Vaultmeisterment & Analog Transfers by Joe Travers, March 2012, UMRK. Mastered from the original analog master by Doug Sax, 2012. Two thirds through the first CD of Joe's Garage. This title has always sounded good, but this one really has some snap to it. Sweet. More to come. I never cared for the CD versions at all; the deep, rich ‘Philly Soul’ mix that I loved on my vinyl copy was obliterated on the CD. Yes, it was brighter and crisper, but it left me cold and underwhelmed and continued to enjoy my vinyl JG. In my opinion, the 2012 master restores the sound quality to the original release. Vinnie’s drums now sound the way I remember, and the cymbals and other high end information are placed in proper perspective. Comparing the new release to my vinyl and a 24/96 vinyl rip, it sounds to me like they really captured the sound of the original. This is an essential upgrade for me.
Official Release #106. In his trailblazing and incredibly prolific career, artist, composer and all-around musical pioneer Frank Zappa released more than 60 albums in his lifetime, as a solo artist and with his bands the Mothers of Invention and the Mothers. Coupled with more than 40 posthumous releases since his death in 1993 at 52, figuring out where to start in Zappa’s vast, genre-leaping catalog can be daunting. ZAPPAtite – Frank Zappa’s Tastiest Tracks, out now on Zappa Records/UMe, collects some of Zappa’s best known and beloved compositions, from his early psychedelic rock beginnings to his avant-garde experimentation, jazz-rock explorations, symphonic suites and satirical send-ups, compiling them into one easily digestible collection and offering key entryways into the many musical worlds of the visionary musician.
All songs are "Clean for In-Store Play" versions. This disc was issued in a cardboard slipcase cover. A must have for any FZ fan. Released as the “Clean American Version,” this sanitized fz sampler was sent to record stores/cd shops so they could play Zappa’s music in the store without the fear of some angry Mommy complaining that the music would curve her baby’s spine. A great compilation (even if the songs have been bastardized).
Cheap Thrills is designed for the curious listener who has always wanted to explore Frank Zappa but was intimidated by his overwhelming catalog. Of course, so is Strictly Commercial, which contains all of Zappa's most familiar songs, but Cheap Thrills has the advantage of being cheap, plus giving an idea of the weird diversity of Zappa's catalog, since it's filled with cult favorites, live tracks, smutty jokes, and assorted album tracks. It's not necessarily the most accessible introduction to Zappa – again, that would be Strictly Commercial – but it's more accessible than the average album while giving a sense of what the albums feel like.
Official Release #67. As the title suggests, Have I Offended Someone? contains all of Zappa's notoriously tasteless parodies and satires, from "Bobby Brown Goes Down," "Catholic Girls," and "Jewish Princess" to "He's So Gay," "Titties 'n Beer," and "Dinah-Moe Humm." Nearly all of the tracks are presented in new remixed versions, and two songs, "Dumb All Over" and "Tinsel Town Rebellion," have never been released before.
Official Release #65. The full saga of Läther (pronounced leather) is tangled enough to give a migraine to all but committed Zappaphiles. Basically, what you need to know is that this project was originally conceived of as a four-record box set. When record company politics prevented its release in that format, much of the material was spread over the albums Live in New York, Sleep Dirt, Studio Tan, and Orchestral Favorites. This three-CD set presents the album as it was originally conceived, with the addition of four bonus tracks at the end. It mixes previously available material, alternate mixes, and edits, and previously unissued stuff, though only the most serious Zappa fans will have a good grip on exactly what has appeared where (the liner notes are surprisingly unexact in this regard).
Official Release #64. A 30-track compilation of rarities, spanning much of his career, but in the main confined to the 1960s and early '70s (some date from as early as the late '50s!). Much of it's previously unreleased, or extremely hard to locate. It's not just a collection of fan-oriented odds and ends, though. The material, for one thing, is extremely diverse, ranging from collaborations with Captain Beefheart and primitive teenage garage recordings to comic dialog to progressive instrumentals and orchestral pieces.
For all of his many attributes, one thing Frank Zappa most certainly was not is commercial. Presumably, the title of this collection is ironic. Strictly Commercial: The Best of Frank Zappa is a compilation not of the composer's hits – he only broke the Top 40 on one occasion, with "Valley Girl" – but rather, a collection of his best-known material, from "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" to "Sexual Harassment in the Workplace." Zappa's albums often function as individual works, but this disc offers an intelligent selection of songs, serving as an introduction to the maverick musician.
Official Release #59. The last volume of the series You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore is one of the strongest, especially for those who prefer Frank Zappa's sex-oriented songs. There is not much complex material or instrumental pieces in this collection, but catchy humorous songs abound, along with more of that stage craziness the series tried to capture. Live incarnations of Zappa's band from 1970 up to 1988 are represented (the original Mothers had a whole disc devoted to them on Vol. 5).