Cruising With Ruben & The Jets

Cruising With Ruben & The Jets

For all of Frank Zappa's acclaimed weirdness and avant-classical pedigree, he was also a huge '50s doo-wop fan. The fourth Mothers of Invention album turned away from the tape-edit madness and musique concrète of the first three groundbreaking Mothers albums for a sound that's so traditional and so fine ... at first listen. Repeated plays reveal a cynicism in deliberately banal lyrics and a few stylistic flourishes that break through the music's fourth wall. "How Could I Be Such a Fool," "Any Way the Wind Blows," and "You Didn't Try to Call Me"—songs that appeared on Freak Out—are transformed into relatively straightforward tunes. Singer Ray Collins takes the reins for vintage vocal performances, while the driving piano and wall-of-sound approximations for "No. No. No.," "Love of My Life," and the rockin' "Jelly Roll Gum Drop" are among the most primal music Zappa ever recorded. Please note: this is the 1985 issue of the album, where Zappa had bassist Arthur Barrow and drummer Chad Wackerman re-record the rhythm tracks, except for "Stuff Up the Cracks," which is the original recording.

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