Big differences between the vinyl and CD versions. The CD is a remix, with added tracks
(mixer channels, not new songs) and previously unheard material. The 1995 Ryko CD adds
some extra cover/booklet artwork, but is otherwise identical to older discs
(yes, including the gold CD).
ESSENTIAL VERSIONS FOR COMPLETISTS: Vinyl plus any CD. [completist's
- Original vinyl (blue Bizarre RS6356 in
the US, October 10 1969 (repressed 1973, as brown Reprise RS6356 (?)); Reprise RS6356 in
Canada; 3-colour label Reprise RSLP 6356 in the UK, February 1970 (repressed in September
with mustard label))
- German RS6356 vinyl with one-colour label, believed to be from 1970; also
with 2-colour label, believed to be very old
- Original French vinyl (Reprise/Vouge SRV.6108, non-gatefold sleeve, with a
black yellow banner on the cover saying "POP MUSIC" :)
- French & German vinyl (WEA Reprise 44078, gatefold sleeve)
- Spanish vinyl (Reprise HRES 291-35)
- Greek vinyl (Reprise RS 0339, first in a single sleeve, later in a gatefold sleeve)
- Argentine vinyl: Ratas Calientes (MusicHall
12.927 (mono) and 112.927 (stereo) (fold-out cover))
- Mexican vinyl (Reprise/Gamma GX 01-366, no gatefold
- Brazilian vinyl (Reprise 84.002, gatefold sleeve, with
non-gatefold "MOMENTOS HISTORICOS" re-issue in 1979 (Reprise /
WEA Discos Ltda))
- Australian vinyl (Reprise RS 6356, no gatefold cover,
- New Zealand vinyl (Reprise RS 6356, 1970)
- Israeli vinyl (Reprise RS 6356, no gatefold
cover; black & white back cover with a little Hebrew print)
- 8-track (Warner/Reprise - at least some in yellow cartridges)
- Reel-to-reel (Reprise 6356-B, 3 3/4 IPS)
- Renumbered UK vinyl (Reprise K 44078, July 1971)
- US vinyl repress (Reprise RS6356, 1973)
- Double Dynamite - coupled with Chunga's
Revenge (Reprise RRD 11707, South Africa, mid-1970s)
- Art & Music Collection edition (Reprise REP 59 021,
Germany 1976 and 1978 (re-issue))
- Ratas Calientes re-issue Reprise 208744, Argentina, 1971
or earlier - Hot Rats on cover, Ratas Calientes on label)
- Ratas Calientes re-issue (EMI 208.744, Argentina)
- Uruguayan vinyl (Warner Brothers - record pressed in Uruguay, cover imported from
- The Old Masters vinyl (Barking Pumpkin BPR
- Original CD (Ryko RCD10066 in the US (imported into Australia
by Festival Records and re-stickered Ryko D40725), Zappa Records CDZAP2 in the UK,
September 1987; VACK 5027 in Japan; Spurk UL 98212 in Russia)
- "Gold CD" (Ryko RCD10066, USA, June 1988)
- IRS 970.702 CD?
- Japanese picture CD (VACK 5237 - October 1996?)
- Zappa Records cassette (TZAPPA2)
- 1995 CD (Ryko RCD 10508, May 2 1995; VACK 5102 in Japan,
renumbered 5237 in 1998; also in a BMG Record
Club version (1086396))
- 1995 cassette (Ryko RAC 10508, May 2 1995; also in a BMG
Record Club version (1086396))
- Japanese paper-sleeve CD (Ryko/VACK 1209,
September 21 2001 - Bizarre inner sleeve)
And on the weird side, parts of this album seem to have been issued in Poland as a set
of flexi-disc postcards.
From Ryan Davenport:
I was leafing through a copy of Penguin's price guide for albums at a bookstore today,
and I noticed an odd listing in the Zappa section. They show a variant of Hot Rats
with "Zappa Beefheart argument". Date of release was shown as 1969, same as the
standard blue label Bizarre release. This listing goes for £60 near mint, 4 or 5 times
the value of the standard release. Anybody know what the deal is with this argument? Is it
a British thing only? [So far, no one knows! - Ed.]
From Record Collector magazine #118, June 1989 (quoted by Mikael
By the time Hot Rats was released in the UK, Warner/Reprise had
switched their distribution from Pye to CBS. First pressings used the old-style Reprise
labels with the words "distributed by Pye Records Ltd" blocked out. These are
easily identifiable as they feature a large version of the Reprise river-boat logo on a
yellow, green and cream "pop series" label. Within a year, the label was changed
to a one-colour (mustard yellow) design with a smaller boat logo, although the catalouge
number remained the same.
From Mikael Agardsson:
My copy, which I think is the US original, has the numbers 30,926 below the RS 6356
number on the label. It also has a black inner sleeve, with an order form
for the Zappéd LP. I've seen american Hot
Rats copies with white inner sleeves, which I think are
re-issues. The problem is that it doesn't actually say anywhere whether
it is a re-issue or not - so I guess that 5-digit number can be a clue, and the inner
sleeve should matter. I don't think there are any re-issues with black inner sleeves.
My copy has logos for both Bizarre and Reprise on the cover. I think I've seen copies
with white inner sleeves, which I think are re-issues, with the same logos, so I don't
think the logos are any different on the re-issues. I've also seen US copies of Uncle Meat with both black (same as for Hot Rats)
and white inner sleeves. I also have a US copy of Fillmore East,
June 1971, which IS a re-issue, because the inner sleeve says
"1974", but there's no clue at all on the label or on the cover.
From Chris "Fufas" Grace:
In the UK, retailer One Stop Records (Associated with the Island record
company) imported 500 copies of the US version immediately it was released in
the US (Which was about 6 weeks before the UK release). They told us that they
had done a deal with the then fledgling WEA Records to test market it. We did
sell all of them - we had two left when the UK version was released.
My copy is one of these (I worked for One Stop Records at the time). The
inner sleeve, despite what others have said, is a Bizarre Records
buff/purply-brown sleeve with the famous line "Just what the world needs
- another record company."
Argentine Vinyl: Ratas Calientes
This record is an Argentinian release of the album Hot Rats. It is on
Reprise records and is #MH-12.927 [the MH is for MusicHall, a local record
company - Ed.] and is a mono copy. The songs are - on Lado 1:
- Duraznos de Gala (Peaches en Regalia)
- Willie el Rufian (Willie the Pimp)
- Hijo del Sr. Green Jeans (Son of Mr Green Jeans)
- and on Lado 2:
- Pequenos Paraguas (Little Umbrellas)
- Variaciones del Gumbo (The Gumbo Variations)
- Debe Ser un Camello (It Must Be a Camel)
From Mikael Agardsson:
This was issued both in mono and stereo. I have a promo mono copy. The
cover has a Music Hall logo in the upper-right corner and a Reprise logo in
the lower-right. There's a sticker on the cover that says: "Disco de
demostraction. Prohibida su venta."
Great package! Original Mexican pressing. Different cover! This cover features the
"ultra-violet in infra-red" photograph, just like the US
version, but there is a banner across the top of the cover that says PROGRESSIVE
ROCK FRANK ZAPPA HOT RATS. This is not a gatefold cover, like the US version. The back cover features some of the photos from the
inside gatefold of the US pressing, including Captain
Beefheart with the vacuum cleaner. I wish I had a scanner so you could see this package.
Songs are listed as:
- Duraznos en Regalia (Peaches en Regalia)
- Willie el Vividor (Willie the Pimp)
- El Hijo del Señor Green Genes (Son of Mr Green Genes)
- Los Pequesos Paraguas (Little Umbrellas)
- Las Grandes Variaciones (The Jumbo [!!! - Ed.] Variations)
[Misspelled on the cover, but at least the label got it right -
- Debe Ser un Camello (It Must Be a Camel)
Liner notes are in Spanish: "Frank Zappa es el nombre de uno de los mas grandes
talentos con que cuenta en la actualidad la musica contemporanea. Arreglista, compositor,
musico, lider de The Mothers of Invention, ingeniero de sonido, etc, se ha sabido mantener
a la vanguardia de la musica pop." [if that's missing a tilde or something, e-mail me about it - Ed.] (I
couldn't have said it better myself!) The label is the classic pink, green and yellow
Reprise label with the steamboat on it.
From Pete Adler:
The cover shows the Gamma label number as GX 01-366. This number is also on the label,
but the label is a Reprise label, with only the spanish language mention of Gamma at the
bottom of the label: "Fabricado en Mexico por Gamma, S.A. con licencia Warner Bros.
As we know, this issue has a slightly different front cover, but the back
cover is completely different from other versions. The back cover pictures can
also be found on the fold-out cover versions, but here they are black and
white (the middle picture is black and white on other issues too, except the
Captain Beefheart insert picture, which is in colour there), and the picture
on the right is also cropped and reversed!
EDUMILK: Brazilian LP released in 1979 by WEA Discos Ltda. It has the label "MOMENTOS
HISTORICOS" [printed in white on the left side of the front
cover] ... It's not the gatefold version also released in Brazil without the
"MOMENTOS HISTORICOS" label.
MIKAEL AGARDSSON: According to Edumilk this was a WEA release - my copy
has a reprise label; but it could still be a WEA pressing after all. At least,
they must have distributed it. The back cover says "Sab licenca de WEA
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):
With a laminated single sleeve, Zappa's watershed second solo album cleverly used what
was, on the regular release, the inside right gatefold section as its back cover. Although
this reduction seriously altered the symmetry of the entire sleeve, it did, however, mean
that the legendary black and white Zappéd
photo ... of Frank was there on the back for all to see.
In New Zealand, meanwhile, cover flaps were still very much in vogue and early
pressings of their non-gatefold Hot Rats (Reprise RS 6356) not only came
equipped as such, but the heavily-laminated back cover was also printed in good old black
What's different about this issue is the back cover, which has the
front-cover picture in black and white. It also says "Manufactured and
distributed by CBS RECORDS LTD. P.O. Box 681, Tel-Aviv." I guess the
label colour is pretty unusual too [a cross between yellow, green and grey,
otherwise a regular steamboat label - Ed.].
Single Sleeve (no fold-out). Label has some Greek print and "Made in
Greece by EMI". No year of release mentioned. On the bottom of the back
cover is the black bar with credits and track-list which is on the lower right
side of the reglar US gatefold issue.
Renumbered UK Vinyl
From Record Collector magazine #118, June 1989 (quoted by Mikael
In 1971 a third variation occurred when Kinney Corporation took over the entire Warner
Brothers organisation and all UK albums (and singles) were renumbered with a "K"
prefix [The first two variations were the original UK version, RSLP 6356, with two
different labels - Ed.]. Stocks of old covers were used up by adding "K"
number stickers to "RSLP" sleeves - thus creating a possible fourth
variation! By the time of the first label change, Warner/Reprise had established their own
UK distribution and the late 1970 pressings no longer had "distributed by CBS
Records" on the back cover. The front cover logos were also changed at this point:
the Warner Bros./Seven Arts "W7" symbol was dropped and the Reprise
"R" design was now set in a square instead of a circle.
Apparently, there was a coupling of Hot
Rats and Chunga's Revenge in South Africa, called Double
Dynamite. From Mikael Agardsson:
It doesn't say that it was pressed in South Africa, but I've had it
confirmed from various sources. Year of release unknown, probably in the mid-1970s. The
front cover is Hot Rats with the words "DOUBLE DYNAMITE / 2
ORIGINALS", and the back cover is Chunga's Revenge. The
gatefold cover has the Hot Rats back cover on the left and the Chunga's Revenge back cover on the right.
Art & Music Collection Edition
The weirdest edition by far of Hot Rats was in Germany, in the
Art & Music Collection (Reprise REP59 021). The pictures were scanned by Mikael
Agardsson from the Torchum Never Stops books.
From Kristian Kier:
The cover is made like an art folder with a ribbon to secure the artwork (in this case:
the record). Bengt Böckmann, a swedish painter from Lund, is featured on this album. It
seems to be a small series of regular recordings by artists from Warner together with some
advertisement for paintings and painters. (I saw another one recently, but cannot remember
which record and band and which painter.) Contains a short biography of the painter, a
form to order an exclusive print of the art (the name of the painting is
"Zappa-dwelling", but I cannot find any relations to Zappa) and a short summary
about Frank and Hot Rats.
This album in this form is a little bit rare now, but not so unique that you'll never
come across one. From time to time I see copies at record shows and flea markets. My
record collectors' price guide says 22.30 DM (around $13) for this particular item, but
you have to pay more for a mint copy.
By the way: the labels of the german pressings have the note "Art Gallerie"
above the artist and album title printed. These can be found on normal pressings, too! My
copy I bought somewhere in 1982 does have the wrong labels on. I still find other normal
copies with them when browsing through the piles of vinyls on flea-markets and record
shows. Someone at the record plant in Alsdorf must have fucked up ...
To the right is Mr Bengt Böckman's painting, "Zappa-Dwelling".
"Apotekarnes" is a Swedish brewery and "FABRIKENS EGENDOM" means
"property of the factory". The poster on the palm tree says "Varning Rat
poison", and the little poster on the crate says
"Varning" is the Swedish form of "warning"; 361129-3931
is believed to be Bengt Böckman's social security number :)
There were two slightly different versions of this outfit:
TONY BURKE: Spotted in Record Collector auction list (UK magazine): Zappa Art
& Music Collection (German, 2 different issues)
MIKAEL AGARDSSON: The difference is that the second issue does not have the ribbon to
tie it together. They're otherwise the same, the front cover's the same, I don't think
there are any other differences ... I got my own Art & Music album today, and
it's the version without a ribbon. The inner sleeve has pictures of a lot of other LPs,
including Studio Tan, so I guess this version came out in
"Konzeption der ART & MUSIK KOLLEKTION von DIETER BRUSBERG + SIEGFRIED E
Old Masters LP
Since the CD is remixed, and longer, what's the Old
Masters LP like? Good question; not much answered yet. From Bermuda:
It is basically the same mix as the original LP, which I hugely prefer to
the ... CD remix version.
Phillip Jacobi takes us home (sadly, he does not win the Porsche)
I put it on my trusty turntable, and I can confirm that it sounds much like
the original LP that we all know and love. Notes
inside the gatefold mention that it is digitally remastered, and I'm not
totally sure, but I think it's close to, if not the exact same
thing sound wise...[also] there seems to be a lack of digital reverb.
Intriguingly, this means that there's a digital transfer of the vinyl mix
sitting in the Vault somewhere...
Remix & Opinion Gallery
When Hot Rats came out on CD, it was not at all identical to the vinyl
original. And it generated a lot of opinion spin:
ERIC PEPKE: The CD has much less dynamic range than the vinyl. This may not be
noticeable unless you have really good speakers. [Ed: It's pretty noticeable
PAT BUZBY: The CD completely blows away the vinyl for me: it's like the difference
between black-and-white and color TV.
STEN WINFIELD JOHNSON: Great sound, but noticeably remixed, bringing in unheard
elements from the original sessions. At times, the additions are welcome (a longer intro
on "Gumbo Variations"), but sometimes intrusive (piano vamping during
DAN WATKINS: On the vinyl version of "Little Umbrellas", the final note
echoes for a few seconds. On the CD it doesn't.
MICHAEL PIERRY: I never had a problem with the '87 release, and when I went back and
listened to the vinyl, I was shocked at the way "Little Umbrellas" was mixed
(that little flute break is completely missing, and I was astounded that it was mixed out
of the original like that). I must have horrible ears, because I can't find to complain
about with my Hot Rats CD. But I like the different vinyl mix too.
They're both cool.
BOSSK (R): Regardless of what new splendour has been tacked on the
CD, I think the cymbals in the new mix sound like a low-bandwitdh MP3.
JWB: The original LP crushes the remix like a putrid grape. Now
we're entering the territory of "the remix sucks but it's extended". This
album needs to be remastered from the original LP master, or the original
unedited mixes to save the "extended versions". The remix has no redeeming
qualities to it whatsoever, at least compared to the vinyl. I just can't
believe how bad it sounds.
From Neil in the UK & JYOB:
- "Willie the Pimp"'s intro is mixed differently.
- "Son of Mr Green Genes" suffers the most - the drums are lost
in a wash of cymbals. The "duelling saxes" are pushed way into the background.
- "The Gumbo Variations" is about 5 minutes longer - good mix.
- "It Must Be a Camel" - some additional tracks/instruments (recorded during
the original sessions) have been mixed back in.
From Bermuda Triangle:
- "Peaches en Regalia": I don't notice a huge difference between
- "Willie the Pimp": since I love this track so much (and have
the LP version permanently etched in my brain), I was shocked and pissed
that the guitar solo is re-edited and reconstructed in parts. My favorite
riff of the entire solo isn't even on the CD! Score one for the LP.
- "Son of Mr Green Jeans": not much difference to my ears.
- "Little Umbrellas" has added harpsichord and flute. I like the
starkness of just the bass and drums better on the LP.
- "Gumbo Variations": score one for the CD.
- "It Must be a Camel": minor differences. Towards the end, a
once clean guitar now has distortion. The part of the mini drum solo now
has this ambience and reverb that wasn't on the LP. Not sure which I like
better. [LEWIS SAUL: "There are major differences.
The polyphony in many sections is radically different. The CD
buries voices that are prominent in the LP, which yields a very, very
different composition ...]
From Gary Horowitz:
I would agree that the clarity is unprecedented. The portions where different instrumental parts get brought
into the mix plus the new extended sections are refreshing as well as entertaining.
However, one thing I miss from the original vinyl mix of "Peaches en Regalia" was the ending figure where
the theme is punctuated by speeded up drums or some other punchy percussive effect.
It is either non-existent on the new mix, or so low that you can no longer hear it.
This was one of my favorite parts of the song, because it's entrance was so festive and happy sounding.
In my opinion its absence was not an improvement.
The first CD was also missing some artwork from the vinyl; this was restored on the 1995 re-issue.
The artwork inside the insert is in black and white, the later Ryko
version has the art in color. Oh, and the font used for "HOT RATS"
seems to be much larger.
From Ryan Davenport:
Re the Hot Rats "Gold CD" - at the time (1987 or 1988) I was an
"international distributor" for Rykodisc. Hot Rats was released
as a "picture disc" on a gold-colored CD. The CD was manufactured in the USA by
Shape Optimedia. There is no difference in the catalog number and there is no indication
anywhere on the package that it is a picture disc. My pressing of the original disc was made in Japan, which is printed on the back
cover. The gold picture disc's package says "Manufactured in the USA" on the
The picture itself is nothing very remarkable. It covers the top 1/3 of the disc, and
is simply a 2-color (purple & pink) cropped reproduction of the front cover. At the
time, very nearly all discs had only text printed on them. I have a release by Lieb &
Love (The Energy of the Chance) dated 1988 - its release was
promoted with the fact that it had full-color artwork on the disc itself, supposedly for
the first time ever.
On a short test, I don't hear any difference between the two discs, but there is one
second of blank space at the start of "Peaches en Regalia" on the original pressing, whereas the gold picture disc starts instantly.
Thus, the total disk length shows on my CD player as being 47:14 for the original and 47:13 for the gold disc. Someday I'll do a .WAV audio
extraction and look at the files to see if they are perhaps byte-exact comparisons.
[Ed: It's been done. See below for the results.]
I don't recall seeing any information as to quantities of the gold disc, just that they
were limited. Perhaps someone at Rykodisc can provide us with that info.
According to Mikael Agardsson, it was a 5000-copy edition. From Biffy the Elephant
I scored mine for the same price as a normal CD at the time, but I also seem to recall
it selling for up to $19.99 at some shops. By the way, I do not believe it's a
genuine gold disc, and it does not claim to be gold on the packaging. The color is not the
same as that of real gold CDs like the Ryko Au20 series [wih Zappa's Apstrophe (') and One Size Fits All -
Ed] or MFSL's Ultradiscs, but a paler color seen in discs that are merely tinted gold
(for example, the Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe live set).
The 1995 CD re-issue sported some new artwork (an inlay sheet behind the tray),
described by Cal Schenkel as a "photo by CS of FZ & Miss Christine [of the
GTOs] from a session at the Log Cabin, summer '68". Official Ryko statement:
"New master. New timing sheet. Restored artwork. This is the 1987
remix." [full statement]
Official Ryko statement #2, from their Zappalogue
CD LINK: This title has been specially encoded with additional information which you
can access if you are equipped with a Mac OS or Windows computer with a CD-ROM drive ready
to play audio CDs.
Gary Black's statement, however:
I'm listening to the 1995 CD right now, and just opened up Windows Explorer. Either I
somehow managed to find the 1987 version (not likely, since Zappa actually sells in my
area, and every other CD I've found is 1995-era) or someone was, as the
saying goes, "smoking in front of a mirror" - there are NO
extras on this CD. Too bad - I was SO expecting to find a Hot
Rats trailer or something. (Note - the preceding was a joke. Laugh. Ha.
Great soundin' CD, tho.
Charles Ulrich's explanation:
The necessary software is CD Link. It does indeed work, but it's nothing to
write home about. It's just a way to cue the CD to certain points by clicking
on a link on a hypertext page. Ryko took down their CD Link page for Hot
Rats, but it can now be found on Bill Lantz' own website:
1995 CD versus the Old CD(s)
All CD versions derive from the same 80's digital remix. Unsurprisingly,
they seem to be digitally identical, barring some slight track timing
differences. (VERSIONS COMPARED: Old Ryko "gold" disc, new Ryko)
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).
Brendan McEnaney, Mikael Agardsson, Marcelo Gasió, Strider, Patrick David Neve,
Jos van Galen, Craig Jones, Gonçalo, Petter Lehn, Ommadawn, Squidboy 6,
Christof Haßlinger (Verve Ratas Calientes).
- Any details on cassette versions?
- Any details on 8-track versions?
- Any more regional peculiarities?
- Any more release dates?
- Is the Greek vinyl legit?
- What's the Old Masters version like? Really?