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Frank Zappa - The Mothers Of Invention: We're Only In It For The Money CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



4.11 | 655 ratings

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4 stars 'We're Only In It For the Money' is definitely an interesting album, to say the least. The cover and title is a direct slam to The Beatles and their album 'Sgt. Pepper', who Zappa claimed was all done for the money, not the music. The album, however, is a statement to the condition of society at the time, police violence, the hippy movement (how everyone thought they could be a hippy because it was cool) and the music business. The album is full of music, noise collages and field recordings, sometimes a song is interrupted by whatever FZ wanted to put there. It is one of the most censored albums in rock history. It was also Zappa's way of saying that classical music was being held hostage by the old ladies that tell the concert halls and radio stations what classical music to play. So much to pack in 33 minutes and 19 tracks.

FZ always felt that the Mothers filled the gap between serious music and the mass public who were being denied access to good serious music. This is why his music was never 'normal' in the radio friendly sense. When someone listens to FZ (and especially this album) for the first time, they have certain expectations, that while it is known that FZ's music is complicated, that with his crazy and crass humor, they still expect it to be normal music, not Avant-prog or RIO. When the music doesn't reach that expectation, most people turn away from it. While it is true that there is a lot of humor in this album, it isn't always apparent laugh out loud humor as much as it is sarcasm and satire, with large doses of art rock mixed in. It is a rough album, not clean and polished. It is also pretty much a continuous suite more than it is a bunch of individual tracks. Keeping this in mind, it may make more sense when a person hears it for the first time.

The frustrating thing to Zappa, was that the music and it's purpose was misunderstood. People automatically thought that the Mothers were the ones that were only in it for the money, and they missed that it was all making fun of The Beatles, even though Frank wanted to make it obvious by copying the Sgt. Pepper cover. He was upset that people could not make the connection, that they never even looked at the similarities of the album covers, and that people just thought The Beatles were sent from heaven. He felt that they were plastic and commercial, but he knew that was an unpopular view among the public.

The album starts off with a field recording that Zappa was famous for making without telling anyone and then putting it on a record. The music starts on the 2nd track with 'Who Needs the Peace Corps?' which was meant to make fun of the hippy movement and not necessarily the Peace Corps. Why work for a government run organization built to help young adults make a difference in the world when you can just be lazy, join the Dead Heads and 'be a hippy'? Then comes another musical number (mostly) called 'Concentration Moon' about how San Francisco and it's citizens were being used for a government LSD experiment and also about police brutality and they feared the hippies. 'Mom & Dad' is one of the Mothers most heartfelt lyrical songs about how parents would ignore what was going on in their world with violence until they have to be told that their own child has died. 'Telephone Conversation' is an actual taped phone conversation which is tied into the song 'Bow Tie Daddy'

'Harry You're a Beast' is about the plastic society again, women specifically. This is one of the songs that got censored quite heavily, and there is a part that sounds like it is being played backwards. That is one of the censored sections of the song. 'What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body?' is a satirical take on a Steve Allen song written for children called from an album called 'How to Think'. 'Absolutely Free' starts off with a short routine involving Suzy Creamcheese (one of the Mother's recurring characters) and is another one of the songs that didn't get completely past the censors. 'Flower Punk' is a parody on the song 'Hey Joe' made popular by Jimi Hendrix, but the version they were basing it on was the version recorded by 'The Leaves'. It makes fun of the flower child movement. It turns into a sound collage during the last half with FZ saying different things through each speaker at a high speed, along with other people talking. 'Hot Poop' continues this collage with another backwards section that was censored. 'Nasal Retentive Calliope Music' continues with the sound collage, but this time with processed sounds and noises. The gizmo they used to make this collage was called an 'Apostolic Blurch Injector' (named by Zappa) that would take any source material put into it and mash it up into things that pretty much could not be understood. Some of the things put into this gizmo were police busts, censored sections, interviews with dope pushers trying to get FZ to use drugs and so on. Yes it's hard to listen to, but it's Zappa's way of experimenting.

This is followed by a song that was the creation of a theme that would be used by Zappa's band a lot and would become a very popular theme for Zappa fans. 'Let's Make the Water Turn Black' is that song, and this time you get the lyrics, which is based on actual events from Zappa's childhood, specifically certain disgusting habits by certain children he didn't care for much. I won't go into detail, but it's funny in a sick way. Quite a catchy melody though and one that's easy to recognize when Zappa's bands would be playing long improvisations. 'The Idiot Bastard's Son' is a continuation of this song and again, it didn't make it past the censors, so once again, we get it backwards. 'Lonely Little Girl' comes next followed by another familiar Zappa theme 'Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance' which was probably a parody possibly based on an old song. After that there is a reprise for 'What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body?' followed by 'Mother People', which would later become a sort of theme for The Mothers. Again, more censored nonsense here. 'The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny' wraps up the album with a 6+ minute sound collage featuring that strange gizmo again.

So, yes this album really has no commercial appeal whatsoever, so go into it knowing that, and you won't be disappointed by your preconceived notions of what Frank would call Teen Age Music. This is Avant-prog music, and like I said previously, it is rough. Zappa's music would become more polished as time went on, of course. But this was the style of music he was making at the time.

There is a lot going on in this album, and the things I have pointed out in this review only brushes the surface. You literally need some kind of listener's guide to read while listening to this, it would be impossible to cover it all in this review. However, it is an important album, made before Prog music was a thing, but it would help open doors to musical exploration and was also an important movement against commercialism of music. Personally, I don't like it as much as 'Freak Out!', but I do understand it's importance and hopefully this will help shed some light on the album. And there are plenty of internet sites that explore this album quite thoroughly, and I suggest finding one that will help you listen to this crazy album. Things will make a lot more sense, believe me.

TCat | 4/5 |


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