"Joe's Garage (Act I)" by Frank Zappa Is Released
Joe's Garage: Acts I, II & III is a 1979 rock opera by Frank Zappa, which tells the story of what could possibly happen if music was made illegal.
The album features Ike Willis as the voice of "Joe", a stereotypical garage band youth who unwittingly journeys through the miasma of the music business. Zappa provides the voice of the "Central Scrutinizer" character—a mechanical voice that narrates the story and haunts Joe's psyche with McCarthyistic 50s-era discouragement and "scrutiny."
The album was originally issued in two parts, the first part being a single LP of Act I, and the second part being a double-LP set of Acts II & III. All three acts were later issued together as a box set, and on compact disc as a double-CD. The major themes of the story include groupie migration, mockery of Scientology, appliance fetishism, garage bands, and above all censorship of music as an artform.
Joe's Garage is particularly noteworthy for its extensive use of Zappa's xenochrony technique, in which guitar solos from older, completely unrelated recordings were extracted and overdubbed onto new songs. With the exception of "Watermelon in Easter Hay" and "Crew Slut", all Zappa's solos on the album were constructed in this way.
The opera begins with the Central Scrutinizer's introduction. He has no real character, but goes on to explain that his job is to enforce laws which will be passed in the forthcoming illegalization of music. The Scrutinizer offers a "special presentation to show what can happen to you if you choose a career in music," introducing the opera's protagonist, Joe, who used to be a "nice boy" and cut his neighbors' grass. When he discovered rock music, he would spend all his time playing loud music in his garage, where the neighbors would often call the cops on him. A "friendly counselor" at the police department gives him a donut and tells Joe he should "stick closer to church-oriented social activities." Joe finds a new girlfriend named Mary, with whom he would "hold hands and think pure thoughts." However, Mary, a Roman Catholic girl, abandons Joe in order to get a pass to see a band called "Toad-O" with whom she goes on the road—having sex with the band's roadies. Eventually, they abandon her in Miami when she is too tired to do anything. Mary enters a wet t-shirt contest to try to make enough money to get back home. Joe hears of her exploits, becomes depressed, falls in with a fast crowd, and has sex with a girl who works at the Jack-In-The-Box named Lucille, who gives him an "unpronounceable disease", although he claims it came from a toilet seat.