The group’s original name had been the Soul Giants. The name Mothers was short for “motherfuckers,” which meant “excellent musicians.” The name was changed to the Mothers of Invention in order to accommodate some paranoid, prudish MGM execs.
Freak Out! was the first double rock album and the first conceptual rock LP. It (and the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds) heavily inspired the Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Carol Kaye, frequent Phil Spector and Beach Boys session bassist (and known as the most recorded bass player in history), played many of the bass parts on this album and its follow-up, Absolutely Free. She and Frank parted company peacefully when she admitted to him that some of his lyrics bothered her.
The “very important man at Columbia Records” mentioned in the liner notes was Vice President Clive Davis, who’d go on to sign Aerosmith and eventually start Arista Records.
Most of the “accessible” songs on this album were suited to the R&B facet of the 1966 climate, since Frank intended to infiltrate the pop music scene, changing the industry’s machinery from the inside. The same tactics led to the suit-and-tie appearance he adopted while speaking out against censorship in the 1980s. The second disc represented his first step in revealing the barrier between “high” and “low” art as being utterly false.