[Review] The Mothers: Just Another Band From L.A. (1972)

Another live Mothers album to come home to after a tiring day of making maple syrup for the pancakes of your land.

Kronomyth 13.0:  Oh, say, can UCLA?

Recorded shortly after the Fillmore East performance, Just Another Band From L.A. captures part of The Mothers’ show at UCLA on August 7. The album is infamous (a word that would describe most Frank Zappa records) for the appearance of the side-long tale of Billy the Mountain. The cuts were cleaned up, stuffed into an attractive package and sold to the starving masses as the new Mothers album for a handful of dollars, a strategy that worked well enough to vaunt this into the nether regions of Billboard’s Top 100 albums.

Now, I think everyone should hear Billy The Mountain at least once. Of course, I also think everyone should learn how to juggle, so you probably don’t want to be taking life-advice from me. Zappa’s tale of a mountain and his tree-wife taking a vacation and causing massive damage along the way is hilarious in spots. It’s chocked full of local in-jokes, anti-establishmentary sentiments, digs at pop culture—in other words, the usual musical hijinks you’d come to expect from the band, only in one big, mountainous dose.

The second side features shorter songs that aren’t very far removed (almost precisely two months) from the music of Fillmore East. Call Any Vegetable is filled with high-fiber innuendo, while Eddie, Are You Kidding? takes its inspiration from a local haberdasher of some repute. The truly perverse Magdalena is a highlight and would get my nod for Canadian national anthem understudy, in the unfortunate event that “O Canada” sprained its ankle or something. The band saves the best for last, Dog Breath, which showcases Zappa’s demented genius to stunning effect.

Mercifully, the Apocalypse has not occasioned a panic-fueled run on Frank Zappa live discs, so you still have choices, people. Whether you choose to buy Just Another Band From L.A. is up to you (I think the government refers to it as “free will”), but I can name a least five Frank Zappa live discs I would buy before this one. (I’m not going to name those discs, just to be spiteful, but I definitely know their names—it’s not like I just pulled the number five out of the air.) If you (unlike me) think that the Flo & Eddie show is hilarity incarnate, then Just Another Band From L.A. might be just what you’re looking for(get grammar, it’s for weenies). I prefer the music over the comical mayhem, although I’ll concede that when the two meet in the middle (“Magdalena,” “Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink”), my toes curl in quiet joy.

Read more Mothers reviews

Original elpee version

A1. Billy The Mountain (24:47)
B1. Call Any Vegetable (7:22)
B2. Eddie, Are You Kidding? (John Seiter/Mark Volman/Howard Kaylan/Frank Zappa) (3:10)
B3. Magdalena (Howard Kaylan/Frank Zappa) (6:24)
B4. Dog Breath (3:39)

All songs written by Frank Zappa unless noted.

The Players

Frank Zappa (guitar & vocals), Aynsley Dunbar (drums), Howard Kaylan (lead vocals), Jim Pons (bass & vocals), Don Preston (keyboard & mini-moog), Ian Underwood (winds, keyboards & vocals), Mark Volman (lead vocals). Produced, directed & composed by Frank Zappa; engineered by Barry Keene

The Pictures

Cover by Cal Schenkel. Burger by Sherm Thompson. Cholo by Limon. Bac cover photo by Bernard Gardner.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and 8-track on March 26, 1972 in the US (Bizarre, MS/M8 2075), the UK (Reprise, K 44179), Japan (Reprise, P-8245R) and the Netherlands (Reprise, 44179) with gatefold cover; reached #85 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in 1975 in the US (Reprise, MS 2075) with gatefold cover.
  2. Re-issued on elpee in 1976 in Germany (Discreet, DIS 44 179) with gatefold cover.
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in 1990 in the US (Rykodisc, RCD 10161).
  4. Re-issued on compact disc on October 24, 2001 in Japan (Rykodisc, VACK-1214).

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