Band member Ray Collins had left the Mothers before the New York recording sessions took place, but later rejoined when the band was recording the doo-wop songs that formed the album Cruisin' with Ruben & the Jets. Gary Kellgren was hired as an engineer for the project, and subsequently wound up delivering spoken pieces of dialogue that linked segments of We're Only in It for the Money. During the recording sessions, Verve requested that Zappa remove a verse from the song "Mother People". Zappa complied, but reversed the recording and included the backwards verse as part of the dialogue track "Hot Poop", concluding the album's first side, but this would be removed by Verve themselves on subsequent represses of their own.
While recording We're Only in It for the Money, Zappa discovered that the strings of Apostolic Studios' grand piano would resonate if a person spoke near those strings. The "piano people" experiment involved Zappa having various speakers improvise dialogue using topics offered by Zappa. Various people contributed to these sessions, including Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart and Tim Buckley. The "piano people" voices primarily consisted of Motorhead Sherwood, Roy Estrada, Spider Barbour, All-Night John (the manager of the studio) and Louis Cuneo, who was noted for his laugh, which sounded like a "psychotic turkey".
During the production, Zappa experimented with recording and editing techniques which produced unusual textures and musique concrète compositions; the album featured abbreviated songs interrupted by segments of dialogue and unrelated music which changed the continuity of the album. Segments of orchestral music included on the album came from a solo orchestral album by Zappa previously released by Capitol Records under the title Lumpy Gravy in 1967. MGM claimed that Zappa was under contractual obligation to record for them, and subsequently Zappa re-edited Lumpy Gravy, releasing a drastically different version on Verve Records, after the release of We're Only in It for the Money. The artwork of Lumpy Gravy identified it as "phase 2 of We're Only in It for the Money", while We're Only in It for the Money was identified in its artwork as "phase one of Lumpy Gravy", alluding to the conceptual continuity of the two albums.
Before release, MGM censored several tracks without Zappa's knowledge, involvement or permission. On the song "Absolutely Free", the line "I'm not going to do any more publicity balling for you" was edited by MGM to remove the word "balling", changing the context of the sentence. Additionally, on "Let's Make The Water Turn Black", the line "and I still remember Mama, with her apron and her pad, feeding all the boys at Ed's Cafe" was removed. Zappa later learned that this line was censored because an MGM executive thought that the word "pad" referred to a sanitary napkin, rather than a waitresses order pad. Also censored was the Lenny Bruce reference in "Harry, You're A Beast", and a spoken segment of "Concentration Moon" referring to The Velvet Underground as being "as shitty a group as Frank Zappa's group". Zappa later declined to accept an award for the album upon being made aware of the censorship, stating "I prefer that the award be presented to the guy who modified this record, because what you're hearing is more reflective of his work than mine."
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Famous quotes containing the word recording:
“Write while the heat is in you.... The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“He shall not die, by G, cried my uncle Toby.
MThe ACCUSING SPIRIT which flew up to heavens chancery with the oath, blushd as he gave it in;and the RECORDING ANGEL as he wrote it down, droppd a tear upon the word, and blotted it out for ever.”
—Laurence Sterne (17131768)
“I didnt have to think up so much as a comma or a semicolon; it was all given, straight from the celestial recording room. Weary, I would beg for a break, an intermission, time enough, lets say, to go to the toilet or take a breath of fresh air on the balcony. Nothing doing!”
—Henry Miller (18911980)