Cruising With Ruben & The Jets — Vinyl Revisited

Cruising With Ruben & The Jets is a Mothers of Invention album released in 1968, and controversially reissued in an alternate mix with newly recorded bass and percussion in 1984 by Frank Zappa (all post-1984 reissues of the album have featured this remix).

The following three clips from the 1968 vinyl version of the album (“Anything“, “Love of My Life“, and “I’m Not Satisfied“), with original bass and drum parts, which has not been officially rereleased on CD, is a real treat for those who have only known the 1984 remix, and never heard the original release:



Mothers of Invention (1968):

Ray Collins – lead vocals
Frank Zappa – low grumbles, oo-wah and lead guitar (plus uncredited drums, piano & bass)
Roy Estrada – high weazlings, dwaedy-doop & electric bass
Don Preston – redundant piano triplets
Ian Underwood – redundant piano triplets & tenor and alto sax
Motorhead Sherwood – baritone sax & tambourine
Bunk Gardner – tenor and alto sax
Jimmy Carl Black – lewd pulsating rhythm
Arthur Dyer Tripp III – lewd pulsating rhythm

Note: Thanks to ‘sundancefred‘.

27 Responses to “Cruising With Ruben & The Jets — Vinyl Revisited”

  1. Mike says:

    Arthur Dyer Tripp III was one my favorite drummers. I had forgotten about the switch frank pulled. I’ll have to digitize my old vinyl to get a non-youtube mp3 of the originals…

  2. peter says:

    Ruben is/was supposed to be the next ZFT release…no doubt the original as Ryko has the rights to the ’84 mix.

  3. Birdman! says:

    The first time I ever heard WOIIFTM, it was the remix with the punchy “My Sharona” bass line. When the original came out on CD, it was a not quite a revelation, but finally the sound of the album made sense. Can’t wait for Reuben to come out as it was intended. I remember listening to the remix, not knowing that it was a remix, and recognizing that the bass on one song was so out of place it was unlistenable. Really, I didn’t ever listen to it. I’ve gotten the original vinyl since then and of course it sounds natural and makes sense. That remix — Phooeey! Can you imagine rereleasing Stax and Motown songs with rerecorded, crisp drums and bass? It kills the whole vibe.

    Has anyone listened to the chillout remixes of Verve jazz, or Moby’s album with samples of old time country and folk recordings from the 20s and 30s? At least with those, the music has been repurposed (kind of like the Adult Swim cartoons “Sealab 2021″, “Birdman”, and “Space Ghost”) and isn’t meant to be a substitute for the original. They can be panned or praised on their own merits.

  4. xorg says:

    Who knows why FZ chose to bowdlerize Ruben & The Jets? It makes no sense whatsoever. It was a pastiche of the late 1950s doowop music that FZ was fond of (and me too) – so why overdub a 1980s bass and drums sound? Maybe it was out of spite against the Mothers who sued him or just a failed experiment. Either way, I have converted my original LP to mp3 and that’s what I listen to.

    If the ZFT reissue this album, let’s hope they make it worthwhile and include some new/unreleased stuff that is in context. Without charging the earth for it.

  5. profusion says:

    Vintage sound was not exactly fashionable in the early ’80s. Frank probably thought he was legitimately improving the album.

    The story about the de-oxidized master tapes seems to shift with each telling between Frank and the ZFT folks, so I have to wonder whether there was really a need to do this.

  6. Thinman says:

    I remember when those overdubbed albums first came out as part of the Old Masters box set and finally on CD nobody had any problems with those versions.

    It was pretty much en vogue at that time when digital audio came about to “improve” inferior “old stuff”. The manipulation was much appreciated and no one ever complained about it not being like the originals.

    Everybody was glad about not having to listen to their worn out vinyl records ever again and having new improved versions with new content.

    Opinions changed much, much later.

    Th.

  7. Bálint says:

    “Vintage sound was not exactly fashionable in the early ’80s. Frank probably thought he was legitimately improving the album.”
    Well, i don’t think it has anything to to with the eighties or so – FZ ALWAYS remixed his stuff, but mostly we dont really notice or care. For the Them Or Us album he remixed his ’81 recordings; Ruth Underwood said about Uncle Meat that the musicians almost didin’t recgnosed the music they recorded a few days orweeks befor, because it was so heavyli remixed – etc. That’s the way FZ worked.

  8. Jeroen says:

    When I got the old masters boxes (my introduction to the older Zappa stuff) I was thrilled by Ruben. Especially the cracking Wah-start of the guitar solo of Stuff up the cracks. On my cd-version the solo builds up beneath the last vocals. I really miss that Big First Note.

  9. Robert says:

    A quote from Thinman:

    I remember when those overdubbed albums first came out as part of the Old Masters box set and finally on CD nobody had any problems with those versions.

    It was pretty much en vogue at that time when digital audio came about to “improve” inferior “old stuff”. The manipulation was much appreciated and no one ever complained about it not being like the originals.

    Everybody was glad about not having to listen to their worn out vinyl records ever again and having new improved versions with new content.

    Opinions changed much, much later.

    Th.

    Those were roughly my feelings when i bought my Old Masters Box back then. I never understood the heated discussion about the “original” version and the 80s FZ remix. I listened to the originals a few times and of course appreciated them for their originality, but still i felt that FZ owns the stuff and has all the rights in the world to continue working with his old material and give it a new spin, so to speak.

    Was/am i a zealous fan or what?

  10. xorg says:

    Seems like I’m the odd one out here! But I still prefer the original LP of Ruben & The Jets. And FZ did more than simply remix it, he re-recorded the bass and drums.

    Agreed, FZ was entitled to do whatever he liked with his stuff, but that doesn’t mean that he got it right every time otherwise why would he feel it necessary to remix anything?

  11. Tjodolf says:

    Thinman remembers a time when nobody had a problem with the re-recorded bass and drums on the Mothers’ CDs. The way I remember it, the initial shock when we heard that the classics had been tampered with gave way to sheer disgust when we heard just how crazy bad the result was. The new bass and drums have that 80′s hair metal sound, a sound that dated much faster than the 60′s sound. It sounds like two records playing at the same time, and I know which one I would switch off – who on earth would play a hair metal record at home, without pyroflash, a moshpit, hairspray, drugs and beer?

    Did anyone clip and save any reviews? I think they were quite negative.

    FZ has some fans who’ll forgive him anything; some people think he’s awesome because he ate shit on stage – that’s not awesome, that’s disgusting and childish, and he didn’t even do it! I think people who defend the new bass and drums on “Ruben” belong in this group.

  12. urbangraffito says:

    It seems to me the only people who wouldn’t have a problem with the re-recorded bass and drums are those who never heard the original mixes in the first place (how can you miss what you’ve never heard, let alone object to?). Those early Mothers albums were magnificent works, and Ruben, in particular, is as fantastic sounding today as the first day I heard it on vinyl (I hope the ZFT sees fit to release this doo-wop masterpiece in it’s original mix). Personally, I have never been able to listen through the 1984 remix more than once (it’s just not the same album) – preferring instead my own digital vinyl rip. The remix didn’t add anything new to the album except “a sound that dated much faster than the 60’s sound” (the equivalent almost akin to dragging nails down a blackboard, in my opinion), unlike, let’s say, the remix of Sleep Dirt, which actually added to the overall flavour of the album (and implementing FZ’s original intent).

  13. Chuck says:

    After hating the 80s remix of WOIIFTM and Ruben I must say the remix of Lumpy Gravy is a nice alternate to have now (especially seeing we still have the original). Its a dated piece of archeology but it kind of links nicely with Civilisation PhaseIII a bit better in that form.

  14. Bálint says:

    One might have a „problem” with the re-recorded albums, but it’s completely different if you’re looking at it simply from the MUSIC, and not from the side of „originality”. The new versions did not „kill” the previous ones, but ADDED something – the older versions are still available in this or that format (okay: sometimes it’s not that easy to get some of them).

    Th fun to me with these „new” releases is to get new alternatives of the known tunes, and helps me NOT to think of FZ’s work as a closed, archived material in some kind of „museum”, but a living, always-changing THING. To me the ’84 version of „Trouble Every Day” (Does Humor…) was shocking after the Roxy album, but later it became almost a NEW song to me, with different musical surrounding, and it’s fun. This way of thinking goes totally against nostalgia, and against seeking „the original” versions – it forses us (at least me) to listen to the MUSIC itself, while comparing this version with the other gives a new layer to the whole experience. And again: one version will NOT kill the other, so everyone might find his/her favorite.

    BTW: which one is the „original” version of „Torture”, of „Black Napkins”, of „The Black Page”? The first played, the first recorded – or the last played/recorded one?… I don’t think we’ll have to answer this question, but we still have multiple opportunities to listen to the music – in this version or the other. But: more versions MIGHT give more variations and: more fun. :-)

  15. Thinman says:

    A quote from Tjodolf:

    Thinman remembers a time when nobody had a problem with the re-recorded bass and drums on the Mothers’ CDs. The way I remember it, the initial shock when we heard that the classics had been tampered with gave way to sheer disgust when we heard just how crazy bad the result was. The new bass and drums have that 80′s hair metal sound, a sound …

    That depends on WHEN you first heard it. I can’t remember anyone complaining when the Twofer of WOIIFTM and LG came out in 1985. And I can’t remember a single bad review from that time. The opposite was the case.

    Th.

  16. metafunj says:

    The first version of this album I have heard was the remixed 80s CD version. It was obvious right away that something was off. I didnt know any other Zappa fans at the time to tell me I shouldn’t like it, I just didn’t, but I don’t think I would like that album anyway, just not my style a lot of slow, simple, boring songs.

    My first WOIIFTM had the original drum and bass and I think its great. THe remix doesn’t bother me so much and sometimes i think it sounds funny like on “flower punk”. Also “No No No” on Ruben sounds cool with the poppy 80s bass, but the rest is just weird.

  17. jonnybutter says:

    My vote: the modified Ruben album with 80s bass and drums, sucked. I listened to it once, and never again. I could never understand why Zappa did that – the whole point of that album was to sound faux-50s (ie. more 50s than actual 50s music), with the pulsating, snatting drums, etc. It was supposed to be his ‘neo-classical’ album (according to Frank himself).

    I always enjoyed Frank’s music, and enjoy it just as much/more today, but that was really a mistake. On the bright side, ‘Ruben’ was always sort of a minor album anyway, IMO, so not so much harm done.

  18. FruityPants Magillicutty says:

    There have been several magazine articles over the years – Guitar Player, Rolling Stone, etc. – in which FZ addresses this issue. All are available on-line. I’d recommend to start with the Wikipedia, you can find them in the references, etc.

    To summarize:

    The reason that the album was remixed for the CD was that when the master tapes were retrieved it was found that they had been stored improperly for years. The tape had degraded to the point where one could literally see through it. There was no choice but to re-record the portions that were lost, and so the original mix is long gone and can never be recovered.

    It has nothing to do with money, greed, taste, 80s techno-culture, or anything else that’s been mentioned. Please give FZ just a LITTLE more credit than what’s been given thus far. The original bass and drums were lost and that’s that. FZ would have used them had they been available.

  19. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from FruityPants Magillicutty:

    There have been several magazine articles over the years – Guitar Player, Rolling Stone, etc. – in which FZ addresses this issue. All are available on-line. I’d recommend to start with the Wikipedia, you can find them in the references, etc.

    To summarize:

    The reason that the album was remixed for the CD was that when the master tapes were retrieved it was found that they had been stored improperly for years. The tape had degraded to the point where one could literally see through it. There was no choice but to re-record the portions that were lost, and so the original mix is long gone and can never be recovered.

    It has nothing to do with money, greed, taste, 80s techno-culture, or anything else that’s been mentioned. Please give FZ just a LITTLE more credit than what’s been given thus far. The original bass and drums were lost and that’s that. FZ would have used them had they been available.

    Bull. I refer you to Lumpy Money. The whole argument about degraded tapes just don’t hold up.

  20. metafunj says:

    Well maybe it holds up a little at least for Ruben. In the 90s Money was rereleased with the original bass and drums but Ruben never was. Maybe that album can’t be restored, but then one wonders why he remixed Money in the first place.

  21. Bálint says:

    FZ at some occasions said he simply did not liked the bass and the drums on these recordings. Anyway: wouldn’t it be strange that on these albums it was ONLY the bass and the drums that went wrong, but those ALWAYS went wrong? :-)

    On each album FZ remixed this way he always changed the bass and the drum tracks: Money, Ruben., Lumpy, Sleep Dirt.

    One exeption: YCDTOSA vol 2., on which he only changed the kickdrum. Now THAT is something I do not like. (And unfortunately I dont have the original version).

  22. profusion says:

    I’ve also wondered whether Frank re-amped his guitar tracks on YCDTOSA Vol. 2. His sound seems a lot thicker and fuller on that one than it did his other albums from that era. It sounds more like he did in the late ’70s. It’s a good sound, so I don’t mind. I didn’t know about the kick drums, though. Interesting…

    IF the drums and bass were recorded on tracks at the edge of the tape, I can see them degrading more than other tracks on the inside of the tape, though that would not be universally so. You’d notice frequency loss on more on the drums than on other instruments.

  23. metafunj says:

    I can’t really hear much of a difference between Bozzio and Wackermans “Regypgian Struts” but i’ve never played them back to back.

    I think the replaced kick drum is very distracting on that YCDTOSA vol 2, especially during the drum solo in “Dupree’s Paradise.”

    The guitar tone on YCDTOSA Vol. 2 has a lot more effects, sounds like delay and flange, than the “Inca Roads” solo on OSFA even though they’re from the same performance. I know Frank ran his guitar though multiple channels with different effects on each. It sounds like on OSFA he just used one of these channels with distortion and wah wah. I don’t really like the YCDTOSA Vol. 2 tone, its got too much going and sounds like a hairy mess. The Inca Solo on OSFA is very clear and crisp, too bad he didn’t release the entire performance that way.

  24. Tjodolf says:

    “I can’t remember anyone complaining when the Twofer of WOIIFTM and LG came out in 1985. And I can’t remember a single bad review from that time. The opposite was the case.”

    Well, neither of us actually have any clippings from 85, and web fora didn’t exist back then, so fan opinion is extremely hard to document. You say this and I say that. Remember that fan opinion in 85, if indeed it was less negative than today, would be influenced by for one thing FZ’s bullshit about the degrading tapes and for another by built-up tolerance to that ghastly hair metal sound, which was all over the radio back then. Today, everybody understands that a multitrack tape is either useable or demagnetized; it’s not possible for some tracks to be good and others to be useless, and FZ had backups in his archive anyway. He knew he had made an unlistenable record out of spite, and threw us a red herring, is my take on it. And hair metal is dead and gone and we are all happy to be rid of it.

  25. Paul Sempschi says:

    Perhaps ‘Money’ and ‘Ruben’ were remixed so that they would conform sonically with what he was pumping out at the time. To give them that 84 line-up sound. For the record, I find them awful, the bass and drums are just so overbearingly pornographic. I can stand the kick drum over-dub on YCDTOSA 2, though it would have been nice to bury it in the mix.

    One thing I wonder though, Frank has gone on record saying that “Return of the Son of Monster Magnet” was unfinished, that it is actually a backing track. Why wouldnt he resurrect that piece during his remixing frenzy? Mind you not the whole album, just that one song. with synclavier overdubs or whatever’s needed. Then again, I’m not really sure if ‘Magnet’ was unfinished or not or whether Frank was just being contrary.

    And a heads up, “Stuff Up the Cracks” on the remix album has the original drum and bass. So for those who want an idea of what the album sounds like, there you go…

  26. Theydon Bois says:

    This is an excellent article on the Money / Ruben remakes, and answers a lot of the points made here:
    http://www.lukpac.org/~handmade/patio/misc/why.html

    Incidentally, the kick drum on YCDTOSA2 is only a sample triggered by Chester’s actual kick drum playing, rather than an overdub; the process by which this was done is described here by Mark Pinske:
    http://mixonline.com/mag/audio_complete_mark_pinske_2/
    This interview also contains some comments on the Money and Ruben tampering.

    (Hello, by the way.)

  27. nikita coltrane says:

    A quote from metafunj:

    The guitar tone on YCDTOSA Vol. 2 has a lot more effects, sounds like delay and flange, than the “Inca Roads” solo on OSFA even though they’re from the same performance. I know Frank ran his guitar though multiple channels with different effects on each. It sounds like on OSFA he just used one of these channels with distortion and wah wah. I don’t really like the YCDTOSA Vol. 2 tone, its got too much going and sounds like a hairy mess. The Inca Solo on OSFA is very clear and crisp, too bad he didn’t release the entire performance that way.

    I think when mixing those tapes at UMRK, he re-amplified the guitar. This isn’t a totally uncommon practice — taking the guitar track, routing it from the board thru a guitar amp and mic’ing that. You can tell it was done on the Roxy material that he mixed in the 80s. Listen to “I’m the Slime” and “Big Swifty” on YCDTOSA Vol. 1, as well as “Montana”, which ZPZ used on tour and is included as an extra on the Classic Albums DVD (wait, I think it’s also on YCDTOSA Vol. 4, actually) and compare that to “Roxy and Elsewhere”.. what you’re basically hearing is the original tone with amp distortion added on top of it 10+ years later.

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