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Frank Zappa - Greasy Love Songs CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.14 | 21 ratings

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3 stars It's always nice to see a horrible wrong corrected.

Ruben & The Jets was a great Zappa album in its original incarnation. Hell, it shared no less than three songs with Freak Out, and no one complains about Freak Out:

How Could I Be Such A Fool You Didn't Try To Call Me Anyway The Winds Blows

Not to mention Love of My Live, which would later show up in Zappa's live shows decades later. He obviously had some fondness for these songs.

But with the CD release of Ruben, he turned all apostate on us with regard to the album, and literally destroyed it by re-recording the bass and drums and in general rendering it unlistenable to anyone who had heard the original.

This wrong has now been righted. We can toss our CD's of Ruben in the recycle bin.

Greasy Love Songs is nothing less than Ruben & The Jets restored to all its original glory. Granted, it's a doo-wop record (sorta) and a parody (sorta) and not as groundbreaking as the albums that preceded it (sorta). It's nonetheless a fine example of early Mothers music.

I can almost hear the conversation:

Ray Collins: If you'd let me sing these songs my way, we'd be famous. FZ: Okay, let's do it your way for an album and see how that works out.

I don't know how it worked out commercially, though I suppose it was another middling success for The Mothers. Artistically, this is a great Zappa album. The man couldn't help himself. Even when recording parodies of songs of "cretin simplicity" he just had to make them perfect and forward- looking. It's actually amazing how good "cretin simplicity" can sound.

The sound. There's so much echo and reverb that drums cease to sound like drums. They sound like hip, snapping fingers. Acoustic guitars occasionally riff jazzy chords. Roy Estrada's bass always provides a solid bottom, and the pianos and sax, while of said cretin simplicity, are always right there in the mix where they should be. Ray Collins' voice, even when it's occasionally Munchkin-ized, remains one of the great joys of this version of The Mothers.

They sometimes play it straight. Cheap Thrills. Desiri. Anything. It's all mindless stuff perfectly executed. Don't worry about it, just sit back and enjoy. You'll hear Zappa's vocal rumblings, Estrada's falsetto, all intermixed with Collins', singing inane lyrics. It's all good.

No No No is nothing but several minutes of a single I-IV-I7 chord laid over a simplistic beat, with vocal harmonies that twist and turn and are to this day well beyond the skills of your average pop star crap, even if a bit Munchkin-ized. Estrada is in fine form (bass-wise) just wandering around and embellishing what it yes a garage chord progression. No wonder Beefheart eventually hooked up with him.

And, it being a Zappa album, we get a nice little suicide song (Stuff Up The Cracks), teen love being what it is. Stuff up the cracks, turn on the gas, throw that nice sharkskin suit out on some dog waste, and play some nice wah-wah guitar.

This is actually a great album, but I'm going to dock it just because it shouldn't be on anyone's Zappa short list and it's barely prog. For those who are familiar with early Mothers, it's a necessary addition to the collection. I love the sucker.

jammun | 3/5 |


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