We're Only In It For The Money

Frank Zappa / Mothers Of Invention

Rykodisc, 1968

http://www.zappa.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/02/2005

So what exactly were Frank Zappa and the Mothers Of Invention aiming for when they recorded We're Only In It For The Money? Were they trying to answer The Beatles, who had just come out with (to many people) their masterpiece, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band? Was this the knockout punch that the group had been leading to with Freak Out! and Absolutely Free, skewering both common, polite society and the hippie generation with equal amounts of disdain? Was it the greatest level of artistic freedom the band had been able to enjoy up to this point in their career?

No, I don't have the answer. All I know is that many people consider this disc the best that the Mothers Of Invention ever put out, and I'd be hard-pressed to argue with them.

Utilizing all sorts of studio tricks (as well as a snippet or two from Zappa's solo disc Lumpy Gravymy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 ), the Mothers dared to come out of the gate swinging at both sides with "Who Needs The Peace Corps?" and refused to relent for the nearly 40-minute duration of this disc. From there on, the songs hit like an in-his-prime Mike Tyson; tracks like "What's The Ugliest Part Of Your Body?," "The Idiot Bastard Son," "Mom And Dad" and "Mother People" all do something interesting, in that it almost features the Mothers refusing to officially take sides with either the counterculture (decried with the echoed call of "flower power sucks" on "Absolutely Free") or the establishment (pointedly attacked on "Mom And Dad" and "Mother People").

Through it all, one factor must not be overlooked: the Mothers, as a band, were sounding tighter than ever, thanks in no small part to Zappa's demand for excellence. Granted, I believe the group still hadn't peaked - more on that in another review - but the amount of musical growth in just the span of a year was amazing. Also worthy of note is that Zappa is not necessarily the star of this disc; indeed, the whole group is given the chance to take center stage, which adds to the appeal for me. As much as I love hearing Zappa up front, keeping a change of pace really works for this disc.

Perhaps the overlooked gems on this one are "Harry, You're A Beast" (which, admitedly, has been growing on me more and more) and "Let's Make The Water Turn Black," a song which (if you know your Zappa history) is the true story of some of Zappa's acquaintances. And, as much as "Flower Punk" is a take-off of "Hey Joe," you can't help but smile at this one, especially because of the sped-up delivery of the vocals.

If We're Only In It For The Money has one weakness, it would be with the closing track, "The Chrome Plated Megaphone Of Destiny," a six-minute-plus cacophony of sound that, for some reason, feels as if it had been tacked onto the end of the album for no other reason than to have some dischord. Maybe on another album, this would have fit in better, but it just feels out of joint on this one.

Still, We're Only In It For The Money remains one of the true classics from Zappa and the Mothers Of Invention. It may have skewered the times that they lived in, but this disc still sounds fresh today, nearly 40 years after it was recorded.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2005 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Rykodisc, and is used for informational purposes only.