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Absolutely Free

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iTunes Review

After the groundbreaking double-album, Freak Out, the follow-up Absolutely Free was bound to settle in its shadow. However, it remains one of Frank Zappa's finest, most realized works. The album sides were written to play out as coherent musical statements, despite their adventurous stylistic shifts. While "Call Any Vegetable" is a multi-part exploration and "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" forms a seven-and-a-half minute mini rock-opera that expresses Zappa's classical interests in Edgard Varese and Igor Stravinsky, tunes such as "Plastic People" (with its nod to "Louie, Louie" snuck into the whirlwind mix), "The Duke of Prunes" and "Status Back Baby" represent the best of Zappa's freaky pop sensibilities. He can never quite wipe the smirk off his face or effectively hide his contempt for the masses, but it's what made him a cult hero and it's what makes him one of the most honest musicians of any era. Tape edits and studio manipulation further push the sonic envelope, at a time when doing such things was a committed chore and not the simple press of a button exercise it is in the 21st century.

Customer Reviews

Ahead of it's time...and your time....and my time....and time immemorial

This definitely goes into the bunker, along with We're Only in it for the Money. Back when this came out, the kids had discovered FM radio. It sounded better than AM and you could hear things in STEREO. Now, I don't know if Zappa had this in mind when he was producing his late 60's output-it was 5 or 6 of the most incredible albums you have ever heard. Anyway, the big 'hit' on underground radio was Brown Shoes, probably for it's musical abstractness, and it's taboo subject matter. Still pretty risque. It was also on the first Mother's greatest hits album, Mothermania, sadly out of print. I found Absolutely Free for a buck 79 along with the European version of Sgt Pepper's and the aforementiond DID....they also had Free's Fire and...whatever.. Since I could only get 2, I decided on the MOI. (How was I to know that the European version of Sgt. Peppers had that weird timed out groove thing going?) Does anybody else see Uncle Bernie's Farm as a great Christmas song? Underated musicians and it just sounds like they were having a whle lot of fu!.

Subversive then, subversive now

FZ's follow-up to his double-LP debut, "Freak Out," was, for this fifteen-year old, a game changer. "Freak Out," for all it's unconventionality, was a challenging work that could not be ignored. "Absolutely Free," on the other hand, joyously thumbed its nose at the Establishment with terrific tunes and fall-on-the-floor funny lyrics. (It's successor, "We're Only In It For The Money," would do the same for the Anti-Establishment.) It's as pointedly relevant now as then. If anything, more so. (One caveat: "Big Leg Emma" and "Why Don'cha Do Me Right" are bonus tracks that were not included on the original, and were added years later on an FZ supervised reissue. As good as they are, for this listener they break up the flow of what was one of rock's first "concept" albums, where every song segued into the next with perfect showmanship.)

An absolute favorite

I love the Mothers. This album is easily in my top ten favorite or most influential album (to me) of all time. It is so strange and well produced. On the other hand it is also such a grand philosophic look at American over indulgence. Not for everyone, but well worth a listen.


Genre: Rock

The Mothers of Invention were led by composer, guitarist, singer, and bandleader Frank Zappa, a singular musical figure during a performing and recording career that lasted from the 1960s to the '90s. His disparate influences included doo wop music and avant-garde classical music; although the Mothers were called a rock & roll band for much of their years together, Zappa used them to create a hybrid style that bordered on jazz and complicated, modern serious music. As if his music were not challenging...
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Absolutely Free, The Mothers of Invention
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