The Hot Poop on the Frank Zappa Catalog Revisited

(Or the Rykodisc Re-Release FAQ. This is, needless to say, an "archival thing" since the advent of the 2012 releases. Feel free to ignore it.)

[from Rykodisc; provided by Vladimir Sovetov, and slightly edited and HTML-enhanced for readability by That Guy from KUNG FU CULT MASTER ; with added commentary not from Rykodisc]

Here is the real story of what Rykodisc is doing with the catalogue, on a release-by-release basis. Updated schedule and jewel box info at the end.

The Music

In the mid-80s, Frank transferred everything that was analog to digital; remixing, editing, spiffing, tweeking, tweezing. This resulted in the first batch of FZ CDs - most on Rykodisc, some on Barking Pumpkin and other labels. In the early 90s, prior to the sale of his catalog, he reviewed all titles. He approved new masters on everything (some of the actual work being done to his specifications after his death). In the case of the last two volumes of You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore (Vol. 5 & Vol. 6), Playground Psychotics, Ahead of Their Time and The Yellow Shark, new timing sheets were created, but because they had been mixed and mastered as recently as 1991-1993, the original masters were simply error-checked and OK'd (in other words, new masters weren't delivered on these). New timing sheets were created on all titles so the song times listed are now accurate. Details on other titles follow.

The Artwork

When Zappa's albums were first released on CD, the artwork size was reduced, sometimes graphics were discarded, sometimes color images became black & white. The new releases have restored most of the LP art, color is back, fold-outs exist in many titles to better simulate the original intent. Much of this work was done in consultation with the wonderful Cal Schenkel. In addition, new images were added beneath the rear tray in as many titles as possible. Many of these were from the Schenkel files. Pictures of Frank are on the discs themselves (3 different shots - early, middle, late).


Everything has been given a new, chronological catalog number. We don't have the right to rerelease 200 Motels yet, but we did reserve a catalog number for it (#10513/14). [It was released on October 14 1997 - Ed.] All titles have an FZ-only mini-catalog included. Uncle Meat, Joe's Garage and Thing-Fish are in double CD cases because of their librettos/booklets. All other double CDs are in slimline cases, at the request of retail, who can stock more Zappa titles that way. True, there are a few typos here and there, but every effort has been made to catch them all, and fix 'em on the second printing. (Second printings have already begun on several titles.)

Gory Details

  • Freak Out!: New master. New timing sheet. Clicks removed. Restored artwork. "Help, I'm a Rock", which was a "suite in three movements" on the original Verve LP, and was one track on the first CD, is now two tracks - "Help, I'm a Rock" and "It Can't Happen Here." (It appeared this way on the Old Masters LP too.)
  • We're Only In It for the Money separated from Lumpy Gravy. New digital master made from original edited analog master and other raw mix segments, and re-edited. Restored to version released by Verve in 1968. Restored artwork.
  • Lumpy Gravy separated from We're Only In It for the Money. New digital master made from original edited analog master and other raw mix segments, and re-edited. Restored artwork. This one really sounds superior to the last CD - increased level, clarity and dynamics. Still only two tracks (Part I and Part II) but all the movements were named, la a classical record. Some CD players will pick up indexes, some won't.
  • Cruising with Ruben & the Jets: New master. New timing sheet. Restored artwork. This is the 1984 remix.
  • Uncle Meat: New master. New timing sheet. Restored artwork. This is the 1987 remix.
  • Hot Rats: New master. New timing sheet. Restored artwork. This is the 1987 remix.
  • Burnt Weeny Sandwich: New master. New timing sheet. Cleaned up audible garbage. Restored artwork.
  • The Grand Wazoo: New master. New timing sheet. Restored artwork. Frank flipped tracks 1 and 2 around, so that the title track is first. Louder dBs than first Rykodisc CD.
  • Over-Nite Sensation separated from Apostrophe ('). New master. New timing sheet. Restored artwork.
  • Apostrophe (') separated from Over-Nite Sensation. New master. New timing sheet. Restored artwork. Includes lyrics. Louder dBs, more low end, than first Rykodisc CD.
  • Roxy & Elsewhere: New master. New timing sheet. Restored artwork. New FZ-approved remix of "Cheepnis".
  • One Size Fits All: New master. New timing sheet. Restored artwork. Sounds brighter than first Rykodisc CD.
  • Joe's Garage: New master. New timing sheet. Restored artwork. Double CD. FYI, Act I is on one cassette, Acts II & III are on another, sold separately, the way they were first released. This was at retail's request to spare them from a double cassette (hard to bin?).
  • Tinsel Town Rebellion: New master. New timing sheet. Restored artwork. Sounds brighter than first Rykodisc CD.
  • Shut Up & Play Yer Guitar: New master. (All original analog masters were re-transferred, with FZ approval, to create a new, better-sounding CD master). New timing sheet. Restored artwork - a 3-CD box set which reflects the original 3-LP box set.
  • You Are What You Is: New master. New timing sheet. Louder dBs than first Rykodisc CD.
  • The Man from Utopia: New master. New timing sheet. This is the 1992 remix.
  • London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. I & II: Completely remixed and remastered. The complete LSO sessions, including all pieces found on the original vinyl master, with four never before available on CD. Restored artwork, all original liner notes.
  • Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger: New master. New timing sheet. This is the 1992 remix.
  • Them Or Us: New master. New timing sheet. Louder dBs than first Rykodisc CD.
  • Thing-Fish: New master. New timing sheet. FZ moved the first two tracks from Disc Two to the end of Disc One. Louder dBs than first Rykodisc CD.
  • Francesco Zappa: New master. New timing sheet. Dropouts and clicks fixed.
  • FZ Meets the Mothers of Prevention: New master. New timing sheet. When this title was originally released in Europe, FZ removed the "porn rock" hearings excerpts, and replaced it with other tracks. When this title first came out on CD, it included both the hearing material and all Euro tracks except "H.R. 2911". That track is on this re-release.
  • Does Humor Belong in Music?: Completely remixed and remastered. First time this has been available in the U.S. Completly new artwork from Cal Schenkel.
  • The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life: New master. New timing sheet. Distortion fix on "Heavy Duty Judy".
  • New master; new timing sheet; restored artwork: Absolutely Free, Weasels Ripped My Flesh, Chunga's Revenge, Fillmore East - June 1971, Just Another Band from L.A., Waka/Jawaka, Bongo Fury, Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt, Orchestral Favorites, Baby Snakes (restored artwork - la the original vinyl picture disc).
  • New master; new timing sheet: Zoot Allures, Zappa in New York, Sheik Yerbouti, Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch, Jazz from Hell, Guitar, Broadway the Hard Way, Make a Jazz Noise Here, YCDTOSA Vol. 1-4.
  • All others as described at the top of this verbiage ...

Hope this helps you make some informed purchasing decisions.

We're pleased that we've been able to make substantial upgrades in the packaging of these rereleases, to do justice to the masters that Frank approved as final versions. It's our privilege to have a part in maintaining his legacy.

Thanks to all of you that have communicated your pleasure with the improvements we've made. And it's good to know that many of you consider these "must have" CDs. But we understand that to buy the new versions when you've already purchased the first CDs is a major financial investment, so rest assured that Rykodisc stands by the old versions, as they were the best we and Frank could produce at the time. The new ones, though enhanced in every way currently practicable, and as groovy as we know how to make 'em, will not cut your taxes or prevent cavities (although they just might make you take your clothes off when you dance).

We're particularly looking forward to a whole new generation who never listened to Frank Zappa giving his remarkable music their attention. We've made every effort to do right by him.

If the hubs on your CD trays should break, you can either fax or mail:

Shetland Park
27 Congress St.
Salem, MA 01970
ATTN: Green Trays

or e-mail: Be sure to put "green trayZ" in the message header.

"Frank's final message to me was as perfect as all of his other gems of wisdom from the past: 'Keep the humor in the music.'" - Steve Vai

Updated Release Schedule (4/28/95)

April 18

  • RCD/RAC 10503 We're Only In It for the Money
  • RCD 10504 Lumpy Gravy
  • RCD/RAC 10518 Over-Nite Sensation
  • RCD/RAC 10519 Apostrophe (')
  • RCD 10540/41 London Symphony Orchestra Vol. I & II
  • RCD 10548 Does Humor Belong in Music?

May 2

  • RCD/RAC 10501 Freak Out!
  • RCD/RAC 10502 Absolutely Free
  • RALP 10503 We're Only In It for the Money
  • RCD/RAC 10506/07 Uncle Meat
  • RCD/RAC 10508 Hot Rats
  • RCD 10509 Burnt Weeny Sandwich
  • RCD 10510 Weasels Ripped My Flesh
  • RCD 10511 Chunga's Revenge
  • RCD 10515 Just Another Band from L.A.
  • RCD 10516 Waka/Jawaka
  • RCD 10520 Roxy & Elsewhere
  • RCD 10521 One Size Fits All
  • RCD 10522 Bongo Fury
  • RCD 10523 Zoot Allures
  • RCD 10526 Studio Tan
  • RCD 10527 Sleep Dirt
  • RCD/RAC 10528 Sheik Yerbouti
  • RCD 10529 Orchestral Favorites
  • RCD 10530/31 Joe's Garage Acts I, II & III
  • RAC 10530 Joe's Garage Act I
  • RAC 10531 Joe's Garage Acts II & III
  • RCD 10532 Tinsel-Town Rebellion
  • RCD 10536 You Are What You Is
  • RCD 10537 Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch
  • RCD 10538 The Man from Utopia
  • RCD 10539 Baby Snakes
  • RCD 10543 Them Or Us
  • RCD 10544/45 Thing-Fish
  • RCD 10546 Francesco Zappa
  • RCD 10549 Jazz from Hell
  • RCD 10550/51 Guitar
  • RCD 10552 Broadway The Hard Way
  • RCD 10555/56 Make a Jazz Noise Here

May 16

  • RCD 10505 Cruising with Ruben & The Jets
  • RCD 10517 The Grand Wazoo
  • RAC 10520 Roxy & Elsewhere
  • RAC 10539 Baby Snakes
  • RCD 10542 Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger
  • RCD 10547 Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention
  • RCD 10561/62 You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore Vol. 1
  • RCD 10563/64 You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore Vol. 2 - the Helsinki Concert

May 30

  • RCD/RAC 10512 Fillmore East, June 1971
  • RCD 10524/25 Zappa in New York
  • RCD 10533/34/35 Shut Up & Play Yer Guitar
  • RCD 10553/54 The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life
  • RCD 10557/58 Playground Psychotics
  • RCD 10559 Ahead of Their Time
  • RCD/RAC 40560 The Yellow Shark
  • RCD 10565/66 You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore Vol. 3
  • RCD 10567/68 You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore Vol. 4
  • RCD 10569/70 You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore Vol. 5
  • RCD 10571/72 You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore Vol. 6

Appendix: Added Commentary Not from Ryko

TAL: Hi, Spence ... Did you do any more work on the pre-December 1993 titles than what ended up being released by Ryko in 1995 (like remastering for Au20 release of albums, or preparing an alternative 200 Motels)?

SPENCER CHRISLU: Naw, nothing more than is written on the Ryko web site [reproduced above]. In fact, that info is taken from a document I typed up. Basically, the idea was that these were the last masters that FZ personally oversaw. Therefore, anything other than just cleaning up spurrious noises and getting all the PQ timings correct was considered going against his wishes and that's what I tried to avoid. I got special permission to include some of the remixes as those were FZ-approved remixes and it was my understanding that he thought those remixes were better than the original CD release.

GZ Chimes in Circa 2012

Sez she in the know at, circa 2012:

The language, “FZ approved master,” was language required by Ryko which they demanded to use. Although we signed off on this there were other other claims that were neither authorized or factual. We did the best we could. I took the heat for a lot of misleading information over which I had no control. That is not the case anymore.

Artwerk Note

From Cal Schenkel:

Ferenc [Dobronyi] was hired to do the graphic production for the re-release packaging because it was too big a project to get done in-house at Ryko in the (insufficient) time allotted. (By the way, that stupid little catalog booklet, probably the most visible artwork I've done in my life, was cobbled together by fax machine in a day & a half). I wasn't particularly happy with the way some of the credits were worded, but fortunately at least I had a good deal of control over how "my" packages looked (while I would have liked to, I had little or nothing to do with any of the other ones).

When I heard that Ryko had bought the catalog and was going to redo the packages, I drove up to Salem to petition (actually demand) that I be a part of it, I was so pissed at how the artwork had been butchered in the earlier releases - without any involvement or knowledge on my part.


home - vinyl vs CDs - weirdo discography - bootlegs - misc - hot lynx - e-mail us at zappa dot patio at gmail dot com 2006-04-22 20:02

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