Made at the height of Cream and love beads, Cruising With Ruben & the Jets, the 1968 LP by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, was the first rock & roll tribute record: 13 original songs soaked in the oiled-pompadour cool, prom-night lust and tremulous croon of Fifties vocal-group R&B. The corn was abundant ("Cheap Thrills," "Jelly Roll Gum Drop"), but the album — reissued in this spiffy retitled edition with the original '68 stereo mix and bonus material — was no parody. Doo-wop was as vital to Zappa's composing palette as Stravinsky, and Mothers' Ray Collins and Roy Estrada could sing the real thing, in nasal garage-choir harmonies and wildly looping falsetto. At the time, this music and its coded sexuality were still a fairly recent memory, although it's hard to imagine Zappa's Fifties idols, like Don Julian and the Meadowlarks, cutting anything as fiercely nihilistic as "Stuff Up the Cracks."
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