Frank Zappa “Greasy Love Songs”
I recently mail-ordered a ‘new’ Frank Zappa CD from zappa.com” “Greasy Love Songs” – an actual CD issue of the LP mix of “Cruisin’ With Ruben & The Jets” (album #5), from 1967/8. It’s nifty, tough & bitchen.
The good news: Sounds great. Bonus tracks are ‘of interest’. Packaging is nice – but I wish the Cal Schenkel artwork was featured more prominently (like on the exterior of the package). The bad news: It’s expensive ($21 + tax + shipping charges) and comes from a place called “Musictoday”.
When Mr. Zappa re-mastered everything “to digital” in the 80’s, he messed with 3 albums that are fairly close to my soul: “We’re Only In It For The Money”, “Cruisin’ With Ruben & The Jets” and “Hot Rats”. I mean, all of the early Zappa albums had a little ‘digital reverb’ whapped on – but these three were made almost unlistenable – for “Only Money” and “Ruben” – Mr. Zappa actually had musicians over-dub new bass and drum parts (!), not to a good effect. For “Hot Rats”, I think ‘tape noise’ was so mightily feared, handcrafted multi-track tapes were “re-tweezed” (and re-mixed) until the charm of the original album was truly squashed. Yes, the CD is longer, but the mix is ‘not good’. The ZFT ( = Zappa Family Trust ) has now ‘done the right thing’ with 2 of the 3 albums mentioned. Can an expensive mail-order CD of the LP mix of “Hot Rats” be far behind? I hope not!
Yes, the really expensive sets that once-and-for-all take care of “Freak Out” (album #1) and “We’re Only In It For The Money” (album #3) / “Lumpy Gravy” (album #4) are wonderful, excellent – worth every penny. Um, looks like they have ‘forgotten’ “Absolutely Free” (album #2) – I’d be willing to pay Musictoday entirely too much money for a multi-disc set of that album – but, they haven’t done it yet!
“Cruisin’ With Ruben & The Jets” is a good album for people who are uncomfortable with the ‘musique concrete’ aspect of Zappa’s work. There’s none of that here. It’s 13 pop songs, expertly written & performed, and very charming. I got the original LP of this so long ago…more than 40 years ago. I was a child. I took it at 100% face value, and it made it past ‘the inspector’ and has been in my brain / soul ever since. Is it pastiche / parody of 50’s ‘greaser’ songs? Not really, it’s Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention playing music that they really like. And it shows. Lots of ‘fun’.