Frank Zappa is such a unique icon in pop culture in the fact that as iconic as he was to his many fans, there were and are still many music followers who not only do not realize his genius impact, but couldn't even name one song from his vast catalog.
Except for perhaps "Valley Girl" (which isn't even his song, but his daughter's) or "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow". For the true fans, that is just wrong.
However before going the solo route in 1970, Zappa fronted the zany and maniacal Mothers Of Invention, who released six albums on the Verve music label between 1966 and 1969 including their groundbreaking concept debut Freak Out, which was rock's first double-album.
Released by Sexy Intellectual/MVD Video, In The 60's chronicles Zappa's early musical path and then the formation of The Mothers ("Of Invention" was added later, under the request of their record label) and explores in grand detail the releasing of perhaps Zappa's most influential work including the aforementioned Freak Out, along with Absolutely Free, We're Only In It For The Money, Lumpy Gravy, Cruising With Ruben & The Jets and Uncle Meat.
In The 60's is not authorized by the Zappa Family Trust, however that really does not matter and is certainly no surprise because for some strange reason, Mr. Zappa's widow Gail does not cooperate with anyone (other than son, Dweezil) in regard to others releasing Zappa material, which is a shame.
Aside from that, this film is arguably the most well-rounded Mothers Of Invention documentary out there. It is 134 minutes full of informative narratives, rare, live concert and in-studio footage, interesting still-life images and most importantly, insightful interviews with former Mothers band members Don Preston, Jimmy Carl Black, Bunk Gardner and Art Tripp, as they talk about their unique musical experiences as members of The Mothers Of Invention.
Much of the vintage archival footage is of rough quality, but fascinating none the less, including an early guest appearance on the Steve Allen Show, excerpts from the 1969 Uncle Meat film, live clips from The Mothers' famous appearances at New York's Garrick Theatre and live footage from a show in Germany in which a riot was incited.
Also included in the mix are interviews with various music industry people, authors and music critics of that time period, giving their obviously educated insights and analysis on the band's escapades and incredible impact the music had on pop culture in the mid-to-late 60's.
The film also does well in conveying some of Zappa's early influences including the blues of Howlin' Wolf, 1950's doo-wop and composer Edgar Varsese, and how it all helped shape his own, one-of-a-kind musical legacy.
Technically speaking the quality of the footage is quite good, especially considering the various clips are over 40 years old.
The stereo mix and full-screen transfers are more than adequate, however there are no extra features to speak of other than an extra 10-minute interview segment and some band member text bios.
However the lack of extras is certainly understandable, given the wealth of information already packed into the main feature.
Yes, this is a more than worthy representation of the impact Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention had on both music and culture during the mid-to-late 60's.