(All Album Reviews by Chuck AzEee!)
Ever since Chuck Berry innovatively created the foundation for the typical "Rock And Roll" song, The genre has been prospering here and abroad, with innovative artists cropping up by the handful, paving the way for the greats of the sixties: The Byrds, Rolling Stones, The Who, Beach Boys and most notably, the genre's greatest group and most influential; The Beatles, are amongst the most popular groups of the ever changing (and growing) rock scene. With such standards being set by those groups, a lot of great innovative bands were falling to the wayside, not selling much, or receiving anything more than "cult status" amongst the record buying public.
But certain groups proved that you do not need to sell millions of albums, or have chart topping singles in order to influence a legion of imitators. It is often said that The Velvet Underground might not have sold more than a thousand copies of their album upon initial release, but those who did buy their albums, went on to become musicians.
The shadow cast from the first five Velvet Underground album is incalculable, as it set the prototype for the punk, grunge, new wave scenes. On the other side of the Velvet Underground, was Captain Beefheart, a blues enthusiast, that embraced Ornette Coleman's free jazz movement and he also had an ambitious friend, that also was into Ornette Coleman's radical movement. His name was Francis Zappa.
Frank Zappa, a big fan of 50's era music (doo-wop, Buddy Holly/Chuck Berry) was also one of the first artist of the time that was into classical composers: Stravinsky, Stockhausen, Verace, Bartok all whom were considered radicals amongst the genre, due to their "atonal", multi shifting music, but as it would later come to pass, that many of the British and German progressive rockers of the late Sixties and Early Seventies were also inspired by these same a composers.
Frank Zappa's first album, Freak Out is a highly ambitious album, that predates The Beatles Sgt. Pepper album by a couple of years. Freak Out, a concept album, before the words were later ushered by critics as a curse word at a church sermon, shows Zappa foreshadowing the art-rock scene, kraut-rock and ambient rock, with his shock-rock songs, which were far too progressive for anyone in 1965, but Zappa, and his wonderful band, The Mothers Of Invention, were wowing fans with an album filled with strange Jazz influenced time-signatured compositions, elongated jams, tape looping, backwards and sped up nonsense, hilarious skits of conversations, vocal improvisations, doo-wop to avant-garde in a shift of a moment.
Future standards and concert favorites make their first appearances on Freak Out, "Wowie Zowie" (which on first listen could pass for a song on US television's 70's children show "School House Rock") The R&Bish Ink Spot-ish "You Did Not Try To Call Me", "Motherly Love" (which could pass for a Blood, Sweat and Tears song) and the anthemic Watts Riot themed "Trouble Everyday" which probably was the first song that got Frank Zappa into hot water with the censors.
Since its release, Freak Out was only a glimpse of Frank Zappa's genius and also set the example for future absurdity as well, but in actuality, Freak Out an album of the sixties, from the psychedelic cover and its 50's era pastiches, and it classical/avant-garde motifs are unlike any of the popular groups of his time. To some, Freak Out might be the greatest debut of any artist of the Sixties, and it's hard not find those that are cast within its shadow.