‘Cruising With Ruben and the Jets’

Ray Collins’ best showcase was almost certainly the 1968 Mothers of Invention album “Cruising With Ruben and the Jets,” a silly but sweet tribute to doo-wop music and Mexican American culture on which the latter-day Claremont resident, who died Dec. 24, sings lead on every song, often in falsetto.

I had only owned the first three Mothers albums, which I appreciate more than actively like, but after Collins’ death, when I learned of his extensive involvement in “Ruben,” I bought a copy (at Rhino Records, natch). I like it.

A sort of concept album, the sleeve notes tell the “story of Ruben & the Jets,” as if they were a real but amateur band, one based in this area (as the Pomona-founded Mothers were).

One line: “There was already 11 other guys in the band so when he quit nobody missed him except for his car when they had to go to rehearsal or play for a battle of the bands at the American Legion Post in Chino.”

Band members are said to listen to oldies at Ruben’s house before going “to Burger Lane,” which in what may or may not have been a coincidence was the name of restaurants in both Ontario and Pomona.

The Wikipedia page for the album has interesting details on its recording and subsequent history. And here’s a link to a video of the Collins showcase “Anything” from that album, with a photo montage.

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