Cruising with Ruben & the Jets
What to Get: "Greasy Love Songs," available on
Summary: EXTREME differences between CD and
Zappa remixed and overdubbed it so much for the CD release that it's
like a whole new album, from the '80s instead of the '60s. Defending
the remix is extremely controversial. Thankfully, the vinyl mix was
finally reissued (in 2010) by the Zappa Family Trust under the
nom-de-disc "Greasy Love Songs." The 1995 Ryko CD adds some new
cover/booklet artwork, but is otherwise
like previous CDs. The 2012 CD is identical to earlier CDs.
ESSENTIAL VERSIONS FOR COMPLETISTS: 1) Original vinyl/Greasy
Love Songs CD; 2) any "Ruben" CD (see Old
vinyl below). [completist's guide]
- Original vinyl (blue Verve
V6-5055(X) (MGS 1532/33) in the US, November 1968; Verve SVLP 9237 in
the UK (no gatefold cover), February 1969) (also discovered on white
Verve label - presumably the very last pressing(s))
- Mono vinyl (Verve V-5055 in the US, VLP 9237 in the UK, no
gatefold cover, February 1969)
- Australian vinyl (Verve V
5055, 1968, no gatefold cover)
- German vinyl (without "Deseri", but listing it on the
cover - Verve 710 020)
- Brazilian vinyl (Verve VELP
78.007, no gatefold cover)
- British vinyl re-issue (Verve
Polydor Select 2317 069, gatefold cover, June 1973)
- French vinyl (without "Deseri" - Metro 2356 068 -
- "Facsimile bootleg" vinyl ("Verve
Select 2317 069")
- Vinyl on SIAT_PARIS label - French?
- The Old Masters vinyl (Barking
Pumpkin BPR 7777-5, April 1985)
- Original CD (Ryko RCD10063 in the US
(imported into Australia by Festival Records and re-stickered Ryko
D40724), Zappa Records CDZAP4 in the UK, October 1987; VACK 5024 in
- IRS 970.04 CD?
- Russian picture CD (JPCD 9710581 and/or 9710281 DORA)
- Zappa Records cassette (TZAPPA4)
- Barking Pumpkin cassette
- 1995 CD (Ryko RCD 10505, May 16 1995;
VACK 5118 in Japan, renumbered
5253 in 1998)
- Japanese paper-sleeve CD
(Ryko/VACK 1207, September 21 2001 - sticker & 2 inserts
- UMe 2012 CD (Zappa Records ZR3838 July 31, 2012)
- Bootleg CDs
Current Version Track-listing (links to Román's stupendous
Cheap Thrills 2:20
Love Of My Life 3:17
How Could I Be Such A Fool? 3:33
I'm Not Satisfied 3:59
Jelly Roll Gum Drop 2:17
Later That Night 3:04
You Didn't Try To Call Me 3:53
Fountain Of Love 2:57
"No. No. No." 2:27
Anyway The Wind Blows 2:56
Stuff Up The Cracks 4:29
- Track 11 was written "No No No" on the original vinyl
label, but "'No. No. No.'" on the vinyl cover, and on all CD versions.
The Old Masters copies this pattern, but Barking Pumpkin cassette has "No No
- Track 12, "Anyway the Wind Blows", has been written "Any
Way the Wind Blows" on most other official releases, including the Old Masters label, but not the CD.
According to a July 20 1968 interview in Rolling Stone
magazine, a working title was Whatever Happened to Ruben & the
From Record Collector magazine #93, May 1987 (quoted
The US pressing came with a deluxe gatefold cover
featuring some excellent Cal Schenkel artwork, most of which is missing
from the original UK version. A very limited number of early US
pressings also included a folder insert containing instructions on "How
to dance the bop" and "How to comb and set a jellyroll".
After treating us to the full sleeves for Money and Lumpy Gravy,
EMI decided against making it three in a row and issued the original UK
version of Ruben in a non-fold sleeve.
From Collecting Frank Zappa
in Australia - Part
1: The Early Years, an article by Stuart Penny in it - The
Collectors Magazine, Issue #14 June-July-August 1995 (provided by Henry
Griggs, Sydney, Australia):
We do ... have positive sightings of Cruising with
Ruben & the Jets (Verve V6 5055) in Australia at least, if not
New Zealand. Depending on your aesthetic stand-point, the Aussie
version of Ruben constitutes either sacrilege of the highest
order, or a kitsch masterpiece guaranteed to make even the most jaded
collector sit up and take notice. For a start, the front cover is
almost certainly a photographic copy of an original US sleeve (as was We're Only In It for the Money, for that
matter). These days we may cringe at the blurred covers of those
dreadful Italian repro Zappa albums which crept onto the market a few
years ago, but back in the '60s and early '70s, Australian record
companies were using much the same methods quite openly! Instead of
taking the time to fly in first-generation sleeve artwork from America
(or wherever), they would simply print from an imported sleeve, hence
the blurred, smudgy horror that was Ruben. As if that wasn't
enough, the boys in the artwork department at Phonogram took it upon
themselves to 'improve' upon Cal Schenkel's sleeve design! In order
that potential buyers should not be in any doubt as to who is
performing on the record, they added "The Mothers of Invention" at the
top of the front cover (in pink, no less) in the same style as
Schenkel's title. Above the back cover picture of the teenage Frank
(which is, for some inexplicable reason, tinted yellow) we have,
presumably for the benefit of those who missed it on the front, the
band name in large letters once again. As a result, the remaining
sleeve notes are completely rearranged.
To this day, Australian record companies still seem to think
that unless the artist's name screams out in huge letters from the
front cover of an album, your typical brain-dead record buyer will be
totally unable to figure it out for him/herself. [---]
Needless to say, the Aussie Ruben arrived in a non-gatefold
laminated sleeve with no sign of the three inserts which were included
with early US copies. Although available in both mono and stereo in
America (Nov. 1968) and Britain (Feb. 1969), the Australian version
appears to have been issued in stereo only.
From Mikael Agardsson:
The (non-gatefold) cover on this version is a bit different.
The callout on the front reads
SERÁ QUE ČSTE DISCO DE "THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION" SOB UN
NOME DIFERENTE É A ÚLTIMA CHANCE DE SE OUVIR A SUA MÚSICA ESQUISITA NO
and the back is completely different. It has the picture
from inside the gatefold, but in black and white, and severely cropped,
so only part of the group is visible.
British Vinyl Re-Issue
From Record Collector magazine #93, May 1987 (quoted
The 1973 Polydor UK re-issue was given a full gatefold
sleeve, almost identical to the US release except that the catalogue
number was moved to the top right-hand side of the front cover, where
it was placed in a black circle, together with the full name of the
group. This was the first Zappa/Mothers album to be released in stereo
"Facsimile Bootleg" Vinyl
From Román García Albertos:
Well, I call 'em "facsimile bootlegs", because they
reproduce the cover and the label and the vinyl of the original
releases. But they aren't. They don't sound very good (well, they sound
good, but they're at least second generation), and the covers seem to
be xerocopies of the originals. When the original releases were
impossible to find and the CD era hadn't come yet, I think this was the
only way to hear the records.
From Master of Disaster:
The curious thing is that the song "Deseri" is left off.
It's not on the LP but the cover and the inner label say yes. I have
seen the same LP with the same catalogue number, but the song "Deseri"
was on it. The sound quality is good.
From Kristian Kier:
I have both 2317 069 Select, the original and the italian
"fake" one. Both have Deseri included.
The main differences between the counterfeit and the
original are the covers and the matrix numbers. The covers show some
damages which weren't caused by handling, they were copied (xeroxed
might be the wrong terme, since they seem to be printed professionally)
due to photo transfer. Best examples: We're Only
In It for the Money and Zappa in New York.
The matrix numbers on the counterfeits are all hand-written.
Original records by Verve/Polydor don't have hand-written numbers!
That's the easiest way to check wether it's a fake, or not!
The "hand-written rule" is valid only for European
Verve/Polydor pressings, not for Verve US pressings. So if the record
you are interested in has a V(6)/5045 number, it should have
hand-written matrix numbers.
Another clue: Most of these counterfeits do not have track
separation between the songs.
I do have the fakes of Freak Out!,
Absolutely Free, We're Only In It for the Money, Cruising with
Ruben & the Jets, Lumpy Gravy and Zappa in New York (with "Punky's Whips"),
all coming from Italy. I remember having seen Roxy
& Elsewhere, too.
Very Thorough Remix
When this album was re-released on CD, it was heavily
remixed and new
bass and drums had been overdubbed on most songs without any
this in the CD booklet, which still credited the original musicians.
The new drums were
played by Chad Wackerman; the new electric bass by Arthur Barrow and
upright acoustic bass
by an unknown musician, possibly Jay Anderson. The differences are huge;
it's like a completely different album.
The remix is extremely controversial to many fans, and it is
safe to say that an
overwhelming majority hate it. Zappa said he thought it sounded better
than the original.
Zappa's sound engineer, Bob Stone, called the remix "classic stooge
some people could in theory like the remix, every hard-core fan should
definitely seek out
the original vinyl, or a copy of it.
- If you want to read more about why Zappa remixed
and overdubbed this album so much, you can follow
Details Track by Track
- Way Beyond Just Drums
& Bass - an article reproduced from the booklet that came with
the Cheekbone Crush bootleg CD. Lists the
differences track by track. Required reading if you think "a new
drummer and a new bass player playing the same notes as the old guys
can't be that big a deal". :)
D. G. Porter had this to say about "Jelly Roll Gum Drop":
The CD re-release has the TWO (2 - count 'em!) vocal parts,
one was on the original LP and one was on the 45. The LP had the left
track, the 45 had the right track. But he cut out the timpani part. I
added it back in as an overtrack onto the CD version, and Frank looked
bemused when I told him this. BUT THE CUT NEEDS THOSE TIMP PARTS.
"They RULE! - Um,heh!" And the 45 goes on longer than the LP or
the CD - it has a final "Jelly Roll Gum Drop" in the vocals.
And Only the Sky adds about "Stuff Up the Cracks": "Note the
tracks panned to opposite ends".
The Old Masters Vinyl
Cruising with Ruben & the Jets was one of the
on vinyl in the Old Masters box 1. It
was not taken from an
old master; instead it used the CD remix, except
case of "Stuff Up the Cracks", which was the original mix. The new
instructions on how to "dance the bop" and "comb & set a jelly
roll". These were reproductions of two separate black & white
inches, distributed for promotion only at the time of the original
release, along with a
blown-up version of The Story of Ruben & The Jets, a glossy
Frank (both from the back cover), and a jar of hair pomade.
The version of "Stuff Up the Cracks" on my Ryko CD (original release) is a different version from
the original release AND the Old Masters version (which
is otherwise identical to the CD with the
We all know about the changed bass and drums. We all have
our opinions (yeah, mine is negative, too). But in the Old Masters
box, there was a note that while all the other songs were overdubbed
and remixed, Zappa couldn't find the 8-track master to "Stuff Up the
Cracks", and instead digitally retweezed the 2-track final mix. It
sounded great, was the same mix as the original, and made one wish he'd
just done the whole damn album that way.
On the CD, there are still no changes in the bass and drums,
but the mix is SEVERELY different, adding saxophone lines that
weren't there before, and crossfading the vocals into Zappa's guitar
solo, undercutting its power (the solo is longer now, but what was its
distinctive entrance - a musical "I'm here" - is now the end
of another phrase, and is lost).
So did Zappa find the 8-track master and remix it for the CD, or did he mistakenly (or deliberately) use a
different 2-track master from the original sessions? Maybe it doesn't
matter to you, but this was my favorite "kids" album when I was growing
up (I was born a few months before its release), I know it backwards
and forwards, and the alteration BUGS ME! (As opposed to We're Only In It for the Money, which I heard
for the first time in the Old Masters box, and while the
original mix sounds "better" to me now, I still miss some of the newer
Barking Pumpkin Cassette
From Charles Ulrich:
Barking Pumpkin D4-74209
(C)(P) 1968, 1985 Barking Pumpkin Records
"No No No" has no periods on either the cassette or the
j-card. (On the j-card, it's not aligned with the other song titles, so
it could be interpreted as " No No No", with a space at the beginning.)
The j-card has a cropped version of the front cover, FZ's
high school photo, the text from the gatefold ("This is an album of
greasy love songs ..."), "How to Comb & Set a Jellyroll", "The
Story of Ruben & the Jets", and musician credits. Also an ad for
the Old Masters boxes. No lyrics. No
artwork from the gatefold. No "present-day Pachuco". No bop dance step
The musician credits spell Arthur Tripp's middle name as
Dyer (vs Dyre on the LP). The drummers are credited only once (vs twice
on the LP). The 1980s musicians are not credited. No production,
engineering, art, or songwriting credits. "Deseri", "Anything", and
"Fountain of Love" are credited as Frank Zappa Music, BMI/Ray Collins
Music (vs Bizarre Music Co. & Ray Collins Music Co. BMI on the LP).
The music is the 1984 remix.
The 1995 CD is the same as the controversial CD
remix. The new
packaging includes instructions on how to "dance the bop" and "comb
set a jelly roll". These were reproductions of two separate black &
8.5x11 inches, distributed for promotion only at the time of the
original release, along
with a blown-up version of The Story of Ruben & The Jets, a
photo of Frank (both from the back cover), and a jar of hair pomade.
They also came with
the Old Masters vinyl version. Official Ryko
"New master. New timing sheet. Restored artwork. This is the 1984
remix." [full statement]
Japanese Paper-Sleeve Version (2001-2002)
Starting in 2001, Video Arts Music released a limited-edition series (2000
copies each) of Zappa CDs in
paper sleeves - miniature LP sleeves. There was nothing special about this
series other than the covers, which were very well done - inserts and
"bonuses" were reproduced, the albums that originally had gatefold
covers got little miniature gatefolds, and cover track lists were exactly as on
the corresponding LPs, even in cases where the CD has bonus tracks or a
different track order. Included in this series were some entries that never had
"proper" LP issues, i.e. Läther. Additionally, some rarities--like the "green/gold"
cover of Chunga's Revenge--were reproduced as special items in this run.
We need to stress that the sound quality of these discs matches the US
Ryko issues, which they are clearly derived from. These are collectors
items, not new remastered editions.
Late-2012-update: It appears as if the Japanese may be warming up the
mini-LP ovens for a new batch based on the 2012 UMe remasters. We'll let you
know if this happens.
2012 UMe CD
The new, 2012 UMe/Zappa Records CD contains the 1984 digital remix of
Ruben with overdubbed drums and bass. It is reported to be identical to
As the CD remix is so different from the
original vinyl, several
bootleggers have made CDs from old LPs. They all sound as can be
expected. Some have
"bonus tracks". One
issue from Cheekbone
Crush Records came with a thick booklet, containing among other
things an article
about all the differences between the vinyl and the (official)
CD - Way Beyond Just Drums
- Did the original CD reproduce all the artwork from
the original vinyl?
- Zappa Records cassette details?
- Any 8-track details?
- Any details about the Russian CD?
- Is the '95 disc identical to the original disc? (likely,
but we need confirmation!)
Jörg Zeyer, Chris Ullsperger, Robert Garvey, DG Porter, the Bob
the Cal Schenkel (promo material), Cheekbone Crush
Records, Victor Dubiler,
Gonçalo, David Goodwin, Harry de Swart, Miguel Amorim