We’re Only in It for the Money | The Mothers of Invention | 1968 | Verve | #359
This is obviously an intentionally bizarre concept album that’s full of parodies and jibes at just about anything related to the the hippy, flower power culture of the late 60s. Frank Zappa apparently isn’t happy with the state of things and so he’s created this musique concrète, psychadelic, art-music album to make his counter-cultural points. On the personnel notes for this album Frank’s credits are listed as “guitar, piano, lead vocals, weirdness & editing”, while Jimmy Carl Black’s are “Indian of the group, drums, trumpet, vocals”. Whimsical and unconventional is the tone throughout.
It’s a really difficult album to get into. Firstly, musically it’s all over the place with it’s random speeding-up of tracks and abrupt interruptions to deliver exerts from telephone calls or comical spoken word pieces. Secondly, it just doesn’t mean a lot to someone born in the 80s listening to the album for the first time in 2016. The subtleties of the mocking, satirical lyrics go over my head and I feel they can only be understood (by me at least) from researching each reference or otherwise having a more complete knowledge of 60s culture. As a result I feel that I’m unable to fully enjoy the album because of my failing to appreciate the context, which is a shame.
Otherwise I thought that its complexity and how much creative effort must have gone into editing were quite impressive. I did find it and funny and witty in places, but they were limited to the moments where I understood what was going on, which were too few.