Sunday, March 4, 2018

50 years ago: The Mothers of Invention released We’re Only in It for the Money

First posted 3/16/2012; updated 12/20/2019.

We’re Only in It for the Money

The Mothers of the Invention

Released: March 4, 1968

Peak: #30 US, #32 UK

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US and UK)

Genre: experimental rock

Quotable: “A milestone of studio mischief and a merciless satire of anything that pissed Zappa off during flower power’s heyday.” – Rolling Stone

Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  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
  12. Nasal Retentive Calliope Music
  13. Let’s Make the Water Turn Black
  14. The Idiot Bastard Son
  15. Lonely Little Girl
  16. Take You Clothes Off When You Dance
  17. What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body? (Reprise)
  18. Mother People
  19. The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny


We’re Only in It for the Money is “a milestone of studio mischief and a merciless satire of anything that pissed Zappa off during flower power’s heyday.” RS It “views the summer of love through the cynical eyes of surrealist rocker Frank Zappa,” RV who’d “cultivated a role as voice of the freaks – imaginative outsiders who didn’t fit comfortably into any group.” AMG With The Mothers of Invention he serves up “a satirical masterpiece” AMG on Money which offered “a unique political stance, both anti-conservative and anti-counterculture” NRR as it “simultaneously skewered the hippies and the straights as prisoners of the same narrow-minded, superficial phoniness.” AMG

This was “the most deeply wounding of Zappa’s satirical thrusts, right down to the cover art (with its barbed parody of the Sgt. Pepper sleeve.” WR He “deals with harsh subject matter in a seemingly glib and light-hearted fashion (eventually a Zappa trademark), sparing no targets.” AZ The “barbs were vicious and perceptive, and not just humorously so: his seemingly paranoid vision of authoritarian violence against the counterculture was borne out two years later by the Kent State killings.” AMG In essence, Zappa and The Mothers of Invention “answer the sentiments of the suits, the suburb dwellers, and flower children of the ‘60s with a big fat raspberry.” AZ

“There’s a pervasively surreal, whimsical flavor to the music, sort of like Sgt. Pepper as a creepy nightmare.” AMG Zappa uses the same “radical audio editing and production techniques” NRR “he did on Lumpy Gravy, creating a jarring collage” AZ “that still sounds avant-garde today.” AZ Zappa mixes “catchy melodies and high-pitched vocals” AZ with “virtuoso instrumental performances, verbal asides and sound effects that somehow combine into a cohesive work.” NRR “Some of the instruments and most of the vocals have been manipulated to produce odd textures and cartoonish voices; most songs are abbreviated, segue into others through edited snippets of music and dialogue, or are broken into fragments by more snippets, consistently interrupting the album’s continuity.” AMG

Like Freak Out, Money essentially devotes its first half to “wickedly funny” AMG satire “which gives the album worth; the affectionate parodies of fledgling ‘50s pop styles, and the curiosity of displacement, throwing Varese-style peculiars and other avantist classical asides into what was supposedly only a rock album.” WR “The second half shows where his sympathies lie.” AMG as Zappa presents “character sketches of…[his] real-life freak acquaintances, a carefree utopia in Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance, and the strident, unironic protest Mother People.” AMG

Other “highlights from this flawless album…include the hippie bashing Who Needs the Peace Corps, the bedroom science of Let’s Make the Water Turn Black…and the perfect payoff of What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body?AZ The latter “attacks both the hippie generation and its parents as Zappa proclaims, ‘All your children are poor unfortunate victims of lies you believe.’” RV

We're Only in It for the Money “may be Zappa’s most definitive musical statement” NRR and is “quite simply one of the best rock albums of all time.” AZ

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