The original vinyl is generally considered to be superior to
the Old Masters LP (which utilized a partially reverb-soaked digital master, one
which also trimmed the intro to "Disco Boy") and all CDs (which are made from a
potentially be-futzed-with version of the Old Masters transfer).
We Need: Confirmation that all CD versions are digitally
identical (and equally bad).
ESSENTIAL VERSIONS FOR COMPLETISTS: See above, and decide for yourselves. [completist's guide]
- [Test pressing of the originally planned double vinyl, which was never
released - see the Weirdo Discography for details]
- Original vinyl (Warner Brothers BS 2970 in the US and Canada,
October 20 1976; K 56298 in the UK, December 1976)
- RCA Record Club vinyl
- French & German vinyl (Warner Brothers 56298)
- Greek vinyl
- Japanese vinyl (Warner Brothers P-10266W, white-label promo also reported)
- Argentine vinyl (MusicHall 14.297 - Warner Brothers WB 14297 white-label promos
- Israeli vinyl (Warner Brothers K 56298, 1976, some Hebrew print on label
and back cover)
- Yugoslavian vinyl (Warner Brothers K 56298, 1976, pressed by YUGOTON,
"SUZY RECORDS PRODUCTION" on label - legit?)
- Turkish vinyl (Warner Brothers BS 2970)
- Brazilian vinyl (WEA Discos Ltda, 1977, with special
"DISCO DO MĘS STATUS" version)
- The Old Masters vinyl (Barking Pumpkin BPR
- Saudi-Arabian cassette (IMD-6550 - may be counterfeit)
- Original CD (Ryko RCD 10160 in the US, Zappa Records CDZAP22
in the UK, May 1990; VACK 5037 in Japan; Ryko D30373 in Australia, 1990)
- 1995 CD (Ryko RCD 10523, May 2 1995; VACK 5126 in Japan,
renumbered 5261 in 1998)
- Japanese paper-sleeve CD (Ryko/VACK 1222,
October 24 2001)
From Harry de Swart:
My Dutch copy of Zoot Allures I bought November 18 1976 which is 14
days earlier than the UK release.
From Mikael Agardsson:
Speaking of Zoot Allures, there's another misprint LP [the first
being the German - Ed]: it has two B-sides and
comes from the USA. I have it myself.
DAN WATKINS: I was checking out a web page full of Zappa interview clips and came
across one in which Frank mentions a censored Canadian pressing of Zoot Allures,
which censors out "Black Napkins" and "The Torture Never Stops" (the
latter being for the screams) by a sheet of paper that was actually placed over the vinyl.
Has anyone ever seen one of these?
RICK STILES: I have a vinyl copy of this, bought in Canada. It doesn't appear to be
censored as you describe. However, it was bought used ...
STAN: The Canadian release itself wasn't censored; the management of one radio
station put tape or something across the front of their copy to prevent "The
Torture Never Stops" from being played on the air. Frank did an interview at that
particular station and complained that the tape also blocked them from playing "Black
Napkins." (I have that interview on tape.)
JON NAURIN: A similar thing happened at a 1975 interview (KSAN 12/26, I think), where
Zappa claims that the station would never play "Dinah-Moe Humm" on the air. The
interviewer wants to prove him wrong, asks Zappa what album it's on, and then digs up Over-Nite Sensation from their archives. It turns out
that the vinyl is badly scratched, someone has crossed it over with a yellow crayon and
put a "contains dirty, dirty words" label on it. The interviewer sounds
noticably embarrased, and lets Zappa recite the whole song on the air. Frank seems amused
and keeps stopping to ask whether the interviewer had heard any "dirty, dirty
RCA Record Club Vinyl
From CSTMAS's ad on ebay,
This is a really hard to find variation on a great ZAPPA LP! This is the Zoot
Allures RCA Record Club Edition! These record club editions are fastly
becoming some of the greatest collectable LPs! I think this was the only Zappa
LP on the Warner Brothers Tree Label (this has "RCA MUSIC SERVICE EDITION"
above the title on the LP label and of course their added catalog number.
Originally, Zappa planned a different track order for Zoot Allures,
but changed his mind (well, orignally-originally he planned a double album,
but that's another story - see the Weirdo Discography
for details). This track order shows up on the cover (only) of some copies of the released
album, at least in Germany:
1. Black Napkins
2. The Torture Never Stops
3. Disco Boy
4. Filthy Habits
5. Wonderful Wino [Zappa/Simmons]
6. Zoot Allures
7. Find Her Finer
From Mikael Agardsson:
There's actually a German (WB 56298) MISPRINT issue, with ZZ
TOP on side A!
A Brazilian edition of this LP had a light-blue "DISCO DO MĘS STATUS"
logo stamped or printed in the lower-right corner of the front cover. Edumilk explains
Brazilian LP released in 1977 by WEA Discos Ltda. It has the label "DISCO
DO MĘS STATUS". Status was a Brazilian adult magazine like
Playboy. They used to endorse some records in the '70s and this one was
one of the best. Very rare.
Old Masters Vinyl
The Old Masters LP came out in late 1987, and featured a "digitally tweezed"
master: there's extra reverb (particularly noticeable on formerly
super-dry tracks like "Find Her Finer"), and the EQ is very different. The
drum-machine intro to "Disco Boy" is also missing. This version was later used
(perhaps unmodified) on the various CDs.
From Pat Buzby:
Zoot Allures is ... one case I know of where the CD is inferior to the LP. It's a
subjective difference, but I noticed a certain boxy quality to the CD sound that I never
noticed on the album. Also, the last scream on "Torture Never Stops"
is obnoxiously placed at the introduction to the next track.
From Michael Pierry:
The difference between the vinyl and the CD IS QUITE noticeable, and
the CD does sound murkier. Just take a listen to "Black Napkins" for example.
The guitar jumps out on the vinyl, but it doesn't on the CD. So you have to turn it WAY
UP to compensate until you can't tell the difference. Extremely annoying and
Let's just say the only reason I even like that album is because of the vinyl. Hearing
"Black Napkins" was an absolutely jaw-dropping experience. It lives in a much
larger, more alive space than the CD mix, which unfortunately is the same mix one
experiences on the Zoot Allures tracks on Frank
Zappa Plays the Music of Frank Zappa. Everytime I hear the CD I find myself checking
to see if there's cottonballs in my ears. I've said it before and I'll continue to say it
everytime this comes up: I barely even liked Zoot Allures until I found a
vinyl copy of it. The bottom line for me is that Zappa's guitar is much more present in
the LP mix. I think Keneally described the Ryko disc's sound as "wrapped in
gauze" or something like that.
From David G.:
Reverb galore. Things that stand out in the original are, by comparison,
buried here. I don't detect any of the right-channel problems that usually
plague the 1989/90-era titles, so this might be more or less a straight
transfer of the 1987 digital master (the other bad-batch titles all had
older digital masters, if any existed at all).
Like the original CD. Official Ryko statement: "New
master. New timing sheet." [full statement]
Mikael Agardsson has compared the WB 2970 vinyl and 1995 CD versions:
"Disco Boy" is slightly different. On the LP, there is about 3.5 seconds of
drum intro before the guitar riff, and the song is longer there too -
05:28, compared to 05:09 on the CD. The bass is not as palpable either on the CD.
Altogether, I think the vinyl version is better. There's a "Sparkie Parker"
singing backup vocals on "Disco Boy". On the CD, this person has suddenly been
renamed "Sharkie Barker".
The LP cover is not as dark as the CD cover, so the faces can be seen more clearly. The
picture is also sharper. The words "Zoot Allures" are printed in two colours:
red approaching purple and blue. The blue colour is a lot brighter on the LP. Clearly
noticable. Additonally, the following information is not on the CD:
Recorded at Record Plant. L.A.
Engineer: Michael Braunstein, Davey Moire.
Re-mix engineer: Frank Zappa.
JWB weighs in:
This one sounds like absolute garbage compared to the
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).
- Any details on cassette versions?
- Any details on 8-track versions?
- Any regional peculiarities?
- Is the Greek vinyl legit?
- Are all CDs the same? Comparisons between '95 CD tracks and tracks on
promos seem to suggest this.
- Biffy the Elephant Shrew
- Andrew Harper
- Tony Burke
- Steve Jones
- Otmar Haβlinger
- The guy who uploaded the Old Masters rip of "ZA" onto at least one
tracker, thus allowing it to spread.