Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention – We’re Only in it for the Money

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Just as the last artist was a call back to season 1, so we find ourselves in a similar situation today.  I can’t promise you exactly what’s on today’s album, but I can say with some assurance it will be different than season 1’s “Weasels Ripped my Flesh”.  I can tell you before you groan that this was NOT my selection. Produced in 1968 the album takes a run at…among other things the immortal Beatles’ Sgt Pepper, that was released just the year before.   Yes ladies and gents….it’s Zappa time in RC.

Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention – We’re Only in it for the Money

Listen to it here:  http://grooveshark.com/#!/playlist/Frank+Zappa+Only+In+It+For+The+Money/74749073

Read about the album here:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We%27re_Only_in_It_for_the_Money
Fun Facts:  While filming Uncle Meat, Frank Zappa recorded in New York City for a project called No Commercial Potential, which ended up producing four albums: We’re Only in It for the Money, a revised version of Zappa’s solo album Lumpy Gravy, Cruising with Ruben & the Jets and Uncle Meat, which served as the soundtrack to the film of the same name, which was not completed until 1987.[1]

Zappa stated, “It’s all one album. All the material in the albums is organically related and if I had all the master tapes and I could take a razor blade and cut them apart and put it together again in a different order it still would make one piece of music you can listen to. Then I could take that razor blade and cut it apart and reassemble it a different way, and it still would make sense. I could do this twenty ways. The material is definitely related.”[1]

As the recording sessions continued, The Beatles released their acclaimed album Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. In response to the album’s release, Zappa decided to change the album’s concept to parody the Beatles album, because he felt that the Beatles were insincere and “only in it for the money”.[2] The Beatles were targeted as a symbol of Zappa’s objections to the corporatization of youth culture, and the album served as a criticism of them and psychedelic rock as a whole.

Marissa

Frank Zappa-We’re only in It for the Money

Preconceived Notions: I just said “ugh” out loud.  He’s not bad, he’s just not my cup of tea and I doubt that listening to ANOTHER album is going to radically change my mind.  I get it, Frank, you’re an artist.  AAAANNNNDDD, it’s 19 tracks long, let’s just get this done and over with.

As Listening:  I like that in “Concentration Moon” the section that begins “American Way ….don’t cry gotta go bye bye” sounds like a part of a 70s musical.

Actually, a lot of this sounds like an off-Broadway 70s musical.
My eyes have started to glaze over by “Flower Punk”.  I swear the high-pitched voices at the end doing the chanting is either Kevin Pollack using his Brownie voice from Willow or that little guy that Tim Burton likes to have in his movies that he cloned for the Oompa Loompas.

I don’t know what I expected from a song called Nasal Retentive Calliope Music.  The surf drum and guitar and the waves save the end, I guess.

I actually really like the creep-pop (I’m making this a real genre) factor of Let’s Make the Water Turn Black, just on a basic visceral listening level.  The lyrics make me feel significantly less poppy.  Still, I can’t help but like that kind of musical conflict.

The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny-…seriously…

After Listening: I think I like the influences of 60s pop and rock on this album a lot more, and even the topics of the lyrics, but I like the whole feeling of the first album just slightly more.  This feels too disjointed for me, and that last track just really did not do anything for me.  There was a lot of stuff on here that I liked more than I thought I would, but none of it is ever happening for longer than half a track before its interrupted.  The halting changes just completely took me out of it.  And while there were certain songs I’d listen to again, in honesty, “Let’s Make the Water Turn Black” is going on my list of singles for this season, the sum of the parts just isn’t enough for me.  It made me wonder if this is what Jim Morrison’s poetry would sound like if it were used as a medical treatment on an epileptic.

Overall: 2.5

Favorite: Let’s Make the Water Turn Black
Least Favorite: The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny (duh…anything that sounds like a movie that Derek Zoolander would be starring in I’m always hesitant on anyway)

Mike

Preconceived Notions: It’s been a long, long time since I’ve heard this album. I’m not a huge fan of Frank when he’s in his Mothers period – and this album is particularly difficult because as I tried to lay out in the intro – it really is just a piece of 3 other albums.  But also to be fair I don’t really remember the album either, so it’s Zappa and I’ll give it a whirl.

After Listening:  If music that follows specific cultural trends is time period specific the same and even moreso can be said for music that parodies that music.  And there’s a great deal of venom on this thing, Frank really does hate the things he’s railing against from hippies right on up through the corporate structure.   The album has moments of lyrical brilliance “what’s the ugliest part of your body? – I think it’s your mind”… …and I don’t mind most of the skits “Hi boys and girls I’m Jimmy Carl Black and I’m the Indian of the group.”. Lyrically his scathing criticism of the music business, his disgust of the hippy culture as a waste of humanity, and his paranoia that the police were about to crack down on the counter culture – all proved to be almost clairvoyant, in a time where not many were intelligently commenting on any of them. Musically though, it’s a mixed bag….I can forgive Zappa his electronic random noises more than most, and the songs themselves do swing between a variety of styles.  It’s just that b/c everything is so tuned into this overriding vicious parody, there isn’t very much virtuosic music here – and as a Zappa fan that’s disappointing.

Favorite Tracks:  “Who needs the Peace Corps?” – Probably the most playful of Zappa’s demolishment of hippy culture….it’s got a few great lines like  “I will love the police as they kick the sh*t out of me on the street”……” I will stay there with them and get the crabs, but I won’t care”…

Let’s Make the Water Turn Black – A track that musically sort of gives us a glimpse into Zappa’s later period….there are little rhythmic and melodic characteristics of a Hot Rats type of composition.

Least Favorite Track: Flower Punk  I get the “Hey Joe” parody it’s just that after that, Zappa doesn’t seem to have much else going on…by the time we get to the spoken part of the song where it’s a parody of a self absorbed musician, we can see that the message is more important than the music…and that seems to be a theme with too much of this album for me.

Overall 3.35  This is considered one of Zappa’s all-time classic albums, but to me I never really enjoyed it all that much….as I prefer the more musical and experimental Zappa products. Zappa can perhaps be forgiven for his vitriol on this record…heck if I was a non drug user in the late 60’s watching all elements of society follow trendy and damaging lifestyles I might have done more than expressed myself in song angrily.  And the album does have some elements that would later become all time Zappa’isms – “what’s the ugliest part of your body” , “let’s make the water turn black” etc….  It’s just the album as a whole is a mishmash of ideas that is mostly lost some 30 plus years later…equal in his condemnation of all, he’s not equal in his humor and instead of producing a balanced and musically intriguing record….we get something that doesn’t have the focus or musicianship one appreciates in other Zappa works.

Ali

Zappa/The Mothers of Invention – We’re Only in it For the Money

Preconceptions:
I have 4G of Zappa on my iPod. I have listened to none of it. Something about that psychedelic stoner jams preconception has prevented me from even caring about listening to it.

Mood:
Tentative. I’m not looking forward to listening to this album.

After Listening:
Awesome. Nightmares. I just… don’t get Zappa. I’m assuming that is the problem with a lot of people. The majority of it sounds like it’s a political/societal statement, but it’s also a discussion about being stoned and having sex. For forty agonizing moments I was listening to something that probably took a lot of time to produce/perform. Not because the music itself was incredibly complex.
Is this supposed to be a concept album? I was never a hippie kid. Even when I was a fan of the substances in my youth I would have been angry at having to listen to this.

Favorite track/tracks:
Bow Tie Daddy – It sounds like an olde tyme song, and it was short. Frank Zappa is the Vaudevillain.
I would have picked the last song, because it was the LAST SONG, but when it went on for seven minutes I contemplating murdering the person that suggested it.

Least favorite track/tracks:
Are You Hung Up? – A dude whispering into the microphone pretty much screams “I will stab you in your sleep”.
Ugh. You know what? Most of the songs were my least favorite. The only one that I could stomach was a short song and sounded like it wasn’t Zappa. It was, but the fact that it didn’t sound like him was its shining glory. I couldn’t even like the poop song, because it basically sounded like I was being passed through a frog’s digestive track.

Overall (1-5 stars): 0
If I could double goose egg this album, I would. I’m gonna pull a Seth and say “F**K THIS ALBUM”
Oh, and before 40 goes all “if you didn’t listen to the whole album it should be an incomplete”, I DID listen to this whole album. In retrospect, I would rather have murdered my grandmother a thousand times than subjected my ears to this load of “art”. At least I know I can delete the 4G of Zappa I have. F**K ZAPPA.

Chris

Frank Zappa-We’re Only In It For The Money- I like Frank for humor. I dont like him for serious, or for music really. “Dont eat that yellow snow” is better than anything about hating hippies. I’ll give Frankie a 2 and listen to one of his albums next time i do drugs.

admin (196 Posts)

Record Club began in the cold, dank, snowmageddon scene that was New England of January 2011. We’re probably no different than you. We all work in cubicles, some in smaller, less private cubicles than others; that just means we have to be even sneakier about how we listen to our music. But we have to listen to our music, mostly as a way of saving our own personal sanity. Sometimes our opinions lead us to debates that may or may not be published in their entirety on this site, but I can promise you’ll at least get a glimpse of the way our minds work. The main goal is to find new music we like or find old music that we didn’t know we liked. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes it’s a total and complete disaster. After our ears have rejoiced or stopped bleeding we try something else. This is our pattern, every Tuesday and Thursday. Sometimes, when the club isn’t officially in session, just to keep everyone on their toes, we throw in a theme day. We’re beginning to run low on our original list, so please, if you have albums that you’d like us to review or themes that you’d like to see our playlist of, feel free to contribute. After all, we’re all in this together once we punch the time clock. So if you’re busy (or just plain bored) lurking in your cubicle as you read this join in. After all, life wasn’t meant to be lived staring at a computer screen. I guarantee you, it’s at least more fun when you plug the headphones in.


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