The Contribution of Frank Zappa’s “Freak Out” album


The album entitled “Freak Out” was the debut album of the experimental rock band The Mothers of Invention, released in June of 1966 on Verve Records. The album became the first ever double record debut and is considered to be one of the first concept records in the genre of Rock ’n” Roll. The concept behind the record centres around band leader Frank Zappa’s understanding of American pop culture and his satirical attitude towards it. It was a brilliantly placed and timed counter-attack on the flower power hippie movement that was taking place within American pop culture during the 1960’s.

The record presented listeners to the duel genius that was Frank Zappa, and gave them a sample of what they would gradually come to respect. On one side, you had this very serious musician who wished to express his feelings about the conditions of the world around him. While on the other side, you had a lyricist who rebelled to push the boundaries of music and social norms. Through musical content which included rhythm and blues, doo-wop, blues inspired rock and orchestral arrangements of the avant-garde format, the band was able to mask it’s cultural satire and outspoken political commentary on the record.

Initially poorly received in the United States, it made a much bigger impact on the European mainstream before making it’s way back to America. Freak Out presented itself as the birth of a cultural revolution, inspiring the music and culture of America to expand its horizons and explore the limitless boundaries and innovation of sound. It’s influence has been compared to that of the Sex Pistols album “Never Mind the Bollocks”, which was released in 1977, as they both sparked and marked a new era in music. Furthermore, the album has been directly attributed to having a large influence on the production of The Beatles, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album, due to it’s experimental innovations of combining avant and musique concrete styles with mainstream rock and pop.

Since it’s release, the album has garnered the respect of receiving the honour of the Grammy Hall of Fame Award, and being ranked amongst the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine. All in all, Freak out! is not your typical rock and roll album, but then again, Zappa was not your typical rock artist. In many ways, creativity is a matter of individual interpretation, thus it is really in the ears of the record holder to decide just how influential and profound this controversial album really is. Happy listening…

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