Review Summary: In The Mothers' third effort, the hippie bashing is turned up to eleven...
In 1968, The Mothers of Invention were once again at work in the studio, bringing forth one of their most impressive efforts, ‘We’re Only In It For The Money’. Like ‘Freak Out!’ and ‘Absolutely Free’ before it, this album focuses on the culture of the 1960s, spanning from the hippie culture to politics, leaving no one safe from the criticism of Frank Zappa and the band. Out of all of the early Mothers albums, this has to be the most “concrete” of the bunch, with it being far more influenced by avant-garde music and composers such as Edgar Varese, a life-long favorite of Zappa’s.
All over the album are extremely short compositions, bluntly criticizing the hippie culture and their naïve ways, believing peace is the answer to everything (“Who Needs The Peace Corps”, “Concentration Moon”, “Bow Tie Daddy”, “Flower Punk”), to the politics of America (“Mom and Dad”). Sympathy, if even possible with Zappa’s merciless criticism, is nowhere to be found on the album, with the title being a jab at The Beatles, when the group compared their album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” to “Freak Out!” On ‘We’re Only In It For The Money’, the topic is basically on the hippie culture, as if it had to mentioned before. The criticisms manage to be sharp and witty, a trademark of the group, long established on the debut only two years earlier. But within all the attacks on hippies, there’s ought to be some filler, and on the album, there sure is very little (“Telephone Conversation”, “Hot Poop”, “Let’s Make The Water Black”), but at some point in time, even the filler manages to be entertaining, but diverts from the better material on the album. The avant-garde influence is present on the album, but is highly present on the finale, “The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny”, a composition heavily influenced by Varese, and a worthy addition to the collection of weird Zappa compositions (all of ‘Lumpy Gravy’, ‘200 Motels’, ‘Uncle Meat’, and ‘Civilization Phase III’ edge this album out in that specific subject).
In retrospect, ‘We’re Only In It For The Money’, is not only one of the group’s most experimental and highly ambitious albums, but one of their best, being the source of influence to many future groups, and is still to this day, nothing but influential. Even if it’s one of their hardest albums to get into, it’s worth every single second, and is worth checking out.