Frank Zappa

Cucamonga

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Before forming the Mothers of Invention, Zappa made numerous recordings at small studios. Several tracks that he had a hand in, as producer, instrumentalist, or writer, were issued on extremely rare singles in the early and mid-1960s. This collects 14 such numbers that found their way to the L.A. Del-Fi label, including items by Paul Buff, the Rotations, the Pauls, Mr. Clean, the Heartbreakers, and Baby Ray & the Ferns, the last of which featured future Mother Ray Collins on vocals. It's largely eccentric -- but not that eccentric -- doo wop and R&B with a humorous/novelty bent, though there's also a surf single by the Rotations. You can hear the seeds of the production techniques of the Mothers albums occasionally, particularly on Bob Guy's weird horror-rock ditties, "Dear Jeepers" and "Letter From Jeepers"; a snippet of the Rotations' "Heavies" even showed up on the Mothers' We're Only in It for the Money. Yet this stuff wasn't outrageously funny enough to be novelty hits, or original or hooky enough to be straight pop or R&B successes. Put another way, in hindsight they show elements of Zappa's later work, but at the time no one could have guessed that he would develop into a major force in experimental rock. About half of this has shown up on reissues before, but the rest can't be found elsewhere on CD, so it's useful to Zappa collectors. It does not, however, collect all of his pre-Mothers releases, notable omissions being the Penguins' "Memories of El Monte" (which he co-wrote with Ray Collins) and "Drums A-Go-Go," the go-go-rock-in-a-harem instrumental by the Hollywood Persuaders.

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