The Mothers of Invention
Cruising with Ruben & the Jets



by nig USER (37 Reviews)
May 29th, 2013 | 4 replies | 1,151 views

Release Date: 1968 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Is this The Mothers of Invention under a different name in a last ditch attempt to get their cruddy music on the radio?

10 of 10 thought this review was well written

When hearing of a project called “No Commercial Potential”, what is the first thing to come to mind? Avant-Garde nonsense? Droning hullabaloo? “Metal Machine Music”? Well, on “Cruising With Ruben & The Jets”, none of these come into play, with The Mothers doing…doo-wop? Now, most people when looking at the art work and listening to the music would never suspect this being a M.O.I. record (unless you know your Zappa that is). This was part of the idea for this record, according to Frank Zappa, along with the idea to make it related to “Uncle Meat”, with the concept of an old man transforming a band into anthropomorphic animals, as seen on the cover of “…Ruben & The Jets”

The lyrics, written by Zappa, was written as an intentional satire of love songs, while re-living their nostalgic teenage days, which consisted of doo-wop bands and many other kinds of past novelties of the 1950s. Listed on the cover was the quote: “Is this The Mothers of Invention under a different name in a last ditch attempt to get their cruddy music on the radio?” Some could say that was a reason for the creation of “…Ruben & The Jets”, but that was not the reason. Despite the obvious hint that this was a Mothers album with the quote on the cover, “Ruben” turned out to be a hit with radio disk jockeys who believed that Verve unearthed an obscure doo-wop record. Later pressings under “M.O.I” would not receive as much airplay.

Going into “Ruben”, the listener must not expect this to be like any of the other Mothers albums due to the material, in which none of the quirky lyrics are present, with them being replaced with straightforward love songs in the vein of “Go Cry On Somebody Else’s Shoulder” and “Motherly Love” from “Freak Out!” The doo-wop sound takes a few listens to get used to, and after the third or fourth try, it’ll be sure to grab your attention. Unlike on other Mothers albums, the guitar isn’t as prominent, with Ray Collins’ falsetto taking the stage, making the music even more authentic, fooling even more people.

“Cruising With Ruben & The Jets” oddly is an acquired taste, with it being difficult to grasp the idea of the Mothers doing doo-wop of all genres. There are no musical freak-outs present on the album, with the entire album being calm and serene, another trait of doo-wop. But when listening to “Ruben”, it gets tiring halfway through, making you wish you were listening to something more manic and lively, like “Absolutely Free” or “Burnt Weenie Sandwich”. “Ruben” makes for an engaging listen once you get used to the style, but is probably their weakest of the classic Mothers albums. But don’t worry; you can simply take a cruise in a Cadillac with Ruben & The Jets if you’re in the mood for nostalgic doo-wop love songs.

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user ratings (65)

Comments:Add a Comment 
May 29th 2013


Album Rating: 3.0

What do you think? I'll be doing these related albums in the coming days:
"Sleep Dirt"
"We're Only In It For The Money"
"Burnt Weenie Sandwich"
and "Uncle Meat"

Thank you for reading.

Digging: Big Nig - Marque un: le point de vue de nigs rsum

Staff Reviewer
May 29th 2013


Good work. I like this album and a 3 sounds about right. It's got some really catchy songs. I personally like it when Zappa plays with doo-wop elements ("Go Cry" being one of my absolute favourites of Freak Out! the ranting at the end always gets me).

June 1st 2013


It sounds like this isn't that great (the album).

If this was released in 1968, one would think Zappa had hardly
developed his style. I think that's a relevant point here.

I saw mention of other Zappa albums, but I think you could work a bit
on wether or not the album represented artistic progress. I emphasize
that on my reviews, since I like to project the albums within an
evolutionary process, if you will. It's up to you, however, to determine
which albums rank higher and which lower.

Of course, keep the main focus on the album itself, and just use what I
said as complimentary information. Sputnikers generally aren't too fond
of history lessons.

And yes Fripper, you have my pos.

Digging: Radiohead - Hail to the Thief

January 2nd 2014


Album Rating: 3.5

Pretty underrated album by Zappa

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