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We're Only in It for the Money

We're Only in It For the Money is an experimental rock album by Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. It bridged styles as diverse as doo-wop and avant-garde sound collage, and peaked at #30 on North America's Billboard Music Charts pop albums chart. The album satirizes many aspects of 1960s culture, lampooning the hippies, the conservative establishment, and everything in between.

First released in 1968 on Verve Records (see 1968 in music), it was rereleased by Rykodisc in 1986 with newly recorded bass and percussion tracks. Parts censored from the original release were also restored. However, subsequent fan demand for the original Verve recording led to its restoration on Rykodisc's releases from 1995 onwards.

The album was included in Q magazine's list of the "Best Psychedelic Albums of All Time." In 2005, it was one of 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.

The song "Flower Punk" is based upon "Hey Joe", famously performed by Love, The Leaves, The Byrds, The Surfaris and Jimi Hendrix, who is himself pictured in the cover art. "Mother People" was featured in an episode of The Monkees ("Monkees Blow Their Minds"), which also featured Zappa and Michael Nesmith posing as each other.

History

In 1967, Zappa conceived an album, Our Man in Nirvana, which would combine the music of his band The Mothers of Invention with comedy routines by Lenny Bruce (who had performed with Zappa at The Fillmore in 1966). However, when Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was released and hugely touted as the first concept album, Zappa, who already had released two (which Paul McCartney later admitted had influenced Sgt. Pepper) felt compelled to respond. Also, Zappa noticed its cultural effect, and felt that the then-popular flower power scene had and would continue to have a major influence on popular culture. Consequently, he decided to produce instead a satirical album that parodied every cynical aspect of the fad, Sgt. Pepper, and 1960s US society. The only vestige of the original album idea in We're Only in It... is the phrase "Don't come in me, in me..." in the song "Harry, You're A Beast", a reference to a Lenny Bruce routine about ejaculation.

Censorship

Initial releases of the album had certain sections of songs edited or removed due to perceived offensiveness. These two sets of edits are often distinguished by the monikers "censored" and "heavily censored." However, these set of edits were sometimes applied inconsistently, so these two categories are inexhaustive.

Tracks affected by censor edits on all original versions:

  • "Concentration Moon": Gary Kellgren's whispered remark "...also at the same time I get to work with The Velvet Underground, which is as shitty a group as Frank Zappa's group" was cut. However, the Canadian release of the album only removes part of the line, rendering it as "I get to work with the Velvet Underground, Frank Zappa's group."
  • "Harry You're a Beast": The "Don't come in me, in me" verse was edited in order to hide the offending lyric by re-editing parts of the verse in the wrong way, and reversing parts of the song. This phrase is from Lenny Bruce's "To is a Preposition, Come is a Verb" routine.
  • "Mother People": a verse containing the expletives 'fucking' and 'shitty' was replaced with a repeat of the first. The original verse was backmasked and appended to the track "Hot Poop" (even there, however, "fucking" is absent). The uncensored line is: "Better look around before you say you don't care/Shut your fucking mouth 'bout the length of my hair/how would you survive/if you were alive/shitty little person?"

Additional tracks affected by censor edits on the "heavily censored" versions:

  • "Who Needs the Peace Corps?": a spoken line "I will love the police as they kick the shit out of me" was cut out.
  • "Absolutely Free": The spoken word lines "I don't do publicity balling for you any more" and remark "Flower power sucks!" were removed.
  • "Let's Make the Water Turn Black": Several lines of the song are removed, most notably the line about booger-smearing teenage friends Ronnie and Kenny Williams' mother ("and I still remember Mama with her Apron and her pad, feeding all the boys at Ed's Cafe"). Zappa believed that the line was cut because a record company executive thought the line referred to a sanitary pad.

The Canadian and "heavily censored" editions also have an alternate version of "Hot Poop" that does not include the backwards "Mother People" verse.

The 1986 reissue with reinstated all of these edited sections. However, the album's rhythm tracks had been re-recorded by different musicians.

The 1995 re-release matches the original US LP with only the "Harry", "Mother People", and "Concentration Moon" edits. However, there are tape issues on some tracks.

Cover art

Cal Schenkel's design was intended as a parody of the cover for The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The fold-out cover for Sgt. Pepper had a collage of famous people by Peter Blake on the outside front, a picture of the group with one member facing away from the camera on the back, and a head-shot portrait of the band on the inside. Zappa originally intended to use the cover as one would expect--front cover on the front, back cover on the back, and the inside group head-shot on the inside--but Zappa's record company demurred and turned the cover inside-out for release, putting the most blatant Sgt. Pepper parody (front cover very similar in its production; back cover showing a picture of the group with only one member facing toward the camera) on the inside and the head-shot portrait pastiche of the band on the outside. The 1986 Rykodisc release on CD featured the original photo restored to the front cover, but minus the group headshot. This release combined this album with Lumpy Gravy. In 1995, Zappa authorized the rerelease of the original cover art with the headshot along with the original Verve records mix - as "Lumpy Gravy" was also reissued on its own with its original cover art and Verve Records mix. Next to Zappa's head on the head-shot portrait, a speech bubble has him questioning, "Is this phase one of Lumpy Gravy?". On the back cover of Lumpy Gravy, a speech bubble shows Zappa questioning "Is this phase 2 of We're Only in It for the Money?"

One section of the CD liner art features a series of badge, banknote, and facial hair cut-outs, satirising those of Sgt. Pepper, with some differences; one badge features a small photograph of recording engineer Gary Kellgren and the other is a nipple. The banknote had a picture of a belly button in the middle.

Track listing

All tracks by Frank Zappa.

LP

Side one

  1. Are You Hung Up? (1:23)
  2. Who Needs the Peace Corps? (2:34)
  3. Concentration Moon (2:42)
  4. Mom & Dad (2:16)
  5. Bow Tie Daddy (1:22)
  6. Harry, You're a Beast (1:22)
  7. What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body? (1:03)
  8. Absolutely Free (3:26)
  9. Flower Punk (3:57)
  10. Hot Poop (0:16)

Side two

  1. Nasal Retentive Calliope Music (2:00)
  2. Let's Make the Water Turn Black (1:54)
  3. The Idiot Bastard Son (3:27)
  4. Lonely Little Girl (1:10)
  5. Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance (1:33)
  6. What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body? (Reprise)(1:03)
  7. Mother People (2:30)
  8. The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny (6:30)

Current CD

  1. Are You Hung Up? (1:24)
  2. Who Needs the Peace Corps?(2:34)
  3. Concentration Moon (2:22)
  4. Mom & Dad (2:16)
  5. Telephone Conversation (0:49)
  6. Bow Tie Daddy (0:33)
  7. Harry, You're a Beast (1:21)
  8. What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body? (1:03)
  9. Absolutely Free (3:24)
  10. Flower Punk (3:03)
  11. Hot Poop (0:27)
  12. Nasal Retentive Calliope Music (2:03)
  13. Let's Make the Water Turn Black (2:01)
  14. The Idiot Bastard Son (3:19)
  15. Lonely Little Girl (1:10)
  16. Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance (1:33)
  17. What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body? (Reprise) (1:02)
  18. Mother People (2:26)
  19. The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny (6:25)

Personnel

The Mothers of Invention

Session musicians

  • Eric Clapton – Male speaking part in "Are You Hung Up?" and "Nasal Retentive Calliope Music."
  • Gary Kellgren – "the one doing all the creepy whispering" (i.e., interstitial spoken segments)
  • Spider Barbour – vocals
  • Dick Kunc – "cheerful interruptions" vocal
  • Vicki Kellgren – additional telephone vocals
  • Sid Sharp – orchestral arrangements on "Absolutely Free", "Mother People" and "The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny"

Production

  • Producer: Frank Zappa
  • Executive producer: Tom Wilson
  • Engineers: Gary Kellgren, Dick Kunc
  • Remixing: Dick Kunc
  • Editing: Dick Kunc, Frank Zappa
  • Arranger: Frank Zappa
  • Concept: Frank Zappa
  • Art direction: Cal Schenkel
  • Design: Cal Schenkel
  • Artwork: Cal Schenkel
  • Photography: Jerry Schatzberg
  • Fashion advisor: Tiger Morse
  • Wardrobe: Billy Mundi

Charts

Album

Year Chart Position
1968 Billboard Pop Albums 30

References

External links

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