Mothers Of Invention: Cruising With Ruben And The Jets

By Morgan Ames

High Fidelity, March 1969

MOTHERS OF INVENTION: Cruising with Ruben and the Jets. Mothers of Invention, vocals and instrumentals. Anything; I'm Not Satisfied; No, No, No; ten more. Verve 6- 5055, $4.79.

Ruben and the Jets are the Mothers of Invention. They are perhaps the most respect-worthy group in rock, first because they are all solid musicians, and second because they don't truck with the rock mystique. They don't protest, moan, flaunt, preach, fumble, or feel sorry for themselves in the name of Art. What they do is laugh – at themselves, at the establishment, and at the hippies who buy their music. As a rule, the super-intense hippie world is quick to defend its territory, but they don't seem to notice this mockery from within their ranks. The acid world could use a few laughs, and it's a shame the talented Mothers don't get more appreciation from their own.

This album is in keeping with the Mothers' policy of irreverence. It's not even rock. It's an immaculately faithful trip (excuse the unfortunate choice of word) into the deadly pop music of the 1950s – apparently the formative years of the musicians involved.

It's a gloriously stupid album. Even the titles smell of the Eisenhower years: Deseri, Fountain of Love, Jelly Roll Gum Drop. Personnel run-downs include Frank Zappa: low grumbles, oo-wah, and lead guitar; Ian Underwood or Don Preston: redundant piano triplets; Arthur Dyre Tripp III: lewd pulsating rhythm. The group's fan club (address on album) is United Mutations and a quote at the bottom of the page says: " 'The present-day Pachuco refuses to die!' Ruben Sano, June 1955." Even the album title is inspired. There is nothing to be said about this kind of brainless music, and the group doesn't try to say anything. They only relive it with startling efficiency. Only once did I catch Zappa's guitar slipping into something meaningful – but he quickly yanked himself back into simpering 6/8. Memory is merciful. One remembers Frank Sinatra of the '50s and forgets Paul Anka.

Recently there has been a vague attempt to repopularize this kind of music. The movement is nonhumorous and sincere, therefore obnoxious. It's different with Zappa and the Mothers. One suspects they really do like this music, or the nostalgia it induces in them.

But make no mistake: they know what it is. The smiles on the Mothers' faces are still honest. M.A.

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