Frank Zappa David Reitman - Essay

David Reitman

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The Mothers new album, Just Another Band From L.A. seems to capture the spontenaity of the early albums, like Freak Out, Absolutely Free and We're Only In It For the Money, better than any other recent one….

Much has been made (by Zappa) of the Mothers being labelled a "comedy" group. Well if he thinks that's ironic, or he doesn't like it, tough shit, because this record is one of the funniest he has ever done. Zappa still pokes fun at the country he lives in, the West Coast culture, even (especially) the people who come to listen to him…. The humor is very adolescent (Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan only encourage this) but I like sophomoric humor when it comes off….

The first side of the album is taken up with a theatre piece, "Billy the Mountain," which is one of Zappa's most coherent allegories to date. I say coherent because the story line at least is clear….

Side two is an equally tight set consisting of four pieces. First a new version of "Call Any Vegetable."… Next, "Eddie, Are You Kidding," which seems to be about the owner of a clothing store. Since his imagery on the record is strictly L.A. I plead ignorance, but I imagine it to be the equivalent of certain ads in New York. ("Money talks, nobody walks.")… "Magdalena" is an immature sexual foray which recalls the last album. It is a male chauvinist piece of garbage and it is America and I loved every minute of it. "Dog Breath" is for me Zappa's greatest single composition and I'm glad he's done a new and different version. Overall the musicianship and level of obnoxiousness are high, which is just what we want from Frank, now isn't it?

David Reitman, "Records: 'Just Another Band from L.A.'," in Crawdaddy (copyright © 1972 by Crawdaddy Publishing Co., Inc.; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), June 11, 1972, p. 15.