During my recent binge on Zappa I came across an album I had never heard called Playground Psychotics. This album is a 2-disc set that is one of the most random of Zappa albums I’ve ever listened to; most of the album is comprised of side conversations and random babble of Frank’s first band The Mothers of Invention. Apparently Mothers fans had been pleading for years for some new vintage material and this is what Zappa ended up releaseing. Granted the album material is from the 1971 tour of various locations (Fillmore, UCLA, and London), it actually contains very little music. Is it waste of your money? No, but if you are looking for an introductory album to Zappa or Mothers it is not a good choice.
I compare much of the album to a 1970’s version of Twitter; Psychotic’s simply provides a way to find out what the band was doing at any given time, at the airport, behind the scenes of recording, in their hotel rooms, and what they talk about after a show. Although much of the dialogue is mildly entertaining it is only worth listening to once. There are some highlights to the album such as the song Concentration Moon Parts 1 & 2 and the 30 minute masterpiece Billy The Mountain. I must say that some of the banter between band mates is funny, especially track 16 on the 2nd disc entitled “Its a good thing we get paid to do this”; basically a goofy monologue of the band bad mouthing Zappa and poking fun at themselves and why they don’t get laid since they play “this comedy shit” and why no girl would take what they do seriously.
This album does reflect the rumor that Zappa recorded EVERYTHING over the years (including the goofy conversations he had with his band, it’s pretty kooky). This album seems to be something Zappa truly put together just for the loyal fans; clearlythey would be the only ones that would truly appreciate its content.
If you are a diehard Zappa fan you will appreciate this album since it is “something old and something new”. Playground Psychotics simply provides you a peek at a bunch of guys who liked to play music, have fun being absurd, and joking on one another all the time.
The album sells on Amazon for $20 but I think that is simply too much to ask for what you don’t get. I would put the money towards multi-disc collections such as Lather, The Best Band You Never Heard or any of the You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore volumes. You’ll get far more listening pleasure for years afterwards.
Frank Zappa’s Playground Psychotics gets 2.5 out of 5.