Cruising With Ruben & The Jets

Released: November 1968


  1. Cheap Thrills
  2. Love Of My Life
  3. How Could I Be Such A Fool
  4. Deseri
  5. I’m Not Satisfied
  6. Jerry Roll Gum Drop
  7. Anything
  8. Later That Night
  9. You Didn’t Try To Call Me
  10. Fountain Of Love
  11. “No. No. No.”
  12. Anyway The Wind Blows
  13. Stuff Up The Cracks

Frank Zappa (low grumbles, oo-wah and lead guitar), Ray Collins (lead vocals), Roy Estrada (high weazlings, dwaedy-doop & electric bass), Jimmy Carl Black and/or Arthur Dyer Tripp III (lewd pulsating rhythm), Ian Underwood or Don Preston (redundant piano triplets), Motorhead Sherwood (baritone sax & tambourine), Bunk Gardner & Ian Underwood (tenor & alto sax) + Jay Anderson (1984 mix new string bass tracks), Arthur Barrow (1984 mix new bass tracks), Chad Wackerman (1984 mix new drum tracks)

14 thoughts on “Cruising With Ruben & The Jets”

  1. FZ’s do-wop tribute album of greasy teenage love songs of cretin simplicity. I prefer the original vinyl mix to the overdubbed and remixed cd.

  2. Yes, like the dreadful original Zappa records CD mix of WOIIFTM, poor old CWRATJ has suffered the indecencies of new drum and basss tracks. Not my fave album so I just flip on the original Verve LP, but the current Ryko CD release needs to be restored like they did with WOIIFTM.
    Buy the original vinyl!

  3. I too hate the version featuring new drums and bass. It lost all it’s charm and integrity. Frank bowed to pressure to undo the same damage done to the “Money” album but for some reason wouldn’t do so with this one. Maybe that was because some of the original Mothers consider this one of their favorites…who knows? Frank really dissappointed me with this butchered new version. Maybe it made him happy which is his right but I hated it…and that’s my right. Collect the original version if you can ever find it anywhere.

  4. OK, “Cruisin’ With Ruben and the Jets”. I am trying to get some words in on some of the Zappa albums I haven’t already reviewed on this website. I honestly first heard “Cruisin’ With Ruben and the Jets” on a 1/4″ reel to reel tape recorded off of the original album in my old college music department library. I also fell in love with the original Mothers Of Invention mix, which sounded much more authentic, dingy and appropriate. Like so many others, I never understood Zappa’s re-recording of the bass and drum tracks for this and WOITFTM, because he definitely had the means to remix or remaster the original mixes. This album was made with a lot of love, but I would have loved it more if Frank had written more new songs as opposed to re-arranging so many “Freak Out” tracks to fit the doo-wop style. When I first heard “Ruben…” I was a little put off by the consistently obnoxiously shrill falsettos and metallic “in your face” vocal style of the Mothers almost howling with their background vocal parts. Then, I caught up with listening to genuine recordings of original Doo-Wop R&B groups of the ’50’s like Frank grew up on. After that, I realized that Frank’s approach to these songs were ABSOLUTELY SPOT-ON, and he arranged them so perfectly, it was astounding. Frank obviously loved this style of music so dearly, and his little quip in the gatefold liner sleeve about “…if there’s anything left to still sit on.” still touches my heart deeply and emotionally. SOMEONE please lovingly remix and or remaster the original tracks for this beautiful gem. At least Arthur Barrow played upright bass for the remix on this as opposed to the electric he played on for “Money”. That’s no consolation, though. It’s probably too easy to not appreciate “Cruisin’ With Ruben and the Jets”, and that is a shame.

  5. I found it ironic that Wendy Carlos blasted Frank for redoing WOIIFTM and Jets with the new stuff. Listen to Carlos’ Switched On Bach. I bet you cant even recognize it from the original. She trashed it!

  6. Totally agree with those expressing dissapointment with CD version. Can’t stand to listen to it. Always play the LP.
    This is one of the great records in all of rock. It’s subtle, and not everyone can appreciate the many layers built into it. Zappa told me that he was not attempting satire, but it does seem to have an element of it.
    Incidently, for what it’s worth, Zappa also mentioned that he didn’t like Bach. One genius blind to another.

  7. Cruising With Ruben & The Jets? Oh nooooo!!! Why, Frank? Why? This is the only bad album by Zappa! only Stuff Up The Cracks and Cheap Thrills are decent. The other songs are bad, a 4/10. Fortunatley the next album (Uncle Meat) is a masterpiece!!

  8. How could I be such a fool???? I like this album. I listened to it carefully, and I think it’s not as bad as was I thought… I think that that cool guitar solos on “You Didn’t Try To Call Me”, those very cheesy (and amazing vocals) on “Jelly Roll Gum Drop” and “Deseri” deserve your attenction! A 8/10

    (Best song: Stuff Up The Cracks)

  9. “Cruising with Ruben and the Jets” is one of the greatest records of all time. FZ unfortunately desecrated it with his remix before he died and denied the world his true masterpiece. Ray Collins’ vocal work is superb, and Zappa, while typically satirical, pays fine tribute to his doo wop roots. Listen to “I’m Not Satisfied” and I guarantee you will encounter the human condition in all its mottled glory. Then listen to “Anything” with its sweet sax solo, and see if you’re not moved to what tears you have left.

  10. Unfortunately, according to FZ’s notes in the “Old Masters” box one set, the original master tapes were damaged, and he was “forced” to add bass & drum overdubs. My objection to this is that the sound of the drums & bass is so dissimilar to the sound of the drums & bass on the original that it no longer has that “authentic” 1950’s doo wop sound. I think someone in the world must have a pristine copy of the vinyl who could let the ZFT use it to make a more authentic RUBEN CD. I’ll buy one!

    And I agree that “Stuff Up The Cracks” is really fantastic. I’m pretty sure the guitar solo at the end is the first released FZ guitar solo that really hinted at how great a guitarist he really was!

  11. A very underrated album, possibly because it was out of sync with the current psychedelic sounds of the period. Ironically, it sounds more contemporary now then when it was first released.

    Much has been made of FZ’s remix, but since I have never heard it, the music sounds fine to me.

    “Stuff Up The Cracks” is classic FZ, and as for “Anything” it is so beautiful, I am amazed it has not been covered by anybody else.

    Then again, who could do justice to the song ?

  12. I have to say I don’t understand the hype about this album. I happen to like it, and I think there are a number of positive things to say about both versions – the original and the remix (believe it or not).

    I think this album is a classic case of Frank’s marketing skills making something legendary out of what is essentially a minor work. When this album came out in late ’68, Frank immediately likened its’ construction to Stravinsky’s neo-classical period. In the late 1920’s Stravinsky – previously known as the enfant-terrible of the orchestral world due to his masterful combinations of poly-rhythms and poly-tonal effects – began to focus on the more traditional compositional methods employed by the likes of Bach, Beethoven etc. So Frank argued that his composing a bunch of rhythm and blues tunes and adding an r’n’b flavour to some of his already released songs, amounted to pretty much the same thing.

    That all sounds fair enough I suppose – but if you actually listen to the album, there is nothing at all that can be even compared to Stravinsky’s genius – or even for that matter the genius that Zappa shows on countless other albums. I mean, simply saying that you’ve stuck the opening bars of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring onto the fade out of one of your own doo-wop songs does not come anywhere close.

    I think there are some really nice doo wop songs on here, “Fountain of Love”, “Love of my Life”, “Anything”, and “Later That Night” can all stand alongside the best of the Zappa canon. But the re-arrangements of songs that had already appeared on Freak Out! don’t really seem to work, although “Any Way The Wind Blows” comes close.

    Another problem that I have with this album is that I first bought it on cd in 1989, and only knew the remix for about 10 years. In my opinion, the remix has some positive things about it that the original version does not. When I listen to the original I just wish I could’ve dismantled those compressor units that Frank seems obsessed with on this album – just listen to Ray Collin’s incredible vocal on “Anything”, it sounds like he keeps turning his head away from the mic. Compare it to the remix, where his voice sounds wonderful – but with some really crummy drums in the background! I could go on an on with similar examples, but won’t.

    So when I finally got my hands on a pristine vinyl copy from 1968, I was sooo disappointed that it did not live up to my expectations. So, for me both versions of this album have some great songs that have flawed production values, and some other songs which really don’t live up to the supposed concept of “a bunch of old guys with rock ‘n’ roll clothes on sitting around in the studio”. And that’s without even mentioning two songs which just sound like having fun with tape loops, “No.No.No.” and “Cheap Thrills”, with sped-up Zappa vocals?!

    So, no, I don’t buy the hype around this one. Quite enjoyable nonetheless.

  13. Don’t forget Mozart – an obvious reference for Stravinsky’s _The Rake’s Progress_, for example.

    While it might be easy to accuse Zappa of hyperbole in evoking Stravinsky, a legitimate parallel can be drawn between Stravinksy’s return to classical forms and Zappa’s return to r&b and doo-wop. Nobody’s saying Zappa should be compared to Stravinsky just because he mentioned Stravinsky. After all, nobody’s going to set up a value comparison between Stravinsky and Bach or Mozart just because he drew on them as sources.

    All that aside, I agree that both versions of CWR&TJ are well worth listening to; and here again, why make a value comparison between them? What came out of those sessions is greater than the sum of its parts – and personally I feel that it is great in the absolute sense. Whether it was because they had listened to Stravinsky or Bach or Mozart or the Beatles or Peter, Paul, and Mary, the arrangements are subtle and multifarious and infinitely shaded, and the ya-yas to be gotten from listening to them, if singing is your thing, seem to me to be infinite. And of course that holds for both versions.

  14. To be fair, FZ said Stravinsky inspired him to do this album, not that the final product was comparable. I dont’ have an opinion to that regard. But I would like to know the story behind the strange drum compression on the original version . . .

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