What Ever Happened To The Mothers Of Invention?

By Frank Zappa

   
   
   Source: Hit Parader, No. 48, april 1970, pages 23-24
   Transcription: Roger Maurice.
   
   
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   The Mothers of Invention, the infamous &repulsive rocking teen combo,
   is not doing concerts any more. Jimmy Carl Black (the Indian of the
   group) has formed another ensemble which he calls Geronimo Black
   (named after his youngest child). Don (Dom De Wild) Preston is
   collaborating with avant garde dancer Meredith Monk in performances of
   electronic music. Ian Robertson Underwood is preparing material for a
   solo album. Roy Estrada, Bunk Gardner, Buzz Gardner & Art Tripp are
   doing studio work in Hollywood. Motorhead (James Euclid) Sherwood is
   working on his bike & preparing for a featured role in a film with
   Captain Beefheart. Frank Zappa is producing various artists for his
   record companies, Bizarre and Straight (which he co-owns with Herb
   Cohen), working on film &television projects &is currently writing
   arrangements for a new album by French jazz violinist Jean Luc Ponty.
   This Ponty album, to be released on World Pacific, will mark the first
   attempt by any other artist to record a whole album's worth of Zappa's
   writing, exclusive of The Mothers of Invention interpretations.
   
   It is possible that, at a later date, when audiences have properly
   assimilated the recorded work of the group, a reformation might take
   place. The following is a brief summary of The Mothers' first five
   years of musical experimentation &development.
   
   In 1965 a group was formed called The Mothers. In 1966 they made a
   record which began a musical revolution. The Mothers invented
   Underground Music. They also invented the double fold rock album & the
   concept of making a rock album a total piece of music. The Mothers
   showed the way to dozens of other groups (including The Beatles &
   Stones) with their researches &experimentation in a wide range of
   musical styles &mediums.
   
   The Mothers set new standards for performance. In terms of pure
   musicianship, theatrical presentation, formal concept &sheer
   absurdity, this one ugly band demonstrated to the music industry that
   it was indeed possible to make the performance of electric music a
   valid artistic expression.
   
   In 1967 (April through August), The Garrick Theater on Bleecker Street
   in New York was devastated by cherry bombs, mouldering vegetables,
   whipped cream, stuffed giraffes & depraved plastic frogs... the whole
   range of expressive Americana... all of it neatly organized into what
   people today would probably call a "Love Rock Long-Hair Tribal
   Musical". The Mothers called it "Pigs &Repugnant: Absolutely Free" (an
   off-Broadway musical)... it was in its third month when "Hair" first
   opened.
   
   The Mothers was the first big electric band. They pioneered the use of
   amplified and/or electronically modified woodwind instruments...
   everything from piccolo to bassoon. They were the first to use the wah
   wah pedal on guitar as well as horns and electric keyboard
   instruments. They laid some of the theoretical groundwork which
   influenced the design of many commercially manufactured
   electro-musical devices.
   
   The Mothers managed to perform in alien time signatures &bizarre
   harmonic climates with a subtle ease that led many to believe it was
   all happening in 4/4 with a teen-age back beat. Through their use of
   procedures normally associated with contemporary "serious music"
   (unusual percussion techniques, electronic music, the use of sound in
   blocks, strands, sheets and vapors), The Mothers were able to direct
   the attention of a large number of young people to the work of many
   contemporary composers.
   
   In 1968, Ruben Sano lifted his immense white-gloved hand, made his
   fingers go "snat!" and instantly Neo-Greaser Rock was born. A single
   was released from Ruben's boss album (remember "Cruisin' With Ruben
   &The Jets"?) called "Deseri". It was played on many AM stations
   (actually rising to #39 on the Top Forty at KIOA in Des Moines, Iowa)
   until programmers discovered Ruben &The Jets was really The Mothers
   under a disguise.
   
   Meanwhile, the so called Underground FM stations could boast (because
   they were so cool and far out) that they actually went so far as to
   play The Mothers of Invention albums on their stations. Yes. Boldly
   they'd whip a few cuts from "Freak Out" on their listeners between the
   steady stream of important blues numbers.
   
   And then of course, there was "Uncle Meat", recorded back to back with
   "Ruben & The Jets" (a somewhat unusual production procedure). In spite
   of the musical merit of the album, the only thing that drew any
   attention was the fact that several words, in common usage, were
   included in candid dialogue sections.
   
   Awaiting release is a collection of 12 complete albums of Mothers'
   music, a retrospective exhibition of the group's most interesting
   work, covering a span from two years prior to the actual formation of
   the ensemble, through August 1969. Included in the collection is
   documentary material from first rehearsals, tracing the development of
   the group through to its most recent live performances in the U.S. and
   Europe, some of which have become almost legendary. To those people
   who cared at all about The Mothers' musical explorations (and also
   those who didn't care & who wish to be merely entertained), this
   collection will prove of great interest.
   
   Frank Zappa