Sleep Dirt

What to Get: The remix and original are completely different. Do you like vocals? Get a non-2012 CD. Do you want the original album? Get the 2012 CD.

Summary: The original vinyl and 2012 CD are, barring some chat in "Sleep Dirt," all instrumental. The others CDs contain a remix, and are heavily overdubbed: vocals, by Thana Harris (yes!), on three tracks, and new drums on some, overdubbed by Chad Wackerman; it's almost a completely different album. Some of these CDs have a remix of "Regyptian Strut" while some do not.

ESSENTIAL VERSIONS FOR COMPLETISTS: 1) Vinyl or 2012 CD and 2) any other CD. (Some CD versions have a remix of "Regyptian Strut" and some do not, but this is a moot point as both versions appear on Läther, which you need anyway.) [completist's guide]


  • Original vinyl (DiscReet DSK 2292 in the US, January 19 1979; K 59211 in the UK, September 1979)
  • French & German vinyl (DiscReet DIS 59 211)
  • Green vinyl (?!)
  • Portuguese vinyl (DiscReet / Radio Triunfo LP-S-68-19)
  • Israeli vinyl (DiscReet BAN 59211, with a little Hebrew print on the back cover)
  • Brazilian vinyl
  • Cassette
  • 8-track
  • Original CD (Barking Pumpkin D2074238 or D2 74238 in the US, September 24 1991; Zappa Records CDZAP 43 in the UK, September 4 1991 (or 1990?); VACK 5086 in Japan)
  • Zappa Records cassette (TZAPPA43)
  • 1991 cassette (Barking Pumpkin (D2 74238?), September 4 1991)
  • 1995 CD (Ryko RCD 10527, May 2 1995; VACK 5086 in Japan, renumbered 5221 in 1998)
  • Russian CD
  • Japanese paper-sleeve CD (Ryko/VACK 1235, April 27 2002)
  • 2012 UMe CD (Zappa Records ZR3858 August 28, 2012)
  • Bootleg CDs

From Harry de Swart:

My German copy of Sleep Dirt I bought January 18 1979 which is one day earlier than the USA release?

Relation to LÄTHER

Five Sleep Dirt tracks appear on the Läther album. The differences between the versions are as follows [full Läther walkthrough by Zoot]:

  • "Filthy Habits": Läther has a shorter edit of the Sleep Dirt vinyl version.
  • "Flambay": Läther has a shorter edit of the same instrumental version as the Sleep Dirt vinyl; old Sleep Dirt CDs have a different mix with vocals. The Läther version is spelled "Flambé".
  • "Spider of Destiny": Läther has a shorter edit of the same instrumental version as the Sleep Dirt vinyl; old Sleep Dirt CDs have a different mix with vocals.
  • "Regyptian Strut": Läther has the same mix as the Sleep Dirt vinyl; some Sleep Dirt CDs have a different mix. Sheepishly, the Sleep Dirt CD version appears as a "bonus track" on Läther (Spence Chrislu at the UMRK/ put it there by mistake, not realising it was already on the Sleep Dirt CD). The Läther versions is spelled "Re-Gyptian Strut". However, as David G. observes, the introductory drum fill is different on Läther:

As I said before, Läther has a longer drum intro. Well, that is and isn't true. It's longer, but it also isn't what's on all other issues of the remix. To clarify, it seems as if the remix itself (on Sleep Dirt, and Strictly Genteel) always uses the opening drum parts from the original mix before the song starts, while Läther has the complete song with Chad's original drum intro. (Ed: See the version comparison below for more insight into this)

  • "Time Is Money": Läther has the Sleep Dirt vinyl version as a bonus track; old Sleep Dirt CDs have a vocal version.
  • "The Ocean Is the Ultimate Solution": Läther has a shorter edit of the Sleep Dirt vinyl version.

Original Vinyl

From "Tinseltown Rebellion" by John Bamford, in Hi-Fi Answers, November 1986 (quote provided by Biffy the Elephant Shrew):

To this day I've thought those albums [Sleep Dirt, Studio Tan & Orchestral Favorites] had a weird sound. In talking to Zappa recently I learned that although Warners had the master tapes, he had the Dolby line-up tones. (He likes to be present during disc mastering.) So the equalization on those recordings is all wrong!

German Vinyl

From Harry de Swart:

My LPs of Studio Tan, Orchestral Favorites & Sleep Dirt have a German label but it mentions "STEMRA" instead of "GEMA". STEMRA is a Dutch firm which collects the money for the performing artist and protects their rights. All other German issues of Zappa albums have GEMA on the label!

Original CD

When Sleep Dirt came out on CD, it was heavily overdubbed with vocals, by Thana Harris, on three tracks. The first pressing had the original version of "Regyptian Strut", but subsequent pressings have new drums on that track, overdubbed by Chad Wackerman. Chad Wackerman is not credited on the CD, and at least some CDs do not credit Thana Harris on "Time is Money".

Vocal Overdubs

From Chris Ullsperger:

The CD contains Thana Harris' vocal tracks on the Hunchentoot numbers ("Flambay", "Spider of Destiny" and "Time is Money") and represents an important "restoration" in my opinion. Essential for continuity. Too bad that musical will never see the light.

From Zoot:

About 10 seconds of percussive flourishes found at the end of the original Warner Brothers instrumental version of "Flambay" are removed - about 20 seconds of a guitar bridge found in the original Warner Brothers instrumental version of "Spider of Destiny" are edited out (near the end after the line that begins "All the comets and stuff ..." and before the line that begins "Eat the Earth people ...").

[Ed: While the officially released CD of the "Sleep Dirt" remixes does have these edits, the tape smuggled out as part of the "Beyond the Fringe of Audience Comprehension" bootleg--later part of the Mystery Box--has some of these extra portions. See below for some sound samples.]

Drum Overdubs

From Michael Gula:

I've never accepted the claim that the drums on "Time Is Money" is a Wackerman overdub. The credit is wrong. That is Chester Thompson's drum track there. Without a doubt.

From Dan B:

After careful analysis (maybe I should get a life) of the original version of "Time Is Money" on Läther (disc 3 track 8) and the vocal-overdubbed version on Sleep Dirt (track 5), I have concluded that both versions feature the original drum track as laid down by Chester Thompson. Both versions have the same tom-tom fills and identical delicate cymbal bell rolls (in the middle and and at the end). (It was somewhat hard to notice this at first because the vocals take prominence in the Sleep Dirt version.) It does become more noticeable when you compare the drums on "Re-Gyptian Strut": the original (Chester) on Läther, and the over-dubbed (Chad) on Sleep Dirt - a different approach stylistically on the drum set - now back to your regularly scheduled program. (On the Chad version you can hear a tom-tom accent played on the off-beat right after the first snare drum hit of each measure. On Chester's, there is an open hi-hat accent on the corresponding 2 and 4 of the beat.)

From JWB:

The very first Barking Pumpkin CD pressing of Sleep Dirt contains the ORIGINAL mix of "Regyptian Strut". The Wackerman overdub appeared on the second and all future pressings. I have the first pressing, a friend of mine has the second, so I have investigated this. There is no difference in artwork between the first and second pressings.

Remix Generalia

Evil Bob raised an important point about this practice:

As far as I understand it, Sleep Dirt was one of the albums released by Warner Brothers while Frank had them in court for "aromatic fiscal practices" (i.e. shoddy accounting, overruns, etc.) and as such Zappa had very little to say about that release. Other albums in this category are Studio Tan and Orchestral Favorites. So what we hear on the CD is probably much closer to what Zappa had in mind for the material to begin with.

... but on the other hand, Pat Buzby's side of things is equally relevant:

Actually, this is true of almost all of the CD reissues, but people who've had the LPs for years tend to have a hard time accepting this sort of change.

1995 CD

Like the original CD (that is, different from the vinyl). Official Ryko statement: "New master. New timing sheet." [full statement]

Version Comparison Excre-citement

From the 2004 Zappa CD Rundown:

Another of the Zappa Records/BP Switcheroo titles. This exists without the Regyptian remix (all Zappa Record CDs I've heard) and with the Regyptian remix (the Ryko '95 and the one BP CD I've heard: again, this could be a coincidence). Remix aside, all discs are digitally identical on the shared tracks.

Amusingly, Regyptian itself presents a few interesting sub-variations. While the BP/Ryko '95 discs use a remix, the remix is only of the body of the track; the introductory drum fill is still from the original mix. This introductory drum bit is identical to the one on the "original mix" version of the CD, meaning that only the body of "Regyptian" is actually different on the newer discs; "Cheepnis" on Roxy and Elsewhere presented a similar case, with its introduction matching old versions and its body being a remix. Lastly, barring some slight level differences, the remixed "Regyptian" as it appears on some CDs of Sleep Dirt is digitally identical to the "1993" version on Läther (minus the different drum intro). In other words, the Läther "1993" version uses the same version (EQ and all) as on the reworked Sleep Dirt disc. Interesting.

In summary: All pre-2012 CD versions are the same, except for the variation in mixes in "Regyptian Strut." The remix of "Regyptian Strut" actually uses the old version's drum introduction on the Sleep Dirt CD; only the body of the track differs. The only place to find the remix of "Regyptian Strut" with its new drum intro is on Läther, and the body of the track there matches the one on the Sleep Dirt CD. Confused? Don't worry about it.

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.

Russian CD

From David Goodwin:

As for this spiffy Russian item ... well, insert-wise it seems to be an exact copy of the older CDs . The artwork does, though, look like it might be a generation away from the original. Spine art has "FRANK ZAPPA SLEEP DIRT" on a red background, and then, curiously, a little picture of an old-style gramophone which is there for a reason not known by me. The back cover seems "normal" except for a little notice in Russian on the back which includes the little gramophone, the date 4.06.98, an EMAIL ADDRESS ( and a WEB SITE ( The disc also has a "P and C" notice, the purpose of which I also don't know. Disc art has "FRANK ZAPPA / SLEEP DIRT" on a red background in the same style as the cover art, along with track titles and the notice "ALL TRACKS SEGUE".

Bootleg CD

The prior-to-2012 long-deleted vinyl version of this album has been bootlegged on CD at least twice, once coupled with Studio Tan. [read all about it in the son of the Bootleg FAQ] (At least one issue of this coupling is on the same label as at least one issue of a bootleg CD of the (uncensored) vinyl version Zappa in New York.)

2012 UMe CD

Remastered by Bob Ludwig from the original analog master. Reverts to the vinyl mix, meaning no Chad Wackerman and no Thana Harris vocals. Essential; but, of course, this means that the vocal versions are now out of print. From a reader:

The shared tracks between this version of "Sleep Dirt" and the older one sound much better here.

Sound Samples

(In low-bitrate OGG format)

1) The "percussion flourish" beginning of "Spider of Destiny" from the "Beyond the Fringe" tape. percussion flourishes!
2) A piece eventually edited out of the final mix of the CD version of "Spider of Destiny."


  • Any details on cassette versions?
  • Any details on 8-track versions?
  • Any regional peculiarities?
  • Is the Greek vinyl legit?

Additional Informants

  • Mikael Agardsson
  • Gonçalo Falcão

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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