Thursday, November 1, 2007

Flower Power

Frank wasn't necessarily a fan of flower power and things psychedelic. Best I can tell, it wasn't contempt, but more... let's say, "rueful bemusement." Yeah, that.

Frank certainly could have cashed in on the whole hippie-music phenomenon, since he emerged onto the music scene right when all that was happening, man. Instead, he unreservedly hoisted all the flower-power pretense on its groovy petard with songs like "Flower Punk," and "Absolutely Free (The Track)."

Here's what Frank said in a 1968 interview with Rolling Stone (Oh, it's gotta be true!):

You once told Davy Jones of The Monkees you liked Monkees music better than anything you'd heard from San Francisco. Were you serious?

I said most of what they recorded sounded better. People think San Francisco rock is supposed to be cosmic value and all that, but it is manufactured music and manufactured music is worthless. Monkees music is manufactured, too, of course, and I'd like to say at this point: they're worth about the same, except the Monkees records sound better produced. The problem with San Francisco groups is, I was expecting wonders, and miracles and what I heard was a bunch of white blues bands that didn't sound as funky as my little band in high school.

And yet, just in terms of production values, songs on Freak Out! and Absolutely Free do sound kind of like Jefferson Airplane music. You know, the gutless drum sound, the treble-y guitar, the too-much-echo and overall lack of dynamic range. I doubt if most of the psychedelic bands had any higher aspirations, but we know Frank did. The shitty sound was surely a result of uncomprehending engineers in white shirts and ties utilizing 10-foot poles to operate the primitive recording equipment, and all on a low budget since the execs weren't sure if the rock "fad" would last another 10 minutes.

On the Nov. 2 Zappa's Grubby Chamber, we'll delve into Frank's psychedelic side and maybe even play a few tracks by other rockin' teenage combos of the era, including my favorite psychedelic band, the Peanut Butter Conspiracy.

Regarding the groovy rendering of Frank above, it appeared at the KHUM studio with my name on it, so THANKS to whomever dropped it off. It's by Connie Fisher, a Verde Valley, Arizona artist and designer. Check out her site for some really mind-expanding art and music!

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