Sleep Dirt

Released: January 1979

See Läther.


  1. Filthy Habits
  2. Flambay
  3. Spider Of Destiny
  4. Regyptian Strut
  5. Time Is Money
  6. Sleep Dirt
  7. The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution

Frank Zappa (guitar, keyboards), Dave Parlato (bass), Terry Bozzio (drums), George Duke (keyboards), Patrick O’Hearn (bass), Ruth Underwood (percussion), Chad Wackerman (drum overdubs), Thana Harris (vocals), Bruce Fowler (all brass), James “Bird Legs” Youman (bass), Chester Thompson (drums)

20 thoughts on “Sleep Dirt”

  1. It took me a few listens to get into the vibe of the album. It’s one of Frank’s best and avant-garde discs (like most of his work). Thana Harris’ singing takes some getting used to, but the Hunchentoot material is really cool. It’s out there, but really special, because FZ never really got to put it totally together.

    I’m really digging the Terry Bozzio / Patrick O’Hearn duo. They really shine here, and give the record an overall experimental and dark edge. I bought the record because I wanted to hear the original version of Filthy habits. I had only heard the version from YCDTOSA 4, which is really heavy and dark, with Frank playing guitar all over the place, kinda like rat tomago. Regyptian strut is great too. I just dig the whole album.

    Again, a unique Zappa experience in Sleep Dirt…

  2. There are really two versions of this album. The original vinyl version that came out in the late 1970’s was all intrumental. When Zappa rereleased it on cd in the 1980’s, he added the vocals and new drum parts, creating a new work. I guess one could say that the cd version is more “finished”, but the all instrumental version is very enjoyable. I believe the instrumental versions of the vocal songs all are on “Lather”

  3. There are really two versions of this album. The original vinyl version that came out in the late 1970’s was all intrumental. When Zappa rereleased it on cd in the 1980’s, he added the vocals and new drum parts. The 1980’s remix is much, much better, as it reveals the B-movie plot-line from Zappa’s never-realized Hunchentoot musical, on “Time Is Money,” “Flambay,” and “Spider Of Destiny.” Thana Harris is a great singer, Chad Wackerman’s drum tracks are great, and Zappa’s new remix makes the previously un-listenable Sleep Dirt vinyl listenable.

  4. I have not listened to the “Wackermanized “version of this album, nor do I want to! The original is great and I am glad to own the vinyl.

  5. this album is full of sick musicianship!!!the double bass is awsome,and the drumming is superb.the guitar is intense on all the songs.sleep dirt really takes the cake for tech guitar playing.over all-this album gets a does every album after hot rats!!!!!

  6. The opening track filthy habits, as well as sleep dirt and the ocean is the ultimate solution are by far my favorite. Whichever bass player is working the upright is pulling off some of the fastest and hardest solos I’ve heard. Be sure to check out the beginning 5/4 part of Filthy Habits.

  7. I used to have the vinyl and LOVED IT, but J.Tucci ended up with up, but he did get me in the P-funk show, so it’s all good.

  8. “Sleep Dirt” is an underappreciated Zappa work, mainly because it is more instrumental than “Studio Tan”, as well as for most Zappa fans, it doesn’t deserve to exist in the form that it is (ditto “Orchestral Favorites” and “Studio Tan”), only as part of the Zappa masterwork “Lather”. Well, I agree about the “Lather” part, but Zappa’s instrumentals are essential to his greatest work, so far more people should give this one a spin. It reminds me of a later Zappa “Burnt Weeny Sandwich”, mainly in its feel and programming. The production on it is stellar (just the georgeous timbre of the instruments on “The Ocean Is…” is breathtaking), I am not as annoyed as other fans about the “re-recording” of some parts (unlike “Only In It For the Money” and “Ruben” which annoyed me to no end), and I love this album immensely. “Sleep Dirt” can be easily overlooked, and that is a real shame. Check it out again if you haven’t lately. There are many musical treasures that await you inside.

  9. The vinyl version is a truly fantastic album, start to finish. The vocals and reworked drums on the CD version ruin it. I threw it away – its that bad. Zappa has a tendency to pretentiousness, I’m sure most would agree, and the CD version personifies it. However, the vinyl version is beautiful and doesn’t hint at excessive ‘cleverness’ despite the brilliant playing of all concerned. For me it stands out as an oasis in his output for the decline period (mid 70’s onwards). Its right up there with Hot Rats, Chunga’s, and the late 60’s stuff – different but equal. His last great record. Amen.

  10. I really agree with Daz, the vocals totally ruins it. But… Regyptian Strut, Filthy Habits and The Ocean are one of the best Zappa song ever!

    My rating is: 9,5 for the vinyl and a low 7 for the CD.

    PS: I don’t hate Thana Harris, she sang very good, but Spider Of Destiny was a perfect instrumental and vocals ruins it!

  11. The original LP remains one of my favorite Zappa albums to this day. I was disappointed in the CD, although I do like Thana Harris’s singing on Flambay.

    The Ocean is the Ultimate Solution was Patrick O’Hearn’s de facto audition for FZ. Bozzio brought him over to the studio, he played upright bass first, then whipped out the electric. The Zappa-Bozzio-O’Hearn trio is one of the most powerful combos in FZ’s career.

  12. “About that tempo?”
    This album, I believe, is the best of the Bozzio/O’Hearn era. I’m actually not sure what version of the album I have since there are no lyrics sung on Flambay, Filthy Habits, or Spider of Destiny. It’s almost completely instrumental, and the jazz is all over the place, culminating in the monster “The Ocean is the Ultimate Solution.” During his solo in that song, Patrick is either a) so
    impressed with himself or b) hurting from the velocity of it all, that he says “Damn!”


  13. yes I agree with all of the above
    i have only the original mix
    soooooooo hot
    i wish there was more stuff like this
    terry is killing it and the bass player on ocean is bannannas
    this is a special LP
    i wonder if there are any out takes from thoses sessions
    it is a perfect LP
    And it is a DARK heavy Guitar LP
    FZ’s solo in OCEAN still KILLS me


    my fingers got stuck

    I had to figure out some of sleep dirt

  14. “Sleep Dirt” was the album that introduced me to Zappa, and it still remains as my favourite.

    For me, the 80’s drum-overdubs ruined the sound balance of some songs, but the the Thana Harris vocals definitely gave more sense to the album- i.e. the often chaotic melodies in “Time is Money”.

    “Filthy Habits”, “Regyptian Strut”, and parts of “The Ocean…”(like where Frank starts his guitar solo) are just plain orgasmic. If you haven’t heard this album, GET IT. If you have the choice, I would recommend getting the ’79 instrumental version first.

  15. to all of the above reveiwers thanks for your comments…i bought lather first and then went back to sleep dirt without thana harris singing. I like both versions and instead of taking a pedantic view like some i don’t care to pertain that a certain something is shit and the other is fabulous…here we have a perfect opportunity to listen to pieces of music in transition and isn’t it wonderful to enjoy works at different stages of growth..this is why i enjoy listening so much to the bootlegs on fridays because some pieces are so different depending on when they were played and with which unit…….i am constantly astounded by the quality of franks creations!

  16. I completely love this album. I think it is one of many essential Zappa albums from the 70’s. The first and last tracks are worth the price of the cd alone. Zappa, Bozzio and Dave Parlato and Patrick O’Hearn on bass all shine brilliantly on some of Frank’s most compelling music. This is one of those albums that I have to stop what I am doing so I can listen – it isn’t a put-on-while-doing-the-dishes type record. This is a mind melter of the first degree, and a guitar lovers dream album. You get George Duke, Ruth underwood, Chad Wackerman, Chester Thompson, Bruce Fowler and James “Bird Legs” Youman. That is one hell of a lineup! I find there is a hint of the blues to much of this album, even though I get that more from tone than from technique (someone correct me if I am off base on this – I am a listener, not a musician, so I go by feel and less by knowledge). This is ‘blues’ that is wholly original and devastatingly powerful in it’s execution.

    All that said, though, I cannot stand the “new” vocals by Thana Harris which we all know were added to the tracks for the Rykodisc and beyond releases. She isn’t a bad singer, and she is no doubt doing what Frank wanted her to do. I just find the vocals unnecessary and quite annoying. They are a part of the unrealized 1972 Hunchentoot ‘opera’ that he was working on, which I admit is interesting, but I still do not care for them. I don’t really have a better reason than personal taste, so don’t let me steer you away from what is truly an kick ass album.

    So, what I did was to take the alternate takes off of Läther, which are all instrumental, and kept the longer version of “The Ocean is the Ultimate Solution” off of Sleep Dirt and burned my own copy of the album so I can enjoy it in all it’s guitar shredding glory! Voila! No vocals, just some deeply intense and beautiful instrumental pieces performed by rock band. Turn it up to eleven (man)! ! ! !

    Disclaimer: Since I own both cds this ‘personal remix’ falls under the US Fair Use Doctrine and thus is a legal usage of said tracks.

  17. What a beautifal album it is! Like taking a big breath and making a long underwater journey in the sea of music (Woaaah!! The ultimete solution?? :-) ). Nice, beautifully executed chamber pieces, some intimate acoustic-guitar work – the whole thing is just perfect.
    (Well, after having the official CD of course, I managed to make a copy of the original vinyl version, without the vocal (this was the first experience to me of this album) – above I’m talking about that one. Sometimes I listen to the CD as well – but not too often. It’s nice to have it heard with vocals – at least I can sing in over the instrumental version.)

  18. The 2012 is a beauty – no vocals, just a bunch of great instrumentals that make a wonderful, intense listening experience. One of Zappa’s very best!

  19. – Sleep Dirt is a gem, I never tire of listening to its endless masterful inventiveness – there is something Indian in the title track, which is interesting, so many fascinating colors and forms to ‘Ocean’ – the first few notes remind me of ships horns as they embark or return to Dock, I like the way it slows down to a halt then takes new directions, Franks guitar reminds me of bird calls,fog horns , seascapes- a masterpiece.

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