Them or Us
Zappa Them or Us.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 18, 1984
RecordedNovember 1981 - June 1984 (elements of "Ya Hozna" and "Planet Of My Dreams" were recorded between 1967 and 1976)
LabelBarking Pumpkin
ProducerFrank Zappa
Frank Zappa chronology
Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger
Them or Us
Francesco Zappa
Singles from Them or Us
  1. "Baby Take Your Teeth Out"
    Released: 1984
  2. "In France"
    Released: 1984
Professional ratings
Review scores

Them or Us is an album by American musician Frank Zappa, released in October 1984 by Barking Pumpkin Records.

"Now, the name of this album is Them or Us, and in America, as far as I'm concerned, it means US, the Pagans, versus THEM, those hideous Christians. And if they want to have a law in Congress that says you can't put anything backwards on a record, well, and how about a record that's got it all backwards?"

— Frank Zappa talks about "Ya Hozna", interviewed by Andy Batten-Foster, BBC Radio 1, UK, September 1984.[2]

Album content

Its opening and closing songs were not written by Zappa: "The Closer You Are", was written by Earl Lewis and Morgan Robinson and originally released by The Channels; and "Whippin' Post", originally performed by The Allman Brothers Band.

"Ya Hozna" includes backward vocals taken from "Sofa No. 2" (from One Size Fits All, 1975), "Lonely Little Girl" (from We're Only in It for the Money, 1968) and unreleased outtakes of "Valley Girl" (vocals by Moon Zappa). "Planet of My Dreams" (featuring Bob Harris on vocals) is a 1981 studio recording taken from the score of Zappa's unrealized 1972 stage musical Hunchentoot (other titles from this show appear on the first-CD edition of the Sleep Dirt reissue from 1993). "Be In My Video", described as the best song on the album,[3] pokes fun at the cliches in music videos, particularly David Bowie's hit single "Let's Dance".

As with other Zappa rock albums of this era, many of the tracks are sourced from live recordings. Later studio overdubs were liberally applied, although there is no mention of this on the album notes.[4]


Following problems with the album Thing-Fish, which MCA Records refused to distribute,[5] Zappa made a deal with EMI Records, which would allow Them Or Us and Thing-Fish to be distributed by Capitol Records in the United States.[5] Zappa wrote a "warning" which appeared on the inner sleeves of these albums, as well as Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention, which stated that the albums contained content "which a truly free society would neither fear nor suppress", and a "guarantee" which stated that the lyrics would not "cause eternal torment in the place where the guy with the horns and pointed stick conducts his business."[5]

Track listing

All tracks written by Frank Zappa, except where noted.

Side one
1."The Closer You Are" (Earl Lewis, Morgan "Bobby" Robinson)2:55
2."In France"3:30
3."Ya Hozna"6:26
Side two
5."Sinister Footwear II"8:39
6."Truck Driver Divorce"8:59
Side three
7."Stevie's Spanking"5:23
8."Baby, Take Your Teeth Out"1:54
9."Marque-son's Chicken"7:33
10."Planet of My Dreams"1:37
Side four
11."Be in My Video"3:39
12."Them or Us"5:23
13."Frogs with Dirty Little Lips" (Frank Zappa, Ahmet Zappa)2:42
14."Whipping Post" (Gregg Allman)7:32



Production staff


  1. ^ Couture, F. "Them or Us - Frank Zappa | AllMusic". Retrieved 21 July 2011.
  2. ^ Batten-Foster, Andy (September 1984). "Marc Riley's Musical Time Machine". BBC. Retrieved 8 August 2022.
  3. ^ Kelly Fisher Lowe. The Words and Music of Frank Zappa. University of Nebraska Press, 2007, p. 186
  4. ^ "Them or Us". Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  5. ^ a b c Zappa, Frank with Occhiogrosso, Peter (1989). The Real Frank Zappa Book. New York: Poseidon Press. pp. 278–279. ISBN 0-671-63870-X.