Ruben and the Jets - Cruising With Ruben & The Jets (1968)

Cheap Thrills 2:30
Love of My Life 3:17
How Could I Be Such a Fool   3:33
Deseri 2:04
I'm Not Satisfied 3:59
Jelly Roll Gum Drop 2:17
Anything 3:00
Later That Night 3:04
You Didn't Try to Call Me 3:53
Fountain of Love 2:57
"No. No. No." 2:27
Anyway the Wind Blows 2:56
Stuff Up the Cracks 4:37
Total Time: 41 min, 19 sec

This album is credited to Ruben and the Jets, but a speech balloon coming from the cartoon guitarist on the cover says "Is this the Mothers of Invention recording under a different name in a last ditch attempt to get their cruddy music on the radio?". Zappa always had a love of doo-wop music, and the Mothers often threw some of those types of songs into their concerts. So while work was under way on the more "serious" Uncle Meat album, Zappa decided to also record a disc of tongue-in-cheek doo-wop tunes, both new songs and some heavily reworked versions of songs from Freak Out.

To be completely frank (no pun intended), if there's one Zappa album that I can honestly say I have no use for, it's this one. For years I assumed it was because everyone said the CD (which was remixed and partially re-recorded in the 80s) was vastly inferior to the original vinyl album. But last year someone sent me a CDR of the vinyl mix, and while it does sound more "organic" than the remix (i.e. it doesn't sound like a musical Frankenstein's monster stitched together from disparate sources), it still doesn't do much for me. The only exception is Stuff Up the Cracks, which sounds more like a standard Zappa "rock" track, complete with great guitar solo.

The liner notes for this release tell the story of the fictitious band Ruben and the Jets. This joke eventually became reality when a real band who played this style of music asked for Frank's permission to name themselves Ruben and the Jets and released an album called For Real. This group even contained a couple members of the Mothers and their first (only?) album was produced by FZ (rumor has it that one or two of the guitar solos on the album may be his as well).

Album Cover

Image of the Cruising With Ruben and the Jets album cover