Released: 1996

  1. Re-gyptian Strut
  2. Naval Aviation In Art?
  3. A Little Green Rosetta
  4. Duck Duck Goose
  5. Down In The Dew
  6. For The Young Sophisticate
  7. Tryin’ To Grow A Chin
  8. Broken Hearts Are For Assholes
  9. The Legend Of The Illinois Enema Bandit
  10. Lemme Take You To The Beach
  11. Revised Music For Guitar & Low Budget Orchestra
  12. RDNZL
  13. Honey Don’t You Want A Man Like Me
  14. The Black Page
  15. Big Leg Emma
  16. Punky’s Whips
  17. Flambé
  18. The Purple Lagoon
  19. Pedro’s Dowry
  20. Läther
  21. Spider Of Destiny
  22. Duke Of Orchestral Prunes
  23. Filthy Habits
  24. Titties ‘n Beer
  25. The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution
  26. The Adventures Of Greggery Peccary
  27. Regyptian Strut (1993)
  28. Leather Goods
  29. Revenge Of The Knick Knack People
  30. Time Is Money

21 thoughts on “Läther”

  1. Läther is FZ’s lost masterpiece. Warner Brothers rejected it to avoid releasing a 8-sided album, and so Frank played it on the radio, thus delievering to the public for free, and the only way this was ever released was by bootlegs. Finally, Joe Travers went into the vault, found the 2-track masters for Läther, and We got this 3-CD result.
    From Re-gyptian Strut to The Adventures Of Greggary Peccary, plus bonus material that you won’t find on any bootlegs, This Is A Can’t-miss Album! (If you are new to collecting Zappa, get this one after you get Zoot Allures)

  2. I obtained a bootleg copy of this album in the early 1980’s. It consisted of slightly different edits of material from the late 1970’s contractual obligation albums: “Studio Tan”;”Sleep Dirt”;”Orchestral Favorites”; plus outakes from “Zappa In New York” and “Sheik Yerbouti”, all resequenced in a cut and paste fashion. Legend is that Zappa tried to release this material through another record company after Warner Brothers had rejected it, but they blocked it’s release. It is a great compilation of his mid-to-late 1970’s material and a such serves as a good introduction to this period for the newbie Zappa collector. I like having a good clean copy of it, as the sound on the original bootleg, although good, was a bit hissy. The extra cd bonus tracks are nice to have as well.

  3. A masterpiece indeed – it makes me wonder “what might’ve been” if it had been released as Zappa had wanted it to be at the time.
    You might not like everything on it but there’s definitely something there for everybody – a vast, sprawling “aural sculpture” which defines FZ at the height of his artistic power.

  4. To listen to these albums is to take a fantastic journey through the immagination of a musical genius. To be confronted with such a variety of styles, all presented with mastery and indiduality is one of the seemingly ever rarer examples of the heights that the human mind and spirit is capable of achieving.
    It’s great to be able to hear the running order FZ envisaged and to get the bonus of extra tracks too.

  5. Everybody of the above guys already said what you can say about this record. A masterpiece, once you started listening, you will hear which great composer and musician Zappa has been – a Beethoven of the rock-music.

  6. Yup, I completely agree with ALL you guys: Lather is outstanding. What is so unique and interesting, though is that “Lather” really is a TRANSITIONAL album. About half of the tracks feature the older 1973-1975 Underwood/Thompson/Fowler/Brock band, and the other half features the newer Bozzio/O’Hearn/Belew/Mars band, which was much younger, ROCKIN’ and HORNIER. SO, you get this interesting hybrid of the more intellectual, music-music side of Zappa (the whole “Hunchentoot”/”Gregary Peccary” side) slopped side-by-side with the whole “Titties And Beer”/”Punky’s Whips”/”LEATHER” side. Lather really shows Zappa mutating into the harder-rockin’, sweaty showman who dominates the whole “Baby Snakes” concert video with his monster guitar solos. I don’t argue nor deny that “Lather” is a masterpiece, it’s just that it is so much more a potpourri than a well-planned work like “You Are What You Is” or “One Size Fits All”.

  7. Läther is THE record. Yes, Guacamole is right: there is something there for everybody. It belongs in every household.

  8. I’ve had mixed feelings about Lather. In fact, this period of Frank’s career (Zoot thru Joe’s Garage) is my least favorite Zappa era. I’m not a fan of Terry Bozzio, nor the “sweatiness” of most of the material here.
    Lather sums up the things I dislike about this time: the sloppiness of the band (mostly Bozzio’s sloppiness), the lack of a first-rate vocalist, the empahsis on embarrassing sexual themes (esp. the tired obsession with gayness), the timbre of the band’s instrumentation is not as sublime as the 74 or 79 bands….The live tracks are ramshackle and the mix is too dry on the live stuff too: could have used more punch on the drums and more ambient reverb in the hall, etc.
    Although about 45% of this album is inarguably classic (Filthy Habits, Ocean is the Ultimate Solution, Duck Duck Goose, Greggary Peccary…Okay, almost all the studio stuff is GREAT) It’s not one I pull out for friends to try to turn them on to Zappa’s music. I think it’s kinda overrated, actually.

    I’m one of those weird Zappa fans who actually PREFERRED what Warners did ith the Lather tapes: sectioning them by genre…I find the individual albums themselves more satisfying to listen too. I realize Frank’s intention as to jar the listener with wild juxtapositions…yeah, I get it, that’s just my on personal preference.

  9. Not only are the alternate versions great, but the original version of ‘Punky’s Whips’ is here–and the original SLEEP DIRT mixes. That means no Thana…..which means that I actually hear the music! And no more interrupting FZ guitar to wipe over percussion on ‘Punky.’ Both good and bad can be found on LATHER, but the former outweighs the latter. From ‘Duck Duck Goose’ to ‘The Black Page,’ it’s all essential to fans. Personally, LATHER is on my top ten list–and for a good reason. If anyone wants to why, just listen to it.

  10. I have 60 Zappa albums but not Lather, and I don’t see the point in buying it, since every track mentioned here is present on some other album that I already have. Or am I missing something?

  11. To Linz,
    I would have to say that yes…you are missing something. If, for no other reason, get Lather for The Ocean Is the Ultimate Solution. Here, it is presented in it’s extended form which is mind-boggling.

    There is also much on side one to be treasured. Green Rosetta is in a stripped down form with a barroom piano which launches into a short Ship Ahoy solo. Duck Duck Goose is otherwise unavailable, and Down In De Dew was only released on a Guitar World cassette. For the Young Sophisticate is a studio version with a great guitar workout throughout. Tryin to Grow a Chin and Broken Hearts are also studio versions.

    Most of dics two is available is this form elsewhere. It is the disc I listen to LEAST often from this set. However, it is nice to hear Flambe without the vocals that were included on the Sleep Dirt CD (never understood that decision).

    Then there’s disc three with all of the bonus material. Another thing you are missing out on (by resisting Lather) is to hear all those little audio goblins that were all over Sheik Yerbouti (whatever happened to all the fun in the world)in their intended habitat.

    Overall, the best way to summarize Lather is to quote the liner notes (which are a reason to buy Lather in itself)…Lather “is actually an unparelleled opportunity to watch the Conceptual Continuity get down with it’s bad self”. NOWHERE is Conceptual Continuity more clearly demonstrated, than on Lather.

    Linz, you have 60 of Frank’s albums but not this one? You need it my friend…it should be required for anybody with over 30 of Frank’s albums! Lather is the MISSING LINK that you didn’t even know existed…until you hear it. The secret to enjoying Lather is to ignore the fact that a lot of it is available elsewhere, and focus your attention instead, on the OVERALL LISTENING EXPERIENCE you get when you hear these songs in this order. Then, you’ll get it.

    By the way…it is NOT one of my favorite albums, but I would rate it among his most significant, or most important. I once lost it, and replaced it by buying a new copy. I’m glad I have it.

  12. I think ‘Lather’ is the only Zappa release that can represent almost his whole palette.
    If – ab absurdo – there were also Synclavier, Ensamble Modern, Mothers’ freakeries, Mid-’70s funky, we could get the complete picture, I think.

    An album which is truly a ‘best of’.
    An album that, if it would have been published when it was conceived, would have demonstrated that Zappa was a true 19th century genious.

    We can find almost everything: great instrumental pieces (classical, jazz-fusion – but al last it is only Zappa!), great songs, great noises-voices collages, great parodies, great solos. The period represented (second half of ’70s) is one of the highest peaks reached by FZ as composer and organizer of sounds.
    The instrumental pieces are amazing: pompous ‘Re-gyptian Strut’, intricate ‘Down In The Dew’ and ‘The Ocean is the ultimate solution’ (shorter edit that on ‘Sleep Dirt’), brilliant movies-for-your-ears ‘Revised Music For Guitar & Low Budget Orchestra’ and ‘RDNZL’, sick ‘The Black Page’, ‘The Purple Lagoon’ and ‘Lather’, menacing ‘Filthy Habits’ and ‘Time is money’ are among the best Zappa compositions of ever.
    (((I do not appreciate the only ‘Pedro’s Dowry’ – but.. what the fuck!)))
    *The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution*

  13. I just bought this and I am less in love with it than everyone else seems to be. I own the original vinyl versions of the albums and Frank had already done a fantastic job of re-sequencing them and these are the versions I remember (I never heard the later versions with vocals). That said, there is much that is admirable here -mostly the instrumental music and even though Greggary Peccary is ingenious in it’s goofy purposefully wayward construction, the “crowd-pleasers” like “Punky’s Whips” , “Titties and Beer” and “The Illinois Enema Bandit” to me are tedious going and only mildly amusing. I also find some of the frenetic jazz riffing on pieces like “The Purple Lagoon” and RDNZL tiresome (as compared to “awe-inspiring” like some seem to think. Listening to George Duke inproving on a one-chord calypso-style vamp just doesn’t do it for me no matter how fast it is).
    But there is fantastic stuff throughout and incredible guitar playing (Down in De Dew is a charmer that I was unfamiliar with and showcases Frank’s truly unique guitar technique and his wonderful melodic senseis on full display – as it is throught the album.I miss “Sleep Dirt”, the title track from said album. It is one of his most beautiful acoustic solos ever.I also kind of take issue with the packaging which is real crap compared to how Frank handled all of his original artwork. He had a distinct (and dare I say revolutionary) approach to album design and packaging. I understand that Dweezl had a hand in it and it is certainly in the spirit of FZ but it is really ugly/lousy design and the booklet is cheesy too. That said, I really like this stuff alot and is certainly indispensible for anyone who respects real creativity and appreciates music created for all the right reasons.

  14. I taped Lather from KROQ when I was 17 years old.
    These recordings have always held a special nostalgic
    magic for me because I listened to them over and over
    again as a kid. I absolutely LOVE every cut on Lather,
    except for Pedro’s Dowry (still can’t sit through it).

    The cassette tapes were lost long, long ago – but the release of
    Lather rekindled and reaffirmed my feelings about the material.
    As an older fella, I appreciate Zappa’s work more and more
    as time goes by. Seriously, not only do I STILL hear parts
    in the music that I had never noticed before, but I seem to
    realize a more total deep all-around musical experience
    with each listening session.

    Lather is my favorite Zappa album.

  15. The Läther album (test pressing version)exist originally and there where made about 50 copies of it. I got one- but remember that the Norwegian fan club during the 70`s also distributed some bootlegs of the albums which I read about in the Zappa society magazines.

  16. I agrree with evey one of the previous testimonials in one way or another. I’ve been listening to Frank’s music for over thirty years. It took me a while, but I have learned to love and savor this release. I own the CD version as well as the four LP bootleg version and love them both equally, with a nod to the bootleg version JUST because of the art work. This may be the most significant release of its time…not even the Beatles released a four LP box set. How about that for conceptual continuity….?????

  17. I just have to add to the reviews here cos im amazed none mention ‘Revised music for guitar and low budget orchestra’.Maybe the title was too long-not for me.Surely someone else has noticed that the solo section has to be one of the most beautiful melodies ever improvised by Frank.So much so that someone transcribed it so the brass could play along.Please correct me if im wrong about the origins of the tune by the way..?Anyway relisten and marvel my friends.There aint much i can say about the rest of the album cos its been released and loved in other productions except to pinpoint ‘Leather Goods’ out of the bonus tracks.Play this on your best stereo system people cos when that guitar sound jumps from speaker to speaker at the beginning you’ll be enchanted.Magic indeed.x

  18. i agree this isn’t my favourite era of zappa either by a long way. i do think however that lather is a better representation of the different styles he was doing at this time than any of the albums it was split into, which are far more focussed on one particular sound – the variety here makes it all a lot more palatable to me than a whole album of totally vocal parody tracks or a whole album of serious instrumentals.

  19. I have 60 Zappa albums but not Lather, and I don’t see the point in buying it, since every track mentioned here is present on some other album that I already have. Or am I missing something? – It’s FZ, get it!!! I like it.

  20. I agree with the yea-sayers heartily, and Eddi you nailed it — what makes this album so incredible is the aspect of how it covers SO much of Zappa’s various textures and styles, the comedy, (sublime AND toilet), the orchestral stuff, the guitar work, social commentary, horn charts, satire, all of it.

    The span of different-era bands: great. And Frank really covers a LOT of different ground guitar-wise over the course of these discs. I don’t think we consider strongly enough how far ahead he was on the tech side –getting studio quality effects onstage with completely custom racks (some GREAT shots of this in “Baby Snakes” of course..)

    Anyway — a MUST have. I notice that some of the people who rave about it here have a similar experience to the one I had — they heard it first either via the bootleg, or via the warner chopped-up releases etc. When this came out it was such a definitive wrapup of the whole story, and sounded amazing to boot.

    I have to say I LOVE the vocal versions of “Spider Of Destiny” etc that were released (somewhere?) on vinyl. I even like the vocal version with the 80s drums, but not as much.

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