Flo & Eddie

Flo & Eddie

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Of all the Mothers of Invention (MOI) alumnae, the Phlorescent Leech (aka Flo) and Eddie remain one of the most musically consistent. Part of the reason could be traced back to Mark Volman (Flo) (vocals/guitar) and Howard Kaylan (Eddie) (vocals) having achieved significant success as the lead vocalists behind '60s folk-rockers the Turtles prior to hooking up with Frank Zappa in 1970. Although rarely mentioned, one-time Leaves' member and longtime Turtles' bassist Jim Pons was also recruited to be a Mother of Invention, where he, Volman, and Kaylan remained until the band was unceremoniously dissolved when Zappa was pushed off stage by unstable audience member Trevor Howell. Zappa landed ten feet below onto a concrete orchestra pit on December 10,, 1971 at the Rainbow Theatre in London. The incident effectively put Zappa out of commission, leaving the Mothers to find work elsewhere. In fairly short order, Volman and Kaylan were signed to Reprise Records as Flo & Eddie where they resurfaced with the excellent, self-titled Phlorescent Leech & Eddie (1972). Their second and final Reprise album -- titled Flo & Eddie (1974) -- was ostensibly created so that the duo would have product to push during their high profile opening slot on Alice Cooper's (then) big-budget Billion Dollar Babies (1974) tour. Primary components of the Cooper production team -- including producer Bob Ezrin, engineers Shelly Yakus and Jack Douglas, as well as Cooper's masterful design and concept team at Pacific Eye & Ear -- collectively updated Flo & Eddie's sound and image. While the results did yield a slicker and less organic product, it is actually what Volman and Kaylan bring to the festivities that arguably makes Flo & Eddie (1973) the better of the two endeavors. At the heart and soul of Flo & Eddie is their vocal blend -- which they can (and occasionally do) turn into a full-blown choir, thanks to a few vocal overdub passes. The hearty syncopated rocker "If We Only Had the Time" provides a great example of this technique. The Kinks' "Days" is the first of several superbly chosen covers. Simply stated, Kaylan and Volman effortlessly embody the song's profound sense of loss and wistful nostalgia as if the tune had been penned for them. The jaunty "You're a Lady" hearkens back to the memorably quirky melodies and catchy choruses that defined the Turtles at their best -- à la "She's My Girl" and "You Showed Me". "The Original Soundtrack from 'Carlos and De Bull'" is an odd tale of a matador that recalls Flo & Eddie's dramatic ventures in 200 Motels, and the brilliant saga of "Billy the Mountain" from their Zappa days. Another grand slam remake follows as they upgrade the Small Faces' "Afterglow" with a slightly metallic tinge -- no doubt thanks to Ezrin's handiwork. Fellow '60s survivor and Reprise recording artist John B. Sebastian lends his dulcet tones to a modern doo wop update of the Ronettes' "Best Part of Breaking Up" that is driven by the same type of hard-hitting rhythm that accompanied Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll (Part One)". A final dip back into their MOI tenure as the "Sanzini Brothers" -- better known as Aldolph, Rip-Off, Rudolph, and Jack -- are heard performing the "horrible sodomy trick". The opening of "Another Pop Star's Life" is clearly inspired by Roger Daltery's blood-curdling wail at the climax of the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again". The tale of excess and debauchery was later revealed to have been an observation on the lifestyle of Marc Bolan from T Rex. The acoustic "Just Another Town" may well have its subject matter rooted in the 200 Motels motif of "touring can make you go crazy" as they depict a substance-less nomadic existence. The Kaylan-penned seven-plus-minute "Marmendy Mill" is a pastoral epic featuring orchestration by Alan MacMillian -- whose other notable Ezrin productions include Lou Reed's Berlin (1973) and Alice Cooper' sWelcome to My Nightmare (1975). The youthful ode to the freedom and innocence of childhood perfectly caps what is -- by most accounts -- the best of what Flo & Eddie are all about.

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