Although I've heard a lot of bits and pieces of FZ's music before, it's only recently that I've made an effort to get to know his albums, starting with the early ones. 'Absolutely Free', I think, highlights the pros and cons of striving to say something outside the mainstream. Here he slates conservative America, interrupting the flow with a discourse on vegetables and prunes as if it were an extended commercial break. This I find amusing, even if he does seem to be trying too hard at times. His lucid, conversational tone is endearing, but changes of voice such as his mock crooning during the prune songs can irritate. Sometimes he scores a bullseye, sometimes he misses the board. Given that this was made in the mid-sixties, though, it's radical stuff.
One of my favourite tracks is the 'Invocation' freak out, which is ironic as it's the only instrumental on an album otherwise dominated by the lyrics. The lengthy 'Brown Shoes Don't Make It', which constitutes a climax of sorts, is a track that will divide listeners. Fans, I expect, hail it as a work of genius. Certainly a lot of work has been packed into it. It isn't really one track, but about fifteen different stitched together like a quilt made from scraps, abruptly switching from one section to another. It takes a bit of getting used to, but is ultimately rewarding. Here, FZ almost sounds as if he's got more to say than he can fit into the time remaining.
In time, I might feel I ought to give 'Absolutely Free' a five-star rating, but for now his music has at least got me interested.