Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

  • One Size Fits All [DiscReet, 1975] C+
  • We're Only in It for the Money [Rykodisc, 1995] A

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

One Size Fits All [DiscReet, 1975]
Zappa's music has gotten a little slicker rhythmically--which is what happens when you consort with jazz guys--but basically it's unchanged. And his satire has neither improved nor deteriorated--if his contempt would be beneath an overbright high school junior, there's also a brief lieder parody that I'd love to jam onto WQXR. What's changed is the tastes of his erstwhile lionizers--they've gotten bored with his repertoire of stylistic barbarities. Us smart people just got bored faster. C+

We're Only in It for the Money [Rykodisc, 1995]
Whatever his ultimate standing as social critic or present-day composer who refuses to die, Zappa was everything he claimed to be on this 19-cut, 40-minute sendup of the Summer of Love. No, it wasn't like this; most of the naive teens who lost-and-found themselves in the Haight were sweeter and smarter than the "phony hippies" he lacerates with such hopeless contempt. But that doesn't mean his cruelty isn't good for laughs. And not only is every wee tune--motive, as composers say--as well-crafted as a Coke commercial, they all mesh together into one of those musical wholes you've read about. With bohemia permanent and changed utterly, this early attack on its massification hasn't so much dated as found its context. Cheap sarcasm is forever. A