Frank Zappa - Greasy Love Songs (original release 1968, anniversary release 2010)

Cheap Thrills   2:22
Love of My Life   3:09
How Could I Be Such a Fool   3:34
Deseri   2:06
I'm Not Satisfied   4:03
Jelly Roll Gum Drop   2:20
Anything   3:04
Later That Night   3:05
You Didn't Try to Call Me   3:56
Fountain of Love   3:01
"No. No. No."   2:29
Anyway the Wind Blows   2:57
Stuff Up the Cracks   4:34
Jelly Roll Gum Drop (alt. mono mix)   2:17
"No. No. No" (long version)   3:06
Stuff Up the Cracks (alt. version from WOIIFTM sessions)   6:05
"Serious Fan Mail" (lecture/interview clips)   5:10
Valerie (alt. mono version from WOIIFTM sessions)   3:03
Jelly Roll Gum Drop (single version)   2:24
"Secret Greasing" (FZ reads 'The Story of Reuben & the Jets')   3:36
Love of My Life (original Cucamonga version)   2:05
Total Time:    68:35

Continuing with their program of releasing expanded, remastered 40th anniversary versions of Frank's albums (this time a couple years late), the Zappa Family Trust presents Greasy Love Songs, the re-issue of Cruising With Ruben & the Jets. The sound quality isn't particularly spiffy, but that may be by design since we're finally getting a CD version of the original vinyl mix, rather than the re-done version that Zappa released in the 80s with new drum and bass tracks. While it's nice to finally get an official release of the original mix (despite having had it for years on a "boot" CDR that I got in trade), it's almost painful to listen to through good headphones because the mix is so claustrophobic and the kick drum is so loud and thumpy on some songs. It's still better than that 80s mess though.

Despite the fact that the release is just a single disc and there's not much groundbreaking material here, the ZFT feels justified in gouging the fan base out of $21 for this one (at least that's what I paid when I ordered it from their web site, and that doesn't include the exorbitant shipping fees). What do you get for that price? The original mix of the album, six alternate versions (including two versions of the same song), a couple interview clips and a shiny silver cardboard fold-out case to keep it all in. Oh yeah, the CD comes in a little slipcase that simulates an old vinyl 45 wrapper, and there's a booklet that has the original liner notes, new notes by Cheech Marin about how he auditioned to be the vocalist in the Ruben band, the lyrics, some photos of the early mothers and a little "trading card" with FZ's high school photo on it.

All in all I guess it's a fairly nice package. But the ridiculous price coupled with my general lack of interest in the Ruben album to begin with kind of makes this just a so-so release for me. If I weren't such a Zappa completist, I probably wouldn't have bought it at all.

Of the bonus tracks, the only one that really grabbed my attention is the alternate version of Valerie. I've heard the original (Zappa's version is a cover), and was amused by the way-over-the-top screaming, crying and wailing of the vocalist. Apparently Frank found it funny too, because this version of the song duplicates those out-of-control vocals and might even take them a little further.

The interview clips are kind of interesting too. Zappa claims that multiple DJs played the album thinking it was a new band and loved the music...until they found out it was really The Mothers of Invention. Then they'd send the album back in an envelope, chopped up into tiny pieces with an axe. I share the interviewer's skepticism about whether that really happened, but it makes a good story. Frank also mentions that the band was planning on going back into the studio to record Cruising II, and that they were pretty much just going to wing it and play the songs live in the studio, making them up as they go. I wonder if anything ever came of those plans?

So is the CD worth buying? That depends on how much you like Zappa's semi-mocking tribute to doo-wop music. If you really liked the original Ruben album or have only heard the 80s CD version and want to hear the original, then it might be worth picking up. But you may want to wait a while and see if the price comes down to something nearing reasonable.

Album Cover

Image of the Greasy Love Songs album cover