Thursday, September 24, 2009

Magic Fingers

I never saw the movie, but in 1971 I rushed out and bought the double album 200 Motels by Frank Zappa. Why? Because Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan were key fixtures with the Mothers of Invention. Perhaps you know them better as Phlorescent Leech and Eddie respectively. No? Ha ha, okay. Sit back and prepare yourself for a little rock and roll trivia.

Mark and Howard were founding members of the 60s rock group The Turtles who had some decent hits such as Happy Together and Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe. When The Turtles broke up in 1970 Mark and Howard made the switch from a syrupy-flavoured pop-group to a musical outfit completely at the other end of the rock and roll scale - the Mothers of Invention.

But the duo couldn't refer to themselves as The Turtles or use their real names due to a dispute with their former record company White Whale. Hence the moniker Flo and Eddie. The two made four albums with Zappa before striking out on their own. Their third album was the epic soundtrack 200 Motels.

Imagine this. The movie starred Theodore Bikel, Keith Moon and as Zappa, Ringo Starr. The treatise on touring in the 70s was backed by the Mothers and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and was filmed in 11 days at Pinewood Studios in England on a budget of $600,000.

For a 19 year-old in 1971, I was suitably impressed with such song titles as Mystery Roach, Redneck Eats, Shove It Right In and Half A Dozen Provocative Squats. And after a few spins on my turntable I was in Zappa nirvana. Here's Zappa, the Mothers and Flo and Eddie doing Magic Fingers...with a brief intro from Ringo in character...

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