Originally issued as two albums - Joe's Garace Act I and Joe's
Garage Acts II & II. From 1990 on also available in one package.
There seem to be some minor differences between vinyl
& CD versions. All CD versions seem to be derived from the same digital
transfer (probably dating from 1987); the EMI and the first Ryko CD are
different, but the old and new Rykos seem to be the same. The 1995 Ryko CD has some restored cover/booklet artwork.
What We Need: The Zappa Records CD claims to be a "UMRK
Digital Remix." Is it?
ESSENTIAL VERSIONS FOR COMPLETISTS: Any version seems to be OK. [completist's guide]
Joe's Garace Act I
- Original Vinyl (Zappa Records SRZ-1-1603 in the US, CBS 86101 in the UK, September 17
- Canadian vinyl (Polygram MIP19263, gatefold sleeve)
- European vinyl (CBS 6101)
- Dutch vinyl (CBS 86101, orange label)
- Spanish vinyl (CBS 86101, no gatefold)
- Greek vinyl
- Israeli vinyl (CBS 86101, a little Hebrew print on the back cover)
- Argentine vinyl (Epic/CBS 47.231, black & white no-gatefold cover)
- Australian vinyl (CBS SBP 237366)
- Japanese vinyl (CBS/Sony 24AP 1691)
- South African vinyl (CBS DNW 2410, gatefold sleeve - nice cover for
South Africa, don't you think?)
- Cassette (ZT-4-1-1603)
- 8-track (ZT-8-1-1603)
- Original CD (Ryko RCD 10060 in the US, EMI CDP 7-90089-2 in the UK, 1987)
- 1995 cassette (Ryko RAC 10530, May 2 1995)
- Japanese paper-sleeve CD (Ryko/VACK 1238, April
27 2002 - libretto included)
Joes Garage Acts II & III
- Vinyl (Zappa Records SRZ-2-1502 in the US, November 19 1979; CBS 88475 in the UK,
- Dutch vinyl (CBS 88475, 1979)
- Canadian vinyl (Polygram MIPD29634, gatefold sleeve)
- Greek vinyl (CBS 88475, 1979, looks identical to the Dutch)
- Japanese vinyl (CBS/Sony 40AP 1745-6)
- Australian vinyl (CBS S2BP 220222, 1980)
- Cassette (Zappa Records SRZ4-2-1502 in the US, CBS 40-88475 somewhere)
- Joe's Garage Acts II & III 8-track
- Original CD (Ryko RCD 10061 in the US, EMI CDP 790087-2 in the UK, 1987)
- 1995 cassette (Ryko RAC 10531, May 2 1995)
- Japanese paper-sleeve CD (Ryko/VACK 1239, April
27 2002 - libretto included)
Joes Garage Acts I, II & III
- Vinyl box (black EMI FZAP 1 - white inner sleeves, book included,
sound not as good as the CBS LPs)
- US/UK vinyl (June 17 1987, Barking Pumpkin SWCL 74206 (in the UK?), Zappa Records
ZAPPA 20 in the UK)
- Canadian vinyl (Zappa Records SRZ-1-1603 & SRZ-2-1502, with lyrics insert)
- Columbia House Record Club version
- Original CDs (Ryko RCD 10060/61 in the US, June 17 1987; Zappa Records CDDZAP 20 in the
UK, May 1990; Ryko D70277/8 in Australia, 1987)
- Original double cassette (Zappa Records TZAPPA20)
- EMI CDP 7 900 87 2 CD, 1987
- IRS 973.720 CD
- Japanese EMI CD (EMI/Toshiba CP25-5662-3, July 24 1988)
- Another Japanese CD (VACK 5039/40?)
- Czechoslovakian vinyl (Globus 210076-1311 and 210077/8-1312,
1991 - a single LP and a double LP packaged together; both as coloured vinyl and
- Czech CD (Globus, 1993/1994 (?) - exact configuration?)
- Czech picture CD (Globus 210076-8-2313, 1993/1994 (?) - exact
- 1995 CD (Ryko RCD 10530/31; VACK 5127/8 in Japan,
renumbered 5262/3 in 1998; also in a BMG Record
Club version (2088052))
- Russian pirate copy of Ryko RCD 10060/61 (FZCD 10990109/10, 1999)
- Japanese vinyl (exact configuration?)
And on the weird side, parts of Joe's Garage seem to have been issued
in Poland as a set of flexi-disc postcards.
From Harry de Swart:
I bought my Dutch copy of Joe's Garage I on September 12 1979, which
was 5 days earlier than the release in the UK.
Current Version Track-listing (links to Román's stupendous lyrics rundown)
The Central Scrutinizer 3:28
Joe's Garage 6:10
Catholic Girls 4:19
Crew Slut 6:38
Fembot In A Wet T-Shirt 4:44
The Bus 4:31
Does It Hurt When I Pee? 2:23
Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up 5:42
Scrutinizer Postlude 1:34
Token Of My Extreme 5:29
Stick It Out 4:34
Sy Borg 8:55
Dong Work For Yuda 5:03
Keep It Greasey 8:21
Outside Now 5:49
Used To Cut The Grass 8:35
Packard Goose 11:31
Watermelon In Easter Hay 9:05
A Little Green Rosetta 8:14
What were "Toad-o Line" and Wet T-Shirt Night" on the original releases
became "On the Bus" and "Fembot in a Wet T-Shirt" when the first CD
came out. From an interview in issue #3 of the Society Pages fanzine:
ROB SAMLER: So, why did you change the title on the CD?
ZAPPA: Why, what does it say on the CD?
(Bernhard Pelz reports a Dutch Acts II & III LP (a Christmas
present from 1979), where the label says "A TOKEN OF HIS EXTREME" and
"SYBORG" but the cover says "A Token Of My Extremes" and
No Relation to LÄTHER
The Läther album contains a song called "A Little Green
Rosetta", but this is nothing at all like what's on Act III of Joe's
[full Läther walkthrough by Zoot]
Columbia House Record Club Acts 2 & 3 LP
From "dirt" on rec.music.collecting.vinyl:
I also had a copy of Zappa's Joe's Garage Acts 2 & 3 which has
side 4 backed with side 1 as well as being opposite side 3 where it belongs.
At first I thought it may have been a misplaced label since they used to put
sides 1 & 4 on one record and sides 2 & 3 on the other. What made it
even weirder was the arrangement of the bands or tracks on what was supposed
to be side 2. There looked to be three songs on side 2 when it only played two
("Watermelon in Easter Hay" was split into two tracks). Oh yeah ...
it was from the Columbia House record club.
From RIFF RAFF FROM MICHIGAN:
The segue from "On the Bus" into "Why Does It Hurt When I
Pee?" (particularly the few measures where the drum beat changes every
time the figure repeats due to the odd meter) does not exist on the
cassette. The music fades out too soon, mainly because Side One is ending.
I first owned Joe's Garage on cassette ... Imagine my surprise
when, upon pu***asing the CD and reaching the end of "On the Bus"
(after the Central Scrutinizer tells of Joe contracting the unpronounceable disease),
I was greeted by several measures of awesome music I had never heard. I
felt so cheated! I understand the need to have Side One END at some
point, but was it neccessary to deprive the cassette owners of these several
ultra-cool measures of music?
Side Two of Tape One begins immediately with the chord progression that
establishes "Why Does it Hurt When I Pee". A rather abrupt way to
begin a side, but what the heck ...
That is the biggest (in fact, only) difference in the actual recording of Joe's
Garage on cassette that I am aware of (aside from the usual credit space
limitations of the J-card). I seem to remember an advertisement for the Old
Masters box set in there.
(My "Joe's" cassette is definitely pre-1995. On the Zappa Records
label, and distributed/manufactured by EMI-Capitol, I think. If I remember
correctly, it was made using the XDR process. (Remember the burst of tones at
the head and tail of the tape?) XDR was EMI-Capitol's exclusively, if I'm not
The EMI CD was released in 1987, and was the standard European version until
the Zappa Records release in 1990. From David G:
The sound quality's OK; it's very midrangey, like the other EMI CDs, and is
mastered somewhat quietly. Nothing different mix-wise from the standard CD that
I can detect. One oddity, though: the phrase "Church-oriented social activities"
has a bit of a quirk, and actually comes out "Church-oriented social activities
social activities." [Ed: This is clearly just a digital glitch, and not
an "unedited" cut] Eh? Does this also happen on the "Digitally Remastered
"Joe's Garage" seems to mark the only time that the EMI CD and the Ryko CDs
use the same digital transfer of an album not originally recorded digitally
(this makes sense, given how late "Joe's Garage" came out on CD on EMI).
Ryko/Zappa Records CDs
There are no reported differences in content between the vinyl originals and the various CDs.
The artwork was tampered with on the CD re-releases, but was restored on the 1995 CD . What were "Toad-o Line" and Wet T-Shirt Night"
on the original releases became "On the Bus" and "Fembot in a Wet
T-Shirt" when the first CD came out. The Zappa Records CD claims to be a "UMRK
Digital Remix," but we have no information as to how it differs (if it even
From Neil in the UK:
Great Mix. Much better sound quality, particularly the bottom end.
From Patrick Boie: [Ed: We've never had confirmation of this
variation. Can anybody confirm? If not...]
To my ears, the mix of "A Little Green Rosetta" is quite
different on my original Ryko CD than on my Zappa Records "Digitally
Remastered Vinyl" (the one that came in the box with Acts I, II &
III). Specifically, the section about the kerosene-powered record players of
the fourth world. On my LP, Frank's vocals are up-front, loud and clear. On
the CD, he's buried deep in a sea of background singers and studio mayhem;
he's nearly inaudible. It almost sounds as if he is being slowly faded out
throughout the whole song. I've noticed a few other subtle mix differences
throughout as well, but none so obvious as this.
My question: Are there two different digital mixes of Joe's Garage;
one for vinyl, and one for CD? Does this extend to the other "digital
LPs" as well?
From Michael Pierry:
Also he mentioned that Joe's Garage was pressed using half-speed
mastering and he was less-than-enthused with the results: "We cut it at half-speed,
and the stylus can carve very careful, perfect, little high-frequency wiggles on the
record. That doesn't mean that when it's turned into a stamper and goes onto vinyl that
those wiggles are necessarily going to be there. You may just be fooling yourself."
This shows that Frank did care a lot about the final results of what he recorded. I wonder
why he never listened to the CDs of You Are What You Is,
et cetera? He must've had too much faith in the digital mastering process, or in Bob
I or Fred Banta dug up more on this, from Guitar Player, February 1983:
TOM MULHERN: Do you prefer to have your records done with half-speed
ZAPPA: The only album that we ever did with half-speed mastering was
Joe's Garage. It helps your top end, but it ruins the low end. Let's
examine the frequency spectrum of what we're putting on the record. The new
album [Man from Utopia] has a lot of
information around, 30 cycles [Ed. Note: Low E on a bass guitar is 41.2
Hz], and there's a very full-sounding bottom on some of these tunes. If you
were to master that at half-speed, you'd need an equalizer that would have to
be looking at 15 cycles. So you get a crisper, but a thinner-sounding record
if you master half-speed. On the Joe's Garage album, we used half-speed
mastering on all three of those discs, and I'm not totally delighted with the
TOM MULHERN: Do you have any examples?
ZAPPA: Let me give you a very graphic one. We cut it at half-speed,
and the stylus can carve very careful, perfect, little high-frequency wiggles
on the record. That doesn't mean when it's turned into a stamper and goes onto
that vinyl that those wiggles are necessarily going to be there. You may just
be fooling yourself. You may hear it great coming off of a reference disc, but
not off of a pressing. And that's what I think happened with Joe's Garage.
It just didn't carry through all the manufacturing process. Recently, I've cut
some normal-speed refs on the Joe's Garage album, and since the time of
the original mastering there have been some advancements in normal-speed lathe
technology. You can get more level on the record, and so forth. So the new
refs sound fantastic. They have plenty of top end and plenty of bottom; they
sound much more like the master tape than the half-speed version did.
From alt.fan.frank-zappa, September 1999:
CHRIS: When I was younger I had Joe's Garage on vinyl, the original
version. I seem to recall, although I had a shit hi-fi at the time, that it sounded very
different from the CD version. The drums sounded more like real drums rather than the
"freeze-dried" ones on the CD. Am I imagining this?
BOSSK (R): I don't know! I'd like to hear some discussion on this topic, though,
because Joe's Garage is one of the most under-discussed albums in the
MICHAEL GULA: I have only Act I on vinyl. I've never heard any
difference. But then again, my poor hearing is almost legendary.
GEIR CORNELIUSSEN: Not half as poor as mine. And I can't hear much of a difference
either. I bought Acts II & III first, and Act I some
months later on vinyl. The CD sounds very similar, compared to all the other different
remixes. I got the one from Zappa records. I don't know what the difference is from the
new Ryko. If only someone could invent a micro-processor to mount under my scalp. I just
can't stand loosing my hearing.
JOHN HENLEY: I never liked the LP version as far as sound quality because, although the
engineering itself was superlative, the pressings Frank was getting for his Zappa Records
releases were unbelievably shitty - oodles of surface noise, right
out of the sleeve. The CD version I own is the old Rykodisc, and contrary to some other
opinions about it, I think it is one of the best-sounding of all the CDs. The same
superlative engineering without all the surface noise. I doubt I'll ever buy the '95
Acts I, II & III on coloured vinyl
(white, blue and red discs)
- Acts I, II & III as vinyl picture discs (with the cover pictures)
- Acts I, II & III double CD
- Acts I, II & III double picture CD
From Ryan Davenport:
My set looks quite a bit like the original Ryko 2-CD set - the two
discs are packaged together in a wide 2-CD case, with a 24-page lyrics booklet
and a folded insert that lists musicians and songs. The booklet and insert are
the same as the US version except for the manufacturing & distribution
credits and such. I have the picture CD version.
From David van Noortwijk:
I picked up this CD in Prague last summer ('94). "Manufactured by Globus", it
said, "for the Czech Republic." Special deal, heh? Though the album is generally
fine, the "Little Green Rosetta" mix leaves a lot to be
desired. The little raps about the 3rd and 4th world record players are hardly audible and
the line "If all else fails, throw the record away" even less so. Instead, we
hear those studio secretaries groovin' away better/closer than ever before.
From Dr István Fekete:
There's a standard and a picture CD version. I have the pic CD with the catalogue
number 210076-8-2313. There's also a Czech picture vinyl edition. Legal and basically the
same as those on Zappa Records.
From Svend Rosendahl:
From Chechoslavkia I have Joe's Garage, Acts I, II & III as
picture discs - it is the cover pictures that are printed on the discs. Last saturday
i also found Joe's Garage on "ordinary" colored vinyl -
and I had to have them (cheap too - 250DKR for both albums). Act I on white vinyl,
Act II on blue vinyl and Act III on red vinyl. The labels on the colored disc says side A
to F, as if they were from a box-set, but they are definitely two separate albums.
were, at least sometimes, sold shrinkwrapped together as a triple set (see the picture) -
Ed.] The sound quality is as good as the original US releases on vinyl.
The cover liner notes say it is Barking Pumpkin Records and Globus International who have
released the records in 1991. I am obliged to belive it is true! Both the picture discs
and the colored discs have the same label numbers, 210076-1311 for Act I and 210077/8-1312
for Acts II & III.
(The state of Czechoslovakia split up into the Czech and Slovak republics on January 1
1993. It appears that the vinyl was released in Chechoslovakia in 1991, and the CDs were
released in the Czech Republic after the split. Globus also issued Broadway the Hard Way.)
1995 Acts I, II & III CD
Nothing spooky at all. Official Ryko statement:
New master. New timing sheet. Restored artwork. Double CD. FYI, Act I is on one
cassette, Acts II & III are on another, sold separately, the way they were first
released. This was at retail's request to spare them from a double cassette (hard to
bin?). [full statement]
The 2002 Japanese paper-sleeve version was split up, like the LP, in an Act
1 and and Acts 2-3.
1995 CD vs. Earlier CDs
From the 2004 Zappa
A comparison of my '95 edition against a track from "You Can't Do That on the
Radio" revealed that they were digitally identical. Can anybody with the '95 and
'80s discs cement this comparison? What about that remix of "Green Rosetta" that
was apparently floating around?
The EMI disc is
from a distinctly different digital master, one with several variations.
[Ed: Wrong wrong wrong] It follows the other EMI discs in
emphasizing the midrange frequencies.
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).
- I think there is too little of everything here.
- Any details on cassette versions?
- Any details on 8-track versions?
- What's the Japanese vinyl like?
- What's the Czech CDs like - double sets, or two single CDs, or what?
- Are the Greek vinyls legit?
- Anything on EMI?
- Patrick David Neve
- Mikael Agardsson
- Erik Steaggles (EMI FZAP 1)
- Daniel Avey
- Adam Biser
- Marrot Thomas