I don’t foresee a situation where I could possibly ever get tired of listening to Frank Zappa’s ‘We’re Only In It For The Money.’
I want to grate it into a fine powder and sprinkle it on my pasta. I want to melt it down and drink it with a crazy straw. I want to take it on a shy bashful date to the movies and then feel it up in the back seat of my car at Make-out Point. It’s one of very, very few albums (Mike Keneally’s Sluggo is one; ‘David Bowie’s Low is another) that gets better and better with each listen. A true musical perpetual motion machine where the only way is up, baby.
If you haven’t heard this album yet, it’s a satire on the Summer of Love, and it’s merciless in its critiques of hippies, squares, cops, parents, musicians (Donovan gets a particular ribbing), and even Frank Zappa fans. What Frank seems to be saying with this album is ‘there’s a whole lot of stupid out there. And you’re a part of it. And you’re a part of it. And you… man, you’re a big part of it.’ Musically it’s progressive, sentimental, outrageous, precise, messy, overproduced, underproduced, and beautiful. Listen to Let’s Make The Water Turn Black for a glimpse of some local freaks back in Frank’s teen years. Check out Who Needs The Peace Corps for a sharp kick in the balls of the hippie movement (‘I will ask the Chamber of Commerce how to get to Haight Street, and smoke an awful lot of dope’). What’s The Ugliest Part Of Your Body includes one of my favourite musical interludes ever (the ‘all your children are poor unfortunate victims’ bit – man, that’s everything I want out of melody, harmony and rhythm right there). And Absolutely Free scores perhaps one of the biggest laughs of Zappa’s long history of making me laugh when, during what feels like an ultra-authentic rendition of flower power-era musical and vocal idioms (ie: the aforementioned Donovan pisstake), a little voice blatantly and flatly states ‘Flower power sucks.’ It’s one of my all time coffee-spit moments and it makes me chuckle a little louder than I probably should whenever I happen to recall it at an inopportune moment like being on public transport or in line at the bank.
There are probably easier Zappa albums to start on, like Apostrophe or Over-Nite Sensation or even Roxy & Elsewhere or Zappa In New York, but if you’re of the disposition to dig this sorta stuff, it’s absolutely essential.