On June 27, 1967, Freak Out!, the debut album from The Mothers of Invention was released. It has been cited as one of rock’s earliest concept albums and (supposedly) influenced The Beatles as they entered the studio to record Sgt. Peppers. It was not a commercial success and the critics didn’t get front man Frank Zappa’s twisted take on pop culture. Still, as with many great albums, it was a slow burn.
As Zappa continued to record and release albums, the recording industry and the listening public caught up to him. Over time, more and more fans looked to Freak Out! as a masterpiece. In 1999 it received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award and in 2003 Rolling Stone Magazine included it on their “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”
Zappa is a recognized as a visionary. Zappa is recognized as a genius. What many don’t recognize is that Zappa was a melting pot for many different musical styles and wore his influences on his sleeve. It’s all in there; you just have to listen for it.
When Freak Out! was released, the listing of bands and musicians whose prior work made the recording possible was mostly overlooked. Over the last 40-plus years, the significance of the “Freak Out! List” has grown. From the start, Zappa made his influences public and throughout the course of his career he stayed true to himself and the names on that list.
The “Freak Out! List” DVD connects a lot dots for the viewer. It’s an incredibly interesting watch, regardless of whether you’re a fan of Zappa or not. Told through modern day interviews with Zappa researchers, members of The Mothers of Invention and archived footage of both Zappa, his band and his influences, the presentation is more of an historical document than it is your standard music documentary.