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Ahead of His Time: Final Wave of Zappa Reissues Arrives (For Now)

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Zappa - Ahead of Their TimeWelcome to our ongoing exploration of the Zappa Records/Universal Music (UMe) reissue campaign which will see a comprehensive array of Zappa titles remastered and reissued before 2012 is out!

The first batch of 12 titles arrived on July 31, and another 12 followed on August 28.  The third dozen appeared in stores on September 25, and Wave Four (including a new title, Understanding America) saw release on Tuesday, October 30.  Wave Five, the penultimate group, hit stores on November 19, and tomorrow, December 18, a final group of five CDs closes out the year, including another world premiere release, Finer Moments.

The following titles bring to a close the first year of releases from the Zappa Records/UMe partnership, though the door is certainly not closed on future releases:

  1. Ahead of Their Time (1993) – Official Release # 61 – 1992 Digital Master
  2. The Yellow Shark (1993) – Official Release # 62 – 1992 Digital Master
  3. The Lost Episodes (1996) – Official Release # 64 – 1992 Digital Master
  4. Läther (1996) – Official Release # 65 – 1996 Digital Master
  5. Finer Moments (2012) – Official Release # 94 – 1972 Analog Master, remastered by Stephen Marcussen

All of these discs have been transferred from their most current digital masters by Joe Travers, Zappa Records’ esteemed “Vaultmeister.”  Finer Moments was remastered in 2007 by Stephen Marcussen.

After the jump: FAQs and mastering information on the first five groups of titles, an update on the new Läther, plus a track listing plus artwork for Finer Moments!

POSTS OF JULY 30/AUGUST 27/SEPTEMBER 24/OCTOBER 26: Frank Zappa is back.  The musical iconoclast’s catalogue returns to stores tomorrow, as Universal Music, or UMe, launches its reissue series with a group of twelve titles.  With this initial wave of releases out imminently (and another twelve currently slated for release on August 28 – more on those below!), many of the questions surrounding the series can finally be answered.

Zappa’s recorded ouevre can be intimidating for the uninitiated, but UMe and Zappa Records are giving potential new fans a starting point: at the very beginning (a very good place to start, natch).  The titles are being released chronologically, making it somewhat easier to delve into the composer’s “conceptual continuity” between albums.  The new series also standardizes a catalogue in which certain titles have had multiple editions.

A little catalogue history, in brief: In the early-to-mid-80s, Zappa began an overhaul of his work, transferring analog masters to digital, and sometimes remixing, editing, and making other tweaks to the original albums.   This resulted in the first batch of CDs, most of which appeared on Rykodisc.  Some were released via Barking Pumpkin and other labels.  Once the 1990s rolled around, Zappa revisited his life’s work once again.  (Zappa died in 1993.)  He approved new masters for potential release, and a new, numbered series of FZ-approved masters arrived via Rykodisc, beginning in 1995.  Now, the catalogue is once again under control of the Zappa family, and as usual for this remarkable body of work, there are changes from previous issues.  How so?  Read on!

How do these titles differ from past releases on Rykodisc, Barking Pumpkin, etc.?

As we reported here back on June 22, Gail Zappa of The Zappa Family Trust promised that “the digital masters were all re-transferred by the Vaultmeister and about a third of the titles were reMastered [sic] from the original analog source…Each one is carefully labelled with the information you are looking for. Watch the skies.”  True to her word, the back cover art for each title clearly indicates its source.  If remastered from the original analog master, the engineer is also credited.  A list of thetitles and the mastering information follows:

Wave One

  1. Freak Out! (1966) – Official Release # 1 – 1987 Digital Master
  2. Absolutely Free (1967) – Official Release # 2 – 1967 Analog Master, remastered by Doug Sax
  3. Lumpy Gravy (1967) – Official Release # 3 – 1993 Digital Master
  4. We’re Only In It For The Money (1968) – Official Release # 4 – 1993 Digital Master of FZ Remix
  5. Cruising with Ruben & the Jets (1968) – Official Release # 5 – 1987 Digital Master
  6. Uncle Meat (1969) – Official Release # 6 – 1993 Digital Master of FZ Remix
  7. Hot Rats (1969) – Official Release # 8 – FZ-edited Analog Master, remastered by Bernie Grundman
  8. Burnt Weeny Sandwich (1970) – Official Release # 9 – 1969 Analog Master, remastered by Bob Ludwig
  9. Weasels Ripped My Flesh (1970) – Official Release # 10 – 1970 Analog Master, remastered by Bob Ludwig
  10. Chunga’s Revenge (1970) – Official Release # 11 – 1970 Analog Master, remastered by Bob Ludwig
  11. Fillmore East – June 1971 (1971) – Official Release # 12 – 1971 Analog Master, remastered by Doug Sax
  12. Just Another Band From LA (1972) – Official Release # 14 – 1972 Analog Master, remastered by Bob Ludwig

Wave Two

  1. Waka/Jawaka (1972) – Official Release # 15 – 1972 Analog Master, remastered by Doug Sax
  2. The Grand Wazoo (1972) – Official Release # 16 – 1972 Analog Master,  remastered by Doug Sax
  3. Over-Nite Sensation (1973) – Official Release # 17 – 1973 Analog Master, remastered by Bob Ludwig
  4. Apostrophe (‘) (1974) – Official Release # 18 – 1974 Analog Master, remastered by Doug Sax
  5. Roxy & Elsewhere (1974) – Official Release # 19 – 1992 Digital Master
  6. One Size Fits All (1975) – Official Release # 20 – 1975 Analog Master, remastered by Bob Ludwig
  7. Bongo Fury (1975) – Official Release # 21 – 1975 Analog Master, remastered by Bob Ludwig
  8. Zoot Allures (1976) – Official Release # 22 – 1976 Analog Master, remastered by Bob Ludwig
  9. Zappa in New York (1978) – Official Release # 23 – 1993 Digital Master
  10. Studio Tan (1978) – Official Release # 24 – 1977 Analog Master,  remastered by Doug Sax
  11. Sleep Dirt (1979) – Official Release # 25 – 1977 Analog Master,  remastered by Bob Ludwig
  12. Sheik Yerbouti (1979) – Official Release # 26 – 1978 Analog Master, remastered by Bob Ludwig

Wave Three

  1. Orchestral Favorites (1979) – Official Release # 27 – 1991 Digital Master
  2. Joe’s Garage Acts 1, 2 & 3 (1979) – Official Releases # 28 & 29 – 1979 Analog Master, remastered by Doug Sax
  3. Tinsel Town Rebellion (1981) – Official Release # 30 – 1981 Analog Master, remastered by Doug Sax
  4. Shut Up ‘N’ Play Yer Guitar (1981)Official Releases # 31, 32 & 33 – 1981 Analog Master, remastered by Bob Ludwig
  5. You Are What You Is (1981) – Official Release # 34 – 1981 Analog Master, remastered by Doug Sax
  6. Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch (1982) – Official Release # 35 – 1993 Digital Master
  7. The Man From Utopia (1983) – Official Release # 36 – Digital Master, remixed 1992 by Spencer Chrislu
  8. Baby Snakes (1983) – Official Release # 37 – 1993 Digital Master
  9. London Symphony Orchestra, Vols. I & II (1983/1987) – Official Releases # 38 & 48 – 1993 Digital Master
  10. Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger (1984)– Official Release # 39 – 1993 Digital Master
  11. Them Or Us (1984) – Official Release # 40 – 1984 Digital Master, remastered by Doug Sax
  12. THING-FISH (1984) – Official Release # 41 – 1993 Digital Master

Wave Four

  1. Francesco Zappa (1984) – Official Release # 42 – 1993 Digital Master
  2. Frank Zappa Meets The Mothers Of Prevention (1985) – Official Release # 44 – 1994 Digital Master
  3. Does Humor Belong In Music? (1986) – Official Release # 45 – 1994 Digital Master
  4. Jazz From Hell (1986) – Official Release # 47 – 1994 Digital Master
  5. Guitar (1988) – Official Release # 50 – 1994 Digital Master
  6. You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 1 (1988) – Official Release # 51 – 1993 Digital Master
  7. You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore, The Helsinki Tapes, Vol. 2 (1988) – Official Release # 52 – 1993 Digital Master
  8. Broadway The Hard Way (1988) – Official Release # 53 – 1994 Digital Master
  9. The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life (1991) – Official Release # 55 – 1990 Digital Master
  10. Make A Jazz Noise Here (1991) – Official Release # 57 – 1991 Digital Master
  11. Understanding America (2012) – All-New Release

Wave Five

  1. Mothermania (1969) – Official Release # 7 – 1969 Analog Master, remastered by Bob Ludwig
  2. You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 3 (1989) – Official Release # 54 – 1993 Digital Master
  3. You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 4 (1991) – Official Release # 56 – 1993 Digital Master
  4. You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 5 (1992) – Official Release # 58 – 1992 Digital Master
  5. You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 6 (1992) – Official Release # 59 – 1992 Digital Master
  6. Playground Psychotics (1992) – Official Release # 60 – 1994 Digital Master
  7. Have I Offended Someone? (1997) – Official Release # 67 – 1993 Digital Master
  8. Mystery Disc (1998) – Official Release # 68 – 1995 Digital Master

As it hews more closely to the original release, Hot Rats is without the extended “Gumbo Variations” as included on past CDs.  (Technically, it’s the 2008 Bernie Grundman remaster, which mostly resembles, but is not identical to, the 1969 LP mix.)  Fillmore East – June 1971 reverts to its original LP form, restoring “Willie the Pimp – Part II,” a track dropped for the Rykodisc CD edition.  “Didya Get Any Onya” from Weasels Ripped My Flesh is also heard in its original LP length.

The remaining five titles from Wave One (Freak Out!, We’re Only In It for the Money, Lumpy Gravy, Cruising with Ruben, and Uncle Meat) have been sourced from the digital masters as used for past CD releases, although they have been re-transferred.  In Gail Zappa’s words, “None of the new releases are ‘sourced’ from the Ryko releases and although many represent the digital masters mostly as you have come to understand them, many do not!”

Do any of the titles contain bonus tracks?

No, each title is presented only in its original LP sequence or the sequence prepared by Frank Zappa for past CD releases.  The determination is being made on a title-by-title basis.

What is the packaging like?

The packaging is faithful to the original album artwork.  Each title is housed in a jewel case with a clear tray.  Of the three titles we have previewed so far (Chunga’s Revenge, Fillmore East, Just Another Band), all have simple four-panel fold-outs (to replicate the original LP art) in lieu of a traditional booklet.  The art includes only the original credits plus basic information about these reissues.  There are no new liner notes.

All titles are on the Zappa Records imprint.  Its logo is presented alongside that of UMe on the back cover.    (Fans of the Barking Pumpkin label will be happy to know that its imagery, although not the text “Barking Pumpkin,” is also featured in each booklet.)  Artwork on each CD is drawn from an element of the original album cover.

Carrying over a tradition from the Rykodisc days, during which time CDs were designated as “FZ-Approved Masters,” titles are here designated as Official Releases.  Each bears a number on its spine.  The corresponding number for each album can be found here by clicking on the album cover, or here in simplified form.

Are these titles related to the Project/Object releases?

Zappa Records has previously released box set and expanded editions of seminal albums as Project/Object Audio Documentaries.  2006’s MOFO Project/Object was released in both 2-CD and 4-CD editions, both of which were built around the CD debut of the original 1966 stereo mix of Freak Out!  plus plenty of bonus tracks.  2009’s Lumpy Money offered Zappa’s original 1967 Capitol Records edit of Lumpy Gravy as well as the 1984 remix, and the 1968 mono mix of We’re Only In It for the Money with its 1984 remix (Version 2).  2010’s Greasy Love Songs premiered on CD the original mix of Cruising with Ruben and the Jets plus copious bonus material.

Alas, Freak Out!, Lumpy Gravy, We’re Only In It for the Money and Cruising with Ruben and the Jets are being newly-reintroduced to the Official Release Series via their last digital masters, not the original LP versions as excavated for these “audio documentaries.”  Although We’re Only In It for the Money was reissued by Rykodisc in 1995 in a version close to the original album (minus the 1984 remix’s overdubs from bassist Arthur Barrow and drummer Chad Wackerman), the original, undubbed Ruben is still only available as part of Greasy Love Songs.  It hasn’t been restored as an Official Release, as some had hoped it would be.  Perhaps we might one day see these limited edition Project/Object titles released to general retail via the agreement with UMe?  All are loving examples of Deluxe Editions as we’ve come to know them, and add to a full understanding of these seminal Zappa titles.  Lastly, some of these reissued titles bear the “Grand Rights Project/Object” designation, so it’s possible that future P/Os might be on the way for 2013 and beyond!

Zappa - Lather

What’s the story of Läther? [UPDATED 12/17]

Läther (Official Release No. 65) was completed and delivered by Frank Zappa to Warner Bros. in 1977 as a 4-LP set.  Warner felt, however, that Zappa was contractually bound to deliver four albums to the label under the DiscReet banner, and to make a long story (relatively) short, Läther was re-edited into four albums, all of which have been reissued in this series.  Läther itself is not scheduled for a reissue in 2012.

Warner had prevented Zappa from a deal that would have allowed his original conception of Läther to be released, and demanded that certain lyrical references on the New York album be censored.  Eventually, lawsuits arose between Zappa and the label, and Warner Bros. issued Studio Tan (1978), Sleep Dirt (1979), and Orchestral Favorites (1979) without the auteur’s consent.  The 4-LP complete album did not make its official debut until a posthumous release occurred in 1996, as a 3-CD set.

Zappa in New York was first released in 1977 with Zappa’s original track listing intact, but that release was almost immediately withdrawn.  Warner Bros. reissued the live album sans the song “Punky’s Whips,” resequenced it and edited another track, “Titties and Beer.”  When it was reissued as a double-CD set in 1991, four bonus tracks were appended, and the album was remixed to feature guitar overdubs that were recorded at the time of the original issue but not included on the first LP.  The CD version also contained a unique recording of “Punky’s Whips” and the full-length “Titties & Beer.”  The 1993 digital master used for the current reissue reflects this version of the album.

Studio Tan and Sleep Dirt both have been sourced from their original analog masters for the new reissues.  Studio Tan features just four tracks, all of which were originally intended for Läther. “The Adventures of Greggery Peccary” was remixed, re-edited and re-sequenced for its CD issue.  As for Sleep Dirt on CD, it featured new overdubs directed by Zappa.  Thana Harris added new vocals to “Flambay,” “Spider of Destiny” and “Time is Money” (reportedly all written for a 1972 musical that never materialized).  New drums were added by Chad Wackerman for the first two of those titles, as well as “Regyptian Strut.”  (The initial Barking Pumpkin CD release retained the original version of “Regyptian” but the title was later standardized with the overdubbed version.)   The original analog masters for these two albums are making their long overdue debut in the digital/CD age.

The September release of Orchestral Favorites completes the Läther quartet, although that title has two songs not present on Läther itself: “Strictly Genteel” and “Bogus Pomp.”

The 1996 Läther has been reissued by Zappa Records/UMe as part of the final wave of 2012 releases with new cover artwork (see above).  Unfortunately, four “bonus tracks” from the 1996 edition have been dropped: “Regyptian Strut (1993),” “Leather Goods,” “Revenge of the Knick Knack People” and “Time is Money.”  Completists who don’t already own Läther will likely wish to seek out the prior edition as a result of these deletions. 

What’s on Understanding America?

Frank Zappa, Understanding America (Zappa Records ZR 3892, 2012)

CD 1

  1. Hungry Freaks, Daddy
  2. Plastic People
  3. Mom & Dad
  4. It Can’t Happen Here
  5. Who Are The Brain Police?
  6. Who Needs The Peace Corps?
  7. Brown Shoes Don’t Make It
  8. Concentration Moon
  9. Trouble Every Day
  10. You’re Probably Wondering Why I’m Here
  11. We’re Turning Again
  12. Road Ladies
  13. What Kind Of Girl Do You Think We Are?
  14. Camarillo Brillo
  15. Find Her Finer
  16. Dinah-Moe Humm
  17. Disco Boy
  18. 200 Years Old

CD 2

  1. I’m The Slime
  2. Be In My Video
  3. I Don’t Even Care
  4. Can’t Afford No Shoes
  5. Heavenly Bank Account
  6. Cocaine Decisions
  7. Dumb All Over
  8. Promiscuous
  9. Thing-Fish Intro
  10. The Central Scrutinizer
  11. Porn Wars Deluxe
  12. Tinseltown Rebellion
  13. Jesus Thinks You’re A Jerk

What’s on Finer Moments?

Zappa - Finer Moments

Frank Zappa, Finer Moments (Zappa Records ZR 3894, 2012)

CD 1:

  1. Intro
  2. Sleazette
  3. Mozart Piano Sonata in B
  4. The Walking Zombie Music
  5. The Old Curiosity Shoppe
  6. You Never Know Who Your Friends Are
  7. Uncle Rhebus

CD 2:

  1. Music from “The Big Squeeze”
  2. Enigmas 1 Thru 5
  3. Pumped and Waxed
  4. “There is No Heaven From Where Slogans Go to Die”
  5. Squeeze It, Squeeze It, Squeeze It
  6. The Subcutaneous Peril

CD 1, Tracks 1-4 recorded live on June 6, 1969 at Royal Albert Hall, London
CD 1, Track 5 recorded live on May 21, 1971 at Auditorium Theater, Chicago
CD 1, Track 6 recorded in the studio, further information TBD
CD 1, Track 7 recorded live on July 7-8, 1969 at The Ark, Boston
CD 2, Track 1 recorded at Mayfair Studios, NYC, 1967
CD 2, Track 2 recorded at Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, September 1968
CD 2, Track 3 recorded at Zappa Basement, 1972
CD 2, Track 4 live recording circa 1968-1969, 10-piece lineup plus Dave Samuels on vibes, further information TBD
CD 2, Track 5 recorded live on February 16, 1969 at The Ballroom, Stratford, CT
CD 2, Track 6 recorded live on October 11, 1971 at Carnegie Hall, NYC

New liner notes and artwork have been provided by Bill Miller.

Written by Joe Marchese

December 17, 2012 at 12:49

Posted in Frank Zappa, News, Reissues

56 Responses

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  1. Great googly moogly, this catalog was already so confusing… the Ryko first round, the Ryko remastered CDs (tweaked artwork for all and upgrade audio for many, but not all), the Project/Object boxes, the EMI import CDs that have slight variations from Ryko, etc. I suspect these new “faithful to original LP, mostly” versions will be followed by Universal’s favored “Deluxe Edition” treatment for selected items, which will restore the missing bonus tracks or variant mixes/edits and add tiny amounts of exclusive material to taunt us. Bring it on, Gail.

    William Keats

    July 30, 2012 at 12:35

  2. That feels like a bit of a kick in the teeth 😦
    We still don’t get the original mixes of Freak out, Money, Ruben, etc. I wonder which bits of Money will be edited out. I was hoping for the “final word” on these releases, but obviously not

    Kate Du-Rose

    July 30, 2012 at 12:48

    • Kate, no need to wonder which bits of Money are edited out as it is the same version that has been avaialble from Ryko for the last 17 years. And as the article states, the original mixes for all three albums you mention are availble directly from the Barfko-Swill site.

      Jason Michael

      July 30, 2012 at 18:45

  3. I have all 12 on vinyl…the original, 1966 through 1972 vinyl! Recently transferred to 24bit 19,200Hz digital format through a DUAL 505 turntable->TCC pre-amp->ASUS sound card using Audacity. I guess that will have to remain ‘definitive’ for me! I ordered a few of the new releases, just to see and feel them, but I think I’ll pass on the rest. The following releases will be good for filling in gaps, but unless the price comes down quite a bit, I’m not going to buy many! BTW, I also have 200 Motels, and a few other original vinyl ALBUMS digitized, and I have to say, I enjoy them more than any of the remastered or remixed CDs, 80s, 90s or otherwise.

    Mark S.

    July 30, 2012 at 16:16

  4. “Carrying over a tradition from the Rykodisc days, each title is numbered on the spine as an Official Release.”
    My Ryko Zappa CDs do not have a numbered spine (other than catalog number). I have both the 80s and 90s versions.

    Jason Michael

    July 30, 2012 at 18:49

    • Hi Jason, mea culpa. I have clarified my original intention via an update to the article’s text. Thanks for reading and being so eagle-eyed!

      Joe Marchese

      July 30, 2012 at 20:28

      • You probably don’t need such “eagle-eyed” (irritating?) readers, but I love your site! Thanks for all the great info (and helping me spend so much money!).

        Jason Michael

        July 30, 2012 at 21:20

  5. I don’t feel that there’s any room for input (negative, positive or indifferent) from Zappaphiles. Simply put, the new series WAS NOT DESIGNED FOR US. These are strictly for the casual consumer who would otherwise be completely intimidated by the breadth of the FZ catalog. To even voice an opinion (or consider repurchase) is a futile exercise (IMHO, of course). Like Mark S. above, I have taken original sealed mint copies of all titles 1966-1979 (with the exception of Zappa In New York) and had them digitized. It’s REALLY the only solution that will satiate and satisfy those of us who know all the missing minutiae. That has been the case since the early ’80s Ryko titles; only this time, the master himself had no hand in them at ALL. We DO have the Project/Object boxes for US, however (and hopefully more forthcoming).

    The Rock Snob

    July 31, 2012 at 02:52

    • Well, that’s all well and good, but we are on, the “Expanded and Remastered Music News” site. We don’t all have access to pristine original vinyl, and discussing needledrops isn’t really the subject here. It’s looking at the latest commercial reissues. And these latest Zappa releases do have some new-to-CD mixes which are interesting to collector’s like me, so I don’t see the point in stifling discussion about them.

      Jason Michael

      July 31, 2012 at 08:46

  6. Nice article. Thanks! One correction however, Zappa in New York was released (finally) in spring 1978 and not 1976 (after an attempted Canadian release in 1977 with “Punky’s Whips” that Warners yanked for fear of a lawsuit from Punky Meadows, then drummer for the hair band Angel – something they need not have worried about as Punky was reported to have liked the song upon hearing it).

    Van Jealous

    July 31, 2012 at 10:41

    • Thanks! Typographical error amended.

      Joe Marchese

      July 31, 2012 at 11:29

      • Another correction —> Punky Meadows was the guitarist for Angel, not the drummer.

        .Mike. H.

        August 29, 2012 at 11:47

      • Thanls for the correction! The last I heard (from his ex-wife) Punky was very happily running a successful tatoo parlor in Northern Virginia ( ‘Dear PFIQ….Please do not stop running your magazine….. |:{^= )

        Van Jealous

        September 24, 2012 at 14:08

  7. The only disappointing things about these reissues are:

    – The section of “Lumpy Gravy Pt 1” where it slips into mono for 2 minutes wasn’t fixed (this section was stereo on the original LP)

    – There wasn’t a proper remaster of Uncle Meat. As it stands there is currently no way to buy the original untampered 1969 mix.


    August 1, 2012 at 20:11

    • Gail Zappa has hinted that “Uncle Meat” may be due for a Project/Object deluxe reissue through Barfko/Swill and so conjecture on the boards is that is why the new release used the digital mix. I don’t see why the new one couldn’t use the analog mix and then have a deluxe issue later, but that seems to be what the Zappa Family Trust has decided to do since the other four titles that reuse Frank’s digital mixes (LG, FO, WOIIFTM, and CwRatJ) already have Barfko/Swill reissues utilizing original mixes.

      Jason Michael

      August 4, 2012 at 13:39

  8. I noticed that each cd has a number. There’s only 12 titles. Why do the #’s jump? For example the numbers go 1 thru 6, and there’s No #7, and then it goes to 8 thru 12, and there’s no # 13, and the next # is 14. This is very confusing. Do you have any info on this?

    Eliot Wien

    August 4, 2012 at 10:27

    • The Zappa Family Trust has put together a list of Official Releases to which the numbering in this series corresponds; see the link above in the “What is the packaging like?” section.

      No. 7 is reserved for the compilation MOTHERMANIA and No. 13 for the soundtrack to 200 MOTELS. The former could possibly be reissued on CD down the road; the latter is controlled by MGM, and has been previously released on CD by Rykodisc. Hope this helps!

      Joe Marchese

      August 4, 2012 at 12:34

      • I’ve heard that “200 Motels” may be easier to re-release now that the ZFT is signed to Universal as Universal owns MGM and that may facilitate future liscensing.

        Jason Michael

        August 4, 2012 at 13:34

      • MOTHERMANIA (#7) is now out on CD.


        December 24, 2012 at 15:13

  9. (Technically, [Hot Rat i]s the 2008 Bernie Grundman remaster, which mostly resembles, but is not identical to, the 1969 LP mix.)

    Wait, I don’t understand this. How is it different from the 1969 LP mix? To my knowledge, both LPs (original Bizarre vs Classic Records reissue) have the same shortened Gumbo Variations.

    Victor Dang

    August 5, 2012 at 15:44

    • Just got a copy for myself. Despite what Gail has apparently said (wrong use of words, probls), this IS the original 1969 LP mix! No need to worry, people.

      Victor Dang

      August 6, 2012 at 13:24

  10. i picked up the cd reissue of ‘hot rats’ the other day and i can’t put it down. a bit difficult to listen to at first, as i’m used to the remixed version (i’m a kid of the 80s and 90s, so i did not know these albums as they were in the 60s-70s). i did have an original vinyl copy, and while i enjoyed it a lot, i didn’t have a good record player which could play the album at the proper speed. my one complaint is why on earth they couldn’t insert the unedited version of ‘the gumbo variations’… the full 17 minutes is still killer…be it remixed or in its original incarnation. what i’d like to hear is the original mix of ‘uncle meat’ because that is zappa’s masterpiece (in my opinion) and the music really is ahead of its time. i only hope that the original mix sounds just as ‘advanced’ as the version i’ve come to associate it with. i’m also hoping that finally, after all these years, that ‘sleep dirt’ is given the proper reissue it deserves, as the vocals inserted on the 1993 version really buried the music and, as a result, ruined the whole feel of the record.

    Bob Assante

    August 6, 2012 at 11:06

  11. This page and all the attendant discussion is an absolutely invaluable resource and I really do thank everyone involved. After much reflection though….and a great deal of agonising……I have decided to hang on to my Rykodisc editions. I came very close to purchasing the latest versions along with the special releases and I was especially intrigued by by the MOFO packages. But then I played my my Rykodisc ‘Freak Out’….and it sounded absolutely fine to me. And then I moved on to ‘Hot Rats’ and I really cannot see what is wrong with that one either. I do take the point about ‘Ruben and the Jets’ and I have never owned it on CD. But as for the rest of them, I am not sure that what is being offered is sufficiently different to justify another round of expenditure. This said, the prices of the reissues here in the UK seem very reasonable…about £9 apiece on Amazon.


    August 7, 2012 at 19:02

    • So you’ve made up your mind on the whole series without hearing the MASSIVE difference in quality with the analog titles? Makes lots of sense. If you don’t want to spend the money and find out, then why are you giving your opinion? It doesn’t help anybody. Enjoy your Rykos, with cavernous digital reverb, compression and all….


      August 19, 2012 at 14:00

      • Thank you for your reply. The main purpose behind my original posting was to express my thanks to Joe Marchese for the very thorough research he has done on the reissues and also to the other contributors for their insight. In the United Kingdom that is still viewed as well intentioned appreciation but I apologise if I’ve in any way fallen short of your own expectations in that. As for the reissues themselves I still believe that the overall provision is a little uneven. For example, I simply don’t understand why we are being given the Freak Out remix yet again, when the original is available as part of an an expanded set from a special website. The same case could be made even more strongly with Ruben and the Jets and perhaps to a lesser extent with Uncle Meat. If ever they get round to releasing the music from the classic 1966-70 period exactly as it was then I’ll be in the market for the whole lot. Until then I shall be holding on to the collection that I built up so carefully during the mid 90s and for which I still have great affection. I am simply sharing my own perspective on all this. I assume that I am still allowed to do that……at least until the Brain police drop by.


        August 20, 2012 at 13:43

      • Hi Foursail,

        >I simply don’t understand why we are being given the Freak Out remix yet again, when the original is available as part of an an expanded set from a special website.
        Because some customers would rather buy a single disc of Freak Out instead of buying MOFO and aren’t as wacky about remixes as we are.

        >The same case could be made even more strongly with Ruben and the Jets…
        Same comment as above but reference Greasy love songs

        Looks to me like ZFT and Universal are just covering all the bases. If Universal released Freak Out and Ruben from the analog masters it would cut into sales of MOFO and Greasy.


        August 21, 2012 at 20:05

  12. Hello Mr. Marchese:

    Will you be offering the same detailed list as above for each batch of releases? It’s great to know ahead of time the source and mastering engineer for each title.


    August 19, 2012 at 12:16

    • Hey Rob, thanks! We certainly will be running a similar feature for the second batch soon. Stay tuned!

      Joe Marchese

      August 20, 2012 at 06:28

      • Excellent, Joe…thank you! Looking forward to the details.


        August 20, 2012 at 06:49

  13. Foursail,
    You say “If ever they get round to releasing the music from the classic 1966-70 period exactly as it was then I’ll be in the market “. In that case, you may wish to pick up the remaster of “Hot Rats” as it is the original mix, unlike your Ryko CD. It sounds quite a bit different (and they both have their positive points- I am keeping the Ryko in addition to the Universal.)

    Jason Michael

    August 21, 2012 at 18:52

  14. Jason Michael

    Your point about Hot Rats is well taken – and so I might well invest in that one.

    Hi Purrj

    I just feel that to those of us who have bought these CDs twice over already, in addition of course to the original vinyl releases, it is disappointing to be presented once again with the remixed versions of Freak Out and especially Ruben and the Jets. Yes, we do have the option of ordering the special editions from the ZFT – but if you do that from this side of the pond, you not only pay quite a lot of money for the products themselves, you also get stung for customs duties….and this is hardly a satisfactory situation. It would not have been asking a lot for those albums particularly to be released this time round in their original and unadorned states.

    I do think that there is a wider point in all this. Over the years, record companies have had their money so many times. We’ve had two CD generations each of the Beatles and Dylan catalogues….and that’s fair enough. The gaps in time had allowed technology to develop to make the buying of the second batches worthwhile. By my calculations though, we’ve now had three generations from The Doors and four from The Rolling Stones (the London/Decca years). And what we now have is effectively a third reissue programme of Frank’s music….and I for one had been hoping that we would have the opportunity to at last buy his albums in a unform release programme of truly authentic reissues. Now of course, we can say that if you’re a fan then you should be prepared to make the sacrifice. But I feel that that is a sentiment that should work both ways…especially during a time when there is so much pressure on people’s disposable incomes.


    August 22, 2012 at 04:12

    • I know what you mean about ordering from the Zappa Family Trust. I have the 4 disc MOFO, Greasy Love Songs, Lumpy Money and the Beefheart Bat Chain Puller CDs in my cart for months The subtotal of those CDs is $149, but because I live in Canada, the shipping is $50. That is ridiculous, and in no way reflects the actual cost to Barfko/Swill to ship. I have bought lots of up to 15 CDs from sellers in the US many times and postage is generally $10-15 for those shipments. I may eventually purchase those CDs because I would love to have CD versions of those mixes, but at the moment there are too many great sets coming out and money is too tight to warrant being fleeced like that.
      In regard to these new reissues, of course there is no reason that one has to buy all the titles. Cherry-picking those that feature new-to-CD mixes (such as Hot Rats) or that may demonstrate an appreciable up-grade in sound (such as Absolutely Free and Fillmore East- in my opinion, of course!) while ignoring those that just reissue the Zappa digital masters(FO, WOIIFTM, LG, UM, Cruising…) is a perfectly valid approach. It’s hard for those of us who are fans/ collectors as we tend to have a completist view but if you already have an album in a good version, who cares if it’s on Ryko or Universal? Why do they all have to be one label? It shouldn’t have to be all or nothing.

      Jason Michael

      August 22, 2012 at 10:00

      • Thanks Jason Michael – I welcome your balanced and level headed perspective on all this. I shall follow your advice and start with a couple of favourites. I must admit that it would be refreshing to hear the Hot Rats original mix again after all these years, although as you have said, the remix also has some redeeming features. Burnt Weeny Sandwich is my all time favourite Mothers of Invention album and if the sonic upgrade on that turns out to be as good as people say, then I shall go from there. Cheers!


        August 22, 2012 at 18:50

  15. I’m selectively buying based on getting versions that most closely represent the sound of the original records. Thus, I picked up Absolutely Free, Hot Rats and Burnt Weeny Sandwich so far. I did want to point out that I finally had a chance to listen to the Universal release of Absolutely Free and I thought it sounded excellent. I’m very happy with this purchase. I own the 95 Ryco and the Universal is much more enjoyable I think. Next Universal listens coming up for me are Freak Out and Weeny.

    I’m sympathetic to Jason and Foursail’s observations about the cost burden of ZFT. Even when I made the domestic purchase of Greasy and Hammersmith I somewhat cringed at the cost. Trying to remind myself we are lucky to have the option as it is a niche market which I suspect makes it difficult for ZFT to recoup costs for small volumes.


    August 24, 2012 at 19:23

  16. I am very excited to get “Mothermania” on CD as there are some very interesting edits/mixes unique to that release. I don’t quite get why “Zappa In New York” is still using the remixes- are the original mixes the ones used on “Lather”? If so, that may be why they are using them, as then both mixes will be avaialble once “Lather” is rereleased.
    The new release is very interestng.
    I want to thank you guys for up-dating the original post so all the info for this program is kept together and I don’t have to look up each month individually. It’s great to have all the information together.

    Jason Michael

    August 27, 2012 at 16:24

  17. Curious to know if Sheil Yerbouti will contain the complete version of “I’m So Cute” which had been edited on the Ryko pressings. Since it’s credited as the 1978 analog master, I would presume so, perhaps?


    August 27, 2012 at 17:17

    • Yes, it should be restored.

      Jason Michael

      August 27, 2012 at 20:36

  18. Arf!


    August 27, 2012 at 17:57

  19. Thanks once again Joe for the valuable info. These latest releases are not out over here yet – but I’ve just ordered Waka Wawaka and The Grand Wazoo from an Amazon trader in America and they are apparently, already on their way! I too would love to see a CD release for Mothermania. Like many original compilations, it has a definite life of its own.


    August 28, 2012 at 15:50

    • Sorry about the spellin mistake…one W too many!


      August 28, 2012 at 15:52

  20. Any word on which of the September reissues are newly remastered?

    Vinny Marino

    September 21, 2012 at 14:27

    • Hey Vinny! Watch for the full round-up here on Monday!

      Joe Marchese

      September 21, 2012 at 14:37

      • Perfect. Then I will wait until then to order them.

        Vinny Marino

        September 21, 2012 at 14:38

  21. “Lastly 3/4 of the Nov 27 titles…”
    From the Zappa site: Frank Zappa – 56 Original Masters by The Maestro in Chronological order – 1966 – 1993 Item #: ZP10COMBO $876
    48 +8 = 56 That’s all of ’em


    October 7, 2012 at 21:11

  22. What are the next issues in the series after the batch #5?

    John Latter

    November 1, 2012 at 04:00

  23. Oh, it seems that this is it concerning the reissues/remasters.
    And I have ordered all of them by now.

    John Latter

    November 5, 2012 at 15:46

  24. Hi,
    I’m fairly new to Zappa, had a couple of his albums, liked them, but didn”t buy any others. I heard about this reissue campaign, picked up Hot Rats, Weeny, Chunga and a couple others. It took a few listens for each album, but I really like them, it also made me reivist the albums I had (Freak Out, Money, Sheik, Joe’s Garage and Aposthrophe} I realised I had these great CD’s and I hadn’t given them a chance.

    Long story short, I have fell in love with Zappa’s work. Every album, hell every track seems to have something new to be discovered. I’m in my 20’s and my music taste is artists from the 60.s and 70’s, and some 80’s. Feel like I was born in the wrong musical generation.

    Anyway, I have been buying all the reissues, just pre ordered the last batch from Amazon. 8 in Nov. amd 3 in Dec. Now to the whole reason i am posting this is I am wondering if Lather is going to be reissued as well. On Amazon you can buy the older version, but if you look in the reviews the is a comment stating it is soon to be reissued, by someone named midwest phil, and Zappa’s website hints at it being reissued.

    I have been searching the net for info, but can’t find anything. As I said I am fairly new to Zappa’s work, I know the Dirt, Tan, Roxy and Orchestral Favorites were the scrapped project from the 70’s, and contain a majority of the songs.

    Sorry to write a book here, but if anyone has any info on whether or not Lather will be reissued I would appreciate it. I’m still soaking in all of these great albums, have bought every batch, so they are keeping me content, but from what I’ve read Lather sounds like an album I’d enjoy, so if I have to I’ll buy the older version on Amazon, but I’m not in a huge rush, as I am still listening and absorbing all the other albums.

    One more queston. Why did October only have 11 titles instead of 12? And the last wave is only 11 as well. I thought it was going to be 5 waves of 12, but so far it has been 3 waves of 12 and 2 waves of 11.

    Thanks for the info in advance, sorry again I wrote a book of a post.


    November 8, 2012 at 00:22

    • Wingspan, I am very impressed with your taste, it took me years to appreciate Zappa, and of course now I rate him as the greatest musician ever. As you pointed out many of the tracks on Lather are duplicated on the albums which have just come out, you wont lose many tracks if it doesn’t get re-issued. The 2012 releases are amazing and on a real hi-fi they sound awesome, given the age of the recordings too.

      Simon Loxham

      November 8, 2012 at 10:19

    • This should answer most of your questions:

      But to give you the short answer: the new Lather is missing the 4 bonus tracks the Ryko Lather had (cow cover), the most significant of which is the song “Time is Money”. If you get the new Lather CD, you will also have to get the new issue of Sleep Dirt just for the track “Time is Money”, but you might want it anyway for the longer version of “The Ocean is the Ultimate Solution”. Whichever way you go, you will be missing the Thana Harris vocals that Frank added to 3 tracks on the 1995 Ryko Sleep Dirt CD (some people would claim you aren’t missing anything if you don’t have the vocal versions). You don’t need Orchestral Favorites or Studio Tan whichever Lather you get (well, there is a slight difference in “Greggery Peccary” but it’s not big). It was already confusing before the 2012 reissues, and now it’s almost indecipherable.


      December 24, 2012 at 15:46

      • Oops. You *do* need Orchestral Faves. It’s Studio Tan that is pretty much duplicated by Lather. I *said* it was confusing. 🙂


        December 24, 2012 at 16:00

    • Thanks for the info guys. I’m actually listening to Zoot Allures as I type this. I have purchased all 60 of the reissues (music is my main hobby) and am really starting to dive into all of these discs. For some reason I wanted to wait until I had all 60 (dumb I know). Although like I said I did have a few FZ Cds but they just didn’t click right away.

      I am amazed on the the variety of music genres that are on a single FZ album, just incredably diverse. Can’t really pick out a favorite yet, as I’m listening to them in the order they were released, and I’m only up to Zoot.

      I really liked Roxy & Elswhere, Hot Rats was great, too hard to single one out though. I’m gonna check those links and see if any DVD’s were released for the Roxy Show.

      Thanks again for all the help.


      December 31, 2012 at 20:45

      • The Roxy DVD is the Holy Grail of Zappa-dom. The Zappa Family Trust has been saying for years that it will be coming soon, so hopefully t will happen in 2013.


        January 4, 2013 at 10:51

  25. Hey,
    Just wanted to let everyone know that Läther and Finer Moments are also slated to be released on Dec. 18th. I have all five titles pre ordered from Amazon in the US. That also answers my question of the two missing titles, as these two albums will put the total to 60.

    Hope this info helps.


    December 3, 2012 at 23:47

  26. Forgot to ask, I’m looking for a good book that talks more about FZ’s music, not a traditional biography. Something that goes into some detail about his albums, how they were made, what were some of the ideas behind them, and of course, the music, who played what, where did the ideas stem from ect.

    I bought The Words and Music of Frank Zappa by Kelly Fisher Lowe, anyone know if this is very good? And any suggestions would be welcome.

    Also -Bri, those links are fantastic, a ton of info there, can’t believe I was missing out on that, so thanks for posting those.



    December 31, 2012 at 20:58

  27. Uh, I believe Zoot Allures #22 is NOT Digitally Remastered 2012 by Bob Ludwig. See, I have been using this list for the past few weeks (great list & article btw) as my guide to buying solely the 2012 Remastered titles. I have found them all at retail/online retail and when reading the legal lines on back tray card/cover, all clearly indicate 2012 Digital Remaster on those particular titles – EXCEPT ‘Zoot Allures’. Nowhere in that titles’ legal lines does it indicate 2012 Digital Remaster. It only, clearly, states ‘Source: Original 1976 Analog Master’. So, my question now is…Was it an omitted typo in the legal lines caused by UNI or ZFT – or – does this list above contain the typo? Please tell me ’cause Ms. Pinky reeeaaaallly wants to know. I’m a dedicated Zappa fan, so it vitally important to know whether Zoot Allures was, indeed Digitally Remastered in 2012. Again, thanks for the list. Awesome. Disco Boy, over and out.


    February 22, 2013 at 15:35

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