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 )

578. who are the brain police?

It’s 1966 and it seems only Frank Zappa and his Mothers realize just how freaky and weird things are about to get, and Frank never even did drugs (beyond cigarettes and coffee). Nevertheless he could see them — the Brain Police. Or more to the point, he felt them, because you can’t see the brain police, can you? They’re within you, hiding behind your devices of oracular perception. Recording things. Seriously, they are there, implanted at birth.

Zappa-Mothers-1966

909. trouble comin’ every day

In which young Frank Zappa (with help from his Mothers) files his report on the Watts Rebellion (aka riots) of August 1965, pulling no punches lyrically or musically. In fact, it’s the song that got the band signed to MGM Records in the first place, producer Tom Wilson having heard it and decided, yeah, a white blues band from LA, why the hell not? The rest is, shall we say, history.

mothers-1966