Quite possibly the greatest pop song ever written. Ok, next to “Wooly Bully” by Sam The Sham And The Pharaohs of course. Musically you think “Baby Take Your Teeth Out” is going to bubble gum land then the lyrics take you on a 180 degree comical detour. Surprise! It’s a journey to gum job land. When I first heard “Baby Take Your Teeth Out” (it’s my music teacher’s fault for introducing me to Frank Zappa) I couldn’t believe anyone would write a song about this. As I got more familiar with the Frank Zappa catalog, nothing seemed to be off limits for Frank’s comedic salvos even a tale of gum jobs in your golden years.
Only Frank Zappa could write Bubble Gum Pop about Gumjobs—YES someone actually wrote a song about the Golden Years besides David Bowie.
“Baby Take Your Teeth Out” is a track off the 1984 Frank Zappa album Them Or Us, the 40th official release from Zappa and crew. It’s bouncy happy music that goes where eagles wouldn’t dare. It sings joyfully of taboos that most talk shows wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole save Howard Stern and Jerry Springer. But on the bright side, the recommended practice of “Baby Take Your Teeth Out” just may get a safety endorsement from AARP bringing greater awareness to denture etiquette. And unlike Stern and Springer, Frank Zappa put nursery rhyme calibre lyrics affixed to the Polident bedrock of sunny Beach Boys musical sensibility:
The opening lyric “Moo–Ahh” by itself is funny. It becomes the catchphrase our narrator employs to mark his territory as the pimp daddy OG daddy mack of the song: Senior moments such as these need some reminding. In a larger context, it becomes another call of the Zappa Army among the zany eccentric lexicon he donated to the world.
“Baby Take Your Teeth Out” is dirty Doo–Wop complete with full bodied male/female backing vocals. It’s another example of some fine Frank Zappa satire and parody of a musical idiom. The opening track on Them Or Us “The Closer You Are” is a cover of the Earl Lewis and Morgan “Bobby” Robinson Doo–Wop song recorded by The Channels done in a serious tone (well for a Frank Zappa tune anyway) and minus lyrics about the joys of geriatric fellatio. This song reminds me of the 50’s classics “Venus” by Frankie Avalon (1959) and “Johnny Angel” by Shelley Fabares (1962). “Be In My Video” is another Doo–Wop style song that’s in the halfway house between Frank Zappa parody and Frank Zappa serious (lyrics comedic, music serious). Zappa takes on the role of narrator between the full rich 50’s style harmonies. There’s a cute little tribute to Astronomer Carl Sagan in the lyrics if you can find it:
Atomic light will shine
Through an old Venetian blind
Making patterns on your face,
Then it cuts to outer space
With it’s billions & billions &
Billions & billions and…
The “With it’s billions & billions…” part is the Carl Sagan bit based on a quote from him. This track also has the obligatory (and perhaps parodic in the Zappa World) sax line and a falsetto reminiscent of the song “Stay” by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs (1960–the version used in the film Dirty Dancing) and later covered by Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons (1964). “Be In My Video” also has some Moo–Ahhs thrown in too because it was so much fun a few tracks ago.
Ike Willis of “Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?” and “Fembot In A Wet T–Shirt” fame off the amazing album Joe’s Garage takes lead vocal duty on “Baby Take Your Teeth Out” with his deep resonant bass range. The most hilarious part of the song for me is the bridge section which jumps forward a few decades in a time warp to progressive rock. At the :50 second mark, the tempo slows and a synth horn fanfare sound something Keith Emerson would have programmed into his Jenga stack of keyboards forms the atmospheric bed our narrator can recline and partake in his ultimate tooth fairy fantasy:
That’s what I like
The way you handle that
No, oh baby
Don’t mind them blisters
On your hand
Ike Willis was doing a Barry White impersonation that they later referred to as “Barely White.” The bridge section was actually done with Ike’s tongue taped to his mouth to get a more comical effect and to get that coveted senior citizen sensual slur. In fact, Ike’s alter ego “Barely White” was born during the session of “Baby Take Your Teeth Out” and fortunately has a full set of teeth. The last bit of narration in the song is also a cute quip at denture care and maintenance:
Go ahead and eat the label
Boiling water kills germs
I told ya!!
“Truck Driver Divorce” is a country parody song on the album which also uses this same prog morphing formula that gets very fusiony. It’s almost like Mahavishnu Orchestra walked onstage during the the song and the country band was too intimidated to return and just went back to their hotel. And speaking of virtuosity, believe it or not, “Baby Take Your Teeth Out” includes Steve Vai on guitar although playing sparsely and way under his capabilities as it’s intended as a parody of a simple pop song. The track “Stevie’s Spanking” is more on par with what you’d expect Vai to bring to the table next to the dentures in “Baby Take Your Teeth Out.”
Them Or Us also had 3 of Frank Zappa’s children involved in it: Dweezil and Moon performed on it and Ahmet co–wrote the track “Frogs with Dirty Little Lips” with his father. Them Or Us happened around the time of the Parent’s Music Resource Center (PMRC) witch hunt hearings. As a result, Frank Zappa wrote a satiric warning that it contained content that a truly free society wouldn’t fear or try to suppress. There was also a guarantee that the lyrics won’t “cause eternal torment” in hell. If anything, it’s made my stomach sore from laughing as many Frank Zappa songs have.
“Baby Take Your Teeth Out” never made a Hallmark card but the funny thing is, you know it’s been uttered in human history by someone in moments of hot sloth–paced amourous abandon. It’s been a closet romantic phrase that’s in a sex talk museum (renamed the “Talk Dirty To Me” museum post Poison) now with the advent of superior dental technology like ceramic restoration with titanium implants. So enjoy a hearty laugh, don’t forget to take your B12, and when you win Thursday night bingo, give a proud Moo–Ahh! from bubble gum job land.
© Composer Yoga