Best Mothers of Invention Album

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Poll Results

OptionVotes
Freak Out! (1966) 11
We're Only in It for the Money (1968) 11
Absolutely Free (1967) 10
Roxy & Elsewhere (1974) 3
Over-Nite Sensation (1973) 3
One Size Fits All (1975)2
Uncle Meat (1969) 2
Fillmore East - June 1971 (1971) 1
Cruising with Ruben & the Jets (1968) 1
Weasels Ripped My Flesh (1970) 1
Burnt Weeny Sandwich (1970) 0
Mothermania (1969) 0
200 Motels (1971) 0
Just Another Band From L.A. (1972) 0


Tim Ellison, Monday, 23 April 2007 22:33 (fifteen years ago) link

Okay, I'm one of "those people" who didn't vote in the Zep or Sabbath polls, because they honestly don't mean that much to me, but this... this is tough. Three solid contenders for me, from different eras, for differing reasons. I'll ponder.

Dan Peterson, Monday, 23 April 2007 22:38 (fifteen years ago) link

We're Only in It for the Money - the only great one. And even there you could prune that "go read Kafka then come back and listen to this" finale (although that last note is classic modernist piss-taking).

Kevin John Bozelka, Monday, 23 April 2007 22:39 (fifteen years ago) link

Absolutely Free for me.

Joe, Monday, 23 April 2007 23:23 (fifteen years ago) link

Roxy & Elsewhere over Absolutely Free by a hair. I've been listening to that 74 band more than any other incarnation over the best year or so.

EZ Snappin, Monday, 23 April 2007 23:34 (fifteen years ago) link

Absolutely Free is the one I'm picking, but it is pretty much tied with several others on here. Freak Out and Uncle Meat rank pretty closely for me. I also love Roxy and One Size Fits All, but I think they are Mothers of Invention albums in name only. To me, Weasles is the last proper Mothers of Invention album until Zappa started to raid his archives in the 80s and 90s.

Moodles, Monday, 23 April 2007 23:48 (fifteen years ago) link

tim, you DO realize that there are THREE "mothers of invention" bands right? there IS some overlap (not to mention zappa himself), but there's the first/original mothers (freakout-weasels), the second "flo-and-eddie" version (fillmore east-just another band from L.A.), and the third version (over-nite-[i]one size). sorry to be pedantic, but lumping them together is kinda like lumping together 3 different bands.

i voted for [i]roxy
, by the way.

Eisbaer, Monday, 23 April 2007 23:48 (fifteen years ago) link

darn formatting!

Eisbaer, Monday, 23 April 2007 23:48 (fifteen years ago) link

I have a feeling I only care about the first three--I've tried with some of the others and got nowhere--but I like those three enough, and about equally, to make this a hard choice. Freak Out has the most good songs, but We're Only In It has my two favourite Mothers/Zappa tracks ("Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance" and "Let's Make the Water Turn Black") so I went with that.

sw00ds, Monday, 23 April 2007 23:52 (fifteen years ago) link

i wanted to say one size fits all

but i went WOIIFTM cause that is so the greatest

cutty, Monday, 23 April 2007 23:53 (fifteen years ago) link

I voted for Freak Out, though I've never heard a couple of the later ones on the list. I seriously think Cruisin' with Ruben and the Jets (original version) is my second fave.

Tim Ellison, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 00:03 (fifteen years ago) link

I really wanted to like Ruben and the Jets (and I paid an awful lot for a copy of it on vinyl), given that I love some of the earlier Mothers doo-wop parodies, but the one time I listened to it it sounded like the satire had gotten kind of formulaic, and the jokiness of it seemed a bit too easy (it was hard to hear the affection coming through, the way you could in some of their earlier doo-wop tunes). I probably should listen to it again, however.

sw00ds, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 00:06 (fifteen years ago) link

Or maybe it's the context: a whole album of doo-wop parodies doesn't work as good as when they were more like one-offs? Like, the way "What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body" comes up in We're Only In it For the Money--it sounds almost like a commercial, as much as a song. The idea wasn't so formalized as on Ruben and the Jets?

sw00ds, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 00:08 (fifteen years ago) link

Well, that element is my favorite thing about the Mothers. I think there's enough variety that the album at least works for playing a side at a time. (Plus, it's got "Jelly Roll Gum Drop" on it.)

Tim Ellison, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 00:13 (fifteen years ago) link

But I do like it in general, yeah.

Amazing that it was recorded (according to wikipedia) Dec. '67/Jan. '68. What were the Mothers doing right after the Summer of Love? Recording a fifties rock and roll satire album.

Tim Ellison, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 00:15 (fifteen years ago) link

I let Chic vote for me, and they said "Freak out!"

I eat cannibals, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 02:51 (fifteen years ago) link

Heh. I asked Eric Carmen to vote for me, and he suggested Overnite Sensation, but I couldn't do it.

sw00ds, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 03:00 (fifteen years ago) link

Absolutely Free for me. This and the Firesign Theatre were all I wanted to listen to when I was a kid.

Beep, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 03:04 (fifteen years ago) link

Ruben & The Jets is one of the few Zappa albums that I just can't enjoy. Thing-Fish and Jazz From Hell also fall into this category.

Moodles, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 03:06 (fifteen years ago) link

since Hot Rats isn't billed as a mothers album, it's got to be Freak Out.

abanana, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 03:14 (fifteen years ago) link

Absolutely Free , because it's the album that has "Invocation & Ritual Dance of the Young Pumpkin."

Ivan, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 04:22 (fifteen years ago) link

I'll go with "Absolutely Free", but I like a lot "Weasels" too.

Marco Damiani, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 07:23 (fifteen years ago) link

roxy. where you been livin? reseda? no! san jose!

chaki, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 08:46 (fifteen years ago) link

smoke the tapes?

chaki, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 08:46 (fifteen years ago) link

I can't choose between Freak Out! and We're Only In It For The Money. Can I give half a vote to each please?

Stewart Osborne, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 09:01 (fifteen years ago) link

tempted by Freak Out Absolutely Free & Weasals, wound up voting for Overnite Sensation cause honestly that's the one I ENJOY the most.

m coleman, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 10:04 (fifteen years ago) link

'We're Only In It For The Money' and 'Uncle Meat' a close second. The former sounds to me like such a fantastic capsule of an era. The weird queasiness, the segues, the doo-wop, 'Lonely Little Girl' and the whole hippy/no-hippy thing.

baaderonixx, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 10:10 (fifteen years ago) link

Holy shit, look at all the love for Absolutely Free, my own favourite as well! And for years it was regarded as the weak sister of that classic trilogy, bookended by acknowledged masterpieces and overlooked. I've always loved the (fake) anarchic vibe - all those meticulously rehearsed 'ad-libs' tossed off as though made up on the spot. Also, it's nice that Frank was able to devote one LP side to his social satire and the other to his absurdist nonsense. And nicer still that there was no Side Three with which to fill his annoying juvenile naughty-words stuff.

Myonga Vön Bontee, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 10:51 (fifteen years ago) link

The Duke of Prunes/'Supremes' climax is just awesome.

Joe, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 15:41 (fifteen years ago) link

It's annoying that album tho, too shouty

Tom D., Tuesday, 24 April 2007 15:43 (fifteen years ago) link

I went for Freak Out because they hadn't quite worked out how to do it yet (and were therefore better). We're Only In It, well yes, but Stan Freberg was sharper.

Marcello Carlin, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 15:51 (fifteen years ago) link

"Freak Out" actually has good songs on it, unusually for Zappa, but I hate all that "Monster Magnet" stuff. I like "Money" but I also like "Uncle Meat"/ "Weasels"/ "Burnt Weeny"...

Tom D., Tuesday, 24 April 2007 15:54 (fifteen years ago) link

Dog Breath Variations!!

baaderonixx, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 16:01 (fifteen years ago) link

Apart from Frank's songwriting, Ray Collins on lead vocals is the big star on Ruben and the Jets.

Tim Ellison, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 18:02 (fifteen years ago) link

Uncle Meat by several miles, and I'm amazed that I'm the first to say so.

My ranking of original Mothers' albums:
1: Uncle Meat
2: We're Only In It for the Money
3: Burnt Weeny Sandwich
4: Freak Out!
5: Cruising With Ruben and the Jets
6: Weasels Ripped My Flesh
7: Absolutely Free

I've never heard Mothermania.

Of the Duke/Brock/Fowler/Underwood/Thompson era, I'd put Roxy and YCDTOSA Vol. 2 (the Helsinki concert) ahead of everything by the original Mothers except Uncle Meat and We're Only In It For the Money, and generally put the rest of it below Absolutely Free. I try not to think much about the Flo & Eddie era.

Rock Hardy, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 18:19 (fifteen years ago) link

Mothermania is a compilation. Selecting songs from those first three albums ruins the "conceptual continuity." Uncle Meat is one of my very favorites, sandwiched between WOOIFT (probably THE first album to warp my Monkees-loving mind at age 10 or so) and the later period "Roxy."

Dan Peterson, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 18:38 (fifteen years ago) link

Voted for "One Size Fits All" because "Inca Roads" is the best thing Zappa ever did. "We're Only In It For The Money" is fun though.

Geir Hongro, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 18:40 (fifteen years ago) link

WOIFTM is probably my second favourite album of the 60s.

chap, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 18:53 (fifteen years ago) link

Yeah, I knew Mothermania was a comp. I should have said I'd never bothered with it because I already had everything on it.

Rock Hardy, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 19:02 (fifteen years ago) link

The mere though of Don Preston makes me laugh so hard I pee my pants.

valoss, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 19:38 (fifteen years ago) link

I got to see The Grandmothers twice last summer at the Winnipeg Folk Festival -- (Preston, Estrada and others I can't remember) fronted by Napoleon Murphy Brock. Amazingly fun, career-spanning sets.

Dan Peterson, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 21:02 (fifteen years ago) link

ok so my experience with Zappa so far has been: bought a copy of Freak Out because of the "historical significance" and also cuz I had always dug "Hungry Freaks, Daddy" since hearing it as a kid. then I bought Hot Rats and Bongo Fury for the Beefheart. then nothing for years. then last year I picked up a nice clean original of Absolutely Free cuz I figures what the heck. and I really dig it! I think I may be starting to "get" Zappa. So I would vote for AF if I didn't think it was lame to vote in a poll where you only own two albums. I am surprised to see Rock Hardy rank it so low.

Stormy Davis, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 21:13 (fifteen years ago) link

I loves it lots! I just love the other original Mothers records at least as much. After Uncle Meat and WOIIFTM, I could rank #3-7 in just about any order and be happy -- like, a five-way tie for third.

Rock Hardy, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 23:10 (fifteen years ago) link

I went for Freak Out.

Brigadier Lethbridge-Pfunkboy, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 23:12 (fifteen years ago) link

best song on AF - STAUS BACK BABY

chaki, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 23:13 (fifteen years ago) link

I also like the closing of the album: "America Drinks and Goes Home".
Waiting for the hitherto unknown Scott Walker cover of it (with heart-wrenching Peter Knight string arrangment) to be miraculously discovered one day and distributed among the masses.

Joe, Wednesday, 25 April 2007 12:27 (fifteen years ago) link

Bump - even distribution for first three, dwarfing all others.

Tim Ellison, Tuesday, 1 May 2007 16:14 (fifteen years ago) link

Who voted for Ruben and the Jets?? I might have done so myself, but was deferring to my long-held opinion of Freak Out.

Tim Ellison, Tuesday, 1 May 2007 18:08 (fifteen years ago) link

Does Ruben and the Jets sound like that track on Freak Out "Go Cry On Somebody Else's Shoulder"? I always liked that one.

Johnny Hotcox, Wednesday, 2 May 2007 01:00 (fifteen years ago) link

Lumpy Gravy doesn't count?

ellaguru, Wednesday, 2 May 2007 01:02 (fifteen years ago) link

i love how flo & eddie got HATED on

cutty, Wednesday, 2 May 2007 01:07 (fifteen years ago) link

Lumpy Gravy was released under FZ's name, not the Mothers.

i love how flo & eddie got HATED on

Me too. Aside from crap material, those records just SOUND bad. Which is unusual for Zappa.

Rock Hardy, Wednesday, 2 May 2007 01:22 (fifteen years ago) link

i think they sound cool. especially ansley dunbar's drums.

chaki, Wednesday, 2 May 2007 01:55 (fifteen years ago) link

billy was a mountain ethel was a tree growing off of his shoulder

Tim Ellison, Wednesday, 2 May 2007 02:41 (fifteen years ago) link

shoulda been a three way tie

forksclovetofu, Wednesday, 2 May 2007 03:30 (fifteen years ago) link

I don't think it was eligible

http://image.allmusic.com/00/amg/cov200/drf500/f534/f53429fiwfn.jpg

Stormy Davis, Wednesday, 2 May 2007 03:38 (fifteen years ago) link

five years pass...

Ray Collins has passed away.

Big Sambola & The Tailspinners (C. Grisso/McCain), Monday, 31 December 2012 06:01 (nine years ago) link

nine years pass...

Don Preston turns 90 today, almost certainly the first 60s rock performer to do so.

Halfway there but for you, Wednesday, 21 September 2022 22:00 (two weeks ago) link

That is pretty cool, well done Don!

Narada Michael Fagan (Tom D.), Wednesday, 21 September 2022 22:06 (two weeks ago) link

Great observation!

you can see me from westbury white horse, Wednesday, 21 September 2022 22:22 (two weeks ago) link

I was all about to bring up Ed Cassidy, but I see he died five months short of his 90th birthday!

HBD Don!

an icon of a worried-looking, long-haired, bespectacled man (C. Grisso/McCain), Wednesday, 21 September 2022 22:26 (two weeks ago) link


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