We're Only in It for the Money

We're Only in It for the Money
We're Only in It for the Money
Studio album by The Mothers of Invention
Released March 4, 1968 (1968-03-04)
Recorded March 14–16; August 2–9; October 1967 at Capitol Studios, LA; Mayfair and Apostolic Studios, NYC
Genre Experimental rock, musique concrete, psychedelic rock, comedy rock
Length 39:07
Label Verve
Producer Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa Studio Albums chronology
Lumpy Gravy
We're Only in It for the Money
Cruising with Ruben & the Jets
CD reissue cover
The intended front cover of the album. At the insistence of the record company, the image became part of the gatefold sleeve. It was the front cover of the CD release.
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau (A)[2]

We're Only in It For the Money is the third studio album by The Mothers of Invention, released in March 1968. The album peaked at number thirty on the Billboard 200. The album satirizes many aspects of 1960s culture, such as hippie culture and music.



In 1967, Zappa conceived an album, Our Man in Nirvana, which would combine the music of his band The Mothers of Invention with comedy routines by Lenny Bruce (who had performed with Zappa at The Fillmore in 1966).[3] However, when Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was released and hugely touted as the first concept album, Zappa, who already had released two (which Paul McCartney later stated had influenced Sgt. Pepper[4]) felt compelled to respond. Also, Zappa noticed its cultural effect, and felt that the then-popular flower power scene had and would continue to have a major influence on popular culture. Consequently, he decided to produce instead a satirical album that parodied every cynical aspect of the fad, Sgt. Pepper, and 1960s US society.[5] The song "Flower Punk" is based upon "Hey Joe",[6] famously performed by Love, The Leaves, The Byrds, The Surfaris and Jimi Hendrix, who is himself pictured in the cover art. "Mother People" was featured in an episode of The Monkees ("Monkees Blow Their Minds"), which also featured Zappa and Michael Nesmith posing as each other. The only vestige of the original album idea in We're Only in It... is the phrase "Don't come in me, in me..." in the song "Harry, You're A Beast", a reference to a Lenny Bruce routine about ejaculation.[7]

Cover art

Cal Schenkel's design was intended as a parody of the cover for The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.[8] The fold-out cover for Sgt. Pepper had a collage of famous people by Peter Blake on the outside front, a picture of the group with one member facing away from the camera on the back, and a head-shot portrait of the band on the inside. Zappa originally intended to use the cover as one would expect—front cover on the front, back cover on the back, and the inside group head-shot on the inside—but Zappa's record company demurred and turned the cover inside-out for release, putting the most blatant Sgt. Pepper parody (front cover very similar in its production; back cover showing a picture of the group with only one member facing toward the camera) on the inside and the head-shot portrait pastiche of the band on the outside. Next to Zappa's head on the back cover is a speech bubble that reads, "Is this phase one of Lumpy Gravy?". Respectively, Zappa's next album, Lumpy Gravy features a similar speech bubble that reads "Is this phase 2 of We're Only in It for the Money?"

The 1986 Rykodisc release on CD featured the original photo restored to the front cover, but minus the group headshot. This release combined this album with Lumpy Gravy. In 1995, Zappa's estate authorized the rerelease of the original cover art with the headshot along with the original Verve records mix—as "Lumpy Gravy" was also reissued on its own with its original cover art and Verve Records mix. One section of the CD liner art features a series of badges, banknote, and facial hair cut-outs, satirizing those of Sgt. Pepper, with some differences; one badge features a small photograph of recording engineer Gary Kellgren and the other is a nipple. The banknote had a picture of a belly button in the middle.

Release and censorship

Originally released in March 1968, the album eventually peaked at number thirty on the Billboard 200. Initial releases of the album had certain sections of songs edited or removed due to perceived offensiveness. These two sets of edits are often distinguished by the monikers "censored" and "heavily censored." However, these set of edits were sometimes applied inconsistently, so these two categories are inexhaustive.[9]

Tracks affected by censor edits on all original versions:

  • "Concentration Moon": Gary Kellgren's whispered remark "I get to work with The Velvet Underground, which is as shitty a group as Frank Zappa's group" was cut. However, the Canadian release of the album keeps the line intact. Later Verve pressings (aka the "heavily censored" version) only removes part of the line, rendering it as "I get to work with the Velvet Underground, Frank Zappa's group."[9]
  • "Harry You're a Beast": The "Don't come in me, in me" verse was edited in order to hide the offending lyric by re-editing parts of the verse in the wrong way, and reversing parts of the song. This phrase is from Lenny Bruce's "To is a Preposition, Come is a Verb" routine.[9]
  • "Mother People": a verse containing the expletives 'fucking' and 'shitty' was replaced with a repeat of the first. The original verse was backmasked and appended to the track "Hot Poop" (even there, however, the word "fucking" has its "uck" part cut out to make it less obvious ).[9]

Additional tracks affected by censor edits on the "heavily censored" versions:

  • "Who Needs the Peace Corps?": a spoken line "I will love the police as they kick the shit out of me" was cut out.[9]
  • "Absolutely Free": The spoken word lines "I don't do publicity balling for you any more" and remark "Flower power sucks" were removed.[9]
  • "Let's Make The Water Turn Black": Several lines of the song are removed, most notably the line about Ronnie and Kenny Williams' mother ("and I still remember Mama with her Apron and her pad). Zappa believed that the line was cut because a record company executive thought the line referred to a sanitary pad.[10]


The album was first issued on CD in 1986 with newly recorded bass and percussion tracks. Parts censored from the original release were also restored. However, subsequent fan demand for the original Verve recording led to its restoration on Rykodisc's 1995 release and onwards. Some of the censorship is still present.[11]

Disc 2 of the 2008 3-disc Frank Zappa CD, "Lumpy Money", contains the 1986 reissue of "We're Only In It For The Money" sourced from a digital master tape, and mastered by Bernie Grundman in 2008. There is also an original 1968 mono mix as part of this collection.[12]


The album was included in Q magazine's list of the "Best Psychedelic Albums of All Time." In 2003, the album was ranked number 296 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[13] In 2005, it was one of 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.

Track listing

All tracks written by Frank Zappa.

Original 1968 Release

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Are You Hung Up?"   1:23
2. "Who Needs the Peace Corps?"   2:34
3. "Concentration Moon"   2:32
4. "Mom & Dad"   2:16
5. "Bow Tie Daddy"   0:33
6. "Harry, You're a Beast"   1:22
7. "What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body?"   1:03
8. "Absolutely Free"   3:26
9. "Flower Punk"   3:57
10. "Hot Poop"   0:26
Side two
No. Title Length
1. "Nasal Retentive Calliope Music"   2:03
2. "Let's Make the Water Turn Black"   1:45
3. "The Idiot Bastard Son"   2:44
4. "Lonely Little Girl" (Listed on the gatefold sleeve as "It's His Voice On the Radio") 1:45
5. "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance"   1:35
6. "What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body? (Reprise)"   0:57
7. "Mother People"   2:32
8. "The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny"   6:25


The Mothers of Invention

Session musicians

  • Eric Clapton – Male speaking part in "Are You Hung Up?" and "Nasal Retentive Calliope Music."
  • Gary Kellgren – "the one doing all the creepy whispering" (i.e., interstitial spoken segments)
  • Spider Barbour – vocals
  • Dick Kunc – "cheerful interruptions" vocal
  • Vicki Kellgren – additional telephone vocals
  • Sid Sharp – orchestral arrangements on "Absolutely Free", "Mother People" and "The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny"


  • Producer: Frank Zappa
  • Executive producer: Tom Wilson
  • Engineers: Gary Kellgren, Dick Kunc
  • Remixing: Dick Kunc
  • Editing: Dick Kunc, Frank Zappa
  • Arranger: Frank Zappa
  • Concept: Frank Zappa
  • Art direction: Cal Schenkel
  • Design: Cal Schenkel
  • Artwork: Cal Schenkel
  • Photography: Jerrold Schatzberg
  • Fashion advisor: Tiger Morse
  • Wardrobe: Billy Mundi



Year Chart Position
1968 US Billboard 200 30


  1. ^ Huey, Steve (2011 [last update]). "We're Only in It for the Money - The Mothers of Invention | AllMusic". allmusic.com. http://www.allmusic.com/album/r22631. Retrieved 26 June 2011. 
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (2011 [last update]). "Robert Christgau: CG: Artist 4155". robertchristgau.com. http://www.robertchristgau.com/get_artist2.php?id=4155. Retrieved 26 June 2011. 
  3. ^ Sovetov, Vladimir. "ARF: Notes and Comments: WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY: Harry, You're A Beast". http://www.arf.ru/Notes/Woiftm/harry.html. Retrieved July 8, 2006. 
  4. ^ Fox, John. "Frank Zappa? Classical Music? Absolutely.". Archived from the original on February 13, 2006. http://web.archive.org/web/20060213083608/http://mondaviarts.org/education/artsMail_view.cfm?articleid=12. Retrieved July 17, 2006. 
  5. ^ "The Big Note | Serving The Lumpy Gravy". Archived from the original on June 10, 2006. http://web.archive.org/web/20060610231518/http://www.thebignote.com/archived/some_more_pt_iii.php. Retrieved July 17, 2006. 
  6. ^ Show 42 - The Acid Test: Psychedelics and a sub-culture emerge in San Francisco. [Part 2] : UNT Digital Library
  7. ^ "Monologues of Lenny Bruce Cited in Obscenity Prosecutions". http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/bruce/brucemonologues.html. Retrieved July 8, 2006. 
  8. ^ Show 43 - Revolt of the Fat Angel: Some samples of the Los Angeles sound. [Part 3] : UNT Digital Library
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Phase 315 of we're only in it for the money censorship". http://home.concepts.nl/~hades/Phase315ofWOIIFTMcensorship.htm. Retrieved July 16, 2006. 
  10. ^ Zappa, Frank; Occhiogrosso, Peter (1989). "Are We Having Fun Yet?". The Real Frank Zappa Book. Simon & Schuster. http://s115622334.onlinehome.us/cd/bl/zappabook/trfzb30.htm#4. Retrieved July 2006. "Years later I learned that an MGM executive was convinced that the word "pad" referred to a sanitary napkin. He became obsessed with the idea that a waitress somewhere was feeding sanitary napkins to people in a restaurant, and demanded (in violation of our contract) that it be removed." 
  11. ^ "Rykodisc Catalog - We're Only In It For The Money - Frank Zappa". Rykodisc. Archived from the original on July 6, 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20070706213927/http://www.rykodisc.com/catalog/dump/rykoalbums_584.asp. Retrieved July 17, 2006. 
  12. ^ the CD's liner notes, and information on the official zappa.com website
  13. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/500albums. Retrieved July 12, 2006. 

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