Wednesday, March 6, 2013

we're only in it for the money

Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention let their freak flag fly, poured on the lumpy gravy, and challenged the preconceptions of both mainstream society and the hippie counter-culture movement with a circus of searing satire in the orchestral experimentation, tape manipulation, and sound collage that feed this chrome plated megaphone of destiny.   After the critical and artistic triumphs of 'Freak Out!' and 'Absolutely Free'the band had relocated from California to New York City where they began a six month residency at the Garrick Theater.  They began working on 'We're Only in It for the Money' at Apostolic Studios taking a break for a European tour.  Zappa was the producer, although Tom Wilson was given an executive producer credit.  The sessions featured Frank Zappa on guitar, piano, and lead vocals; Jimmy Carl Black on trumpet, drums, and vocals, and as Indian of the group; Roy Estrada on electric bass and vocals;     Bunk Gardner on all woodwinds; Billy Mundi on drums and vocals; Don Preston on keyboards; Euclid James "Motorhead" Sherwood on baritone saxophone, soprano saxophone, and road manager; Suzy Creamcheese as telephone voice; Ian Underwood on piano and woodwinds; Pamela Zarubica on vocals; Eric Clapton did the male speaking part in "Are You Hung Up?" and "Nasal Retentive Calliope Music."; Gary Kellgren was "the one doing all the creepy whispering" (i.e., interstitial spoken segments); Spider Barbour on vocals; Dick Kunc on "cheerful interruptions" vocal; Vicki Kellgren on additional telephone vocals; Sid Sharp was conductor (under Frank Zappa's supervision) of the "Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra and Chorus" on "Absolutely Free", "Mother People" and "The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny".  The album also includes recordings done at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles.  

Zappa considered at the time:    "There are scores and certain parts of the music are very firmly fixed. Some of the supposedly spontaneous sound events, like coordinated noises, are operated on cue on the bandstand by means of finger signals like numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on. The band is trained so that when they see the signals on a given beat they’ll play these noises which we’ve rehearsed and they can be assembled in any order. And in between the noises, we have free improvisation. When we do a show I’ll figure out what the audience wants or needs, and I’ll put it together from the parts we’ve already rehearsed and we do like a happening when we play."

'We're Only in It for the Money' made it to number thirty on the US album chart with no chart singles.  The album cover was intended as a parody of the Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'but the executives chickened out and made the inside gatefold photo the cover shot.  The album makes a mockery of the right and left wing political movements and the consumerist culture as a whole.  Zappa described "freaking out":   "It's a process whereby an individual casts off outmoded; and restricting standards of thinking, dress and social etiquette in order to express creatively his relationship to his immediate environment and the social structure as a whole...We were carefully hatched in the best tradition of American business, programmed to do a specific job and we have been quite successful thus far. We are aiming for the consumer group, people who have certain hang-ups that can be expressed and worked out in song. It doesn't matter if our music makes sense. If people want a pile of rubbish, we're going to give just that to them!...Society, and I use that label loosely, can't be healthy without art. America stifles art. Little is created unless it serves a commercialistic need, i.e., jingles for a Pepsi-Cola announcement. Ours is a materialistic, mechanistic age. It's confused, topsy-turvy and erratic. If current art seems to possess similar qualities, that's to be taken for granted. Art at its best always is projecting what is happening at the time it is made ...  We don't endorse any drugs or artificial means that would do anything to change the consciousness of a single individual...Psychedelic is a very handy word, a convenient label. It's not something we apply to ourselves – but an impression fostered by a group of greedy business willing to equate non-conformity with some LSD jargon and manner. The two don't, in themselves, go together. They can or they may not. In our case, it's the latter...I do not believe we have a society.  What we have is a colony of animals. I don't believe there are any human beings around. We merely fantasize that we have reached the human level of achievement. The Bomb, war, prejudice are, however, only products of sub-humans.  I am trying to use the weapons of a disoriented and unhappy society against itself. The Mothers of Invention are designed to come in the back door and kill you while you're sleeping.  One of our main, short-range objectives is to do away with the top-40 broadcasting format because it is basically wrong, unethical and unmusical. Sure, we're satirists, and we are out to satirize everything. Most of the guys in this band feel that we're going to do something to help."

'We're Only in It for the Money'
full album:

All tracks written by Frank Zappa.

Side one
1. "Are You Hung Up?" 1:23
2. "Who Needs the Peace Corps?" 2:34
3. "Concentration Moon" 2:22
4. "Mom & Dad" 2:16
5. "Bow Tie Daddy" 1:21
6. "Harry, You're a Beast" 1:22
7. "What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body?" 1:03
8. "Absolutely Free" 3:24
9. "Flower Punk" 3:03
10. "Hot Poop" 0:26
Side two
1. "Nasal Retentive Calliope Music" 2:03
2. "Let's Make the Water Turn Black" 2:01
3. "The Idiot Bastard Son" 3:18
4. "Lonely Little Girl" ("It's His Voice on the Radio") 1:09
5. "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance" 1:35
6. "What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body? (Reprise)" 0:57
7. "Mother People" 2:32
8. "The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny" 6:25    

'Lumpy Gravy' part one

'Lumpy Gravy' part two

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