An experimental gem. While this may not be as groundbreaking as, say, the same year's White Light/White Heat by The Velvet Underground (who actually gets a shoutout in this very album, albeit censored by the label), you really weren't going to see anyone doing an album anything like this. In a period where everyone was diving headfirst into and fully embracing the hippie and drug culture, making the same psychedelic noise over and over again, an album coming out, going out of its way to poke fun of it all, and even calling out almost every major artist of the scene with its title alone, it's just something you really wouldn't have expected.
The album as a whole is virtually a parody of The Beatles' music at the time, and no, I'm not just saying that because the real cover art is a blatant parody of Sgt. Pepper (and the current ugly cover art here really needs to be replaced already with the vastly superior original one). Everything from the over-the-top psychedelic sound - albeit a lot more experimental here than on the Beatles' album - to the more accessible cuts that actually sound like something you would have heard on that record - namely Mom & Dad - and the vocal harmonies that are very clearly parodies of Lennon and McCartney's, it all just screams parody of Sgt. Pepper even if you hadn't seen the real cover art beforehand. And even though I am a pretty big Beatles fan and even like Sgt. Pepper more than this album, I can't deny that what Frank pulled here was nothing short of genius. Especially in 1968 when everyone was just trying to follow The Beatles' lead, him going the extra mile and pretty much flipping them off is simply hilarious.
More than that, this album is also pretty much one song. I mean, even though each track has its own distinct sound, they all flow together so seamlessly that at times you don't even notice that it's switched. It isn't the first time Zappa had done something like this, with Absolutely Free consisting of two big twenty minute suites, but even with that example in mind this is still the first time that Zappa had done something this extreme. Where you could clearly tell that Absolutely Free was made more to be two different songs cut up into fifteen individual tracks, We're Only In It For The Money feels a lot more like a ton of cut up pieces that shouldn't fit together at all but do. It makes for a constantly exciting and refreshing listen, as once you think you're growing tired of the album you're thrown into something completely unexpected. You're growing tired of this wacky, experimental psychedelia? Here, take this straightforward accessible track. Oh, you want something a bit more extreme? Here's straight-up musique concrète. Honestly, the fact that they managed to cover so much ground in less than forty minutes in truly mind-blowing. I mean, they covered the same amount of ground in this album that The Beatles did the same year with their 90 minute White Album. All the while, The Mothers did so with a lot more humor, a lot more self-awareness, and a lot less care towards whether or not they grew successful or not.
We're Only In It For The Money is simply a great album. It's by far one of The Mothers' most experimental, and it's also their first magnificent album. This is the first album of theirs that would really live up to the standard that most of Zappa's early solo material would maintain. Even though this still isn't my favourite of The Mothers' discography, this was definitely the album that initially convinced me that I had to do a full discography dive into Zappa's material. Even after listening to those first two albums for the first time and loving them so much, it wasn't until this album that I knew that I would have to go through every single album that's ever been released under Zappa's name. And even though I do think he's done quite a bit more that I hold in higher regard, this still has everything that we love about his music.
Favourite Tracks: Flower Punk; Absolutely Free; Concentration Moon; Who Needs The Peace Corps?; Mom & Dad; Lonely Little Girl
Least Favourite Track: Telephone Conversation
|2||Who Needs the Peace Corps / 100|
|3||Concentration Moon / 100|
|4||Mom & Dad / 100|
|5||Bow Tie Daddy / 85|
|6||Harry, You're a Beast / 85|
|7||What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body? / 100|
|8||Absolutely Free / 100|
|9||Flower Punk / 99|
|10||Hot Poop / 50|
|11||Nasal Retentive Caliope Music / 65|
|12||Let's Make the Water Turn Black / 75|
|13||The Idiot Bastard Son / 100|
|14||Lonely Little Girl / 100|
|15||Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance / 100|
|16||What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body? (Reprise) / 100|
|17||Mother People / 100|
|18||The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny / 100|