Cruising with Ruben & the Jets
EXTREME differences between CD and vinyl versions. Zappa
remixed and overdubbed it so much for the CD release that it's like a whole new
album, from the '80s instead of the '60s. Defending the remix is extremely
controversial. The vinyl is considered a must-have, even if you prefer the CD
version. The 1995 Ryko CD adds some new cover/booklet artwork, but is otherwise
like previous CDs.
ESSENTIAL VERSIONS FOR COMPLETISTS: 1) Original vinyl; 2) CD (see Old Masters
vinyl below). [completist's guide]
- Original vinyl (blue Verve V6-5055(X) (MGS
1532/33) in the US, November
1968; Verve SVLP 9237 in the UK (no gatefold cover), February 1969) (also
discovered on white Verve label - presumably the very last pressing(s))
- Mono vinyl (Verve V-5055 in the US, VLP 9237 in the UK, no gatefold cover, February
- Australian vinyl (Verve V 5055, 1968, no gatefold cover)
- German vinyl (without "Deseri", but listing it on the cover - Verve
- Brazilian vinyl (Verve VELP 78.007, no gatefold
- British vinyl re-issue (Verve Polydor Select 2317 069,
gatefold cover, June 1973)
- French vinyl (without "Deseri" - Metro 2356 068 -
- "Facsimile bootleg" vinyl ("Verve Select 2317
- Vinyl on SIAT_PARIS label - French?
- The Old Masters vinyl (Barking Pumpkin BPR 7777-5, April 1985)
- Original CD (Ryko RCD10063 in the US (imported into Australia by
Festival Records and re-stickered Ryko D40724), Zappa Records CDZAP4 in the UK, October
1987; VACK 5024 in Japan)
- IRS 970.04 CD?
- Russian picture CD (JPCD 9710581 and/or 9710281 DORA)
- Zappa Records cassette (TZAPPA4)
- Barking Pumpkin cassette (D4-74209)
- 1995 CD (Ryko RCD 10505, May 16 1995; VACK 5118 in Japan,
renumbered 5253 in 1998)
- Japanese paper-sleeve CD (Ryko/VACK 1207,
September 21 2001 - sticker & 2 inserts included)
- Bootleg CDs
Current Version Track-listing (links to Román's stupendous lyrics rundown)
Cheap Thrills 2:20
Love Of My Life 3:17
How Could I Be Such A Fool? 3:33
I'm Not Satisfied 3:59
Jelly Roll Gum Drop 2:17
Later That Night 3:04
You Didn't Try To Call Me 3:53
Fountain Of Love 2:57
"No. No. No." 2:27
Anyway The Wind Blows 2:56
Stuff Up The Cracks 4:29
- Track 11 was written "No No No" on the original vinyl label, but "'No.
No. No.'" on the vinyl cover, and on all CD versions. The Old
Masters copies this pattern, but Barking
Pumpkin cassette has "No No No".
- Track 12, "Anyway the Wind Blows", has been written "Any
Way the Wind Blows" on most other official releases, including the Old Masters label, but not the CD.
According to a July 20 1968 interview in Rolling Stone
magazine, a working title was Whatever Happened to Ruben & the Jets?.
From Record Collector magazine #93, May 1987 (quoted by Mikael
The US pressing came with a deluxe gatefold cover featuring some
excellent Cal Schenkel artwork, most of which is missing from the original UK version. A
very limited number of early US pressings also included a folder insert containing
instructions on "How to dance the bop" and "How to comb and set a
After treating us to the full sleeves for Money and Lumpy Gravy, EMI decided against making it three in a row and
issued the original UK version of Ruben in a non-fold
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):
We do ... have positive sightings of Cruising with Ruben & the Jets
(Verve V6 5055) in Australia at least, if not New Zealand. Depending on your aesthetic
stand-point, the Aussie version of Ruben constitutes either sacrilege of
the highest order, or a kitsch masterpiece guaranteed to make even the most jaded
collector sit up and take notice. For a start, the front cover is almost certainly a
photographic copy of an original US sleeve (as was We're Only In It
for the Money, for that matter). These days we may cringe at the blurred covers of
those dreadful Italian repro Zappa albums which crept onto the market a few years ago, but
back in the '60s and early '70s, Australian record companies were using much the same
methods quite openly! Instead of taking the time to fly in first-generation sleeve artwork
from America (or wherever), they would simply print from an imported sleeve, hence the
blurred, smudgy horror that was Ruben. As if that wasn't enough, the boys
in the artwork department at Phonogram took it upon themselves to 'improve' upon Cal
Schenkel's sleeve design! In order that potential buyers should not be in any doubt as to
who is performing on the record, they added "The Mothers of Invention" at the
top of the front cover (in pink, no less) in the same style as Schenkel's title. Above the
back cover picture of the teenage Frank (which is, for some inexplicable reason, tinted
yellow) we have, presumably for the benefit of those who missed it on the front, the band
name in large letters once again. As a result, the remaining sleeve notes are completely
To this day, Australian record companies still seem to think that unless the artist's
name screams out in huge letters from the front cover of an album, your typical brain-dead
record buyer will be totally unable to figure it out for him/herself. [---]
Needless to say, the Aussie Ruben arrived in a non-gatefold laminated
sleeve with no sign of the three inserts which were included with early US copies.
Although available in both mono and stereo in America (Nov. 1968) and Britain (Feb. 1969),
the Australian version appears to have been issued in stereo only.
From Mikael Agardsson:
The (non-gatefold) cover on this version is a bit different. The callout on
the front reads
SERÁ QUE ╚STE DISCO DE "THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION" SOB UN NOME
DIFERENTE ╔ A ┌LTIMA CHANCE DE SE OUVIR A SUA M┌SICA ESQUISITA NO RÁDIO?
and the back is completely different. It has the picture from inside the
gatefold, but in black and white, and severely cropped, so only part of the
group is visible.
British Vinyl Re-Issue
From Record Collector magazine #93, May 1987 (quoted by Mikael
The 1973 Polydor UK re-issue was given a full gatefold sleeve, almost identical to the
US release except that the catalogue number was moved to the top right-hand side of the
front cover, where it was placed in a black circle, together with the full name of the
group. This was the first Zappa/Mothers album to be released in stereo only.
"Facsimile Bootleg" Vinyl
From Román García Albertos:
Well, I call 'em "facsimile bootlegs", because they reproduce the cover and
the label and the vinyl of the original releases. But they aren't. They don't sound very
good (well, they sound good, but they're at least second generation), and the covers seem
to be xerocopies of the originals. When the original releases were impossible to find and
the CD era hadn't come yet, I think this was the only way to hear the records.
From Master of Disaster:
The curious thing is that the song "Deseri" is left off. It's not on the LP
but the cover and the inner label say yes. I have seen the same LP with the same catalogue
number, but the song "Deseri" was on it. The sound quality is good.
From Kristian Kier:
I have both 2317 069 Select, the original and the italian "fake" one. Both
have Deseri included.
The main differences between the counterfeit and the original are the covers and the
matrix numbers. The covers show some damages which weren't caused by handling, they were
copied (xeroxed might be the wrong terme, since they seem to be printed professionally)
due to photo transfer. Best examples: We're Only In It for the Money
and Zappa in New York.
The matrix numbers on the counterfeits are all hand-written. Original records by
Verve/Polydor don't have hand-written numbers! That's the easiest way to check wether it's
a fake, or not!
The "hand-written rule" is valid only for European Verve/Polydor
pressings, not for Verve US pressings. So if the record you are interested in
has a V(6)/5045 number, it should have hand-written matrix numbers.
Another clue: Most of these counterfeits do not have track separation
between the songs.
I do have the fakes of Freak Out!, Absolutely Free, We're Only In It for
the Money, Cruising with Ruben & the Jets, Lumpy Gravy
and Zappa in New York (with "Punky's
Whips"), all coming from Italy. I remember having seen Roxy &
Very Thorough Remix
When this album was re-released on CD, it was heavily remixed and new
bass and drums had been overdubbed on most songs without any acknowledgment of
this in the CD booklet, which still credited the original musicians. The new drums were
played by Chad Wackerman; the new electric bass by Arthur Barrow and upright acoustic bass
by an unknown musician, possibly Jay Anderson. The differences are huge;
it's like a completely different album.
The remix is extremely controversial to many fans, and it is safe to say that an
overwhelming majority hate it. Zappa said he thought it sounded better than the original.
Zappa's sound engineer, Bob Stone, called the remix "classic stooge rock". While
some people could in theory like the remix, every hard-core fan should definitely seek out
the original vinyl, or a copy of it.
- If you want to read more about why Zappa remixed and overdubbed this
album so much, you can follow this link.
Details Track by Track
- Way Beyond Just Drums & Bass - an article
reproduced from the booklet that came with the Cheekbone Crush bootleg
CD. Lists the differences track by track. Required reading if you think "a new
drummer and a new bass player playing the same notes as the old guys can't be that big a
D. G. Porter had this to say about "Jelly Roll Gum Drop":
The CD re-release has the TWO (2 - count 'em!) vocal parts, one was on the original LP
and one was on the 45. The LP had the left track, the 45 had the right track. But he cut
out the timpani part. I added it back in as an overtrack onto the CD version, and Frank
looked bemused when I told him this. BUT THE CUT NEEDS THOSE TIMP PARTS.
"They RULE! - Um,heh!" And the 45 goes on longer than the LP or
the CD - it has a final "Jelly Roll Gum Drop" in the vocals.
And Only the Sky adds about "Stuff Up the Cracks": "Note the dual drum
tracks panned to opposite ends".
The Old Masters Vinyl
Cruising with Ruben & the Jets was one of the albums re-released
on vinyl in the Old Masters box 1. It was not taken from an
old master; instead it used the CD remix, except in the
case of "Stuff Up the Cracks", which was the original mix. The new packaging included
instructions on how to "dance the bop" and "comb & set a jelly
roll". These were reproductions of two separate black & white pages, 8.5x11
inches, distributed for promotion only at the time of the original release, along with a
blown-up version of The Story of Ruben & The Jets, a glossy photo of
Frank (both from the back cover), and a jar of hair pomade.
The version of "Stuff Up the Cracks" on my Ryko CD
(original release) is a different version from the original release AND
the Old Masters version (which is otherwise identical to the CD with the overdubbed bass/drums).
We all know about the changed bass and drums. We all have our opinions (yeah, mine is
negative, too). But in the Old Masters box, there was a note that while
all the other songs were overdubbed and remixed, Zappa couldn't find the 8-track master to
"Stuff Up the Cracks", and instead digitally retweezed the 2-track final mix. It
sounded great, was the same mix as the original, and made one wish he'd just done the
whole damn album that way.
On the CD, there are still no changes in the bass and drums, but the mix is SEVERELY
different, adding saxophone lines that weren't there before, and crossfading the vocals
into Zappa's guitar solo, undercutting its power (the solo is longer now, but what was its
distinctive entrance - a musical "I'm here" - is now the end of
another phrase, and is lost).
So did Zappa find the 8-track master and remix it for the CD, or
did he mistakenly (or deliberately) use a different 2-track master from the original
sessions? Maybe it doesn't matter to you, but this was my favorite "kids" album
when I was growing up (I was born a few months before its release), I know it backwards
and forwards, and the alteration BUGS ME! (As opposed to We're Only In It for the Money, which I heard for the first time in
the Old Masters box, and while the original mix sounds "better"
to me now, I still miss some of the newer mix).
Barking Pumpkin Cassette
From Charles Ulrich:
Barking Pumpkin D4-74209
(C)(P) 1968, 1985 Barking Pumpkin Records
"No No No" has no periods on either the cassette or the j-card.
(On the j-card, it's not aligned with the other song titles, so it could be
interpreted as " No No No", with a space at the beginning.)
The j-card has a cropped version of the front cover, FZ's high school
photo, the text from the gatefold ("This is an album of greasy love songs
..."), "How to Comb & Set a Jellyroll", "The Story of
Ruben & the Jets", and musician credits. Also an ad for the Old
Masters boxes. No lyrics. No artwork from the gatefold. No
"present-day Pachuco". No bop dance step instructions.
The musician credits spell Arthur Tripp's middle name as Dyer (vs Dyre on
the LP). The drummers are credited only once (vs twice on the LP). The 1980s
musicians are not credited. No production, engineering, art, or songwriting
credits. "Deseri", "Anything", and "Fountain of
Love" are credited as Frank Zappa Music, BMI/Ray Collins Music (vs
Bizarre Music Co. & Ray Collins Music Co. BMI on the LP).
The music is the 1984 remix.
The 1995 CD is the same as the controversial CD remix. The new
packaging includes instructions on how to "dance the bop" and "comb &
set a jelly roll". These were reproductions of two separate black & white pages,
8.5x11 inches, distributed for promotion only at the time of the original release, along
with a blown-up version of The Story of Ruben & The Jets, a glossy
photo of Frank (both from the back cover), and a jar of hair pomade. They also came with
the Old Masters vinyl version. Official Ryko statement:
"New master. New timing sheet. Restored artwork. This is the 1984 remix." [full statement]
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).
As the CD remix is so different from the original vinyl, several
bootleggers have made CDs from old LPs. They all sound as can be expected. Some have
"bonus tracks". One issue from Cheekbone
Crush Records came with a thick booklet, containing among other things an article
about all the differences between the vinyl and the (official) CD - Way Beyond Just Drums & Bass.
- Did the original CD reproduce all the artwork from the original vinyl?
- Zappa Records cassette details?
- Any 8-track details?
- Any details about the Russian CD?
- Is the '95 disc identical to the original disc? (likely, but we need
Jörg Zeyer, Chris Ullsperger, Robert Garvey, DG Porter, the Bob Stone,
the Cal Schenkel (promo material), Cheekbone Crush Records, Victor Dubiler,
Gonšalo, David Goodwin, Harry de Swart, Miguel Amorim