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Ein Best-Of Album mit Songs aus Frank Zappas erster Schaffensperiode mit den Mothers of Invention. Zappa ging für die veränderten Mixe dieser frühen Favoriten seiner ersten drei Studioalben Freak Out!, Absolutely Free und We´re Only In It For The Money noch einmal ins Studio – und war verärgert, als seine damalige Plattenfirma Verve das Album parallel mit seinem Hot Rats-Album veröffentlichte. Für den normalen Zappa-Fan, der die ersten drei Zappa-LPs schon hat, womöglich redundant, dagegen für Einsteiger ideal, ist Mothermania ein Muss für den Diehard-Fan.
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Prompt, rasch und zuverlässig vor dem Geburtstag meiner Tochter!
Frank Zappa : Sit down, relax, and have a good time mit Frank Zappa und seinen Mitmusikern. Erste Sahne!!!
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And yet "Mothermania," which was compiled by Zappa himself, is anything but superfluous; it's a brilliant encapsulation of those first three albums, a definitive statement of "We are the Mothers, and this is what we sound like." For one, the track selection is pretty stellar. Starting off side one with "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" and side two with "It Can't Happen Here" is a ballsy move, but it works brilliantly; Zappa trusts that his listeners will realize that both of those tracks, uncommercial as they are, reflect an indispensable side of the band. Indeed, "Mothermania" actually de-emphasizes the commercial side of the group, eschewing the greasy love songs of Freak Out! and Ruben and the Jets both. It's not a perfect selection--"Trouble Every Day" is missed, in particular--but finding a better balance between the freakish and the accessible would be tough to do.
Were "Mothermania" simply an excellent compilation, its forty-year absence would not have been much lamented; however, Zappa also saw fit to stuff it full of exclusive goodies that were not available elsewhere and, as such, were lost to time for four decades. Both tracks from "Money" are available in radically different mixes. "The Idiot Bastard Son," which now sports a timpani introduction, is almost a completely different song, and "Mother People" finally surfaces in a completely unedited version, F-bomb intact and with no Lumpy Gravy intrusions. The Freak Out! tracks, meanwhile, are represented by alternative stereo mixes that, while not as revelatory as the "Money" songs, do present a nice variation on the standard Freak Out! takes (intriguingly, these were among the songs that Zappa altered the most when he revisited Freak Out! for CD release). The Absolutely Free songs are the standard Absolutely Free versions, albeit with the "Call Any Vegetable" suite expertly excising much of the "Invocation & Ritual Dance" section. Now that Absolutely Free has been reissued in excellent sound, the "Mothermania" selections aren't as essential as they were when this collection was first resurrected in 2009, but the version of "Plastic People" found here is missing some of the tape glitches that are on the 2012 Absolutely Free CD.
In other words, collectors will find a lot to like here.
In 2009, the Zappa Family Trust released "Mothermania" as a website-only exclusive. This 2012 CD is a physical release of the same audio. Those who bought the download don't need this, but the packaging is quite nice and it's lovely to have "Mothermania" back in print after so long.
In the end, "Mothermania" didn't satiate Verve's appetite, as the label would crank out a surprising number of Zappa/Mothers compilations, stretching well into the 1970s. Many of those compilations, which annoyed Zappa to no end, were facially more ambitious than "Mothermania," selecting also from "Ruben and the Jets" and "Lumpy Gravy" and thus providing a broader overview of the Verve era. But none was as idiosyncratic as "Mothermania," trusting the listener to make sense of and enjoy angular works like "Brown Shoes" and "It Can't Happen Here" (neither of which was featured on any of those later Verge compilations). For those new to Zappa, this is a safe place to wade in. And for those well versed, there's enough exclusive to this disc to justify a completist's purchase.
Others who are more detail-oriented that I can elaborate on how the mixes for several of the songs on Mothermania were significantly different than those on the original LPs. What I think deserves some ink is how unusual his output was in the first three years, when compared to other music of the day. The 1960s saw the flourishing of music as expression for social viewpoint - historically songs, other than humourous ditties, only dealt with the vicissitudes of love. During the mid-sixties, songs began to deal with the larger world.
Zappa possessed a caustic wit and skewered both the uptight parents and the conformist-faux-hippie youth. Mothermania chooses some of these gems ("Brown Shoes Don't Make it", "Who Are the Brain Police?", "America Drinks & Goes Home") and presents them outside of the integrated contextual placement within his first severl LPs. They shine here on their own.
One small mention of the sound - it is glorious. The details of the nightclub sounds you can hear in the background of America Drinks & Goes Home are alone woth the investment, but all the tracks never sounded better, possibly never better in their original vinyl.
If you want a sampler of Zappa's Sixties work - I would say his freshest and most experimental period - you need this