48. brown shoes don't make it

“The highest Frank Zappa and/or Mothers of Invention track on the list comes from their second album, the appropriately titled Absolutely Free, for absolutely free and mad and hilarious it is in its twists and turns and … punchlines. Because it’s late spring 1967, and all the pop world is getting its mind blown by The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – the album that would change everything forever. Except Frank Zappa and The Mothers had already been there done that with 1966’s Freak Out, and Absolutely Free (released the same day as Pepper’s) was even tighter, wilder, more passionately, incisively on the mark.

Forty plus non-stop minutes of full-on everything, by which I mean jazz, doo-wop, rock and roll, pop, avant-noise, fun. Which, if you’ve only got seven and half minutes to spare, can pretty much all be found in Brown Shoes Don’t Make It – rude and crude and musically sharp as a diamond. Uncle Frank (both with and without his Mothers) would, of course, go on to release more music than some entire nations over the next twenty plus years, but for my money, he’d never top the fierce and funny fabulousness of what happened here.” (Philip Random)

(photo: Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs )

273. plastic people

“As a kid who hit his teens in the early 1970s, I sort of always knew about Frank Zappa and his Mothers and their various crimes against humanity, but I never really fell in love until I heard Absolutely Free toward the end of high school, Plastic People in particular, and how nastily, incisively, hilariously it skewered all the transparent, pre-fab zombies I walked the halls with, who I once thought of as friends, but now, they just seemed hard-wired for lives of desperate boredom, intent on becoming just like their parents, only worse, because normal always gets worse. Yet Plastic People is in fact not about suburbia 1977, but Los Angeles 1967, a grand piss take of pretty much everyone, even the hippies, and how there was plastic where their souls should have been. It was just that kind of town, I guess. Still is, apparently.” (Philip Random)

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