As a result of some odd Tout Wars drafting machinations last weekend, I was prompted to write about that, and in the process, brought up Frank Zappa and his band The Mothers of Invention.
After which it occurred to me that we have never given the brilliant, funny, and iconoclastic–not to mention great guitar player–much due on this site.
So, I will try to rectify that.
My appreciation of the man dates back to 1968, when as a long haired kid I attended a John Birch Society meeting wherein the backwards rednecks presented a program on how rock music corrupts our youth, making them become long haired degenerate dope smokers (just like me?).
I went with a handful of friends, and it was very scary as these guys were–and still are–neo-Nazis, but now I can look back on the whole affair with some kind of romantic eye.
A few years later my oldest and closest friend, Stephen Clayton and I saw the Mothers, on one of the weirdest bills ever. Opening was the band founded by then ex-Quicksilver guitar player, John Cippolina, Copperhead. Next was the jazz fusion band, Weather Report (who I have since seen three more times), and then Zappa and his mates hit the stage, playing Chunga’s Revenge that I can remember.
Zappa has also been sort of an American version of John Mayall, with the likes Lowell George, George Duke, Terry Bozio, Ansley Dunbar, and eventually Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (AKA Flo and Eddie, ex-patriots of the Turtles), among other luminaries, in his band.
The tune I picked for today’s edification is the eternally funny Eddie Are You Kidding from the album Just Another Band From L.A. (note too that Zappa’s influence moved, as year’s later the great Los Lobos paid homage by naming their compilation album, Just Another Band from East L.A.).
Just for fun, I also added this terrific clip of Zappa appearing before Congress in 1985, testifying before Tipper Gore’s stupid committee who were monitoring music and lyrics at the time for appropriateness. Note that Zappa, John Denver, and Dee Snyder–three artists who could not be more different–all testified, and all three dissed the whole process as a bunch of shit.
Rightfully so! Anyway, Zappa was smart, funny, and eloquent as you will see if you hit the clip below.