Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention is a 1985 album released in two slightly different versions in the US and Europe. The album’s title is a reference to the lobby group, the PMRC, who were campaigning to require record companies to put warning stickers on albums they considered offensive, and to Zappa’s former band, the Mothers of Invention.
The liner notes also contained a quote from Senator Ernest Hollings, who testified during the PMRC hearings: “…if I could find some way constitutionally to do away with it [foul language in music], I would”, as well as Zappa’s oft-repeated liner notes request for his fans to register to vote.
The original US version of the album contains the track Porn Wars – a sound collage featuring excerpts from PMRC hearings. This track was omitted from non-US versions, and replaced with three other pieces: I Don’t Even Care, co-written by Zappa and Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson (who sings on the track) and two instrumental tracks – One Man, One Vote (a Synclavier composition) and H.R. 2911 which collates some of the backing music from Porn Wars, without the PMRC hearing excerpts and other dialogue.
I bought both versions of this album when they came out (I was a Zappa completist at the time) and it’s very much a mixed bag of songs; the instrumentals Alien Orifice and What’s New In Baltimore showcase the more intricate parts of Zappa’s music, and the guitar solos kill; it’s always fun to hear Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson sing with Zappa and there’s even a song with a dig at 80’s kids discovering 60’s psychedelic music and lifestyle (We’re Turning Again). The bad, as is often the case around this ‘era’, is the synclavier songs that seem to start off well and then just go nowhere- the exception being One Man, One Vote which sounds like a complete thought rather than just random noodling. The ‘star’ track, and main reason why this album was made, is Porn Wars a 12-minute song that mixes voices from the Congressional PMRC hearing with Uncle Meat-esque dialogue, a WOIIFTM chopped up/sped up voices/music and extracts from ThingFish (an album that Zappa’s former Barking Pumpkin distributor MCA Records refused to distribute). It’s a really good piece that captures a moment in time when (mainly white) politicians shat their collective knickers over young, white, innocent children listening to filthy, dirty ‘urban’ music and tried to make bad laws to control it and is probably Zappa’s most overtly political song since We’re Only In It For The Money. The album is an important document and I can see why he produced 2 different versions for different markets, Porn Wars is good but it does not have the longevity or repeat listening value of his 60’s songs. 2.5/5
Frank Zappa – vocals, guitar, Synclavier, producer
Johnny “Guitar” Watson – vocals, guitar on I Don’t Even Care
Ike Willis – vocals, guitar
Ray White – vocals, guitar
Bobby Martin – vocals, keyboards
Steve Vai – guitar
Tommy Mars – keyboards
Scott Thunes – bass
Chad Wackerman – drums
Ed Mann – percussion
Moon Zappa – vocals
Dweezil Zappa – vocals
John Danforth – voice excerpts on Porn Wars
Ernest Hollings – voice excerpts on Porn Wars
Paul S. Trible, Jr. – voice excerpts on Porn Wars
Paula Hawkins – voice excerpts on Porn Wars
J. James Exon – voice excerpts on Porn Wars
Al Gore – voice excerpts on Porn Wars
Tipper Gore – voice excerpts on Porn Wars