Mothers Of Invention: We're Only In It For The Money

By Don Heckman

Stereo Review, August 1968

MOTHERS OF INVENTION: We're Only in It for the Money.
Mothers of Invention (vocals and instrumentals). VERVE Ⓢ V6 5045X $4.79.

Performance: Good for laughs and music
Recording: Excellent
Stereo Quality: Excellent

As with any recording by the Mothers, there are so many aspects to report on that one hardly knows where to begin. The album cover, for example, is obviously patterned after the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper." It includes a set of lyrics printed on a red background, and a four-color picture of the group in which they are surrounded by superimposed pictures of celebrities, comic heroes, and political figures. The cover's reverse side frames the Mothers against a bright yellow background – again in imitation of the Beatles. One difference: the Beatles are dressed in currently fashionable military uniforms, while the Mothers are rigged up in high drag (that's right, ladies' clothes). Since I have always felt that album covers were less interesting than the music they contain (and I have occasionally been proved to be too optimistic), I will simply suggest that you make your own judgment about why an important American pop group should devote time, energy, and expense to the production of an album whose cover mimics –however satirically – the cover of an album by an important English pop group.

The music is in classic Frank Zappa style. Included are electronic sounds, vocals, dialogue, parodies, rock improvisation, and even some snatches of jazz. Zappa's lyrics continue to be his strongest work. More than most pop composers, he has purged traditional poetic imagery from his writing, depending instead upon a straight-from-the-shoulder, no-nonsense, say-it-like-it-is style that works because of its very literalness. Equally important, he has written better melodies than on either of the earlier releases. Zappa and the Mothers may not exactly please you, especially if you belong to the now-legendary over-thirty generation; but what they say is heard with great interest by the young audience and, no doubt, reflects many of the attitudes, feelings, and points of view of that audience. If you can get past your annoyance at what the Mothers are saying, you will hear some very fine music and some hilarious humorizing.