Tuesday, April 22, 2014

uncle meat

Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention laid out a bizarre smorgasbord of avante garde, neo-classical, spoken word, noise collage, and experimental jazz fusion with this soundtrack to an unfinished movie.   The subtitle to the original release of 'Uncle Meat' was '(MOST OF THE MUSIC FROM THE MOTHER'S MOVIE OF THE SAME NAME WHICH WE HAVEN'T GOT ENOUGH MONEY TO FINISH YET)'.  Zappa would explain:    "We made a movie called ‘Uncle Meat’. It’s got a lot of pictures of the Mothers in it, it also has a very strange plot which will require some straight-life-type actors to execute and we need some more money to finish it...It’s quite possible to make a film to match music, so I made some music and I made up the story line around it...It’s a fantasy film with political and sociological overtones!...I-er-usually just get some paper and start drawing dots on it, and wait for someone to play it so I know what it sounds like. That's the chamber music stiff. You know there's a difference between songs and compositions, songs are put together a different way, but these little bitty pieces that we are doing, they are based on another technique...I like to play with straight musicians, you know, it gives us a little contrast material, and it also displays the fact that there are some members of the group who really are very skilled players and could exist just as easily in a symphony orchestra as on rock and roll stage; so we brought them out to er sort of bridge the gap between electric music and the other kind...If we come along and we are playing some electric chamber music or if we are experimenting with electronic sounds where we are into percussion constructions, or we are into unaccompanied arias on stage which are spontaneous, or we are doing some sort of visual thing with a gas mask. You know, if you are a rock and roll critic in one of those pop papers what do you write about? What kind of musical background do you have to assess this, how much Stockhausen have you heard, how much er John Cage do you know about?...One of the things that’s really sick about the so-called serious musicians’ world. It completely ignores rock music. You know, they think that ‘we have it all, we are the avant garde and we are the forefront of musical experimentation,’ say serious composers you know, and they’re foolish to think that way because we in the rock world have equipment at our disposal that they don’t even know about, that we use on the bandstand all the time, I am sure that a lot of the composers who are sweating now in their little isolated garrets don’t know about electric woodwind instruments or what you can do with them. Even the electric guitar hasn’t been touched by serious composers, and this whole thing has happened right under their noses. They ignore it. They think that electric music is something that you make with a synthesiser and amplified music is a completely different world. The composer has been writing for bassoons for a long time, but the way it sounds in our ensemble is completely different. It's executed the same way, the only thing we added was the electricity. The same with the flugel-horn, clarinet, flute and other things we use. The trouble with the serious music world is that they're too narrow minded. They should go to the rock concerts. That’s one of the reasons why their music is out of touch with the youth. And it shouldn’t be, because I think that they are doing important things artistically, but it’s very difficult to bring that to the attention of large numbers of people; and the largest single body of people are the teenies – and how we get our music across without lowering our standard is that we just play it in places where the serious composers never go. We go to the Fillmore, and we play in all those little psychedelic dungeons all over the United States. We play schools and we play hockey rinks and we play bowling alleys and we also happen to play concert halls when we come to Europe...50 per cent of [our music is notated]. The other 50 per cent is improvised and it’s very carefully structured, and the live shows we do are all different, not just because of the improvisation but because of the way the building blocks of the show can be assembled...I am very interested in things which are absurd, and so the lyrics of that album are absurd, but some people think they are too sophisticated to appreciate an absurdity now and then...As a matter of fact they do have sociological significance but it isn’t as literal as most of the intellectuals would like to make it. You know, it’s a pretty subtle thing. First of all it’s an art statement that we are working in this medium, and it’s also an art statement that the package looks like it does for that record. It’s an art statement that the words are what they are against the music being what it is. It’s all very carefully balanced out ... It's all one album. All the material in the albums is organically related and if I had all the master tapes and I could take a razor blade and cut them apart and put it together again in a different order it still would make one piece of music you can listen to. Then I could take that razor blade and cut it apart and reassemble it a different way, and it still would make sense. I could do this twenty ways. The material is definitely related."

The sessions that produced 'Uncle Meat' took place at the same time as 'Cruising With Ruben and The Jets'.   The Mothers were:   Frank Zappa on guitar, low grade vocals, and percussion;  Ray Collins, who left the group in May 1968, on swell vocals;  Jimmy Carl Black on drums, droll humor, and poverty;  Roy Estrada on electric bass and cheeseburgers;  Don (Dom De Wild) Preston on electric piano, tarot cards, and brown rice;  Billy (The Oozer) Mundi on drums on some pieces before he quit in December 1967 to join Rhinoceros;  Bunk (Sweetpants) Gardner on piccolo, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax, bassoon (all of these electric and/or no-electric depending);  Ian Underwood on electric organ, piano, harpsichord, celeste, flute, clarinet, alto sax, baritone sax, special assistant, copyist, industrial relations, and teen appeal;  Artie (With the Green Mustache) Tripp on drums, timpani, vibes, marimba, xylophone, wood blocks, bells, small chimes, cheerful outlook, and specific inquiries;  Euclid James (Motorhead/Motorishi) Sherwood on pop star, frenetic tenor sax stylings, tambourine, choreography, obstinance & equipment setter-upper when he's not hustling local groupies;   with special thanks to Ruth Komanoff who plays marimba and vibes with Artie on many of the tracks; and Nelcy Walker, the soprano voice with Ray & Roy on "Dog Breath" & "The Uncle Meat Variations."  Also, Pamela Zarubica appears as Suzy Creamcheese.   The sessions were produced by Zappa and engineered by Jerry Hansen, with Euclid James Sherwood as equipment technician and choreographer.  

The liner notes reveal:  "The music on this album was recorded over a period of about 5 months from October 1967 to February 1968.  Things that sound like a full orchestra were carefully assembled, track by track through a procedure known as overdubing.  The weird middle section of 'DOG BREATH' (after the line, "Ready to attack") has forty tracks built into it.  Things that sound like trumpets are actually clarinets played through an electronic device made by Maestro with a setting labeled Oboe D'Amore and sped up a minor third with a V.S.O. (variable speed oscillator).  Other peculiar sounds were made on a Kalamazoo electric organ.  The only equipment at our disposal for the modification of these primary sounds was a pair of Pultec Filters, two Lang Equalizers, and three Melchor Compressors built into the board at Apostolic Studios in New York.  The board itself is exceptionally quiet and efficient (the only thing that allowed us to pile up so many tracks) and is the product of Mr. Lou Lindauer's imagination & workmanship.  The material was recorded on a prototype Scully 12 track maching at 30 ips.  The whole project was engineered by Richard Kunc or Dynamite Dick, as he is known to the trade.  Special Engineering credits go to Jerry Hansen for the percussion effects added later at Sunset Sound in L.A., and to our friend Mike in Copenhagen for the tapes he sent us. "

  'Uncle Meat' reached number forty-three on the US album chart.  


"Dog Breath, in the Year of the Plague"


"The Uncle Meat Variations"


"Electric Aunt Jemima"


"Mr. Green Genes"


"Project X"


"Cruising for Burgers"


 "Tengo Na Minchia Tanta" 
was included in the re-issue of the album.

'King Kong' parts I-VI


1. "King Kong Itself (as played by the Mothers in a studio)"   0:53
2. "King Kong (it's magnificence as interpreted by Dom DeWild)"   1:15
3. "King Kong (as Motorhead explains it)"   1:44
4. "King Kong (the Gardner Varieties)"   6:17
5. "King Kong (as played by 3 deranged Good Humor Trucks)"   0:29
6. "King Kong (live on a flat bed diesel in the middle of a race track at a Miami Pop Festival...the Underwood ramifications)"   7:22

'Uncle Meat' 
full album:


All tracks written by Frank Zappa, except where noted.

Side one
1. "Uncle Meat: Main Title Theme" 1:54
2. "The Voice of Cheese" 0:27
3. "Nine Types of Industrial Pollution" ("400 Days of the Year") 5:56
4. "Zolar Czakl" 0:57
5. "Dog Breath, in the Year of the Plague" 5:51
6. "The Legend of the Golden Arches" 1:24
7. "Louie Louie" (At the Royal Albert Hall in London) Richard Berry 2:28
8. "The Dog Breath Variations" 1:36
Side two
1. "Sleeping in a Jar" 0:49
2. "Our Bizarre Relationship" 1:05
3. "The Uncle Meat Variations" 4:40
4. "Electric Aunt Jemima" 1:53
5. "Prelude to King Kong" 3:24
6. "God Bless America" (Live at the Whisky a Go Go) Irving Berlin 1:22
7. "A Pound for a Brown on the Bus" 1:29
8. "Ian Underwood Whips It Out" 5:08
Side three
1. "Mr. Green Genes"  3:10
2. "We Can Shoot You" 1:48
3. "'If We'd All Been Living in California...'" 1:29
4. "The Air" 2:57
5. "Project X" 4:47
6. "Cruising for Burgers" 2:19
Side four
1. "King Kong (As Played By The Mothers In A Studio)" 0:53
2. "King Kong (Its Magnificence As Interpreted By Dom DeWild)" 1:15
3. "King Kong (As Motorhead Explains It)" 1:44
4. "King Kong (The Gardner Varieties)" 6:17
5. "King Kong (As Played By 3 Deranged Good Humor Trucks)" 0:29
6. "King Kong (Live On A Flat Bed Diesel In The Middle Of A Race Track At A Miami Pop Festival...The Underwood Ramifications)" 7:22

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