Frank Zappa: Lumpy Money

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Frank Zappa: <em>Lumpy Money</em>

Two seminal Zappa albums fleshed out in a big, box-set kind of way

The second installment in Zappa Records’ “4tieth Anniversary FZ Audio Documentary” series exposes the Kraken lurking inside the bought-and-sold bodies of Frank Zappa’s albums. The title—cross-hitched from the 1968 albums comprising this set, Lumpy Gravy and We’re Only In It For The Money—appropriately links the two together (the parodic rock-pastiche of Money had time to emerge when Lumpy’s release was stalled due to label disputes). Lumpy Gravy was Zappa’s first official solo project, and Money his third release with the Mothers of Invention. Still, the shared methodology of the two albums—frenetic collage—helps answer the rhetorical question posed on the back of Lumpy Gravy: “Is this phase 2 of We’re Only In It For The Money?”

We’re Only In It For The Money, whose Sgt. Pepper-parody cover stalled its own release, gets less revelatory treatment here. But it needs less; its ’60s-skewering rock suite hilariously and compellingly lampoons the decade’s countercultural overindulgence, paranoid close-minded conservativism and slick or uninspired artistic movements. It still singes. That the answer to Zappa’s central question in freak-out waltz “What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body?” (“your mind”) hasn’t changed much in 40 years makes you wonder just what Frank would do in 2009. My guess is reissue this album.