Frank Zappa “Hot Rats”

Happy birthday Buddy Holly (1936)!

Frank Zappa – “Hot Rats” (Zappa US LP)

I am happy to report that the recent LP re-issue of Frank Zappa’s “Hot Rats” is, in fact, the “original” mix, not the remix (Rykodisc CD version).  It was always sort of ridiculous that the Zappa Family Trust folks allowed the original mix of this record to be out of print for so many years…the original LP always sounded a certain way and the Ryko CD never sounded even close to it.  Yes, the Ryko CD had some extended version(s), BUT…

Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention

Happy birthday Ron Kane (1958), Ian Anderson (1947) and Ronnie Spector (1945).

FRANK ZAPPA

Frank Zappa, American guy, guitarist – former leader of The Mothers of Invention.  That’s what I want to talk about today, on my birthday!

I did not start with “Freak Out”, though I certainly heard it before “Absolutely Free” came out.  Actually, the first one I listened to with any kind of mind at all was “We’re Only In it For The Money”, which rolled out in 1968, when I would’ve been 10 years old (that August).  Please do not underestimate how important these LP’s are to me!  They are deeply & permanently – in me.

My sisters (only one of whom is still alive) were who played them to me, when I was a child.  These LP’s got in before any walls were up.  I have my late older brother to thank for lots of stuff, but it’s my sisters who played me Frank Zappa, while they were babysitting me.

I have mono & stereo pressings of these albums, and they are among my most important possessions.  Other records have been stolen from my collection, but, thankfully, not these ones!

I have no idea why the ZFT has never particularly allowed any audiophile pressings / platings, apart from those Au20 gold discs that Rykodisc did a few years ago.  There is a DTS DVD in 5.1, but only one.  And at least 2 albums were done in 4.0 (“Apostrophe” & “Overnite Sensation”, both of which would sound GREAT in 5.1, 4.0 etc.)  MFSL did one album, too – as a gold disc.  A very careful mastering of any of the first decade of Mr. Zappa’s music would be most welcome, around here.

And I additionally searched out most of Mr. Zappa’s 45’s.  I have lots of them now.

Frank Zappa re-issue LP’s

Happy birthday to Mr. Frank Zappa (1940) and Russian bad guy Joe Stalin (1879).

My heart nearly skipped a beat when Universal Japan scheduled a NEW SET of Zappa kami (paper) sleeve CD’s. But it was short-lived, and the series got cancelled quickly. Saved myself a couple hundred bucks, right?

 

“Finer Moments” was a FZ 2LP set that I knew nothing about. Even says it’s an “Official Release” (#94). But there didn’t appear to be a CD of it, then. So, I bought one.

 

Next I probably saw a new 2LP re-issue of “Roxy & Elsewhere” – a good FZ album, on many levels. Definitely a “new package” of an old favorite. Even says it’s an “Official Release” (#19). New mastering. So, I figured…better get a copy.

 

Probably the last new FZ LP I got was “Apostrophe”. For a single LP, it was a tad expensive. Totally re-designed rear cover, 180g LP, New mastering. I bought one anyway.

 

“Overnight Sensation” was not a difficult choice. The original US LP’s always seemed to have a mastering flaw, by where the LP didn’t sound great. The new Universal LP re-issue sounds great. Rear cover completely re-designed.

 

“Uncle Meat” 2LP re-issue must’ve been inexpensive, somewhere. Spine and rear cover totally re-designed. New mastering, 180g LP’s, nice printing – the booklet! An easy no-brainer for me.

 

“Freak Out” took some deciding, on my part. Most of these LP re-issues have been from “as good as possible” tapes, so I approached it via that avenue. Cover seems a little bit blurry. Really good 2LP set! It’s from original tapes, so it doesn’t have the ‘digital’ sound of the older CD.

 

I do not know where entire shows of older bands come from, but they’re here! There are 3 or 4 FZ ones, but only one I bought was “The Mothers Of Invention – Wollman Rink, Central Park, NY August 3rd 1968”. So this is a bootleg, right? Sound isn’t 100%. Perhaps not even a professional recording?

 

I hope Dweezil Zappa & Co. re-issues more quad (or 5.1) FZ, as we know Mr. Zappa mixed several albums to quad, way back when. “Apostrophe”, “Overnight Sensation” – any others? “Grand Wazoo”? A 5.1 “200 Motels”?

Roxy – The Movie

Happy birthday Ray Collins (singer of The Mothers Of Invention) (1937).

Recently, while in Portland, OR I had the option to buy the new Frank Zappa album, “Roxy – The Movie”. I selected the CD + Blu-ray version and bought it at Music Millennium (a store very much like Rhino Claremont).

 

First off, this is NOT “The Roxy & Elsewhere” double LP nor is it the “Roxy By Proxy” recent CD; it’s a whole new kettle of fish! It will be easy to find, if you look for it this year, but – no guarantees after 2015!

 

I have heard for decades that they (The ZFT = Zappa Family Trust) have TONS of unsynched / unsynchable footage of the December 1973 Roxy shows by Frank Zappa & The Mothers. Someone who used to work for Mr. Zappa told me that.

 

However, what wouldn’t have been possible even 5 years ago is now…commonplace? That someone with a computer can, in fact, synch up unsynchable footage? Well, that’s true. And someone did synch up a whole bunch of Roxy footage! And it doesn’t look bad at all, if you can forgive some absent pixie dust, and Mr. Zappa’s usual warning about stuff being “live” and “not overdubbed”.

 

It is heavily mightily “synched” – when they don’t know what to do, something goes to soft focus or the backs of heads. And, I must say, Pamela Miller never looked better!

 

There’s an 11 track CD that comes with the movie, though the 5.1 mix of the movie audio will likely suggest that I watch the movie again, as opposed to play the CD. The packaging says Mr. Zappa mixed the whole thing to quad in 1974…

 

And it’s the first Frank Zappa blu-ray disc! Let’s hope they have more waiting in the tank, ‘cause this one was fun. “Dub Room Special”, “200 Motels”, “Baby Snakes” can all be re-sold to Zappa fans, anxiously awaiting further blu-ray releases. But what will they do?

 

Certainly they don’t seem to be hurrying to release any more DVD-A releases, like the powerful “Quadraphiliac” (or thereabouts). Mr. Zappa himself did, in fact, mix lots of his 70’s work into quad, so one thinks it could possible that the ZFT lets go…but at this point, it seems somewhat unlikely.

Roxy & Elsewhere

Happy birthday to Dino Valenti (born 1940)

Roxy & Elsewhere” by “Zappa / Mothers” (Discreet / Warner 2DS 2202) Dated 1974

 

Recording of this double LP spans December 10th, 1973 – May 8th, 1974. Many of us bought it towards the end of 1974. My U.S. copy states “Promotion Not For Sale” on the labels of the record, and has a large pink Warner Brothers sticker on the cover, “Promotional Copy – Not For Sale”. “Cheepnis” has yet to be tinkered with.

 

The next copy I found was a British pressing, essentially the same as the US copy, but manufactured in Great Britain. Different serial # K 69201 too.

 

Next comes a German pressing of this 2LP album, Discreet DIS 89200, with a few cover differences; it seems like all the colors are a bit lighter on this issue? The sleeves inside have other Warner Brothers LP’s pictured.

 

For sheer perversity, I also own a New Zealand pressing of this 2LP, on Reprise – no less! 2RS 2202, no Discreet labels for NZ! Cover colors are altered again, much more grainy, considerably less ‘red’.

 

For my money, the nicest pressing of this 2LP set is the Japanese Discreet / Warner issue, P-5173/4, Yen 3,400; LP has a lyrics insert, which includes a designation of Zappa / Mothers Group members #1 – Group #9; however, it looks like this 2LP has a 1975 issue in Japan (even if it is January). And the discs are super clean sounding, easily as good (or better than) the U.S. original copy. On the back of the obi (the paper band), it pictures 3 other Frank Zappa LP you could purchase in Japan in 1975, Warner era stuff.

 

The assorted compact discs are also rather amusing: the original issue of this title came on CD via Barking Pumpkin Records, via Rhino. It was eventually re-issued by Rykodisc in 1995, and again by Universal Music in 2012. As far as I know, all of the CD versions have the re-worked “Cheepnis”.

 

If you want more Roxy Theatre, you can always buy “Roxy By Proxy” from Zappa’s website; I agree with the liner notes to that CD, Frank would never have released it. But it is completely different from “Roxy & Elsewhere”, so you know what to do.

Time Machine – September 1974

Happy birthday to Tom Petty (1953); Ric Lee (of Ten Years After fame) (1945)!

Time Machine: September 1974, as discovered in Strange Days magazine, and written by Quoichiro IWAMOTO.

Electric Light Orchestra “Eldorado” (Warner Brothers UK LP K 56090) 2. Todd Rundgren / Utopia “Todd Rundgren’s Utopia” (Bearsville BR 6954) 3. Robert Palmer “Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley” Island UK LP ILPS 9294) 4. Judas Priest “Rocka Rolla” Gull UK LP GULP 1005) 5. The Raspberries “Starting Over” Capitol US LP ST 11329) 6. Traffic “When The Eagle Flies” (Island UK LP ILPS 9273) 7. Hawkwind “Hall of the Mountain Grill” (United Artists UK LP UAG 29672) 8. Supertramp “Crime of the Century” (A&M UK LP AMLS 68258) 9. Fleetwood Mac “Heroes Are Hard To Find” (Reprise UK LP K 54026) 10. Herbie Hancock “Thrust” (Columbia US LP PC 32965) 11. Jackson Browne “Late For The Sky” (Asylum US LP 7E 1017) and 12. Frank Zappa / Mothers “Roxy & Elsewhere” Discreet US 2LP 2DS 2202).

 

I’ve got ‘em all, except for the Todd Rundgren, Jackson Browne, Herbie Hancock, Raspberries, and Fleetwood Mac. No time for Todd; I like Jackson Browne about as far as “Doctor My Eyes”; I would definitely own the Herbie Hancock, if the Japanese had done it as an SA-CD or mixed it into 5.1, but… Could never figure out The Raspberries – serious group or studio buffoons? Fleetwood Mac got me about as far as Kiln House, then I lost track.

 

Never my favorite E.L.O. album, but I can see it’s value. Robert Palmer = Ropbert Palmer, I prefer him as a singer in Vinegar Joe. Judas Priest were always entertaining, though I prefer “Sin After Sin”. I like this Traffic album, but it did take a while to ‘get it’. Hawkwind plodded on, but I kept up, and this was a good one! Never the biggest Supertramp fan, my fav is their 45 “Land Ho”, and I do own a wonderful 180g re-issue of this LP.

 

I was solidly a Frank Zappa fan by the time of the release of “Roxy & Elsewhere”. I still have my white label 2LP promo LP, and a few other versions, as well – incl. the lovely recent Zappa Records 2LP re-issue. No idea why Frank kept messing with “Cheepnis”, but he apparently did. There are some really good performances on this LP set. Good sound quality, too – though a better pressing helps! ZFT: Where’s the video?

Roxy By Proxy

Roxy By Proxy

Happy birthday Ronnie Lane of Small Faces (1946)

Frank Zappa / The Mothers – Roxy By Proxy (Zappa Records, mail-order CD)

Listened to this ‘new album’ last night.  It’s completely 100% alternate performances from December 1973, recorded Live at The Roxy, in Hollywood.  Extensive liner notes by Ruth Underwood – extensive!  Perfect sound quality, 30ips 16-track recording – it does not have the sound that FZ himself mixed it, both Ruth and Gail say “It’s not something FZ would’ve released himself”; Gail refers to it only as an ‘appetizer’.  It does not sound “Sweetened” at all (a la the “Roxy” 2LP set).

GZ alludes to the fact that there will be a “Roxy Movie” at some later point, and that certain performances had to be “kept” for that project.  Who knows?  Maybe we’ll finally get a decent Frank Zappa Blu-ray disc?  There was always some sort of trouble with who shot video at The Roxy, who owned the synch rights etc.

This CD is 75 minutes long, a decent recording, but not a great mix – still a lot more enjoyable than some of FZ’s later bands; Ruth’s liner notes are quite good, very enjoyable.  One of the better ZFT CD re-issues that were never issued before.

Zappa.com’s releases are always geared towards real Zappa fans – of course, but this one is really a quality release, and I’ve forgotten all about how they kept my money for so long without sending me anything – until recently!  3/18/14, to be exact!