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CRUISING WITH RUBEN & THE JETS

Frank Zappa

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Frank Zappa Cruising With Ruben & The Jets album cover
2.68 | 185 ratings | 20 reviews | 4% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1968

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Cheap Thrills (2:39)
2. Love of My Life (3:08)
3. How Could I Be Such a Fool (3:34)
4. Deseri (2:08)
5. I'm Not Satisfied (4:08)
6. Jelly Roll Gum Drop (2:24)
7. Anything (3:05)
8. Later That Night (3:00)
9. You Didn't Try to Call Me (3:57)
10. Fountain of Love (3:22)
11. No. No. No. (2:15)
12. Any Way the Wind Blows (3:01)
13. Stuff Up the Cracks (4:36)

Total Time: 41:17

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Frank Zappa / guitar, keyboards, sound effects, vocals, producer
- Don Preston / bass, piano, keyboards
- Jimmy Carl Black / guitar, percussion, drums
- Ray Collins / guitar, vocals
- Roy Estrada / bass, sound effects, vocals, voices
- Bunk Gardner / saxophone
- Jim Sherwood / guitar, vocals, wind
- Motorhead Sherwood / saxophone (Baritone), tambourine
- Art Tripp / guitar
- Ian Underwood / guitar, piano, keyboards, saxophone, wind
- Brian Gardner / saxophone

Releases information

1972 LP Verve 5055 / Rykodisc #RCD 10505)
Rykodisc RCD 10063 (1985 CD with rerecorded bass & drums, different track edit times)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Evolver for the last updates
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FRANK ZAPPA Cruising With Ruben & The Jets ratings distribution


2.68
(185 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(4%)
4%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(19%)
19%
Good, but non-essential (34%)
34%
Collectors/fans only (33%)
33%
Poor. Only for completionists (10%)
10%

FRANK ZAPPA Cruising With Ruben & The Jets reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by belz
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars 1.7/5.0 Yet another satire from Frank Zappa. Now it's a Doo Wop parody... Absolutely nothing really progressive there. That said, it's not a bad album, but it's more of a joke than anything else. I'd probably give a lower rating if I wasn't convinced that is must be great in a funny way. It's difficult to rate a Zappa album, even more when you're guessing "is he joking or is this real?". Well, don't waste your money on this one if you are new to Zappa. Try to get his other albums first.1.7/5.0

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Send comments to belz (BETA) | Report this review (#77422) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, May 07, 2006

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Cruising with Ruben & The Jets is a very different Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention album. Released in 1968 the same year as the groundbreaking Weīre Only in It for the Money you should expect more of the same from The Mothers of Invention. If this was your expectation you would be fooled though, as Cruising With Ruben & The Jets are The Mothers of Invention playing fifties Doo Woop and RīnīB. Some fans were probably pretty upset with this album, but seeing this in retrospect I think itīs a brilliant idea. Zappa always did what he felt for in the moment. On the first couple of Mothers of Invention albums you could also clearly hear the influence from the fifties Doo Woop and RīnīB scene, but the style was mixed with more regular sixties rock, blues and avant garde moments. Here there are only Doo Woop and RīnīB songs.

There are a couple of songs from The Mothers Of Inventionīs debut album Freak Out which they have re-arranged and re-recorded, but the rest are new songs. There isnīt much to say about the structure of the songs or their innovative nature because the songs are very simple as it generally is in this style. Itīs all done with the classic Zappa gleam in the eye though and you sense a certain humour involved. Songs like Cheap Thrills, Jerry Roll Gum Drop and especially the hilarious lyrics to Stuff Up the Cracks are good examples of this.

The instrumentation is very simple and the vocalists steal the picture here. Frank Zappa with his deep bass vocals, Roy Estrada with his high pitched voice and especially Ray Collins with his smooth and pleasant voice.

This is one of the Zappa albums you got to have on LP as the CD version has re-recorded drums done by Chad Wackermann in the eighties. Even though this was Zappaīs wish itīs a horror, so go find the original LP at any cost, donīt waste your money on the CD version. The sound quality on the original LP is good. A typical Zappa production.

This might not be one of my favorite Zappa albums but I think it is enjoyable and allthough not very proggy this deserves 3 stars in my book.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#165491) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Review by crimson87
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars In Cruising with Ruben and the Jets , Zappa wanted to tribute all those doo wop and R n' b groups he was a fan in the 50's. This is a parody album and it has no progressive content at all , but it's good to listen once in a while. The melodies are addictive and the vocals hilarious , typical Zappa humour.

Some of the tunes on the album are re works of Freak Out songs such as Love of My Life , How could I be such a fool , Any way the wind blows and other numbers. It's funny to listen to the contrast between Roy Estrada's vocals and Frank's low pitched ones that often are used as a chorus like in Love of My Life.

Some reviewers have complained about the fact that the drum tracks were re recorded in the 80's for the cd version. But I don't own the LP so I can't make a fair comparation. Overall , this release may be fun to listen a couple of times but I don't think it will be worthy of your money. You should get some serious Zappa records instead.

2.5 stars

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Send comments to crimson87 (BETA) | Report this review (#196854) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, January 02, 2009

Review by Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Frank Zappa's curious retro-rock album was an oddity even for such a famously idiosyncratic talent. It was originally released in 1968, but looked back almost a decade earlier to an already outdated style of popular music, long out of fashion at the politically charged end of the swinging '60s.

In retrospect the album offers a revealing glimpse of Zappa's doo-wop adolescence, always at the core of even his most subversive musical experiments. Remove the Dada cutups, the juvenile humor, the biting social commentary, and the screaming guitar solos, and this might be the skeleton left behind: rock 'n' roll from an earlier, more innocent age, the perfect soundtrack to a high school sock hop, or for necking in the back seat of your Dad's Chevy.

It's easy to see why Zappa would be drawn to such simple sentiments (first love, first heartbreak), besides the obvious nostalgia value to someone who came of age in Southern California during the late 1950s. The music evokes a return to an uncorrupted Golden Age of Rock, before it became part of a tightly controlled consumer industry (and before the industry became a thorn in the side of such a creative nonconformist).

But listen closer, and you might hear something more than just an affectionate parody or a tongue-n-cheek tribute (take your pick). The relentless, unvarying grove of "Cheap Thrills" (continuing even into the fadeout) combines pure pop nostalgia with a repetitive minimalism worthy of John Cage. And the song "No.No.No." includes some convoluted vocal harmonies not far removed from a GENTLE GIANT madrigal.

In short, all fun stuff, but played seriously...or maybe it's the other way around? Only the cartoon cover art hints at the rock 'n' roll mockery more typical of the Mothers of Invention.

A final note: what might seem like a stingy two-star rating is hardly a measure of the album's quality, but merely an acknowledgement that it would only make sense to an already confirmed Frank Zappa aficionado. Join the Club, and hear what you've been missing.

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#221849) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, June 19, 2009

Review by tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars In a move that I'm betting Frank had fully planned out even before the band began recording Freak Out!, Cruising with Ruben & The Jets is The Mothers pulling a practical joke on the world by doing what seems to be a straight-up, completely earnest 50's-rock and doo-wop tribute album. Sure, the band had done doo-wop before, but where the doo-wop on Freak Out! had all sorts of bizarre tweaks that made it anything but conventional, Cruising doesn't have any overtly obvious signs of parody. If you didn't know who recorded this, or if your first exposure to the image of Frank Zappa was the picture on the back of the CD reissue (which, for those who are familiar with Frank, is absolutely freaking hilarious), I'm pretty willing to bet you wouldn't be able to tell that this was recorded by one of the most avant-garde collections of musicians in the history of rock music. My goodness, they even re-recorded four of the Freak Out! songs in the form of completely normal doo-wop tracks, and they blend in so well here with the other numbers that I had to check back at the Freak Out! tracklisting the first couple of times I listened to this to remember which ones were the ones taken from there.

So, ok, it's a pretty funny joke on an overall level, but the most important question is whether or not the album itself is enjoyable to listen to. The answer is ... sorta yes. The most important matter along these lines is the fact that the band members (ok, maybe just Frank, I don't actually know how the other people in the group felt about this joke) didn't actually try to create an "enjoyable" (in the proper sense of the word) listening experience with this album (which he refers to, in the liner notes no less, as "an album of greasy love songs and cretin simplicity"). While it is true that Frank grew up largely loving doo-wop, he also loved it despite a perfect awareness of the limitations and ridiculousnesses of the genre, and he sure doesn't try to write around those traits here. Hence, some of the tracks just can't help but be completely unlistenable even after the nature of the joke has been taken into consideration, at least not if you've been weaned primarily on post-50's music.

On the other hand, though, some of the cariactures within these songs are really truly funny, and they help boost this album's rating a long way. Am I the only person who finds the concept of a 50's pop song about "cheap thrills in the back of my car" hilarious? Or who nearly falls over laughing at the sound of Frank's low-pitched backing vocals in "Later That Night?" Or who can barely contain himself when hearing some of the ridiculous spoken monologues on here? The point is, there are a lot of little points within these songs that manage to give the album much more replay value than it theoretically should have. Heck, the closing number goes out with a completely incongruous (and great) Zappa guitar solo, and that's not something you'll find on most 50's tribute albums.

Still, this is an album where you need the full context of Zappa's early career to properly appreciate it. This isn't a bad album by any means, but when you're building a Mothers of Invention collection, this should definitely be your last stop.

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Send comments to tarkus1980 (BETA) | Report this review (#281192) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, May 10, 2010

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
2 stars Fifth (I think) album from frank's Mothers, this album is somewhat poorer than most its predecessors, mainly because it seems obsessed with the 50's early rock and doo-wop music. This was and will be always a staple of Frank's works, but here it's a little over the top, as the title of the album indicates. Of course, Zappa's core of his sardonic and caustic humour is hidden in those Doo-wop songs, but the whole point is that generally the humour (not necessarily filled with finesse) quickly wears off after a few listens! In most of Zappa's works, this isn't that dramatic, because the music is deep in surprises and starts unravelling its secrets and mysteries by the time the humour is irritating, but in "Cruising With?", it simply isn't the case, cos the music lacks the usual depth, and the Doo-wop and 50's feel is simply constant, unrelenting and downright wearisome (if it was soporific, I wouldn't complain this much ;o))))) This doesn't mean that all is bad in this album, because the vocals are extremely well carried out, sometimes complex ala Gentle Giant, but this is not enough for progheads to get interested in it until he/she has gotten to the completionist stage. Best avoided, at least in the early stages of your Zappa-ian investigations.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#291269) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
2 stars I understand that Frank Zappa loved doo-wop music. He certainly had enough doo-wop tracks on his regular albums. But to create an entire album of the music? I'm not sure it was a good idea. And I know Zappa claimed that this was a sincere tribute to the music he loved, but far too often, there seems to be a sneer or snicker behind the vocals. I wonder if The Mothers were editorializing and Frank didn't notice.

Four of the tracks, How Could Be Such A Fool, I'm Not Satisfied, You Didn't Try To Call me, and Any Way The Wind Blows were originally on the first LP of "Freak Out", and all sounded better there. How Could I Be Such A Fool fares the worst, as the original waltz tempo has been rearranged into an awkward 4/4.

There are some cool FZ guitar solos, but the prog rating on this album os absolutely zero.

As he did on the CD pairing "We're Only In It For The Money" and "Lumpy Gravy", Frank, for some reason thought it was a good idea to re-record the drums and bass for the original Ryko CD release (except for Stuff Up The Cracks, who knows why?). Because the album does not have the historical importance that the others did, it's not the abomination that it was on "Money" and "Gravy". So I would give the same rating to either release.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#331376) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review by Tom Ozric
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars No one can accuse Maestro Zappa and The Mothers of Invention of being afraid to try ANYTHING, because Cruising with Ruben and the Jets is an album of 50's Doo-Wop styled pieces, all original compositions by Zappa with the odd credit going to vocalist Ray Collins. Doo-Wop is NOT Prog (duh), but that's not to degrade this release ; I don't think Zappa and his Mothers intended to set the world ablaze with this project, or to 'get their cruddy music on the radio' (as the voice-bubble states on the amusing cover) . It's definately a well done excercise in reverence to a musical style the boys in the band grew up with and genuinely enjoyed. The melodies are infectious, the vocal arrangements are faithful, even a tad humourous, given the heavy emphasis on falsettos and the backing, low register dooby-doo's (courtesy of Frank) and occasional tweaking of pitch, exemplified by the opening cut 'Cheap Thrills'. The 'redundant piano triplets' are so catchy and effective, Roy Estrada's bass has this twangy edge to it - so 50's really. I truly love this work by the band, even if it was retro already in 1968. Top marks go to 'Deseri' (Collins' voice is superb along with the simple but effective melody), although 'Love of my Life', 'How Could I Be Such A Fool', 'I'm Not Satisfied', 'Later That Night' and 'Fountain of Love' are all really, really good too. Album closer, 'Stuff Up The Cracks' features a cool, wah-wah guitar solo from the man, which stands out from all the other guitar parts on the album. Push this one to 3 and a half stars.

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Send comments to Tom Ozric (BETA) | Report this review (#385072) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, January 23, 2011

Review by Anthony H.
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Frank Zappa: Cruising with Ruben & the Jets [1968]

Rating: 4/10

Zappa's early work with the Mothers used many pop music motifs in order to add additional levels of innovation and satire. Cruising with Ruben & the Jets is the only Zappa work in which an entire album consists only of these motifs. This album is not the result of an attempt at commercialism; rather, it is a both an homage and a lampoon of 1950s doo-wop. Pretty much everything that makes Zappa's music interesting is mostly absent here. The vocals tend to be rather irritating and overdone, and the songs are (intentionally) uninteresting and banal.

The opener "Cheap Thrills" is probably my favorite track here along with "Stuff Up the Cracks." While nothing mind-blowing, it's a catchy song with an infectious piano hook. "Love of My Life" is a school-dance doo-wop song that introduces the rather irritating vocals. "How Could I Be Such a Fool?" actually has some interesting bass hooks, and is another one of the slightly more interesting songs here. "Deseri" is another 1950s love song. "I'm Not Satisifed" is much less interesting reworking of the song from Freak Out! "Jelly Roll Gum Drop" probably contains the funniest lyrics here. "Anything" is a slow love ballad with a smooth-jazz sax solo. "Later That Night" continues in the same uniform style. "You Didn't Try To Call Me" is another redoing of a Freak Out! track. "Fountain of Love" is another funny one, but the music remains uninteresting. "No. No. No." has some more decent bass hooks. "Any Way the Wind Blows", one of the best straightforward songs from Freak Out!, is significantly slowed down on this reworking. "Stuff Up the Cracks" concludes the album. Hilariously twisted lyrics are juxtaposed with the happy music, and there's a decent guitar solo at the end.

While this is one of my least favorite Zappa albums, there really aren't very many objective criticisms that can be made about it. Zappa achieved exactly what he wanted here: an album of rather bland doo-wop music meant to pay tribute to the music of his teenhood. There's no intriguing composition, absurdist humor, biting satire, avant-garde craziness, or multifaceted jazz-fusion. But there isn't supposed to be. This album is well-conceived and succeeds in every way it's supposed to. While this is a funny album, the concept doesn't hold my interest, and I find myself revisiting this album only sparingly. While Cruising with Ruben & the Jets is a testament to just how diversely multitalented Uncle Frank was, it should be near the bottom of the list for somebody wanting to delve into the Zappa catalogue.

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Send comments to Anthony H. (BETA) | Report this review (#427681) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, April 04, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars The followup to We're Only In It For the Money is likely to only be of interest to those who particularly like doo-wop music in general, or at least are sufficiently fond of the Mothers' occasional experiments with it (as seen on a few songs on Freak Out!, Uncle Meat and Burnt Weeny Sandwich) to want a whole album in the same vein.

The joke surrounding the album (which might or might not have a grain of truth to it) was that the Mothers, sick of their lack of commercial success, were having a stab at doing something radio friendly. Whilst Zappa's experimental edge is still present - there's a few very subtle Stravinsky references here and there in the music - by and large they attempt to play it straight. But there are cracks in the facade here and there; a cynical sneer occasionally creeps into the vocals, and the lyrics to I'm Not Satisfied could be about a band's irritation at the fickle record- buying public rather than being addressed from a boy to a girl.

To be honest, I'm not sure this particular experiment works. The thing about this sort of cheesy doo-wop music is that it requires a certain sincerity to work; if the performers really believe in the song and get into it, it can be extremely emotionally powerful (as the Mothers had successfully demonstrated on other occasions, such as the unexpectedly beautiful cover of Valerie on Burnt Weeny Sandwich). But if you don't have that sincerity behind the music it just ends up as soulless pop. I'm not sorry to have Cruising with Ruben and the Jets around to listen to now and again but I'd never get into it to the extent I would any of the other Zappa albums and I think its deliberate shallowness and lack of sincerity hampers it from really being the effective doo-wop tribute it wants to be. Still, I have to admit that Cheap Thrills is one hell of a catchy tune. Two stars.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#448343) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, May 16, 2011

Latest members reviews

2 stars With this album not really being a prog album, (more a doo woop 'parody' album) im not gonna go that much into detail here, i have to admit i really didnt like this one, all in all i have given it 3 listens in about 4-5 months and i still dont really get the humour, now as some people know im a fa ... (read more)

Report this review (#289166) | Posted by FarBeyondProg | Sunday, July 04, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This is Frank's homage to the doo-wop groups he so much loved in the 50's and listen to with his friend Captain Beefheart. He wanted to make a record like Stravinsky did with his new classic compositons. The similar arrangment, thea same feeling, but weird chord progressions. It is not a joke, i ... (read more)

Report this review (#244138) | Posted by Megaphone of Destiny | Sunday, October 11, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This one of the essential albums to understand who was Frank Zappa When I bought it in the late sixties I didn't understand it.....It was Uncle meat vs that thing and most of us just went passing by this one ....but listen to the original version now :the first ever recorded drum loops are here , ... (read more)

Report this review (#176529) | Posted by disnet | Friday, July 11, 2008 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Just for fun I guess, musically I can hardly take this album seriously, and I don't think that it was intended to be taken seriously. The music is based on 50's and 60's Doo-wop or however they call it. and somehow all the songs sound so familliar, but he treated them with a Zappaesque brush to ... (read more)

Report this review (#163662) | Posted by tuxon | Monday, March 10, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is actually a more "progressive" record than it seems at first -- listen closely and you'll hear melodies from Stravinsky buried in these songs! But basically it's a tribute / parody of the greasy doo-wop that Zappa loved as a teen (singer Ray Collins had also been active in the doo-wop ... (read more)

Report this review (#50608) | Posted by | Friday, October 07, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars First off, this is not a progressive rock album. This is a Doo-Wop/Comedy album. I'd have to say this is for fans of Frank mostly, those who know Zappa's early Doo-Wop infatuation as a teenager. This is pretty much Doo-Wop through Frank's eyes, in a silly manner. The songs here mix the silliness ... (read more)

Report this review (#38704) | Posted by | Wednesday, July 06, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Zappa grew up with Doo Wop. He loves the greasiness of Doo Wop but also loves the repetitive and greasy piano triplets and embarassing lyrics, but likes the melody. This is indeed a concept album, and the concept here is to make fun of Doo Wop. The most interesting part of this album is that ... (read more)

Report this review (#35684) | Posted by Retrovertigo | Wednesday, June 08, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album is unique in the large Zappa output. It is also a masterpiece, and one of the great sets in all of rock music. Zappa, back in the early 70's, told me himself that he was not attempting satire here, but there is an undeniable current of humor underlying all the songs. Superficial ... (read more)

Report this review (#29665) | Posted by | Thursday, March 17, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Evergreen. I grew up with this. I love this. The music is a rare slow kind of and in completely perfect composition. The texts are fluid and funny. Lots of "ah haa ah haa" and "do-whap" in the low and high pitched Zappa voice. Better still are the songs when listened to in a different versio ... (read more)

Report this review (#29664) | Posted by | Sunday, February 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Not only the sleeve is satiric, the music is on the same focus. All the songs are a "joke" using the kind of romantic style of american music of that time, but with typical Mothers vocals. Interesting, but the kind of record you would hardly listen from start to end more than twice a year, or ... (read more)

Report this review (#29661) | Posted by | Tuesday, May 18, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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