Civilization Phaze III
|For information on the pre-release
version of CPIII, check out this
The last "real" Zappa release. Differences have been reported between the
Barking Pumpkin and Zappa Records CDs (there is not an official vinyl
release of this title), but these have not yet been confirmed (physical
differences between the packaging have been confirmed, though).
CPIII is not commonly available new through retail channels. US fans should
order it from
Barfko Swill/MusicToday, while European fans have good things to say about
- US CD (Barking Pumpkin UMRK 01, December 1994)
- UK CD (Zappa Records CDDZAP 56, December 1994; promo copies
also in circulation: CDDZAP 56 P)
- Japanese CD (Music Scene Inc. MSIF-1)
- German CD (Zappa 211.6056.2) (?)
What We Need: Are we entirely sure that the BP and Zappa Records CDs sound
Mike Espinoza ordered his copy from Barfko-Swill,
and it came in a
white box made of cardstock. The back of it has a pumpkin illustration with
Zappa's moustache and a return address for Barking Pumpkin. Inside the box is
the same CPIII that we all have with the flaming piano/flying space bug
illustration. When I saw CPIII in stores, it was merely shrink-wrapped. Since
I got it in the box from Barfko-Swill, I just assumed that everyone else did,
I wish that EIHN had come in the same
sort of box. It would be better to protect the felt cover.
US CD vs UK CD
- Barkin Pumpkin UMRK 01
- Zappa Records CDDZAP 56
From Mikael Agardsson:
I have both the British (CDDZAP 56) and American (UMRK 01) version, and there are
actually differences between these two: the cover and the sound quality. The UK version
has a shiny cover, while the American cover is more matted with softer colours. The UK
version sounds good, but the American sounds even better, with more detail in both the
high and low ends. So if you have a choice between these two versions, you should
definitely choose the American. (You may have to wait a while for it, if you order it
From other people:
GEIR CORNELIUSSEN: There's one thing I always have hated about Civilization
Phaze III. I have mentioned that before out here, only to hear stuff like:
"Buy a new one", "Hey, it was a prizewinner", etc etc. Well, that
interests me as much as a pimple on the butt. What I talk about? The bad quality of the
paper and packaging, and the bad pressing of the discs themselves ... The music is
fantastic, and the art is fantastic. The manufacturing is crap, worse than a box of biscuits.
MIGUEL AMORIM: Why don't you be more careful of the Civilization Phaze III
CDs? It's not intended to be smashed with a sledge-hammer, or to be thrown around in a
car's glove-box compartment or whatnot.
CHRIS MAXFIELD: Mine is fabulous. I don't know what you're talking about! The
Lost Episodes and The Yellow Shark have some packaging problems
(the little cardboard boxes aren't too sturdy) but my copy of Civilization Phaze
III seems high quality all the way.
MAGNUS KARLSSON: My copy comes direct from Barfko and the packaging is great, very
solid. However, every copy I've seen at record stores in Sweden looks horribly beat up,
especially on the edges, even though they're brand new and are kept behind protection
glass. Are there differences in the packaging between European and American versions?
BLÄ: Yes, a difference in quality.
The page order in the booklets also differ. From Michael Nickel:
UMRK version: After the title page with the CD
holder, the UMRK version starts with a black page (the back side is the beetle
in the red circle). The next page is the first transparent page with the
"spotlight beetle". Then comes the "Intro page: FRANK ZAPPA
CIVILIZATION PHASE III" (the back side is the white "page two").
Zappa Records version: After the title page with
the CD holder, the Zappa Records version starts with a black page (the back
side is the beetle in the red circle). The next page is the "Intro page:
FRANK ZAPPA CIVILIZATION PHASE III" (the back side is the white "page
two"). The next page is the first transparent page with the "spotlight
If you turn the booklets around, it's the same with the
last transparent pages in the other direction.
UK Promo CD
Mikael "något helt annat" Agardsson:
As far as I know, only the UK version exists as a promo CD (Zappa Records
CDDZAP 56 P). The differences between the regular and the promo are:
- The CDs are not black, but plain silver with black lettering. "For
promotional use only / Not for sale" printed on the discs.
- The packaging is not a digipak, but a regular slim-line double jewel
- There is no booklet, just a cover picture inlay.
- The cover picture is also slightly different - the hues are a lot
bluer and the print a lot less sharp.
From Jamie Kerr:
I bought Civilization Phaze III, got home and found two disc ones. I
returned it. Six months later I saw it again at the same store so I asked them
to check it before buying it. It was the same discs! Fingerprints and all!
Rumours & Stagecraft
Pretty early on, a rumour got started that some enterprising crooks in Australia were
selling counterfeit vinyl copies of this album, and it was said that Gail Zappa herself believed this to be true,
or at least was worried about it. But it has never been proven true; no one seems to have
ever seen one of these illegal Australian vinyl copies, and it is likely that they never
existed. Another rumour, from alt.fan.frank-zappa, September 1999:
HANS ALSTERS: I want to buy Civilization Phaze III in Holland, but it
seems not available anymore. Yet they could import a box Civilization Phaze III
from the US with 3 CDs. Anybody who knows what's on the third CD?
ROLF MAURER: Somebody's confused. There is no 3-CD version of Civilization
Phaze III, except in our collective dreams. Your record store might be thinking
of Shut Up & Play Yer Guitar, which was formerly available
on 2 CDs but now comes boxed in a 3-disc format. Or they might have been thinking of the
3-CD price you'll have to pay for Civilization Phaze III once they
special-order it from Barking Pumpkin.
And in December 1998, two nasty people on alt.fan.frank-zappa
(Patrick David Neve and [name withheld upon request]) spread rumours on the
internet about 8-track and Sony Playtape* issues, respectively, using fake, edited JPG images. Of course,
neither of these ever existed. If you ever hear a rumour about Civilization Phaze
III coming out on any format other than CD, don't believe it until
you see and hear a copy with your own eyes and ears.
- Any comments on the "German version"?
- Again: are we entirely sure the two CDs (Zappa and BP) have different
*) A playtape was a 2-track tape cartridge, originally invented in the 1940s but
presented to the public in the late '60s, which held up to 24 minutes of music. (We're Only In It for the Money actually came out on playtape.) It
was the first consumer tape format with portable players available, but as soon as
portable players started to appear for other tape formats, the playtape format started
dying out. If you want to read more about playtapes - why would you - here's a link to an article on
the Dead Media Project page.