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on 29 November 2008
Something real nasty must have occurred in the ugliest part of Frank's body for him to replace the sublime original version of this minor masterpiece (released in 1968) with the horrendous faecal matter remix offered on this CD. Not only did he wipe the wonderful original bass and drum tracks (replacing them with inappropriate 1980s style playing) he even faded one track "Later That Night" early - thereby omitting a crucial part of the song! I thought it couldn't happen here but it happened here...

In the early 1990s I sold my entire vinyl collection with a view to replacing it with a bunch of lovely pristine sounding CDs, free of distracting surface noises and virtually indestructible to boot! Had I heard some of the Zappa CDs that would soon be my displeasure to own, I would never have sold their vinyl counterparts, oh that`s for sure. One by one I found Zappa had messed up almost all my favourites, the worst offenders being "We're Only In It For The Money", "Hot Rats" and this one, "Ruben & The Jets".

He tampered with others as well, but to a lesser extent. Under pressure, "Money" was eventually re-released in its original form, but frustratingly not the others. In the meantime, at no small expense, I've had to track down mint copies of the original vinyls and transfer them to CDR - phew, what a palaver! But worth it.

If you haven't heard the original, you may get something out of this CD, but otherwise you'd be advised to steer well clear!
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on 14 August 2012
This has long been one of my faves from Franks wonderful treasures, in its original 1968 form. However, this new 2012 release is the same 1984 Digital Remix that was released back in 1987, with the newly added drums and bass, which totally overpower everything else. This is very disappointing because the new release of Hot Rats is back to the original, and in my personal opinion, far superior recording. So if you already own a 1987 copy, as I did, and were hoping for the original 1968 master, you may want to give this one a miss. Update 11.6.13. Since writing my original review I was contacted by a Mr Jon Shaw, who kindly informed me that the 1968 stereo mix is now available under the title of 'Greasy Love Songs' I have now purchased this direct from Zappa.com for £24.64 incl. delivery from the U.S.A. It really is a beautifully put together package, including 2009 remastering by Doug Sax, and worth every penny. Once again, thank you Jon.
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on 15 October 2016
Avoid this awful remaster at all costs. The brilliant original has been totally ruined by the addition of totally inappropriate bass and drums. Fortunately, you can get the original on MP3 released as Greasy Love Songs. Buy that - avoid this like the plague.
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on 17 January 2008
The original recording of Ruben and the Jets is one of the best ever Zappa albums, even though he might not have cared for that judgement, after all, he was trying to take the piss. Nevertheless it is genius. Then he mixed modern bass and efects on it AND COMPLETELY RUINED THE SOUND. What was he thinking? Zappa mixed the BEST SOUNDING albums while others failed miserably, and then he went and did this. Do not buy the re-mixed CD, look for the original. At least listen to the original before deciding to buy this CD.
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on 23 January 2004
Doo-wop tunes galore, together with redone versions of songs from Freak Out!, this is probably the weirdest Mothers album. A lot of fans hated it when it first came out, and many still do - but it's important to realise that the band loved this kind of music, and played it to please themselves. It informs the rest of their output, and it's the purest expression of the doo-wop thread that runs right through FZ's work. He saw it as stupid but charming music with "sub-mongoloid" lyrics and "redundant piano triplets" - and the album has a twisted beauty that reflects this. The best tracks on the album (I think) are the first and the last. "Cheap Thrills" is a joyous greasy rock n roll song that shows that FZ could have written pop songs all the time - he just found them too easy. "Stuff Up the Cracks" is a melodramatic suicide threat in a song, which concludes with a heavy wah-wah guitar solo, as if the band have suddenly decided to play rock music again. The current version of this album has overdubbed bass and drum parts by Arthur Barrow and Chad Wackerman (among other changes), done at FZ's insistence in the early 80s - which make the album sound even weirder. Hopefully we'll get to hear the original again one day...
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VINE VOICEon 20 January 2017
Just to be clear, the 2016 vinyl release is cut from the revered 1968 analogue master, not the 1984 re-master with the newer bass drums and backing vocals which drives everyone mad. (I can understand why he wanted to tighten it up because it's full of mistakes but these are charming and the analogue warmth of the original is the price he paid. When you hear the natural reverb on his guitar solo at the end of Stuff Up The Cracks you'll see what I mean)

The record itself is a joy, pure unadulterated pop which is free of the musique concrete, creepy whisperings and surrealistic effects which adorn (quite wonderfully) the releases which precede and succeed it (Were Only in it For The Money, Lumpy Gravy, Uncle Meat). Consequently this is the Mothers album that you could play to your mum and she might enjoy it. This being Zappa, though, there is still subversion, but here it takes the form of doing-wop satire, pounding sludge-slow drums, phrases repeated once too often, songs about doing yourself in cause your girlfriend ditched you, not very subtle entendres and so on.

Despite this, there is genuine affection for the music it satirises and the songs, whilst simplistic and genre based, are wonderfully arranged, with rich vocal harmonies taking the fore. You Didn't Try To Call Me ends with a glorious switch in time signature and a kind of choral fugue, for example. 'Anything' is as beautiful a melody as Zappa ever recorded (although written by Ray Collins). And yes, Fountain of Love ends with a hook lifted from Stravinsky!

There is also a thematic consistency here,unlike the deliberately fragmentation found almost all other Zappa's rock albums. This is definitely a concept album in the way Sgt Pepper and other more well known 'conceptual' works fail to be.

Casual fans of Zappa should not hesitate if they'd like to see the Mothers with their guard down. Serious fans will already know what to expect, and this vinyl will set you back much less than the Greasy Love Songs document (the same versions, plus alternates and outtakes). Postmodern, joyful, sleazy, playful, ugly and beautiful all at the same time. A must have. Get the vinyl version for two bonus fact sheet inserts telling how you must comb your hair and how to dance.
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on 14 April 2005
The CD version was severely remixed in the 80's, with new drum and bass added to the point that it basically sounds like a different album from the original vinyl, which came out in 1968!
How weird is that? A 60's album that sounds like something from the era of Duran Duran & Spandau Ballet. .. ok it's not that bad, but things like reverb/echo are noticably 'digitised' up. Why did Frank bother? who knows..
Taking the album as it is, it's unique in Zappa's catalogue, as he is exploring 50's doo-wop, though obviously with his spin on it, with a touch of humour thrown in to boot.
I would urge people to try and seek out the vinyl by any means necessary as that is a 4 or 5 star album. The CD version is 3 stars. That said, maybe people will prefer the CD. I just think a 60's album ought to sound like a 60's album, and not a weird cross 60's-80's hybrid.
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on 4 February 2007
Bop-Dwaedy Doop! Great album. I first got into this LP some 25 years ago and it wa a big fave; happily I have recently rediscovered it. The best and perhaps most accessible of the original 60s MOI albums, this LP features FZ and the band playing affectionate tribute to Frank's childhood love of 50s doo-wop. It's so much a spot-on steal, you wonder how much of a satire this LP was actually supposed to be. Great arrangements, playing and production, too - truly a labour of love. One word of warning though - the CD reissues do not feature the original album, which has been unavailable since the early 70s - go seek out the 1968 vinyl!
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on 14 September 2005
I only became aware of Zappa in about 1999, so I missed the original versions of all of his work. This was one of the first of his CDs I bought (I was playing safe for as long as possible!). I have to say, I think it's fantastic. There's some incredibly catchy tunes on here - Fountain of Love and Anything being perhaps the best examples. Plus Ray Collins probably sounds better on this album than anywhere else - he seems to have been made for doo-wop!
Dare I say it - THE place to start with Frank Zappa???
I'd still like the hear the original though.
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on 17 June 2005
"Cruising with Ruben and the Jets" is a unique, even by Zappa's
standards, record - an hommage to classic doo-wop by a connoiseur of
the genre. This record sounds like no other record you've ever heard,inspired by certain low-budget doo-wop hits of the fifties,
for example "Earth Angel". For some strange reason, Zappa "modernized" both this LP and "We're only in it for the Money" with
new bass and drums, which wasn't very successfull, and while "Money"
is on CD in it's original mix, "Ruben" has the dubious honour of being the only Zappa-record not released on CD.Avoid this, and find
this fantastic record on vinyl instead!
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