The Mothers of Invention - Freak Out (1965)

Hungry Freaks, Daddy 3:27
I Ain't Got No Heart 2:30
Who Are the Brain Police? 3:22
Go Cry On Somebody Else's Shoulder 3:31
Motherly Love 2:45
How Could I Be Such a Fool 2:12
Wowie Zowie 2:45
You Didn't Try to Call Me 3:17
Any Way the Wind Blows 2:52
I'm Not Satisfied 2:37
You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here 3:37
Trouble Every Day 6:16
Help I'm a Rock (including It Can't Happen Here) 8:37
The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet 12:17
 
Total Time: 60 min, 26 sec

[NOTE: For all FZ albums on this site, where track lengths are listed those lengths are usually taken from the liner notes of the CD itself. These are usually fairly accurate, but may occasionally differ from the actual track lengths. Most of the total album lengths I got by loading all the songs into WinAmp on my computer and letting it total up the length, so they should be fairly accurate.]

This is the landmark first album by the Mothers of Invention. Although Zappa was writing all the material and was pretty firmly in control of the band by the time this album was recorded, the cover proclaims it as a MOI album rather than a Frank Zappa album.

Besides being the band's first album, it's also credited by some as being the first double-album in rock history (others dispute that - it comes down to what your definition of "rock" is. At the very least, the Mothers can claim to be the first rock band to ever release a double as their debut album). It's also one of the first rock albums to include experimental, "progressive" songs like Help I'm a Rock and the massive Monster Magnet (note that this album predates Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and In the Court of the Crimson King, a couple albums often named as the first progressive rock albums, by two and four years respectively).

Musically, the first half of the double album is made up mostly of songs done in the style of 50s and early 60s pop rock and ballads, but with a definite sarcastic sneer to everything. Some of the tracks are just flat out weird - Who are the Brain Police? must have been one of the strangest songs ever released under the rock category at the time.

The second disc is more serious and experimental. Trouble Every Day is a blues-rock song (covered by George Thorogood, of all people) that was written as a reaction to the Watts riots. It includes social protest lyrics such as "I'm not black, but there's a whole lots of times I wish I could say I'm not white". Help I'm a Rock is an eerie, repetative track with lyrics about preferring being a rock to being a cop or a politician. The sarcastic liner notes describe it by saying "Note the interesting formal structure and the stunning four-part barber shop harmony towards the end. Note the obvious lack of commercial potential." The liners describe Return of the Son of Monster Magnet as "what freaks sound like when you turn them loose in a recording studio at 1am on $500 worth of rented percussion equipment. A bight, snappy number, Hotcha!" It's pretty much the real freak-out of Freak Out. These last two tracks also introduce the character of Suzy Creamcheese, who became a recurring character on early MOI albums.

Overall, I find Freak Out to be more interesting from a historical perspective than for actual listening enjoyment. There's some good stuff here, but the album is the only one in the Zappa catalog (besides the Cucamonga stuff) that sounds really dated to me. Some of these tracks (particularly Trouble Every Day) turned up on later albums with many of the live and alternate versions being better than the originals.

By the way, if you really like Freak Out and haven't yet gotten the massive "making of" boxed set for this album, MOFO, you probably should.

Album Cover

Image of the Freak Out album cover