March 4 – The Mothers of Invention

The Mothers of Invention – We’re Only in It for the Money

With Frank Zappa, I’m entering territory where no matter what I say there’s always somebody who could claim I completely miss the point.  Satire, musical experimentation, comedy, it’s all here.  And I think it’s wonderful.  Perhaps this opinion is an indication that I never would’ve been more than a wannabe hippie poser had I been alive and on the scene in 1968.

the-mothers-of-invention-1968.jpg
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, 1968.

Or maybe not.  And this is where a hard-core Zappa snob might say the joke’s on me when I ask the following:  While this album is a dagger to heart of the Counter Culture (as well as the political right), was Zappa really above and beyond it all?  Yes, he was most likely a musical genius, and no, he did not partake in drugs and alcohol like his contemporaries.  However, did he not live in Laurel Canyon with many of those artists whose genre and lifestyles he’s making fun of here?  Isn’t that Eric Clapton contributing a spoken word bit on the first track?  Is his friend Jimi Hendrix not on this album cover?  Can he not been found collaborating with the Monkees for jeebus’ sake?  Whatever.

We’re Only in It for the Money was released fifty years ago today, and it’s a hilarious parody on the Beatles and practically everything else going on at the time on both ends of the societal spectrum.  And, for what it’s worth, one of my favorite albums of all time by anybody is a Zappa album that will see its big 50th in 2019.  As critic Robert Christgau wrote, “Cheap sarcasm is forever.”  But when I’ve finished listening to this for the second time today I’ll probably pop Rubber Soul into the changer.

Tracklist:

Side One:

  1. Are You Hung Up?
  2. Who Needs the Peace Corps
  3. Concentration Moon
  4. Mom & Dad
  5. Telephone Conversation
  6. Bow Tie Daddy
  7. Harry, You’re a Beast
  8. What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body?
  9. Absolutely Free
  10. Flower Punk
  11. Hot Poop

Side Two:

  1. Nasal Retentive Calliope Music
  2. Let’s Make the Water Turn Black
  3. The Idiot Bastard Son
  4. Lonely Little Girl
  5. Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance
  6. What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body? (Reprise)
  7. Mother People
  8. The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We%27re_Only_in_It_for_the_Money

-Stephen

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