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Is this phase two of 'We're only in it for the money'?
on 10 September 2001
An important stage in Zappa's evolution into a serious composer, and a brave move for a rock star in his 20s in 1968. This represents Zappa's first fully orchestral release, and may well be unique in that Zappa doesn't play a single note on the entire album. The majority of the album is made up of strange, mumbling snatches of conversation between various Mothers of Invention, groupies, and anyone else who happened to be wandering by the studio (allegedly recorded inside a piano) which, while ocassionally amusing, can tend to drag a little (even for a die-hard Zappaphile like myself). However, these indulgences are well worth trawling through when the suite turns to more serious matters, and Zappa conducts the Abnuceals Emuukha Elkectric Symphony Orchestra and Choir. These excursions owe much to Zappa's love of early-20th century German avant-garde composer Edgar Varese, and range from staccato percussion pieces, through dissonant orchestral stutters, to the highlight of the album, the theme 'Oh No' (later to be re-recorded, with lyrics, for 'Weasels Ripped My Flesh' - and, as such, - along with the strangely affecting surf-pop rendition of 'Take your clothes off' from 'We're only in it for the money' - representing the birth of Zappa's 'conceptual continuity' i.e. the impulse to continually revisit past themes and melodies). Typically, however, even the beautiful, swinging, expansive, groovy theme of 'Oh No, is somewhat infuriatingly cut up into two pieces with a lot of extraneous dialogue between the two halves.
On the whole, a fascinating insight into the ambitious mind of a fledgling genius - but perhaps one for the fans among us.