Wednesday, December 26, 2007

No. 296: We're Only in it for the Money

Band: The Mothers of Invention
Album: We're Only in it for the Money
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Zappa's response to "Sgt. Pepper" is similarly a concept album and just as loose. However, instead of the Sgt. Pepper concept, Zappa wrote a record decrying the superficiality of 1960s culture. In classic Zappa fashion, it was heavily censored.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: As with all Zappa, the record has its ups and downs. It's certainly not really accessible.
Best song: "Absolutely Free" is the centerpiece of the album and a great track. I also really enjoy "Who Needs The Peace Corps?"
Worst song: "Hot Poop" is one of many sound experiments. It's not a song, though.
Is it awesome?: Sure.

When the Beatles released "Sgt. Pepper" and the many critics loved it as the first real concept album, Frank Zappa was angry, especially after McCartney said he'd heard Zappa's records. So, in a response, he wrote and recored "We're Only in It for the Money," a full-on satire of hippies and their lives.

The song goes from overt -- the line "Flower Power sucks" in "Absolutely Free" -- to the more subtle -- the Lenny Bruce reference in "Harry, You're A Beast." Overwhelmingly, Zappa hated hippies -- really, who doesn't -- and he made mince meat out of them on "We're Only in It for the Money."

"Who Needs The Peace Corps?" is the easiest song on the record and the best as far as Zappa's laceration of what he calls "Phony hippies." While Zappa shared some of the same values -- his "Trouble Every Day" took down the establishment -- "Who Needs The Peace Corps?" paints the 1960s counterculture of just stupid impressionable teenagers who want to get to the Haight by asking the Chamber of Commerce.

I'd hardly call it Zappa's best work, but it might be his most cohesive.

No comments: