Them Or Us

Released: October 1984


  1. The Closer You Are
  2. In France
  3. Ya Hozna
  4. Sharleena
  5. Sinister Footwear II
  6. Truck Driver Divorce
  7. Stevie’s Spanking
  8. Baby, Take Your Teeth Out
  9. Marque-son’s Chicken
  10. Planet Of My Dreams
  11. Be In My Video
  12. Them Or Us
  13. Frogs With Dirty Little Lips
  14. Whipping Post

Frank Zappa (guitar & vocals), Ray White, Ike Willis, Napoleon Murphy Brock, George Duke, Bobby Martin, Roy Estrada (vocals, harmony), Tommy Mars (keyboards), Arthur Barrow (bass), Chad Wackerman (drums), Scott Thunes (bass), Ed Mann (percussion), Steve Vai (guitar), Ray White (rhythm guitar), Bobby Martin (harmonica), Dweezil Zappa (guitar solo on “Sharleena”), Patrick O’Hearn (bass on “Planet Of My Dreams”), Thana Harris (harmony on “Planet Of My Dreams”), George Duke (piano on “Planet Of My Dreams”)

7 thoughts on “Them Or Us”

  1. The vinyl had a full warm sound but the cd sounds shrill. There are some great performances on this album, which appears to be another compilation of studio and live material recorded over a two year period.

  2. This was the very first Zappa album i bought, I think i was about 11 or 12 at the time, and hearing the music on this cd completely blew my mind!!! From then on i was obsessed!!
    My favourites to this day are The Closer You Are, Sharleena, Truck Driver Divorce,Sinister Footwear II, Marque-son’s Chicken and Them Or Us
    Not Zappa’s best album by a long shot, but it still holds a special place in my heart

  3. Like the above review this also was my first Zappa experience. I borrowed it from the local library when I was 12. I knew nothing of Zappa but thought it must be good if it has Steve Vai on it. I was just starting out on the guitar and he was a hero of mine. At first listen I was a little unsure of the whole thing. Sure the Vai stuff was great and Dweezil’s solo on Sharleena was the fastest thing I’d ever heard. However Zappa’s guitar solos seemed very strange and haphazard. The crooning vocal style on Truck Driver was too weird for me. For me, the high point was Whipping Post. This would have been around 1985. Fast-forward to 1991 when I got my first cd player, this was one of the first cds I bought. I still thought it strange and quickly sold it. I just was not a Zappa fan. Then when I was in college a roommate of mine introduced me to Hot Rats and I became hooked. I have since come to love Them or Us and it’s strangeness. It wasn’t until later that I found out he would cut solos out of live tracks and paste then on to studio creations. How cool. It all started to make sense. This man did not think of himself so much as a guitar player but as a master composer. How true!

  4. Some must-have Zappa tracks (e.g. ‘Stevie’s Spanking’), plus some filler (e.g. ‘Baby Take Your Teeth Out’). Overall ‘tho a good album from the Master.

  5. I totally agree with reviewer KZDarwin that this was one of the most maligned Zappa releases when it first came out on CD in 1986 from Rykodisk. That first CD sounded way too thin, quiet and I remember having to crank up my stereo because of the low output level, and then it still had that “early 1980’s digital sheen” sound to it that seemed to suck all the meat, heart and balls out of so many recordings from that period.

    The 1993 “approved by FZ” re-release from Ryko is TONS better in terms of sound.

    I love this straight-ahead Frank guitar/song-based record. The tunes kick ass, the whole package is basically a preview of what the 1984 live band was putting out, you’ve got the most played cover tune of Frank’s career “Whipping Post”, Dweezil and the ol’ man kickin’ ass, Johnny “Guitar” Watson going on about France, Stevie Vai and Laurel Fishman exploring the boundaries of sex with inanimate objects and vegetables, and what else could you ask for? A solid, completely enjoyable Frank album.

    P.S. Do any of you reviewers out there know the history of Frank’s use/obsession with the artist who did all the dog paintings in this period (this album, “Perfect Stranger”, the “Old Masters” boxes, etc….)? I know tons about Cal Shenkel’s association with Zappa, but I know precious little about this artist, considering how much Frank used his work in the 1980’s…

  6. also for me this was the first album i heard from the master.
    i instantly loved it. I was about 10-12 years old when my brother borrowed it from the library (he liked the cover of the album).

    ‘the closer you are’ was therefore the first zappa song i ever heard. Last year it was also the opening dance at my wedding.

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