200 percent
   humidity, with a thunderstorm threatening. It was really horrendous.
   "After that I had a meeting with the group and told them what I
   thought about the drudgery of grinding it out on the road. And then I
   came back took to LA and worked on Hot Rats (an upcoming solo album).
   Then we did one more tour -- eight days in Canada. After that I said
   fuck it. "I like to play, but I just got tired of beating my head
   against the wall. I got tired of playing for people who clap for all
   the wrong reasons. I thought it time to the people a chance to figure
   out what we've done already before we do any more. "The last live
   Mothers performance was in Montreal. The last `otherwise' performance
   was a television show in Ottawa the following night" -- August 18th
   and 19th. Which is not to say the Mothers are completely dead. The
   band will not be performing, or recording, as a group, but they will
   be seen on film. Three short films are now complete -- two of them
   documentaries from Germany -- and a fourth is in the works. All these,
   Zappa said, will be offered to colleges as a package in lieu of live
   performance, probably beginning in late Fall. Zappa also said he had
   recorded material for a dozen full length LPs on the shelf in his
   Hollywood Hills home, records he hopes to release through a Mothers of
   Invention Record Club, now being planned. The albums cover the band's
   five-year development and were recorded on tour (in Europe as well as
   throughout North America) and in studios stretching from Los Angeles
   to New York. Meanwhile, the individual members of the band are making
   plans of their own. Jimmy Carl Black, the drummer known as "the Indian
   in the group," for example, has formed a band of (as yet unnamed) an
   already has begun preliminary recording, while Don Preston, one of the
   Mothers' keyboard men, has gone to New York to work with a company
   that combines dance with electronic music. At the same time, Zappa has
   holed up in his basement workshop to concentrate on:
     * Captain Beefheart vs. The Grunt People! This is a feature-length
       film, presently in script form, written by Zappa in 1964. Zappa
       said that thanks in part to Easy Rider and the Woodstock Music &
       Art Fair -- "two of several things finally showing the youth
       market really means business" -- three major studios have made
       offers to back the flick. Zappa also said that if anyone had shown
       interest in the film five years ago, he would never have played
       rock and roll. His "ideal cast" includes parts for, among others,
       Don Van Vliet, who is better known as Captain Beefheart, an old
       high school chum of Zappa's; Chester Burnett, better known as
       Howlin' Wolf; several of the Mothers of Invention; and Grace
     * An unnamed weekly television show. For this a major deal is
       imminent, too, he said, but details could not be discussed. He did
       say, however, the program would be a "music show" and not a talk
       or interview show.
     * Continued activity in production of records for his own Bizarre
       and Straight record company labels. This includes final editing of
       the debut LP for the GTOs, recording of the second Captain
       Beefheart and His Magic Band LP for Straight, and final work on a
       new Mothers album called Burnt Weenie Sandwich, which relates to
       an 18 minute film just completed. (This film would be one of the
       four offered the colleges.) Zappa has additionally produced an
       album by Jean-Luc Ponty, an electric violinist from France, and
       has completed his own solo guitar debut, Hot Rats, to be released
       by Bizarre and distributed by Reprise in October.
     * Supervision of planning the Mothers of Invention Record Club,
       which he said he hoped would be announced in (get ready) Playboy
       magazine. "Those are the people who need to listen to us most," he
       explained, adding that Mo Ostin, president of Reprise, was
       "working on it." The titles of the 12 LPs are Before the
       Beginning, The Cucamonga Era, Show and Tell, What Does it All
       Mean, Rustic Protrusion, Several Boogie, The Merely Entertaining
       Mothers of Invention Record, The Heavy Business Record, Soup and
       Old Clothes, Hotel Dixie, The Orange County Lumber Truck, and The
       Weasel Music.
   Zappa mentioned one final project. He said he might be accompanying
   Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band to Europe in October -- not as a
   musician, but as road manager.
   unknown date/source
   "Most rock could not do this sort of thing because they cannot read
   music," said Zubin Mehta confidently. "Frank Zappa, on the other hand,
   is one of the few rock musicians who knows my language." As conductor
   of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Mehta is known not only for his
   willingness to step in where many Angelenos fear to tread, but for his
   ability to get away with it musically. In the peerless leader of the
   Mothers of Invention (Time, Oct. 31), however, Mehta was taking on a
   man whose main goal in life seems to zap the musical establishment.
   The odd musical conjunction of the two men also involved 104 stunned
   members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic gathered for the world premier
   of Zappa's 200 Motels, written for the Mothers and orchestra. What the
   concert, held before 11,000 rock fans at the U.C.L.A. basketball
   arena, mainly proved is that any marriage between rock and the
   classics is likely to be stormy indeed. As ther Mothers' bassist Jeff
   ("Swoovette") Simmons said tolerantly of the orchestra: "Those dudes
   are really out of it, man. It's like working with people from another
   planet." There were times when the orchestra players felt the same way
   about Zappa and his matriarchy. Attired in pony-tail and
   yellow-striped pants, Zappa started things off himself: "All right,
   Zubin, hit it." That was a bit brazen and did not go over too well the
   violins, who outnumber everybody else and use their weight to preserve
   a little decorum now and then. Nonetheless, when Zubin hit it, they
   hit it too. When the rest of the orchestra said "Bleep," the violins
   joined in. When they required to do fey finger snaps over their heads,
   they complied. When asked to belch, literally, they drew the line and
   said "Blurp." When percussionist William Kraft, dutifully following
   the score, fired a popgun, they played on unblinking. Meanwhile,
   platformed six feet above the orchestra, the Mothers were lullabying
   away at some of their "greatest hits," like Lumpy Gravy, Duke of
   Prunes, and Who Needs the Peace Corps. Then, everyone in the orchestra
   suddenly screamed, one final frightening chord was heard, and with a
   giant blurp 200 Motels closed down for the night. No complaints,
   however, were heard from the Philharmonic management, clearly
   overjoyed to have got its players into the same hall with that many
   young people and brought $33,000 into the box office. As for Mehta, if
   he did not have the last laugh, he at least had the last lash: despite
   Zappa's protests, he cut out the entire second part of 200 Motels.
   Just as well, Part 2 calls for a chorus to blow bubbles through straws
   and the soprano soloist to sing "Munchkins get me hot."
   unknown date/source
   At the time of writing his `1812 Overture,' Peter Tchaikovski
   considered it to be no more than a light hearted descriptive work of
   little importance. It was left to a much later generation to reflect
   upon it's merits. I'm not drawing parallels, but I don't think it's
   too presumptuous to assume that to future musicologists the works of
   Francis Vincent Zappa will be looked upon as being indicative of
   certain aspects of our quickly disposable instant product society. And
   to present it he has used the most acceptable and quickest method of
   mass communication . . . a rock band. Zappa may choose to cacoon his
   work in the most outrageous humour, but even this can't overshadow the
   strength and validity of his creativeness . . . but then perhaps it's
   not supposed to, just compliment it? Though Sunday's soiree at the
   London Coliseum was a brief and informative excursion into some of his
   most bizarre antics, the music which fluctuated between sheer
   brilliance and haughty schoolboy pornography was still the prime focal
   point. The evening's entertainment commenced with a situation which
   would have even inspired Fellini. Entering stage left, a dinner-suited
   pianist started vamping out "Moon River" on an upright. Almost
   immediately, the stage was taken over by a midget lady tap dancer, a
   female juggler, an illusionist, and low-n-behold, a troupe of
   performing dogs who camped it up in the grand old tradition of the
   music hall. Then to whoops and cheers of recognitin from a capacity
   audience, Uncle Frank welcomed us with "Hello boys and girls," while
   his Mothers of Invention cavorted about prior to roaring into an
   extended version of "Vegetables," which was followed by excerpts from
   his musical-documentary of group life on the road "200 Motels." Though
   each member of the Mothers is an individualist, at one time or another
   during the non-stop performance they completely come under the almost
   Svengaliesque direction of F. V. Zappa to the point where they become
   the synthesis of his personality. Continually drawing on the basic
   mechanics of Rock Americana. Much of the vocal overtones reflect the
   nostalgic "Noo Yoirk" monotones of a bygone era. In ex-Turtles Howard
   Kaylan and Mark Volman, the Mothers have an unequalled brace of
   singer-comedians. Completely uninhibited in their delivery, their
   camping about during "200 Motels" and the subsequent take-offs of the
   messrs. Daltry and Morrison turned it into an operetta. Without a
   doubt they are Zappa's main visual assets. Of the rest of the group,
   the internal rapport which exists between Ian Underwood and our very
   own ex-patriot Aynsley Dunbar on drums is quite outstanding in his
   flexibility and precision. I don't presume to fully understand what
   goes on in Frank Zappa's agile mind . . . I expect very few, if any,
   can admit to it. To pretend to would be facetious. Though others may
   argue the point, I feel that Zappa takes his work most seriously.
   Above all his eccentric genius has to be admired and respected.
   from The New York Times, Sunday, December 25, 1966
   The most original new group to simmer out of the steaming rock'n'roll
   underground in the last hour and one-half is an audacious crew from
   the West Coast called The Mothers of Invention. The eight-member group
   will be appearing through New Year's Eve at the Balloon Farm, the new
   haven for young hippies at 23 St. Mark's Place, atop the Dom. The
   Mothers of Invention are primarily musical satirists. Beyond that,
   they are perhaps the first pop group to successfully amalgamate
   rock'n'roll with the serious music of Stravinsky and others. Both in
   their material and in their looks, they are also furthering some of
   the more outrageous elements of anti-convention, thus contributing to
   a new style that might be called "shock rock." Compared to the Mothers
   of Invention, such earlier big-beat groups as The Beatles and The
   Rolling Stones emerge as Boy Scouts with electric guitars. The
   hairier-than-thou personnel of The Mothers, include at this writing
   ("everyone in the band has quit three times") performers on harmonica,
   tambourine, percussion and timpani, electric bassoon, soprano
   saxophone, tenor sax, flute, gongs, electric clavichord and "mouth."
   There is a lot of alternation of instruments among the band members.
   No one knows for sure who plays drums. The father (or Dada) of The
   Mothers of Invention is 26-year-old Frank Zappa, spindly-framed,
   sharp-nosed gamester whose appearance suggests some of the more
   sinister aspects of Edgar Allen Poe, John Carradine and Rasputin. In
   truth, Mr. Zappa is no more sinister than a cultural revolutionary
   bent on overthrowing every rule in the music book. On arriving here,
   Mr. Zappa took a moment off from worrying about when the plane
   carrying the bands 18 boxes of equipment would be found by the
   airline, loosened his pink-on-pink tie from his Carnaby Street collar
   and explained to a visitor just what he is up to: "I am trying to use
   the weapons of a disoriented and unhappy society against itself. The
   Mothers of Invention are designed to come in the back door and kill
   you while you're sleeping." A smile crept through the undergrowth of
   mustache and goatee, and he continued: "One of our main, short-range
   objectives is to do away with the top-40 broadcasting format because
   it is basically wrong, unethical and unmusical . . . Sure, we're
   satirists, and we are out to satirize everything. Most of the guys in
   the band feel that we're going to do something to help."
   Mr. Zappa was not explicit about how he was going to lead his crusade
   against the pop and serious music Establishments, other than to get
   his band's work more widely heard. Audiences at the Balloon Farm have
   been listening to variations on Mr. Zappa's themes with considerable
   delight. They have heard such Zappa originals as "Help, I'm a Rock"
   (". . . dedicated to Elvis Presley. Note the intersting formal
   structure and the stunning four-part barbershop harmony toward the
   end. Note the obvious lack of commercial potential. Ho hum"), "Motown
   Waltz," "Who Are the Brain Police?" "Wowie Zowie" (". . . carefully
   designed to suck the 12-year-old listener into our camp") and "The
   Return of the Son of Monster Magnet." Other works are entitled "The
   Mother's American Pageant," "The Duke of Prunes," "Plastic People,"
   and "Son of Suzy Creamcheese." If all of this sounds even a bit
   outlandish, Mr. Zappa has apparently hit his mark, for he thinks that
   "freaking out" is an important method of expression and effecting
   change. He defines "freaking out" as "a process whereby an individual
   casts off outmoded and restrictive thinking, dress and social
   etiquette in order to express creatively his relationship to his
   immediate environment and the social structure as a whole." Not the
   least of the fascinations of hearing The Mothers at work are the
   incidental uses of classical or serious music in rock arrangements.
   Besides Stravinsky, Mr. Zappa has scored rock adaptations of Mozart's
   Symphony No. 40, Holst's "The Planets" and a touch or two of Edgar
   Varese. Mr. Zappa began serious composition at the age of 14. "At 15 I
   gave it up and decided to become a plumber. How long did I stay in
   plumbing? I'm still a plumber . . ." The Baltimore-born,
   West-Coast-reared musician has had a turn at nearly every form of
   music extant. He has written "serious" works for string quartet,
   chamber orchestra, scores for the films "World's Greatest Sinner" and
   "Run Home Slow." He describes the latter as the only known cowboy
   picture using electronic music, in which the good guys presumably head
   off the bad guys at the oscillator. Mr. Zappa had almost despaired of
   "making it" in serious American music, but admits that he might make
   it through the back door of rock'n'roll. But "rock is not just a
   stepping-stone," he cautions. "Rock is tha only living music in
   America today. It's alive. I'm bringin music music [serious or
   classical concepts] to our rock arrangements. Stravinsky in rock is
   like a get-acquainted offer, a loss-leader. It's a gradual progression
   to bring in my own 'serious' music." Listening to The Mothers of
   Invention is an adventure, in which the auditor is warned to expect
   veering curves and sudden changes. Some of it is psychedelic sound
   (without the drugs), some is a marvelous spoof on the late-1950's
   teen-scene nonsense, some of it is social comment on the hypocrisies
   of contemporary life, and some of it is just, to use Mr. Zappa's
   phrase, "music music." Mr. Zappa urges that every lover of pop music
   run out and buy the Vanguard recording of Varese's futuristic
   "Ameriques." "It blows my mind. It's my favorite top-40 record."
   from The New York Times, Thursday, May 25, 1967
   "Absolutely Freeee," which opened at the Garrick Theater last night,
   will cost you threeee dollars a ticket. Whether you find the money
   well-spent will depend a great deal on how old you are, or wish you
   were. Although a good many strange and wonderful things were promised
   by the advance publicity for this show under its former name, "Pigs
   and Repugnant," it turns out to be nothing more nor less than a
   concert by a seven-man group called The Mothers of Invention.
   The Mothers, as we will call them for short, are familiar to and
   worshipped by the Flower Generation. The Pepsi Generation may find
   them a little hard to take. Let us say that the Beatles are as far-out
   a group as you have encountered up to now. The most striking
   difference between the two groups is not in their work but in their
   approach to their work -- the Beatles' basic desire to please an
   audience versus The Mothers' basic distrust of one (or at least of the
   one that attended the opening). The distrust is seen in the
   super-ironical introductions of Frank Zappa -- "Here's another hot
   little number . . ." -- and in the cool diffidencewith which the group
   goofs around between numbers. The audience has the feeling that if it
   is not very careful, the boys might just say, "Who needs this scene?"
   and walk out. Their music is also, more often than not, frankly
   hostile -- both in its headachey volume and in those lyrics that you
   can make out amid the roar. "Across the nation . . . black and white .
   . . TV . . . trading stamps . . . high-school . . ." The targets keep
   popping up, but whether they are being hit with any degree of verbal
   accuracy or style is impossible to discover without a libretto. As
   pure sound, though, this approaches genius. From an electrified
   kitchen of percussion, saxes, guitars, flutes, etc., they produce a
   thick, black sound shot through with odd treble sunbursts and
   pinwheels -- the exact aural equivalent of the nervous ever-changing
   abstract projections flashing on the screen behind them.
   Beneath the Lenin beards and the John-the-Baptist hairdos, these are
   fine musicians -- never better (and surely never more attractive) than
   when they are parodying the rock'n'roll numbers of an earlier
   generation. They are of an age that can honestly think of Elvis
   Presley with nostalgia. There is something oddly sweet in their
   parody-homage of "Hound-Dog," and lesser-known of yesterday's hits,
   which they made fun of in a way that cannot disguise their honest
   affection for the Old Masters. Whether their show at the Garrick will
   make any new friends for the Mothers -- or whether they really want
   any -- is hard to say. If they are interested in attracting a wider
   audience, it might be suggested that they consider the uses of
   silence, as well as volume, to attract and hold an audience's
   attention. With the best will in the world, one's attention does tend
   to click off, like a thermostat, under a steady barrage of
   triple-forte, no matter how brilliantly achieved. At such moments, the
   Mothers' music becomes simply a background roar -- as it would on the
   subway -- and the listener finds himself paying more attention to what
   is on his his mind than what is in his ears. If what is on his mind is
   spiritual enough -- how to attain the inner light, say -- then the
   music of the Mothers can be considered devotional. But the trouble
   with the Pepsi Generation is that most of us are more likely to be
   wondering what we did with our car keys.
   Theatre, it's not: "Absolutely Free" is a concert pure and simple, but
   if the Mothers of Invention want to down it as theatre that's okay
   with me. I'm perfectly happy to hear good music, no matter what it's
   posing as. The seven Mothers, if anyone doesn't know it by now,
   amalgamate "serious" music, jazz, and rock into a sardonic, electronic
   eclecticism. Mother-in-charge Frank Zappa, the composer-arranger,
   plays guitar and sings (with Ray Collins and Jim Black). There is a
   one-man wind and brass section -- Bunk Gardner on bassoon, piccolo,
   flute, clarinet, and soprano, tenor, and alto saxes. And a vast rhythm
   section -- Black, Billy Mundi, and sometimes Don Preston, percussion;
   Preston, piano, organ, and related and unrelated instruments; Roy
   Estrada, bass; and singer Ray Collins on occasional tambourine.
   Everything that possibly can be electrified is, including the
   wind-brass section. It works, and particular well on jazz. Zappa and
   other of the Mothers have a jazz background, and jazz doesn't sell too
   well these days, but I wish they would sneak in an all-jazz evening
   now and then. I suspect the extent of their electric instrumentation
   is unprecedented. It's new, and it's good. Zappa looks nasty, and when
   he comes on stage you brace yourself for a hostile assault; the group
   follows, you prepare your ears for deafening hate bleeps. They don't
   come. Zappa is relaxed, gentle, his rage is pressed into a fine-tuned
   irony. (Try to ignore it if he asks you if the music's too loud, then
   puts the voice mike, during an electric soprano sax solo, to the big
   vertical speaker. I've been at concerts that literally left my ears
   ringing for two days. This wasn't one of them.) The sound is different
   from anything else, energetic, often loving. The Mothers' image is
   deceiving. Their scandalously unrespectable appearance must be pretty
   forbidding for post-puberty generations, yet in age and frame of
   reference the Mothers are at least a generation older than the hippies
   who compose most of their following. A few of their targets date back
   to the '40s (Avalon Ballroom-style emceeing), some to the '50s
   (rock'n'roll of that era). Their attitude hasn't much to do with age.
   It might be called surrealistic enlightened. Subject matter ranges
   from plastic people ("you think we're talking 'bout someone else") to
   the President ("he's been sick") to Donovan (some wicked epatering
   that should outrage the coterie). But most of what can be said about
   the lyrics can be ascertained only from their new record. The
   "Absolutely Free" album was distributed absolutely free to critics,
   but presumably it won't be any more free in stores than tickets to the
   show -- $3 -- are at the box office. At any rate, the unbalanced sound
   system on stage renders the lyrics unintelligible. Paradoxically,
   however, although this second record is better than the Mothers'
   "Freak Out" album, neither hints at how good the group is in person.
   One hears everything all at once on the records and somehow the sum
   doesn't amount to much. In person, one can't assimilate all the
   different musical and verbal things going on, and more imaginative,
   varied light-works would reinforce this. I have a theory that
   mixed-media events work only if so many absorbing things are happening
   simultaneously that one is missing something exciting all the time,
   and this seems to apply to the Mothers in person. And from this angle,
   maybe "Absolutely Freeeee" is theatre after all.
   from Rolling Stone, June 22, 1968
   Lumpy Gravy is the most curious album Frank Zappa has been involved in
   to date, and in many ways the music doesn't make it; as it says on the
   cover, "a curiously inconsistent piece which started out to be a
   ballet be probably didn't make it." The record was recorded in
   February of 1967, and Zappa conducts the "Abnuceals Emuukha Electric
   Symphony Orchestra and Chorus," which is made of stray Mothers and
   some of Hollywood's top musicians. On the back of the album we are
   asked by Zappa, "Is this phase 2 of We're Only In It For The Money?"
   but Lumpy Gravy is hardly a sequel in quality or kind to Money,
   although it does share some thematc material with the later Mothers
   group. Lumpy Gravy carries to an extreme the protean, fragmented
   musical approach that Zappa favors, but on the whole the work is
   rather inert. The composition is liberally garnished with dialogues
   about everything from living in drums to pigs with wings, but most of
   these spoken sections seem rather artificially forced. There are
   several jabs at surfing music, and the record closes with an
   instrumental version of "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance" that
   could have been arranged by the Ventures. In contrast some sections of
   Lumpy Gravy are so extremely chromatic that they verge on "atonality;"
   these passages are usually scored for strings and/or woodwinds,
   although towards the end of the second side an atonal passage for wind
   instruments is incongruously accompanied by a studio drummer. Parts of
   Lumpy Gravy break down into cliched lush string writing, while other
   parts abound in burps and bits of electronic music not unlike sections
   of "The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny." Yet in spite of its
   varied tricks, Lumpy Gravy does not come to life; it is a strangely
   sterile recording, as though all the studio musicians reading their
   music could not do what a batch of well-rehearsed Mothers can do.
   Missing are the songs and the energy of the Mothers with all their
   casually tossed off mistakes vocally and brilliance musically;
   furthermore what Zappa has lost by not using the smaller Mothers he
   has not really gained back by using a huge orchestra. The texture of
   the music (and the scoring of the instruments, for that matter) is
   surprisingly conventional and even boring, especially if one is
   familiar with Zappa's love of burps, aimless dialogue and certain
   kinds of electronic music. Neverthless Lumpy Gravy is an important
   album, if only because Frank Zappa is one of rock's foremost minds.
   This album, recorded well over a year ago, demonstrates the problems
   that serious rock as a whole faces, as well as compositional
   limitations (as of a year and a half ago) of one of serious rock's
   leading voices. Lumpy Gravy can hardly be called successful, yet it
   points the way towards more integrated, formal protean compositions
   such as Zappa's masterpiece We're Only In It For The Money. It might
   be said that Zappa makes mistakes that other rock composers would be
   proud to call their own best music; Lumpy Gravy is an idiosyncratic
   musical faux pas that is worth listening to for that reason alone.
   from Newsweek, June 3, 1968
   There is a method in their madness -- in their obscene gestures and
   erotic shenanigans with dolls, in their seemingly random wanderings
   about the stage and in the mumbles, grunts, oinks and electronic
   twitters that course through their rock songs. This new race of hairy
   men, the nine Mothers of Invention, are not musical primitives
   stumbling through a Stone Age happening. They are missionaries with a
   message, first-line musicians using their gifts to reshape the minds
   of America's teen-agers. "It's electronic social work," explains
   hawk-nosed, spectral Frank Zappa, the 27-year-old who has made the
   Mothers the most radical and entertaining rock group in the United
   States. This month, when the Mothers returned to Los Angeles, their
   musical birthplace, to celebrate what Zappa called "the beginning of
   our fourth unsuccessful year in the United States music business,"
   7,000 young followers packed Shrine Exposition Hall, a staggering
   figure since the Mothers' radical vision and raw language have cut
   them off from virtually all but underground radio exposure, the
   lifeline without which most groups sink. But four madcap albums and
   public exercises in studied mayhem have kept the Mothers afloat, so
   much so that Zappa has just been voted Pop Musician of the Year in
   Jazz and Pop magazine's annual poll. The LP's deliver the gospel
   according to Zappa, a lyricist-composer who is, perhaps, second only
   to the Beatles' John Lennon as the leading creative talent in pop
   music. Zappa's pixilated preachments conceal beneath the surface a
   frontal assault on every aspect of conformity and deadness -- from the
   imitation hippie and automatic hippie hater, to the plastic Mom and
   Dad who founder in face cream and liquor while discouraging their kids
   from thinking or wanting anything better. Mosaic: A Mothers concert is
   a revival meeting in which Zappa, as conductor and stage director,
   socks his credo to 'em. Here style becomes content -- a mosaic of
   Brechtian musical comments, oinks and monologues on carburetors by
   versatile Jim (Motor Head) Sherwood, who plays alto sax, drums and
   tambourine; extended cantatas like "King Kong" which has run up to 70
   minutes; and infusions of electronic zaps and gurgles over a dozen
   amplifiers. Even the hair styles and dress are part of the message,
   ranging from Sherwood's neatly combed shoulder-length hair and the
   beardless, spotless appearance of sax man Ian Underwood to the
   Ben-Gurion coiffure of organist Don Preston and wild-man presence of
   bearded Jim Black. "I don't tell the group what to wear," Zappa
   explained to Newsweek's Martin Kasindorf last week. "Our unorthodox
   appearance represents the free choice of everyone in the group. I
   don't want to control their private lives." Gastric: But, as casual as
   it all appears, a Mothers concert is as tightly run and tactical as a
   revivalist tent show, all aimed at grabbing the audience. "If I notice
   interst waning," says Zappa, "I might give a finger signal and
   everybody sings the highest note he can for a split second. This
   refocuses attention for the next solo. Or I can bring up Motor Head to
   talk about his car as we play and have his voice joined by the bass
   player talking about hamburger buns, whatever it takes to produce a
   certain amount of gastric activity in the audience." The show, as
   Zappa sees it, is one extended composition made like a piece of junk
   sculpture out of "bits of the environment, the sound of your
   transistor radio burped back at you, a panorama of American life."
   Zappa hopes to counteract what he sees as the rise of herd instinct
   and mass passivity. His counterinsurgency to date has created the term
   "freak out" and wedded a Lenny Brucian language to a sophisticated
   musical style that echoes composers such as Stravinsky and Varese.
   From his headquarters in a huge log cabin built outside Los Angeles by
   Tom Mix, who buried his trusty horse Tony under it, Zappa lives with
   his young wife, Gail, infant daughter called Moon Unit, and a hippie
   "governess," Miss Christine. Here, he plots his spiritual revolution.
   "Half of America is under 25, yet there is no real youth
   representation in government," he says. "It's not my job to organize
   them. The best I can do is ask a few questions. If we reach a million,
   maybe 500 will become active and get out and influence the opinions of
   others. But those 500 could be dynamite. I'd be happy to have that."
   unknown date/source
   It is not enough to say that The Mothers of Invention, who appeared in
   concert Saturday night at the Berkeley Community Theater are funny.
   They are brilliant satirists and absolutely unique and first rate
   musically as well. I went through several transformations of opinion
   at their concert. I had never liked that at the Fillmore and their
   impact is considerably less on records than in person (especially with
   such a successful show as Saturday's). At the Fillmore you could never
   really hear them and good sound is essential to what they are up to.
   Then I thought they were the Spike Jones of rock but, while there are
   elements of Spike Jones madness in their performance, the Mothers are
   total where Jones was selective in his satire. They are closely akin
   to Lenny Bruce, not as flexible because of the nature of the material
   they work with, but just as ruthless in their attack on the hypocrisy
   of this world. The next thing that hit me, during a long tenor
   saxophone solo, was these Mothers can really play!..
   And they really can play. There are two good saxophone players in the
   band and the rhythm section swings and Zappa is a fine guitarist. (He
   is also an exceptiona; composer in a special kind of electronic
   music.) Truly the Mothers are the first electronic jazz band I have
   ever heard. They utilize piano and bass and they produce an incredible
   variety of sounds. Underneath Zappa's theatrical, deliberately
   non-stage presence and determined cynicism, a great deal of first-rate
   music is played. They are a kind of total theater. They assault you
   with references to an assumed body of knowledge that details the 1950s
   with a documentary maker's touch. Their bit about "Louie Louie," for
   instance, is absolutely perfect. They set the entire thing up, discuss
   the kind of person who would ask for it, and what that implies with
   deadly accuracy.
   At one point, responding to a call for the audience, Zappa brought the
   audience into the show in a kind of put-on of audience participation,
   the Living Theater and the rest. He explained his hand signals for the
   orchestra's vocal effects and then directed the audience to stand and
   make the indicated vocal sounds while the two side sections waved
   their arms and the center section grabbed their crotch. And they did!
   "Don't we look foolish with the lights on?" he remarked and then told
   the people they were an audience again and would respond en masse to
   "hootenannies, politicians' promises and Madison Avenue, as well as
   instructions like this." A more devastating demonstration of his point
   could not have been made. If the greater Los Angeles area plastic
   uptight America and the synthesis of what this country's ills consist
   of then the Mothers of Invention have correctly applied the
   non-sterilized needle of satire to the right place.
   They assume the common Los Angeles and Orange County experience of the
   '50s, attack it with an almost demoniac gift for satirical lyrics, an
   hysterically funny talent for musical satire, and use it all,
   including the bizarre costumes, to cover up the fact that the music is
   first class. The combination of instruments, electronics and voices is
   very well handled and Zappa's own conducting style is worth a column
   all by itself. One of his more frequently employed gestures is
   flipping the bird. It sums up his attitude, I suspect, to make this
   derogatory gesture so musically useful. I thoroughly enjoyed the
   Mothers in every way. I hope they return soon. They came close to
   selling out the Berkeley Community Theater. Their audience can only
   increase on the basis of this performance.
   from The Los Angeles Times, Monday, March 18, 1968
   Their first album, now a couple of years old, was fairly routine by
   later standards. The jacket was an oddly tinted pink and blue and
   yellow and black thing with the words "Freak Out!" encapsulated in a
   thought balloon. Next came "Absolutely Free," a double jacketed
   creation with each surface seemingly at right angles to each other
   surface. Their latest, "We're Only In It for the Money," surpasses
   both for incredibly imaginative humor. It is an inverted parody of the
   Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," a perfectly executed
   takeoff. Along the way, their albums have bannered such thought
   provoking slogans as "Kill Ugly Radio," "You Must Buy This Album Now,
   Top 40 Radio Will Never Play It" and "The Present Day Composer Refuses
   to Die." The group is the Mothers of Invention, spearheaded by Frank
   Zappa. Zappa is a brilliant musician with a flair for satire.
   Unfortunately, he tends to do things a couple of years before people
   are ready for them and often so many ideas into such brief musical
   space that they get lost in the confusion. That first LP (all are on
   the Verve label, by the way), a two-record set, anticipated many of
   the strange rhythmic "innovations" of the last album by the Rolling
   Stones, "Their Satanic Majesties Request." Additionally, their record
   debut offered a 6-minute plus song called "Trouble Every Day," a
   deadly serious collection of thoughts inspired by the Watts riots whih
   has even more topical value today. Then there were a number of
   tongue-in-cheek resurrections of the rock'n'roll of the 1950s which
   showed as much sympathy as meanness. For his second album, Zappa
   demonstrated that is as familiar with Stravinsky as he is with Don and
   Dewey in a program which took some roundhouse swipes at the excesses
   of society, not the simple vices on which many pop musicians have
   pounced (love of money and wars, lack of communication), but at topics
   such as sexual fantasies and drunken revels which aren't revels. The
   Stones also apparently picked up on a song called "America Drinks and
   Goes Home" for the last album, which contains an inferior imitation.
   Now comes No. 3, a hilarious visual evocation of "Sgt. Pepper" which
   is sometimes funny and sometimes grim inside.The Mothers attack
   hippies, the San Francisco scene, motherhood and fatherhood,
   childhood, drugs, flower people, making records, police, fashions and
   on. "This whole monstrosity was conceived and executed by Frank Zappa
   as a result of some unpleasant premonitions August through October,
   1967" proclaim some small capital letters almost hidden among the
   lyrics inside the album. Along with the visual nod at the Beatles,
   Zappa takes them on in the structure of a couple of super-contemporary
   songs. One, "Mother People," pokes fun at the Beatles' odd musical
   transitions by using the sound of a phonograph needle to "unite" two
   dissimilar melodic sections, much as the Fab Four used radio static to
   connect parts of "I Am the Walrus." The record largely is a series of
   polemics, but Zappa's barbs are witty enough to make his messages
   entertaining ("Unbind your mind/There is no time/To lick your
   stamps/And paste them in/Discorporate/And we will begin . . . Wah
   Wah/Diamonds on velvets on goldens on vixen/On comet and cupid on
   donner and blitzen/On up and away and afar and a go-go . . ."). Zappa
   is pop music's bravest iconoclast and perhaps its brightest. His next
   album, which has been held up for nearly a year through a technical
   dispute, is a full-length symphony called "Lumpy Gravy."
   from Disc, November 28, 1970
   Mothers of Invention were on with Sha-Na-Na. They still have Frank
   Zappa, but that's about the only thing that approaches the original
   group. Aynsley Dunbar is on drums, and ex-Turtle Howard Kaylan on
   vocals. The music was done extremely well, but some of the visual
   excitement is gone. I for one am getting a bit tired of Frank Zappa's
   cynicism and put-downs of the audience. He announced after about 40
   minutes that they were through. But the kids were screaming for more.
   He came back on and said: "Oh, I guess we've been given a reprieve,
   we'll stay a bit longer." Sure, Frank. I left.
   unknown date/source
   Many people feel it will probably be at least 1983 before the world
   realizes what a genius Zappa is, because by that time it will probably
   be too late for both us and for Zappa. It probably serves as little
   consolation that while most people love him for his apparent madness,
   musicians and critics have long loved him for his far sighted concepts
   and ambitions. Representatives of both camps came out in force
   Saturday night, to witness one of Zappa's infrequent East Coast
   concerts (at Constitution Hall). What they found was the master, the
   leader fronting one of the most dazzling, powerful and talented horn
   sections this reviewerhas seen in a long time. They are mostly
   respected Los Angeles studio musicians, and their dexterity was not at
   all hampered by having at times to work closely with charts. When was
   the last time you saw a poular, ostensibly "rock" band working from
   charts? More than anything, Zappa's section reminds me of what's left
   of the big bands, with emphasis on a more energetic and creative kind
   of music. Much of the shows were taken up not by Zappa's zany songs,
   but by stinging ensemble work and masterful solo after masterful solo.
   Particularly impressive in solo sessions were Bruce Fowler with a
   simmering tuba solo (a true to life jazzy tuba solo) and Dave Parlatto
   with a driving bass that started off in virtual seclusion and ended up
   driving the band to a fabulous finish. Also worth noting was a drum
   solo by Jim Gordon that was both the funniest and most furious version
   of "Caravan" heard in some time. As for Zappa, he seemed much more
   laid back than usual. He is still very much in charge, leading the
   entire group, shaping its ultimate sound. His guitar breaks reflect
   the general attitude of his music -- jams built around a concrete
   concept, the development of a statement as opposed to mere technique.
   Zappa is a firm guitarist, and his breaks much more in a jazz
   tradition than rock, obviously dictated by the by the shape and force
   of the band. While enough of his legendary zaniness came through, it
   was the excellence of the music that saturated the audience with
   joyful exhaustion. Zappa played long and well, and like a magician,
   left everyone filled, not with questions of how or why, but the
   knowledge of wonder.

C. Gordon Keeble (gordo)                  The meek shall inherit BUNTING!