Uncle Meat

What to Get: Meat Light, which has the entire original mix of "Uncle Meat" on Disc 1.

Summary: With the exception of the 1980s Zappa Records CD (more on that in a moment), all "Uncle Meat" CDs, including the 2012 reissue, are identical: they have 1) a remix of "Mr. Green Genes", 2) a lot of digital reverb/echo added to a lot of tracks, and 3) three new "penalty tracks": one 1980s rock song ("Tengo 'na Minchia Tanta") and two very long bits of movie dialogue. The 1980s Zappa Records CD contains additional reverb on one and a half tracks (so far): "Dog Breath" and the first part of "Golden Arches." Post-1995 CDs add some extra cover/booklet artwork.

As of the release of "Meat Light," however, the vinyl mix sans reverb is finally in print again, along with a bunch of bonus goodies. For everyone but insane completists, Italian big dick enthusiasts, and/or people who want the Green Genes remix, "Meat Light" is the way to go.

ESSENTIAL VERSIONS FOR COMPLETISTS: Any vinyl version and/or "Meat Light" and any CD (except the 1980s Zappa Records CD, unless you're an insane completist). [completist's guide]


  • Test Pressing (unknown)
  • Original vinyl (Bizarre 2MS 2024 in the US, April 1969, blue label; white- and gray-label promos also reported (repressed in 1973, without the 12-page booklet); Reprise 2MS 2024 in Canada (yellow-pink-green steamboat label); Trans-Atlantic TRA 197 in the UK, September 1969)
  • Bizarre 52024 UK vinyl
  • Japanese vinyl (Reprise SJET 8151-2)
  • French vinyl (WEA Reprise 64 005)
  • German vinyl (WEA Reprise 64 005/1, yellow steamboat label)
  • Australian vinyl (Reprise 2MS 2024, 1969 - censored!)
  • New Zealand vinyl (Reprise 2RS 2024, 1969)
  • Reel-to-reel (Reprise RST-2024-P, 4-track 7.5-IPS)
  • 8-tracks (Bizarre 8MS 2024, Reprise REP J 82024)
  • Reprise Cassette (CRJ 2024)
  • German cassette (WEA Reprise 464005)
  • The Old Masters vinyl (Barking Pumpkin BPR 8888-1, November 1986)
  • Original CD (Ryko RCD10064/5 in the US (imported into Australia by Festival Records and re-stickered Ryko D70279/80), Zappa Records CDD ZAP 3 in the UK, October 1987; VACK 5025/26 in Japan)
  • IRS 970.703 CD?
  • Barking Pumpkin cassette (USA)
  • Zappa Records cassette (TZAPPA3)
  • 1995 CD (Ryko RCD 10506/7, May 2 1995; VACK 5109/10 in Japan, renumbered 5244/5 in 1998)
  • Japanese paper-sleeve CD (Ryko/VACK 1208, September 21 2001 - Bizarre inner sleeeves; stickers & booklet included)
  • 1995 Cassette (Ryko RAC 10506/7, May 2 1995)
  • 2012 UMe CD (Zappa Records ZR3839 July 31, 2012)
  • 2016 Project/Object Release, "Meat Light" (Zappa Records/Universal ZR20024, November 4, 2016)

Track Titles

"Nine Types of Industrial Pollution" was called "400 Days of the Year" on some early 8-track and vinyl copies. Jasper Leach has such a vinyl copy, and:

... in place of "Louie Louie (at the Albert Hall)" it says "The Mothers Play Louie Louie at the Albert Hall in London"; on the last "King Kong" it says "the Underwood Zappa Ramifications" [instead of just "the Underwood Ramifications"]; also it never says that "Louie Louie" is by Richard Berry!

Some copies had "400 Days of the Year" on the labels, and "Nine Types of Industrial Pollution" on the cover.

More. From (allegedly) an interview in the July 20 1968 issue of Rolling Stone magazine:

ROLLING STONE: Are you recording at all now?

ZAPPA: We have 2 albums in the can. We've been working on this for the past 5 months. We bought a huge block of time in a studio in New York with our own teenage money, secretly knowing that MGM would bite the dust ... becausegood guys always win. [---?] 2 albums. One is Whatever Happened to Ruben & the Jets? - a secret project [which obviously ended up as Cruising with Ruben & the Jets - Ed]. The other is No Commercial Potential - a 3-record set. Six sides. It has such 8-minute tidbits as police busting our recording session. New York cops! Live! In person! You can't dance to it! It also has a piece where Jimmy Carl Black, the Indian of the group, is bitching because we are not making any money, and it's taking too long for the band to make it. 2 songs about El Monte Legion Stadium. A song about fake IDs. Another song about teats. A surrealistic R&B song called "The Air Escaping from Your Mouth". 2 other surrealistic things: "Mr Green Genes" and "Electric Aunt Jemima". Lots of instrumentals. On one song, we used 40 tracks and the tune lasts 90 seconds.That took us 4 days to put together. It'll probably be released in the fall.

From this interview segment, we can conclude that No Commercial Potential was a project best described as Uncle Meat plus some other stuff, such as a longer edit of "Cops & Buns" (released later on The Lost Episodes). But the source of this information is notoriously unreliable - can someone confirm the interview?

Test Pressing

Some files purported to be from a test-pressing of Uncle Meat have recently been circulating around the internet. No other information (matrix numbers, date, etc.) is available as of yet. Informants: we want your information.

Original Vinyl

Some runs had no track separation. See also the track titles section.

From Robert Cloos:

The original US version had an inner sleeve with an advert for the Zappéd sampler. Price: one dollar!

From Ben H:

The original UK version was on Transatlantic Records. This was a small independent label, run by Nathan Joseph, which had been notable for many important folk music records by people like Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and Hamish Imlach. Uncle Meat came about when Bizarre/Straight was founded, with the deal with Reprise Records. In the UK at this time, Reprise albums were pressed and distributed by Pye Records, but they apparently would not have anything to do with this unmusical freaky racket. B/S made a deal with Transatlantic to release Uncle Meat in the UK until Reprise got a new UK distributer sorted out, along with the Lenny Bruce album that Bizarre released. Sadly Transatlantic lacked the funds to push Uncle Meat, and the booklet never graced these copies either. By the time of Burnt Weeny Sandwich, Reprise had got a new deal with CBS (who also released the Straight albums from 1969 / early 1970 - the GTOs' Permanent Damage, Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica etc.) and the label copy that read "Manufactured by Pye Records" was blacked out.

From Richard Kolke:

I have two copies of this LP. Both are original pressings - one from Canada and one from the US. Both are on Bizarre/Reprise 2024, but the Canadian copy is on the pink/yellow/blue Reprise label and the US copy is on the blue/green Bizarre label. However, both pressings list "9 Types of Industrial Pollution" on the cover as "400 Days of the Year" on the labels. The US copy also has a large red sticker in the upper left hand corner of the front cover which states: "The Mothers of Invention - Two LPs and a Nifty 12-Page Book".

Canadian Version

From Ryan Takatsu:

The word "fuck" was airbrushed out of the Canada pressing of Uncle Meat but I remember very well that the Winnipeg Central library (circa 1968 or '69) had a copy of the US pressing with the word "fuck" printed in the lower left cover of the gatefold, opposite of the song listings. Please correct me if I am wrong.

US & Canadian Re-Presses

DAN WATKINS: ... the Uncle Meat LP was sealed, and it had a suspiciously low price of $25. Needless to say, I bought it immediately. When I got in the car and opened it up (yeah, I probably should have left it sealed up, but what the fuck ...) I was surprised that both of the records were in sleeves with the Warner Bros. logo all over them and the records wore a Reprise label and not the Bizarre label, even though the Bizarre logo is printed in several places on the cover. The album is also missing the booklet. Everything else seems to be like the original vinyl: original mix of "Mr. Green Genes", much less echo than the CD, and the same catalog number as the original LP. Plus, I'm hearing mega distortion in the the middle of "The Legend of the Golden Arches". My questions are does anyone have any idea of the country this album could have come from if it is not American, and is it a re-release?

CHARLES ULRICH: Sounds like the US LP I bought in the late 1970s. Reprise MS-1/2/3/4-2024 WW-1.

DAN WATKINS: I forgot to mention that sides one and four are on one record and two and three are on the other record. Didn't they start doing that in the late seventies?

CHARLES ULRICH: Mine (late 1970s) is indeed 1/4 and 2/3. But the inner sleeves feature ads for the Warners sampler album Supergroup.

BIFFYSHREW: Sounds like a later US pressing. Zappa's Bizarre albums switched to Reprise after Frank & Herb's bust-up, as did Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica (probably the only Straight title to remain in print after the label folded, unless any of Tim Buckley's stuff got re-pressed, as opposed to being repressed). Are those inner sleeves clear plastic with the logos in blue? Warners was using that design circa 1980.

DAN WATKINS: Yeah, clear sleeves with little blue "WB" logos. Yeah, it looks as if it's definitely a re-print. But $25 for a sealed reprint ain't bad. With the exception of a few seconds in the "Legend of the Golden Arches", it sounds much better than the CD.

From ZappaLVR:

Well, mine is a copy from the early seventies at the latest: it has "Bizarre" in large "mod-stencil" writing on the the label, but "Reprise" is written on it also in smaller letters. It has the original inner sleves in sepia tone with the weird graphic of Frank and Herbie (that is Herbie, isn't it?) and the big white astrolabe-type-thingy graphic and the First Amendment quote on one side and the "We make records that are a little different ..." quote on the other side.

It is also arranged with the sides as described above [1 & 4 on one record, 2 & 3 on the other]. This was more common in the late sixties and early seventies than anytime afterwards because that was when they built those crazy turntables with the stackable spindles. People got a bit more sensible as the seventies proceeded. At least as far as turntables are concerned. My brother bought it used sometime in the early to mid-seventies, and it doesn't have the booklet, but you can't have everything.

BOSSK (R): ... there was a US repress in 1973 without the booklet - maybe there was also a Canadian repress which did not include the booklet?
ROLF MAURER: Yes indeedly-doodly. That's the version I bought circa 1980 (at Phantasmagoria on Granville St., if I remember correctly).


From JWB:

I once saw a "mislabeled" copy of Uncle Meat in an underground record store, priced somewhere between $60-$100. (It was way too long ago to remember, but I remember it being expensive.) The price tag said "RARE - MISLABELED". When I looked inside I found that it was a US pressing with labels for the ill-fated Jimi Hendrix War Heroes album accidentally applied to the second LP.

UK Version

From Chris "Fufas" Grace:

Although the UK Transatlantic version did not have the booklet, copies of AN Uncle Meat booklet were being sold instead of programmes at the Mothers concerts. I have a copy acquired in 1969. I mentioned it to Calvin Schenkel (It has a comment from him in it that the films were late) who had forgotten that he'd done it at all. If the CD booklet is an accurate facsimile, the concert booklet has less than half the pages of the album version. At the time it was a mystery why they sold it at the concerts as it had nothing to do with them at all and didn't even refer to them.

From Erik Steaggles:

A friend of mine has the original TRA 197 issue and he bought it when it came out. He has a booklet with it, and to my amazement, it is completely different to the US booklet. Some pages are similar, but this book has about 4 or 5 more pages. From what I can remember, there is a lot more colourful artwork and some really nice photos of the Mothers. It is the only book like this I have seen. It has the same front and back cover and has a Transatlantic logo on the back so I figured it must be genuine. I have asked other Zappa fans/experts and they have never even heard of it! Does anyone else know about this?

Australian & New Zealand 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):

Issued towards the end of 1969 in a heavily-laminated gatefold sleeve (but with no sign of the booklet which accompanied early US copies), Uncle Meat (Reprise 2MS 2024 - also issued in New Zealand as 2RS 2024) nevertheless suffered badly at the hands of the Australian censors, who imposed no less than six 'modifications' on the following spoken-word tracks: "The Voice of Cheese", "Our Bizarre Relationship" and "'If We'd All Been Living in California ...'". Such petty constraints aside though, Uncle Meat did, at least, look the part - which is a lot more than can be said for the Oz version of Hot Rats (Reprise RS 6356).


According to some information, Bizarre 8MS 2024 was a black tape in a grey box, and Reprise REP J 82024 was a black tape in a black box. What the picture to the right depicts is an open question.

From [unknown]:

Is it complete on one cartridge, or incomplete on one, or complete on two? I'm asking 'cause I remember having some double albums that just couldn't cut it onto 8-track, for some reason. I guess it's like the dreaded 120-minute cassette: if the tape is too thin, mechanical failure is almost certain.

From "bills" (Bizarre 8MS 2024):

It's all on one tape, which by the way sold for $9.98 - or about $9.98 more than it's apparently worth now. For anyone who cares, it was put out by Reprise Records, a division of Warner Brothers. Manufactured and distributed by Ampex, Elk Grove Village, Illinois. It's a black tape in a grey box.

Mojo Man (Reprise REP J 82024):

The plastic tape case has the back label with the track information but it does not have the picture label. (That I assume would be the same as cover picture.) There is no adhesive traces on plastic tape case so maybe this cut-out never had the cover picture on it at all. (Just a guess.)


From Gary Horowitz:

I have the Reprise cassette of Uncle Meat. I found it sealed in some bargain bin about 20-something years ago. I thought "here's a novelty item - a copy of Uncle Meat for the car ..."

I don't know what they did in mastering it, or if it's just a fluke, but I have to tell you that it sounds fantastic! This album was made for tape. [Gary! You're getting carried away! - Ed :] There is a definition and clarity that simply does not exist on vinyl and CD.

The sound is full and airy. The music seems more lively and transparent. This is never the case with any commercially manufactured cassette. I know that this does not make any logical sense and as a recording engineer I loathe commercially available cassettes as a rule. But this tape really does sound fantastic and I think it is because the source was taken from the original master and not a remastered-for-vinyl copy.

On the front it has the front cover of the album. Above the photo it says "Uncle Meat", followed by the Warner Reprise logo just to the right of that, both in white lettering. To the left of the title it has the Bizarre logo in black, and underneath the title also in small black lettering says "(MOST OF THE MUSIC FROM THE MOTHERS MOVIE OF THE SAME NAME WHICH WE HAVEN'T GOT ENOUGH MONEY TO FINISH YET)". Below the picture it says:

CRJ 2024

And at the bottom is:

A Division of Warner Bros. Records, Inc.

The cassette is bright white plastic assembled with screws. Side 1 is 40:23; side 2 is 34:40. The continuity of the album has been preserved. No selections had been placed out of normal running order to try to balance timing lenghths of the cassette sides. Both sides also show the little Bizarre logo of the antique vacuum pump, or what ever it is, only it is on its side to save label space, I presume.


I have a cassette release of Uncle Meat (on the Barking Pumpkin label). I hear no audible differences between that and the Ryko CD release (other than the "penalty tracks" on the CD that were obviously not on the cassette).

Old Masters LP

Since the CD is partially remixed, and longer, what's the Old Masters LP like? Good question; not much answered yet. From Bermuda:

To me, it sounds like the same mix as the original LP, but re-EQd a little.

dlokazip adds a few more nuggets:

The title track is folded in; the stereo image is way too centered. Also, it is my contention that the Old Masters LP of Uncle Meat sounds worse than the CD with the exception of "Mr. Green Genes" [Ed: which is the original mix]. I don't know what went wrong with that one, but something did.

Original CDs - Not quite all the same!

All CD versions of Uncle Meat have three "bonus tracks" (also known as "penalty tracks"): Two long excerpts from the movie UNCLE MEAT, and the song "Tengo 'na Minchia Tanta", recorded in the 80s. The second movie excerpt affects the beginning of "King Kong" slightly.

(Zappa obviously still thought of this CD as the soundtrack to his movie UNCLE MEAT, which was nowhere near completed when the LP was released. This must be why he introduced the bonus tracks - the LP sort of reflects the movie in the state it must have been in at the time, and the CD sort of reflects it in its final state. Compared to the LP, the CD sounds extremely heterogeneous (with antiseptic '80s sound popping up amidst all the '60s recordings) and has extremely long stretches of crazy dialogue (which many people have called extremely boring) - because that's the way the movie is.)

From Michael Gula:

The only problems I hear with the Uncle Meat CD are:

  1. the "penalty tracks" which many (including me) don't like, but you can program your player to skip over them,
  2. a "twittery" sounding echo (same echo as on the Weasels CD), but it's not too annoying - probably meant to cover up the print-through "dirt" on the quiet parts of the tape (other attempts to cover up the tape degradation are the truncated reverberation on the slowed-down snork between "Zolar Czakl" and "Dog Breath", and the truncated decay on the clang which ends the "Uncle Meat Variations"); and
  3. a re-mixed "Mr. Green Genes". It's an OK re-mix, but I still like the original better.

From Dan Watkins:

I hate the CD because of all that damn reverb Frank added. I always cringe when I hear those snorks because they really expose the added echo.

From Juha Sarkkinen:

CD indexing differs slightly from the vinyl.

In 2012, it was belatedly discovered that the 1980s Zappa Records CD (CDD ZAP 3) contains extra digital reverb on "Dog Breath" and the first half of "Golden Arches," as well as differences on "Louie Louie." To quote O Don Piano: "Stunning! ADDED penalty reverb!"

Edenofflowers reports:

I've just checked through the whole of Uncle Meat Zappa CD [ZAP3] & the new Universal (which is apparently exactly the same as the 95 Ryko).

In addition to the differences already noted in Dog Breath & The Legend of the Golden Arches there is also a bit of a discrepancy in Louie Louie...The first 1:08s are identical on both the Universal & the Zappa.

From the edit point where FZ says 'Louie Louie!' onwards it's different, it's hard to hear the difference between the two - maybe a bit more ambient reverb on the Zappa CD? - but the frequency analysis shows that the Zappa CD's highest is around 15k whilst the Universal LOOKS like it's going to peak at around 10khz but then extends out to 22khz...There's also that dip at 6khz and the peak at 8.5khz on the Zappa CD which isn't present on the Universal. I don't know why, I also have no idea why the Universal has that extra bunch of frequencies used from 10khz-20khz, maybe it was EQ'd a bit or something. I'm not a professional, I can only guess why things are like this.

The Universal CD track runs to 2:19 instead of the 2:18 on the Zappa but this is just a difference in track splitting at the end of the track. The final 3-4 seconds of the track are also different but it's hard for me to determine how by listening.

The rest of the tracks on both discs are the same.


The Zappa Records CD (CDD ZAP 3) has two booklets: one reproducing the cover and back cover in full colour, with lyrics, credits and graphics from inside the gatefold cover of the vinyl album reproduced in black & white, and one twelve-page booklet reproducing the vinyl booklet. The 1995 CD has a full-colour fold-out instead of the first of these booklets. From Erik Steaggles:

The booklets and covers contained most of the artwork, but it was all in different orders and most of it was in black-and-white. The most notable missing piece of artwork (now restored on the Ryko CD) was the negative-imposed photographs which was in the middle of the LP booklet. They were completely missing on the original CD.

1995 CD

The 1995 CD re-issue introduced some extra artwork: an inlay sheet behind the tray, described by Cal Schenkel as "2 of the found Dentoid elements that were used in the cover assemblage (turned into mush when they printed it with a scan instead of a simple line shot)". Official Ryko statement: "New master. New timing sheet. Restored artwork. This is the 1987 remix." [full statement] Otherwise, the audio content matches the 1987 Ryko CD (but not the Zappa Records CD).

2012 UMe CD

Explicitly taken from the 1993 digital master, and is reported to be (barring some slight indexing differences) the same as the 1987 and 1995 Ryko CDs (but different than the old Zappa Records CD from the 1980s, which had additional digital reverb).

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-2005-UPDATE: Ryko USA has apparently been importing the overstock of these releases to sell as domestic "special editions," causing the speculators who paid top dollar for the entire collection to hari-kari themselves. This includes some of the discs that, as of August 2005, were pretty hard to find ("Money" and others).

"Meat Light": The Uncle Meat Project/Object <--GET THIS ONE.

Released in 2016, "Meat Light" brings back into print the vinyl mix of "Uncle Meat," along with a wealth of goodies--and at a reasonable-person price point, to boot. With regard to the main album itself, one reviewer writes:

Disc 1 of Meat Light is the original 1969 LP version of Uncle Meat, sans echo and penalty tracks and with Mr. Green Genes restored to its original viridescent self. Per the booklet, the master tape was in iffy shape, suffering from (among other things) the oxide problems that plagued many of Zappa's 1960s-era masters. The restoration here is a patchwork of the original tape and some well-preserved safety backups. While rough in spots—some tracks, like "Legend of the Golden Arches," suffer worse than others—it generally sounds fine, and while some will inevitably quibble with the EQ choices on the album proper, it's great and wonderful to have this thing officially available again 45 years after its first release.

In line with the "audio documentary" approach, disc 2 and part of disc 3 reproduce an alternate assembly of the album, much as Crux of the Biscuit offered a different side 1 of Apostrophe. Fascinatingly enough, this isn't the same as the previous acetate assembly that circulates in fan circles, and it isn't "No Commercial Potential," either. Outside of the few new tracks ("Whiskey Wah," "The Whip"), the actual songs vary from being more or less the same as on the final album, to having longer or shorter edits, to sporting clear alternative mixes ("Sleeping in a Jar"). Further study is required before I can pronounce anything definitive about the experience, but it's nice to hear. And, also, given the tape problems on disc 1, disc 2 serves a stealth purpose of presenting the occasional track upgrade; for instance, the aforementioned "Golden Arches," presented in what sounds like the same mix, is far cleaner on disc 2 than disc 1.


  • Original Ryko CD - artwork?
  • Were there any differences between the original vinyl and the Old Masters vinyl?
  • How do the old CDs compare with the current issue?

Additional Informants

  • Biffy the Elephant Shrew
  • Erik Pepke
  • L. L.
  • Román García Albertos
  • Patrick David Neve
  • Ariel Ross
  • Gonçalo

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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