Released: September 1968
- Are You Hung Up?
- Who Needs The Peace Corps?
- Concentration Moon
- Mom & Dad
- Telephone Conversation
- Bow Tie Daddy
- Harry You’re A Beast
- What’s the Ugliest Part Of Your Body?
- Absolutely Free
- Flower Punk
- Hot Poop
- Nasal Retentive Calliope Music
- Let’s Make The Water Turn Black
- The Idiot Bastard Son
- Lonely Little Girl
- Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance
- What’s The Ugliest Part Of Your Body? (reprise)
- Mother People
- The Chrome Plated Megaphone Of Destiny
Frank Zappa, Billy Mundi, Bunk Gardner, Roy Estrada, Don Preston, Jimmy Carl Black, Ian Underwood, Jim Sherwood, Suzy Creamcheese
16 thoughts on “We’re Only In It For The Money”
The conceptual twin of “Lumpy Gravy” with several instrumental themes in common, and in the collage like editing of the album, this recording satirized the hippies and the straight society’s over-reaction to the percieved threat of the counterculture, as well as its death by commericalization. This is probably FZ’s best social satire/ commentary ever.
Even those who can’t stand Frank Zappa and have absolutely no tolerance for the man’s stuff usually have to tip their hat to this album.
“We’re Only In It For the Money” is beyond brilliant and impressive. Many have called it Frank’s masterpiece, and I can’t argue with them. The whole use of the snippets of “musique concrete” and all that is stunning and refreshing years later.
The songs are much more compact, snappy and poppish when compared to “Absolutely Free”. In fact, they harken back to “Freak Out” in that respect.
The pointed satire of this album is really the whole counterculture of the 1960’s from both sides of the fence. Frank starts out the album lambasting hippies, while simultaneously roasting their parents (and the whole older culture) for completely ignoring the needs of the youth. The little 7/8 section in “What’s The Ugliest Part of Your Body” that begins with the lyric “All Your Children Are Poor, Unfortunate Victims…” may just about be the most poignant, touching and beautiful passage of Zappa social criticism ever recorded, although he came pretty close to that same touching moment in 1988 when he sings that beautiful passage at the end of “Jesus Thinks Your a Jerk” about “…Maybe I Have Failed Somehow…”
Zappa was on a roll. This album sounds as fresh today as the day he created it. With the impressive musicianship of Ian Underwood beginning to take hold (he plays some of those beautiful piano flourishes that crop up on the album), Zappa was able to widen his scope and palatte.
When once asked during the 1960’s what he would think if the counterculture’s trappings would suddenly disappear (psychedelic drugs, light shows, etc…), Frank answered:
“I hope it does disappear. I hope it all disappears tomorrow.”
Listen to “We’re Only In It For the Money” if you want to know exactly why.
this is beyond music.A agressivley edited ‘FUCK YOU” to the counterculture and the establishment. “Mom and dad” is wonderfully sad,the guitar in a almost weeping tone while the analogy drums hang there heads in shame,Zappa’s singing beatifully restrained.I know this all sounds long-winded,But this album means a lot to me.
This was the first FZ album I ever listened to and everything about it just blew me away. This album definitely ranks among his best of all time. Though my previous image of Zappa as a 60s icon has vanished, this is still one of my favorites and always the first I recommend to people who want to get into Zappa mainly because everything falls into place so well on this record. There is so much to listen to on this album.From the singing, to the perfectly arranged music, to the impeccable sound collages, it all sames tasteful and accessible. Though some people often complain about the musicianship of the Mothers of Invention, everyone has to admit that on this album, their playing fits in perfectly. We don’t find the band trying to keep up with FZ like on the later albums like Uncle Meat and Weasels Ripped My Flesh, but their playing is never boring and always tightly in the pocket like how a great R&B band should be. Zappa’s satire is also very cutting and intelligent and important being that Zappa was the only person protesting the hippies who thought they weren’t part of the “plastic people” or the “vegetables” in Absolutely Free. If you dig Zappa as a brilliant satirist, pick this up before Freak Out and Absolutely Free. If you are looking for more of Zappa’s brilliance as a composer with the MOI, this is still good, but you might be more satisfied with Uncle Meat. Uncle Meat and We’re Only In It are my favorite albums of all time and both have changed the way I see the world, hear the music, and smell the hot poop.
Truly the best album released in ’68, nosing out LG with its musique concrete and UNCLE MEAT with its instrumentations. I have both the ’68 Verve rematser (1995, Rykodisc) and the Remix on CD. Comparing the two is impossible. The original is a perfect biting satire, the remix is a mish-mash of drums and bass, sped up and no longer as biting, due to wacky sounding tracks (like ‘Let’s Make The Water Turn Black’). Overall, a great album censored or not.
The album: is a masterpiece – as concept, structure, music, lyrics, artwork – a masterpiece.
I have recently got the rmx-ed version ((some songs of which I have heard for the first time featured in some ‘Duckman’ episodes)): I really cannot understand why Zappa felt the necessity of doin’ such a bad operation… Drums overdubs, in particular, are completely out of context and, even if they give a good grotesque touch, they are completely out of the original parodistic aim of the album, I think. Same considerations for ‘Cruising’. I love that freaky-dirty-sick sounds! I can understand operation like resuming lost albums or original-lost-remixes, but not doin’ this! Zappa himself said: TIMBRE RULES. And he was right: TIMBRE RULES! So, thanx to god the Ryko cd gives us back original vinyl sound.
I’m still not fully convinced about the “censoring” aspects on this. I suspect FZ did it all himself. The edits are too good to be done by just the record company. Maybe I’m wrong. Anyway a good album. Maybe one of the best things that happened in music history.
I know what you mean Michael, the melody stays intact even though its backwards, kind of odd.
I have just revisited this.
Why has only Money this heavy “censoring” and no other album of Frank’s? The more I think and read about it the more I come to the conclusion: it was all intended by Frank and part of the concept of Money (I mean, understand the title of this album ;-))
Frank knew his marketing techniques. He was good at that. He created the Mothers image of the sixities himself.
BUY THIS ALBUM! Highly recommended
I, too am revisiting this particular album’s reviews, because I am fascinated with what two previous reviewers (Pabst and meta…) began a discussion about.
I don’t know if I agree or not, but I think their VERY intelligent and perceptive hypothesis is well founded: let’s face it, fans, FRANK ZAPPA has lied to people from time to time about stuff (i.e. the whole bunk about the original “Money” tapes were “unplayable” and “had” to be remixed, blah, blah, blah). Frank could (from time to time) enjoy the power game of putting out some kind of B.S. cover-story in control of HIS WORLD just because he could.
Please don’t misunderstand me, Frank fans: this doesn’t AT ALL diminish the UNBELIEVABLE CONTRIBUTION TO ART AND OUR WORLD that Frank Zappa created and shared, it’s just, well, that Frank could bullshit from time to time. Look at it this way: Claude Debussy used to beat his wife, but the world still loves him for writing “Claire de Lune”…
So I think it is absolutely plausible that Frank DID drum up the whole “I’ve been censored” stuff about “Money” to draw more attention to the work and his early career.
In a way, isn’t Gail and the FZT still perpertrating the same ol’ B.S. by expending so much time, money and energy trying desperately to CONTROL just HOW Frank is appreciated and ALLOWED to exist in the world even after his death (heh, heh heh, with all the recent SHUT DOWNS from the FZT, I just couldn’t resist tagging this one on…)
As far as I’m concerned, Gail is a bitter woman who now sits on a Frank Zappa Fan’s GOLDMINE, and likes the power since her late husband slept with groupies and she never could stop him……BITTER, I tell you, BITTER……but I digress……
I still prefer the original vinyl recordings of the early Mothers albums than the re-edited versions Frank did later. I suggest anyone who actually buys an original Mother’s album via Ryko, also track down an original vinyl version to compare it with. You’ll be very pleasantly surprised at the differences between the versions.
Possibly my favorite FZ work for its overall continuity and creativity. I have a special place in my heart for a good concept album, and ‘Money’ has just so much to offer musically, lyrically, on a per song basis and as an entire piece that no matter how often I listen to it, I never cease to be entertained and amazed. Going further, when one considers this is but one small and often overlooked item in the mighty FZ catalog, the sheer breadth of his creativity is illuminated. Good stuff, everyone should own this album.
Frank’s first bona fide masterpiece. My first reaction to it was, somehow my brain did a double-take. There is just enough beautiful melodies for you to want to sing along; and these are generally combined with some of the most delightfully vicious lyrics that are totally infectious, eg: “All your children are poor unfortunate victims of lies you believe/a plague upon your ignorance that keeps the young from the truth they deserve” – where else can you find lyrics like that?!
There is also liberal use of unusual time signatures, which combined with the above mentioned elements, make the whole thing even more alluring somehow.
Taken as a whole, the album constantly challenges you to figure out whether it is beautiful or ugly – it features both of these elements strongly. On this point it really reminds me of early 20th century modern art, where you can see something that is beautiful and challenging at the same time.
And everything whizzes by so fast that as soon as you have listened to the whole thing, you just want to start again.
I can’t bring myself to single out certain tracks, as they are pretty much all wonderful.
The Ryko CD release is really the one you want if you want to hear the album in its originally released context, as it is much rougher around the edges in both musical performance, editing and mixing than Frank’s later 1984 Remix released on Zappa Records (and now available as part of Lumpy Money). The snorks on the original sound genuinely rude, whereas they seem much more polite on the later version!
This is a totally essential work. Buy it now.
Amazing record! This is real alternative rock! This is the grandaddy of punk!
The band seems the most focused here than on any other Mother’s release. The whole album has a flow and tightness that is just so strong and powerful. It might sound weird to say, but I feel the same way listening to Nirvana’s In Utero. Both have strong statements and a strong sense of urgency in making their statements, both seem to play with the listener, not giving them what they expect, and both have a tightness and completeness to them coupled with wry sneer and satirical wit.
However, Zappa and the Mothers did it first. The cover kicks ass and is very punk if I may say so myself. It should be noted that Nirvana 20 years later would pick up the the Mother’s awesomeness of performing and publicizing themselves in drag.
On the topic of censorship I found this:
“Q. What’s all that backwards stuff on the end of that album? Why is it there?
A. It was in the original. Well, some of it was put in because we were forced to. One of the lines was, “Shut your fuckin’ mouth about the length of my hair” (from the song “Mother People”), which MGM made us turn around. Other things were just done for audio effect.”
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