The Mothers of Invention – Uncle Meat

Released on April 21, 1969 as a double album, ‘Uncle Meat’ is the fifth studio album by the Mothers of Invention. It was a commercial success upon release, and has been highly acclaimed for its innovative recording and editing techniques, including experiments in tape speed and overdubbing, and diverse sound.


Track listing1.Uncle Meat: Main Title Theme (Frank Zappa) – 1:542.The Voice of Cheese (Frank Zappa) – 0:273.Nine Types of Industrial Pollution (Listed as ’400 Days of the Year’ on the original vinyl release) (Frank Zappa) – 5:564.Zolar Czakl (Frank Zappa) – 0:575.Dog Breath, in the Year of the Plague (Frank Zappa) – 5:516.The Legend of the Golden Arches (Frank Zappa) – 1:247.Louie Louie (At the Royal Albert Hall in London) (Richard Berry) – 2:288.The Dog Breath Variations (Frank Zappa) – 1:369.Sleeping in a Jar (Frank Zappa) – 0:4910.Our Bizarre Relationship (Frank Zappa) – 1:0511.The Uncle Meat Variations (Frank Zappa) – 4:4012.Electric Aunt Jemima (Frank Zappa) – 1:5313.Prelude to King Kong (Frank Zappa) – 3:2414.God Bless America (Live at the Whisky a Go Go) (Irving Berlin) – 1:2215.A Pound for a Brown on the Bus (Frank Zappa) – 1:2916.Ian Underwood Whips It Out (Live on stage in Copenhagen) (Frank Zappa) – 5:0817.Mr. Green Genes (Frank Zappa) – 3:1018.We Can Shoot You (Frank Zappa) – 1:4819.If We’d All Been Living in California (Frank Zappa) – 1:2920.The Air (Frank Zappa) – 2:5721.Project X (Frank Zappa) – 4:4722.Cruising for Burgers (Frank Zappa) – 2:19PersonnelThe Mothers of Invention – at the time of this recording Frank Zappa – guitar, low grade vocals, percussionRay Collins – vocalsJimmy Carl Black – drums Roy Estrada – electric bass, cheeseburgersDon (Dom De Wild) Preston – electric piano Billy (The Oozer) Mundi – drums Bunk (Sweetpants) Gardner – piccolo, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax, bassoon Ian Underwood – electric organ, piano, harpsichord, celeste, flute, clarinet, alto sax, baritone sax Artie (With the Green Mustache) Tripp – drums, timpani, vibes, marimba, xylophone, wood blocks, bells, small chimes Euclid James (Motorhead/Motorishi) Sherwood – pop star, frenetic tenor sax stylings, tambourine, choreography, obstinance & equipment setter-upper when he’s not hustling local groupiesRuth Komanoff – marimba and vibes Nelcy Walker – soprano voice on (8) & (11)Pamela Zarubica as Suzy Creamcheese – vocals on (1 – 10)Frank Zappa – producerJerry Hansen – engineerEuclid James Sherwood – equipment technician, choreographerArt Tripp – adviserCal Schenkel – Artwork designRoy Estrada – prop designIan Underwood – copyist, public relations, special assistanceRecorded October 1967 – September 1968 at Apostolic Studios, NYCPercussion overdubs at Sunset Sound, LA March-April, 1968Label Bizarre/RepriseLiner NotesThe 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 over-dubbing. 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 electric 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 Lan 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 machine 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.


Over four sides of vinyl* Zappa and the Mothers delivered a collage of music that was breathtaking in its diversity yet coherence, was punctuated by spoken word passages (Suzy Creamcheese, drummer Jimmy Carl Black complaining about the band not making any money), and they took advantage of the advances in studio technology to do numerous overdubs (up to 40 allegedly).

Not a great place to start with Frank Zappa but if you’re already a fan of the early mothers of invention work, this is definitely worth having. A massive medley of complicated instrumentals, doo-wop inspired Mothers of Invention bizarreness, spoken interludes, jazz, and general weirdness, Uncle Meat is fun and entertaining though a little scattered. Zappa’s creativity is in full force here which makes for lots of wonderful moments – the King Kongs, Dog Breath, and the title track are Zappa classics.

60 Seconds During the Year Everything ChangedGrudgingly, I gave the thing a listen. It was a double album: two discs (4 sides) of incomprehensibility. But, as the cover explained, it was supposed to be a soundtrack album for a movie that would never be made… so, well, okay, maybe that explained the long stretches of industrial noise. A few of the tracks were actually songs, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. The guitar playing was not bad in a few places.


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