Zappa's "We're only in it for the money" 55th anniversary

Fifty-five years ago today (actually yesterday) a masterpiece was born :slight_smile:

We’re only in it for the money, by The Mothers of Invention, was for a long time not only my favorite Zappa album, but my favorite album of all time.

I know we have some Zappa fans here in the forum ( @RDNZL @imtheslime @Azza @autostatic and others I presume) so I will indulge myself to do some fanboy post :slight_smile:

I discovered Zappa in my early 20’s and, once I got hooked, I think I spent about two years just listening to him, given the sheer amount of albums to be explored. At the time I was taking album concept more seriously (listening to best-offs became boring) and once I decided to dive into Zappa, I started from the start and bought his first album: Freak Out!.

My second album was WOIIFTM and man, what a hit. The music, the lyrics, the cover. It was all so damn fascinating. I had previously been through a Beatles rediscovery - like many I learned to listen to The Beatles with my parents at a very young age and, in my teens, I switched to classic rock and metal, kind of dismissing the Fab Four - seeing Zappa’s original cover mocking Sgt. Peppers was an instant hook to listen to it.

Today I listened to the full album again and, 55 years after its release, it is still strong and timeless.

Living now in Berlin and seeing the hipster trend taking over so many things makes me understand and appreciate the album even more. Swap the words “hippie” for “hipster” and “San Francisco” for “Berlin” and most of the lyrics fit like a glove, showing me how much of a timeless criticism Zappa was capable of putting into words and music.

The music itself is something remarkable, from the composition to the extreme abuse of studio techniques. And we’re talking about an album recorded when 4-tracks were not a thing yet. Makes me realize that art is, and will always be, about creativity and dedication. The plethora of equipment that we have at our reach today does not make the release of such pieces something ordinary, as it is not gear dependent at all.

This makes me want to talk more about Zappa here in this Forum. Not because of his music itself, but because of the way he approached music. Whether one enjoys his music or not, it is actually irrelevant. What is important is to realize that we can do things in a different and innovative way, and that opening our minds is paramount to fully explore our artistic side.

As a guitarist, for me Zappa is still the greatest.

I love the solos and riffs from many guitarists, from Van Halen to Paco de Lucia, but none of them approaches guitar playing as Zappa did. There is an element of improvisation that is quite unique, in which the solo is neither a memorised sequence like Gilmour did (don’t get me wrong. I think Gilmour is awesome) nor a pure feeling blow out. It is like an ad-hoc music piece, conceived at the moment, with structure and storytelling. It sometimes get tuff to grasp, but I find it rewarding. I believe that many Zappa songs are just an excuse to actually lay down a sound scene where he could drop these musical pieces.

At MOD I am frequently reminded of Zappa. The latest was the BM7 reverb, taken from a Bricasti unit, which again bring references to him - of course he used one :slight_smile:

But enough of deviations. I actually could spend an entire month speaking about the imperial mustache guitar man (that by the way, let´s agree is an icon on its own).

I started this post talking about an album and already went far out about my admiration for him as a guitar player. In WOIIFTM he barely plays the guitar and the coolest riff from the entire album is actually played by Eric Clapton (the intro of Lonely Little Girl)…

For those who might be interested, I really recommend the album.

For those who are into Zappa, I leave this link: IINK
Probably the most comprehensive source of information on this amazing musician, who not only released great music, but actually catapulted so many talents into stardom.

And I close this post with the well known passage from Joe’s Garage:

Information is not knowledge
Knowledge is not wisdom
Wisdom is not truth
Truth is not beauty
Beauty is not love
Love is not music
Music is THE BEST . . .


You should come to Bad Doberan @gianfranco … during the Zappanale of course, otherwise it’s not the hippiest place there is of course … I will be there :wink:

On Sunday, Banned From Utopia will play: Robert Martin, Chad Wackerman, Scott Thunes, Ray White, Robbie Mangano and Jamie Kime.


Will definitely consider.

I actually made plans for 2020 but COVID kicked in :frowning:

I’ll ping if I manage to go. Would be great to meet.


Of course, I would love to see you there.
Saturday evening has Billy Cobham as well, we will speak about Frank to our heart content :slight_smile:


Awesome post @gianfranco. I will always remember how I was blown away the first time I listen to Zappa’s music. For me it was Zoot Allures and after the initial shock of “Wind up working in the gas station”, I was immediately sent into space by Black Napkins, and the tone of his guitar. I had never heard a guitar sound like that before. I immediately fell in love with it. Same happened later with the “Yo Mamma” solo. And then I discovered so much more. One of a big part of Zappa’s music is also linked to the humour and audacity of his takes at anything, any style. Heavy Duty Judy… His version of Ring of Fire, and, above all, my favourite piece of all time : Watermelon in Easter Hay of which I’ve never been able to pin down the clean tone, neither the distorted one…


Thanks @gianfranco. I don’t listen to Zappa often and I know only a few albums but this thread makes me want to discover more of them.

I can’t refrain from sharing a link to one of my favorite songs : Inca Roads from the album One Size Fits All. Weird melodies, crazy breaks, virtuoso vibraphone fills, very zappaesque. :slight_smile: The band is also freaking awesome.


You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore

Hi Zappa Fan.
Want to listen to Zappa 24/7? Here it is! The stream’s up all day. Just click on the playback button and get the party started!



Black Napkins. What a solo :heart:

Yo Mama is one of the many examples of what I mentioned about creating excuses to lay does a kick ass solo.

You posted about it some time ago. We need to make a task force and try to nail some of his tones.

This band from 74 is one of my favorites. The ensemble is so tight and Frank’s guitar playing is just superb. I think that his solo of Cosmic Debris in this show is unbelievable:

@Azza what about getting such a guitar tone, not to mention the way his left hand technique :slight_smile:

Very appreciated. Thank you!


One of my fav version is that one (unfortunately the end is cut out) with Vinnie on drums.

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And I also love the 1973/1974 period, the Apostrophe Album, Roxy and Elsewhere etc… I attended a couple of ZPZ concert when they were doing the full Apostrophe album. They are still part of the best live shows I’ve ever been to. I also discovered George Duke thanks to Zappa, which turned me into Duke’s and Cobham’s band, where I discovered John Scofield (I already knew Alfonso Johnson).

the Nanook Suite… Montana… it’s so fun, inventive…


Also it is quite possible that listing to Zappa’s music from a young age has something to do with my son now playing percussion professionally (especially Marimba) and loving contemporary music.


This band is really something out of this world.

I have the impression that the Grand Wazoo band from 72 - assembled once the Vaudeville band dismantled due to the infamous Montreaux fire and Zappa being thrown into the orchestra pit one week later leaving him in a wheelchair for months - is a sort of a gem that was striped down and polished through the years, resulting in a unit that was tight as no other band could be, while being very fun at the same time. The Helsinki concert from You Can’t Do That Onstage Anymore v.2 gives a very good display of how tight this band could be.

As George Duke himself said, he never experienced something like that through the rest of his years as a musician.

In that case I think that Ruth Underwood is the best possible inspiration one could have :slight_smile:

“On Ruth. On Ruth. Haha. That’s Ruth”. :smiley:

That’s so awesome that I had almost exactly the same trajectory. The only difference is that I already know Scofield and, when discovering the Duke&Cobham project, it was a great joy to learn that the young Scofield was the guitarist. I have a bootleg recording of this band in Chicago 76 that still makes me drool.

There is a kind of recent album called “Roxy by Proxy” that features a very early incarnation of Inca Roads played still in 73. Much mellower and jazzier than the OSFA version.

And if you are really into the song, I recommend listening to the track that comes before - Carved in Stone - where Frank lays down the song’s story.

Not sure about you guys, but I think that Zappa’s monologues are so damn funny :slight_smile:

And, since we’re talking about the early 70’s band, I strongly recommend “Roxy: The Movie”, with the legendary performances at the Roxy Theater in 73. It is a mix of great musicianship, bizarreness and fun what this band could pull off. I’ve always been a fan of the Roxy album, but watching this movie gave me a totally new perspective of the joyful madness level these shows were.

Here’s an excerpt that illustrates it :smiley:


I guess you forgot the link. :slight_smile:

Thanks. I didn’t know this version. I miss a bit the funky opening riff (tada tada) but it’s still great.

Thanks again, I’ll try to have a look at this.

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Here is the missing link


And here is a great version of Watermelon in Easter Hay with L Shankar on the violin


And yes, the comedy and monologues on stage are soooooo great!


No to mention the Audience Participations :slight_smile:

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The beginning of the “Best band you never heard in your life” with Heavy Duty Judy and Ring of Fire is one example of the super joyful atmosphere of these concerts.

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As excellent as the ZPZ show playing all of One Size Fits All, I would have loved to have seen them play Apostrophe. But it truly was an experience.

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