Mothermania - the Best of the Mothers

Summary: MOTHERMANIA coverThis old vinyl compilation (compiled by Zappa himself) has some tracks on it are unique mixes or edits. The Spanish vinyl is sort of different. Re-released on as a digital download in 2009, and (finally!) re-released on CD in 2012.



  • Original vinyl (blue Verve V6 5068(X) in the US, Verve SVLP9239 in the UK (no gatefold cover), April 1969 - yellow-label US promos also reported)
  • Mono vinyl (Verve VLP9239 in the UK, no gatefold cover, April 1969)
  • Italian vinyl (Verve 2304 164, 1969)
  • German vinyl (blue Verve 710 021 - white-label promos also reported)
  • Italian vinyl (yellow Verve SGVL 51.033)
  • Israeli vinyl (single sleeve, manufactured by Litratone - Hifa)
  • Australian vinyl (Verve V6 5058, 1969, no gatefold cover)
  • New Zeeland vinyl (black Verve V6 5068, no gatefold cover)
  • Cassette
  • 8-track
  • Reel-2-reel (Verve VVX-5068)
  • 1970 re-issue (?)
  • German re-issue (black Verve Rotation 2428 505) with different cover (non-gatefold)
  • British vinyl re-issue (greyish-blackish-blueish Verve/Polydor 2352 017, February 1972, no gatefold cover)
  • British vinyl re-issue (Verve/Polydor 2317 047, March 1973, no gatefold cover, no track separation)
  • British cassette (Verve/Polydor 3113 068)
  • Spanish vinyl (Verve STEREO 23 04 202, 1974)
  • 2009 Digital Re-Release (Zappa Records ZR 20009 5-10-2009)
  • Bootleg vinyl, CDs and cassette
  • 2012 UMe CD (Zappa Records ZR 3840 [U.S.] and 0238402 [elsewhere] October 26, 2012)

Original Vinyl

1. Brown Shoes Don't Make It [album version]
2. Mother People [new mono mix]
3. The Duke of Prunes [album version]
4. Call Any Vegetable [edit]
5. The Idiot Bastard Son [new mono mix & edit]

6. It Can't Happen Here [new stereo mix & edit]
7. You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here [new stereo mix]
8. Who Are the Brain Police? [new stereo mix]
9. Plastic People [album version]
10. Hungry Freaks, Daddy [new stereo mix]
11. America Drinks & Goes Home [album version]


Mothermania was an old compilation that Zappa himself put together. Some tracks were a bit different than the original versions: in fact, all Freak Out! tracks are alternate stereo mixes, all We're Only In It for the Money tracks are alternate mono mixes, and all Absolutely Free tracks are the original Absolutely Free mixes (but "Call Any Vegetable" has been shortened). And here are the exact differences, vinyl side by vinyl side, track by track, according to JWB, Román García Albertos, Biffy the Elephant Shrew and Michael Gula:

Side 1:

  1. Brown Shoes Don't Make It - no difference.
  2. Mother People - alternate mono mix: Complete song from beginning to end. No sound effects edited in, the line "Shut your fuckin' mouth about the length of my hair" line is NOT censored, and the song ends after "holding you near me" - no vinyl record scratch, just a natural fade-out
  3. The Duke of Prunes - no differences. But the subtitles that appear on Absolutely Free are not used on Mothermania; the title "The Duke of Prunes" covers the whole suite, with "Amnesia Vivace" and "The Duke Regains His Chops, which are included here.)
  4. Call Any Vegetable - the "improvised section" is edited out: it jumps right from the Holst quote at the beginning of "Invocation & Ritual Dance of the Young Pumpkin" into "Soft-Sell Conclusions", skipping the whole sax/guitar solo part. (Note that these subtitles that appear on Absolutely Free are not used on Mothermania; the title "Call Any Vegetable" covers the whole suite.)
  5. The Idiot Bastard Son - alternate mono mix: Complete song. full blown intro not on We're Only In It for the Money (piano & timpani - very nice), no "I never wanted to ..." section edited in, no snorks, and the end fades out naturally. Also, Frank made the acoustic guitars and clarinets more relevant in this mix. (The LP is worth getting just for this track alone.)

Side 2:

  1. It Can't Happen Here - On Freak Out!, it is not differentiated by title, but only considered an untitled segment of "Help, I'm a Rock". This is a completely new stereo mix; the old Freak Out! stereo featured the usual strict left/middle/right division typical of '60s stereo imaging - this is a more sophisticated stereo mix. It's also an alternate edit, with straight singing all the way through, and no piano/percussion section. The end is looped - it goes "It can't happen here, can't happen here, can't happen heeere [cheesy tape echo] ..." - and there is also "an extra scrap of FZ dialog ('... since you first took the shots')". At one point the word "psychedelic" is plainly heard - the word is inexplicably edited out of the Freak Out! version.
  2. You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here - completely new stereo mix; the old Freak Out! stereo featured the usual strict left/middle/right division typical of '60s stereo imaging - this is a more sophisticated stereo mix.
  3. Who Are the Brain Police? - completely new stereo mix; the old Freak Out! stereo featured the usual strict left/middle/right division typical of '60s stereo imaging - this is a more sophisticated stereo mix.
  4. Plastic People - no differences.
  5. Hungry Freaks, Daddy - completely new stereo mix; the old Freak Out! stereo featured the usual strict left/middle/right division typical of '60s stereo imaging - this is a more sophisticated stereo mix. The echo effect that was applied to the last words ("the great society") on the Freak Out! vinyl has been removed (and was also removed from the Freak Out! 1985 remix).
  6. America Drinks & Goes Home - some disagreement here. Originally, Román said:

The Absolutely Free CD version, with a different stero image than the Absolutely Free LP, with the voice going radically from left to right to left, and the cash machine only on the left channel. In the original vinyl version, the voice tends to stay around the middle, and the cash machine can be heard on both channels.

David G., however does not agree:

I listened to both my vinyl Absolutely Free and the CD, and they sounded the same on "America Drinks & Goes Home" ... perhaps the fact that the vinyl is more compressed near the end of the side was confusing the other listener? (it sounds like the vocal is more centered, but I think that's due to compression).

Moving on; from ELLIOSENOR:

The Mothermania mix of "Who Are the Brain Police?" is an interesting one. If you listen closely to the second bass note in the intro, you can hear what sounds like an organ. The fuzz guitar in the intro is a bit fuzzier, and the kazoo at the end has more of a "quacking duck" quality to it. There is a "space echo" applied to the words "home", "chrome", "off", "soft", "knew", and "too". The piano is a bit more prominent as well. Also, it sounds like there are more than one voice singing the "What would you do if the people you knew" verse.

There may have been two variant covers. It appeared with both black and blue Verve labels. The UK pressings did not contain the Bizarre inner sleeves or the booklet, although this was included with some European issues (below).

Various European Vinyl Issues

Italian Vinyl

From Mikael Agardsson:

This [2304 164] is the Italian issue of Mothermania (I have it myself). It has a fold-out cover and is largely identical to the American version. The back cover says "Original Americanrecording licensed and trademark registered by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (Verve Series), New York, U.S.A. Printed and made in Italy." On the front cover too, in the lower left corner, there's a small print saying "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc." On the label, which is black, it says that the record was released in 1969.

From Bjørn-Emil Madsen:

My Italian 1969 issue of Mothermania [2304 164] has no fold-out cover.

German Vinyl

From Dan Watkins:

I recently got a German pressing of Mothermania in the mail. It has a yellow Verve label and no track separation. The entire article on back cover of the album is in German [Ed: As it always is], but the rest of the notes are in English.

From Harry de Swart:

My German pressing of Mothermania has a blue Verve label nr 710021 and it has track separation, fold-out cover and the UNCLE MEAT movie announcement.

Spanish Vinyl

The Spanish version was released by Polydor S.A. in 1974. The cover is the same as the US version, the back cover has Zappa holding a guitar, in black & white, and the track list is different:

Cara 1:

  1. Plastic People (03:40)
  2. Who Needs the Peace Corps? (02:34)
  3. Concentration Moon (02:27)
  4. Call Any Vegetable (04:31)
  5. America Drinks & Goes Home (02:43)

Cara 2:

  1. It Can't Happen Here (03:13)
  2. You Are Probably Wondering Why I'm Here (03:37)
  3. Who Are the Brain Police? (03:22)
  4. Hungry Freaks, Daddy (03:27)
  5. The Idiot Bastard Son (02:26)

In other words, "Brown Shoes Don't Make It", "Mother People" and "The Duke of Prunes" have been replaced with "Concentration Moon" and "Who Needs the Peace Corps" from We're Only In It for the Money, and the order has been changed. The new tracks are censored versions - "I will love the police as they kick the shit out of me in the street" is cut from "Who Need the Peace Corps", and Gary Kellgren's spoken part in "Concentration Moon" goes like this:

"... also, in the same time I get to work with the Velvet Underground as Frank Zappa's group",

in other words, the words "which is as shitty a group" have been edited out. On the heavily censored version of Money, the whole Velvet Underground line was cut. This "which is as shitty a group" cut also appears on an old compilation known as "Transparency".

From Román García Albertos:

Next to the titles are Spanish translations of them, except "The Idiot Bastard Son" (Franco was still alive). I think the three songs edited out is a case of Franco's censorship in the '70s.

Israeli Vinyl

From "U":

Was at a record fair yesterday and saw an Israeli version of Mothermania. Single, non-gatefold sleeve. On the front cover, to the left of Motorhead's head, there was an elliptic black spiky blob with Hebrew print inside it. The back cover didn't have the "mouths", but the page from inside the regular gatefold with a black and white halftoned picture of Zappa playing guitar. The lower-left corner read "Manufactured by Litratone - Hifa".

German Re-Issue with Different Cover

front cover back cover

Australian Vinyl

From Collecting Frank Zappa in Australia - Part 1: The Early Years, an article by Stuart Penny in it - The Australian Record Collectors Magazine, Issue #14 June-July-August 1995 (provided by Henry Griggs, Sydney, Australia):

While Mothermania is not generally considered a major rarity in Europe or America, the Aussie issue (Verve V6 5068) is surprisingly hard to find and, along with Money, is possibly the most elusive of the Verve LPs. [---] The Australian version arrived in a non-gatefold sleeve (natch!), but instead of creating new artwork for the back cover - as they did in Britain, where this LP was also issued (three times, no less) in a single sleeve - the Oz release simply reproduced the liner notes from the back of the US album which, as everyone knows, were almost completely in German! Curiously, although the advert for the (supposedly) upcoming UNCLE MEAT movie was removed, the only other English language section of the liner notes, advertising the first three MOI LPs (including, of course, the unreleased-in-Australia Freak Out!), remained. The aforementioned mammoth sleeve credit is also present, along with what were then three new additions to the Phonogram stable: Buddah, Kama Sutra and Riverside. Expect to pay up to $70 for an unplayed copy of Mothermania.

New Zeeland Vinyl

From Steve Jones:

Just got something very interesting: a New Zealand pressing of Mothermania, V6-5068. It's a single-sleeve album too. The back cover is a little different, it's like the USA pressing but it's has no coming-soon ad for Uncle Meat but were that is it has the track listing. On the bottom left hand corner it has "manufactured and distributed in New Zealand by Philips Records (NZ) Ltd."

British vinyl re-issue (Verve/Polydor 2317 047)

From Robert Cloos:

Hi, I recently bought Mothermania, UK, third pressing. It's a non-fold-out cover. The front cover has the same picture as the fold-out cover version. On the back cover:

  • Upper right corner: "2317 047 select", "previously available on 2352 017" and "also available on Musicasette No. 3113 068".
  • Middle: "Mothermania", "the best of the mothers" and the picture of Zappa from the inside right Absolutely Free cover. Underneath the picture: "Frank Zappa". To the left of the picture is the track list from side one, and to the right is the track list for side two.
  • Lower left corner: "all selections composed ..."
  • Lower right corner: "The Mothers of Invention and NT&B are divisions of Intercontinental Absurdities. Engineered by Ami Hadani, Tom Hidley, Gary Kellgren and Dick Kunc. First (P) 1966".
  • Lower middle: "Verve", "trademark of Metro Goldwyn Mayer inc.", "sleeve printed and made by MacNeill Press ltd. London S.E. 1" and "marketed by Polydor".

Label: black. Label title: "mothermania / the best of the mothers of invention". VERY INTERESTING: NO TRACK SEPERATION!

2009 Digital Re-Release

On Mother's Day, 2009, the ZFT finally re-released Mothermania in MP3 and FLAC (YAAAY!) formats, bringing it back into "conceptual print." This version is mastered by Bob Ludwig and sounds quite good. All of the exclusive tracks are accounted for; before 2012, this was the only place to find the original "Absolutely Free" tracks sans reverb (albeit with "Call Any Vegetable" edited). The intro to "Plastic People" does not have the glitch found on the 2012 Absoultely Free CD.

2012 UMe CD

A physical release of the 2009 digital remaster: after more than forty years, Mothermania is back in print!

Bootleg Vinyl, CDs and cassette, September 1999 - Conversation obviated in 2012
  FAST FRANK: ... but this does beg the question; why did the family decide not to re-issue Mothermania?
BOSSK (R): I think it's for economic reasons. As much as I'd like to have it on CD, I can't imagine there are enough people like me to make it worth re-issuing.
SAM and/or KAREN ROUSE: But they reissued Francesco Zappa - how many copies of that did they expect to sell?

A bootleg called American Pageant imitates Mothermaina, but doesn't have all the Mothermania material. It has been copied and or re-issued on both vinyl and CD, and sold far and wide in stores that don't normally carry bootlegs, so there's something weird about it. (In February 1999, Kristian Kier reported that "they started selling this CD again: it goes for 9.99 DM over here".) But there has also been a straight counterfeit (with bonus tracks) of Mothermania.


  • Two variant covers, yes/no?
  • Any cassette details?
  • Any 8-track details?

Additional Informants

  • Juha Sarkkinen
  • Record Collector magazine #118, June 1989

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