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on 4 April 2009
I first came across the Mothers of Invention as a teenager in the late 60's with a purchase of a compilation called `Mothermania', chiefly I think because the band looked so freakish on the cover that I was sure that the inside contents would mirror this. But this wasn't psychedelic music and at first the strange mixture of satirical jibes at America. Spoken word and, for the time, unusual musical styles didn't make sense and tracks like `Who are the Brain police' were creepy and unnerving. Not the sort of Blues based rock that was the staple at the time. By the third listen though, I was totally hooked and by the end of the week was quoting whole chunks of `Brown Shoes don't make it' and `It can't happen here'.

I was lucky enough to see this line up when the Mothers played the UK in 1969 and have a real affection for those early Mothers albums. So this DVD has particular significance for me as this is the period of Zappa is by far my favourite. DVDs of long disbanded bands often only feature the questionable pronouncements of Journalists and their particular take on proceedings but this time we do get interviews some of the people who were there as well including the recently deceased Jimmy Carl Black and its good to see Bunk Gardener Don Preston and Artie Tripp all looking well and offering tit bits on their tenure with Zappa, surprising in a way, if the way the band was dumped to by leader is anything to go by. Strangely there is no mention of Ian Underwood who was an intrigal part of the Line up at the time.

There is interesting footage of some of the less well known `freaks' of the time such as Karl Franzoni and a fascinating glimpse of an early clean cut Zappa on the Steve Allan shoe Playing the Bicycle. The albums are discussed at length and with genuine insights by people who obviously enjoy them and there is also time given to some of the albums put out on Zappa's Straight label such as those by Wild Man Fischer and Capt Beefheart

Recommended to those who love the early Mothers and those who are looking for an insight into a revolutionary time when music was genuinely challenging
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on 19 June 2012
Some great footage of early Mothers, especially what I reckon was their best period - between 1967 and 1969, although this is a matter of taste. Can do without the peripheral humour - it's the extended instrumentals that are of more interest and the underrated and largely overlooked Art Tripp and Bunk Gardner. Also good to have some insight into the relationship Zappa had with his band, especially the comments from the late Jimmy Carl Black.
If you like early Mothers, thoroughly recommended.
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on 29 March 2009
There is a lot of original Mothers stuff out there in bootleg land. Here we get a taster in fragmented form, but not the full meal. The best bits are the interwiews with ex mothers; the late Jimmy Carl Black & the wonderfully preserved Bunk Gardner. But, hey! at 2 hours, you can't complain. Hotcha!
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on 24 April 2009
This is a documentary about the early years of the MOI,with some original footage(FZ on the Steve Allen TV show,Wild Man Fischer)together with interviews with various members of the MOI and assorted Zappaphiles,notably Ben Watson(and who better?)
The major problem is that you get some original concert footage,but overdubbed with either the studio versions of the MOI's music,or interviews.There's still hardly any live original MOI music or DVD available outside of bootlegland("Ahead Of Their Time" is a notable exception)and this DVD does little to change that.
Still,the interviews are fascinating enough,and the concert footage is good even without much live music.Interesting,but not essential,for the Zappaphile,very little interest for the newcomer to FZ.
PS-The holy grail of FZ/MOI DVD releases,the 1973 Roxy shows,is no nearer release now than it was when first rumoured back in the early Naughties.Keep your eye on YouTube for bootleg footage.
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on 1 May 2009
The trouble with non authorised documentaries (and this is one of them) is that they don't interview the people that matter, and they interview people that don't matter too much!
There's some nice interviews with Jimmy Carl Black (who died recently, RIP), Don Preston, Bunk Gardner (looking very good for his age!) and
Artie Tripp who toured with the mothers as a second drummer. Unfortunately these interviews are too short and we have to suffer from (and I quote) "scenesters like LA wildman Kim Fowley, biographer Billy James, Zappa academic Ben Watson, music journalist Richie Unterberger and English writer and musician Alan Clayson" who, are frankly boring in my opinion and if you're already a Frank fan, already know everything they have to tell you.
There's hardly any live footage or interviews with the great man himself (yes I know he's dead!) - overall it's ok - but not a definitve article.
One of the most interesting parts was where the band explain when Zappa "fired" the mothers and then told them they owed him $20,000 as they'd been making a loss when touring.
Shame there's no interviews with the other members (Ian Underwood, Ray Collins, Roy Estrada, Euclid James "Motorhead" Sherwood).

My opinion - buy it second hand - watch it once and flog it on ebay.
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on 3 February 2012
Most of this DVD would work better as a book, due to most of it being interviews with possibly knowledgeable but uninteresting journalists. Journalists almost NEVER make good interviewees, whereas musicians, who are generally less articulate and analytical, make far better talking heads to watch, because they are REAL and they were THERE doing it with Frank. But the musos were in the minority. As was the music - just the odd very short burst. I sat down tonight wanting to get some Mothers juice from this DVD, and ended up with my finger on the FF button a lot of the time, skipping through the boring talk. Also, much of the 60's footage (freak clubs, communes...) is stock footage just for mood, and not directly related to this ultimately iconoclastic band. How such a great subject can be transformed from so wild to so mild is really quite an accomplishment! For study purposes only. Yawn...
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on 22 January 2018
A great Zappa doc - very much worth seeing
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on 15 August 2009
An interesting archive of the early Mothers and Zappa's beginnings which is well presented and fascinating to Zappa aficionados I think. Interviews with the original Mothers members provides a really good insight into the early years. I would have liked some more archive footage to be honest but pretty good nevertheless.
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