Have I Offended Someone?
If you wonder if-and-if-so-how the versions on the Have I Offended Someone? compilation differ from the original album versions, Patrick Neve has given me permission to use some findings he has compiled - an alt.fan.frank-zappa thread edited into a bogus conversation. If you have anything substantial to add, mail me and I'll edit it in. (In the following, Mike Keneally is the legendary vocalist, keyboard player and stunt guitarist from the legendary 1988 tour, and a solo artist and composer in his own legendary right, and Spencer Chrislu is Zappa's legendary sound man who worked at the UMRK up to late 1998.)
PATRICK NEVE: It sounds to me like the back-up vocals were brought way forward, especially the baritone ("get a good job" makes my windows rattle). There's a floor tom that would destroy my woofers if I didn't pull the bass back. No need for bass boost on this cut. The hi-hat is also brought forward so you can hear every rattle.
MIKE KENEALLY: I can hear Adrian's guitar! Never noticed the "P.U." background vocals accompanying the "Vaseline" line. Sounds like a Wackerman drum overdub (Ed: Is this the case? I don't think this track is overdubbed). Sounds a million times better than the Sheik Yerbouti domestic CD - wish Frank had had time to remix the whole thing.
SPENCER CHRISLU: This was interesting in the fact that, quite honestly, I had never heard many of these songs before. Frank often let me just experiment away on this stuff. Then, after a few hours of mixing, he would pop into the control room and tweeze the mix to his liking. On "Bobby Brown", I knew it was one of his biggest sellers, and I wanted to squeeze out every last bit of detail so that even the hard-core fan might hear something new. Love that floor tom. Let me say here also, how wonderfully recorded most of these tracks were. I believe it is Kerry McNabb who deserves a lot of credit for getting great sounds on tape.
BOSSK (R): It's a beautiful mix, but the original will always be the original - the first Zappa song I ever heard, the one I've danced to (yes), the one I've sung along with, the one I've fallen in love to, the one I've heard on the radio - in fact, the one they kept playing on the radio the night Zappa had died; the one I've cried myself to sleep to. The one that goes "WAAH" like no other! What would he have said in 1979 if he had known that this song would be bringing tears to someone's eyes 20 years later?
PATRICK NEVE: Shortened from the original 05:11. Second verse has backups replacing main vocal, I think. Guitar brought forward in places. I'm not intimately familiar enough with the Zoot Allures version of this song to pick out all the differences. It sounds better to me, though.
MIKE KENEALLY: Definitely a Wackerman drum overdub - I like how it turns the beat around after "comb your hair again". Lots of new little guitar and keyboard and vocal bits previously unheard. Doesn't have the lurching-in-the-mix-riding-the-fader guitar approach that Frank took to his production in the mid-70's. "Stroke it" is a new find. Wackermania on the fade. Sounds a billion times better than the Zoot Allures CD - wish Frank had had time to remix the whole thing.
CALVIN (not Schenkel): What is the deal with "Disco Boy" that it is so slow? Are the pitches lower, too? Man, that one is tough to listen to for me, though I REALLY like the remixes on basically every other song, especially "Bobby Brown".
PATRICK NEVE: After A/B'ing the two, I don't detect any pitch or speed variations. It's always been kind of a slow one to me. The main differences I hear are:
RICHMILNIX: Somewhere, about an hour ago, I read that someone was wondering why "Disco Boy" was significantly shorter. I just thought I'd point out that about 30 seconds of "Doody, you never go doody", from around 02:30 to 03:00, were mercifully excised. Also, the "Here Comes the Sun"  outro stands out a bit less and fades 30 seconds quicker (appropriate since the song's no longer an album closer).
SPENCER CHRISLU: The "Never go doody" bits were edited out by Frank. Frank also insisted that the "Stroke it" line be pushed.
PATRICK NEVE: Original was 04:07. This starts off with a bad edit. The You Are What You Is version was segued, and this sounds like it was taken from those reels. Perhaps there was no source tape. In any event, it's an abrupt start. Overall low end is enhanced, but mainly from being slowed down. Last note fades to a long reverb ("scales all over their bodeee-ee-e").
MIKE KENEALLY: I like the drumless intro. Wackerman strikes again. God, this mix is SO much clearer than the original - I'd love to hear the outro to "Doreen" with this perspective and see if I can actually tell what's happening in the guitar solo. Sounds a trillion times better than the domestic You Are What You Is CD - wish Frank had had time to remix the whole thing. Still, is the pun which is the basis of this song offensive enough for this collection? Who's going to get offended - real goblins? Also I still can't understand what the vocalists are saying in the "Doreen" takeoff outro during "My [something] is burning with love and it wants you tonight" ... must be a phallic reference but I can't fill in the blank.
SPENCER CHRISLU: All of this stuff was done in spurts and stops. When this project started, it started as a proposal for Disney (believe it or not), then mutated into proposed animated project with Klasky/Csupo (neither of which ever got off the ground). You have to remember that we never worked on one thing in any sort of a linear fashion. This song especially, was supposed to be a nice sort of a break from Civilization Phaze III and other Synclavier stuff we were doing. It was pretty simple to mix until the end. I couldn't believe how many background vocal tracks were stacked on the tape.
PATRICK NEVE: Original was 03:32. This doesn't sound too different to me. Reverb is more present and is smoother, more life-like. (Lexicon?) Sounds more life-like than the Them Or Us mix, which sounds a bit flat by comparison. Mid-range boost? More stereo separation?
MIKE KENEALLY: Clearly a remix - I think some folks were questioning whether this song had been touched. More effects used - you can definitely hear the delay on the "honk honk" during the chori. Johnny "Guitar" Watson's git-tar is more prominent in spots, especially the outro - don't believe I ever heard those licks before. I like the last note!
SPENCER CHRISLU: Another fun one. Frank claimed that all the Johnny "Guitar" Watson vocals and ad-libs were done in one take.
PATRICK NEVE: Same version as Thing-Fish, as far as I can tell.
MIKE KENEALLY: Jeez, I have to A/B this with the Thing-Fish version. Hold on ... Actually I A/B/C/D'd it, with the 1986 Ryko, the 1990 UK Zappa Records digital remix, and the 1995 Ryko. The '90 and the '95 are the version with the Johnny "Guitar" Watson vocal overlay. This appears to be the same mix as the '86 Ryko, but clearly re-EQ'd, and mastered about 173 times hotter, which inspires much closer inspection of the backing vocals. I've never enjoyed this song nearly so much as I do on Have I Offended Someone?, and considering that the currently available mix of this song on Thing-Fish is a completely different experience due to the Johnny "Guitar" Watson narration, Ryko could be making more noise about the fact that this original mix is once again available. Also, I cracked open my 1995 Ryko Thing-Fish for the first time just now, and the second disc was loose .
SPENCER CHRISLU: I believe Frank took this directly from the Thing-Fish digital master and then did the new EQ and mastering in the Sonic Solutions.
TAL: Another remix (note drum at 00:07, vocals more to the front, EQ shifting throughout the track).
PATRICK NEVE: Same version as on Man from Utopia, as far as I can tell. This segues nicely into "Titties & Beer", a much more successful segue than on Man from Utopia.
MIKE KENEALLY: I haven't heard the remixed Man from Utopia CD all that much so it's still kind of a kick to hear this mix, with the extra verses and all. Still, I wish Frank had found some other use for the main guitar motif of this tune - it could've kicked serious ass as a "Mammy Anthem" type instrumental show-opener kind of thing.
SPENCER CHRISLU: This is the same remix from the Man from Utopia re-release.
PATRICK NEVE & BOSSK (R): Much shorter than the 07:36 on Zappa in New York. The Zappa/Devil dialogue is edited down - from the Devil's "most peple don't want to make a deal with me" it cuts to Zappa's "I'm only interested in two things, and that's titties & beer, you know what I mean?". The following doesn't appear at all:
The song also fades out.
MIKE KENEALLY: Referring back to the thread about Eddie's violin playing on this album; someone posited that they thought he was strumming its strings during the middle rap on this tune, but it sounds to me like the "mute" stop on a Hohner Clavinet (Kerry Minnear used to work this effect pretty hard in Gentle Giant). Not the most subtle of edits during the rap, is it? But hey, it took me twenty years to find the edit point in "Strawberry Fields" .
SPENCER CHRISLU: I still don't know why Frank didn't make a more suave edit on this one. But if you want the original edit, you can get it on Läther.
PATRICK NEVE: Rack toms brought out (as well as drum fills), Ike's backups brought up, certain keyboard punches brought out. Different parts of the song are emphasized differently. Bass slaps brought out. Basically dynamic sections of the music are emphasized by mixing them forward. Steve Vai guitar parts sound much better. Ike Willis sings last verse instead of Zappa. I greatly prefer this mix to the original, even if it's not my favorite song. This sounds like a highly active mix, with automated faders a-flying.
MIKE KENEALLY: The "Doont dah doodem doodem" intrusion from Thing-Fish in the intro is pretty damn funny. A lot less arid sounding than the original mix, but nothing especially revelatory here. Nice unfettered Thunesism after "Donovan fans". Interesting effect on Vai's Hendrix quotes but it also robs his guitar of its balls, and obliterates it entirely on the "Bold as Love" quote. Steve won't be thrilled. More previously unheard Thing-Fish vocalizing: fun. Total obliteration of Vai on the ascending line after "she can't take it no more": unfair. Kind of fun to hear the last line sort of die away there.
SPENCER CHRISLU: I've never heard the original. Frank made the call on the Vai guitar effect and using Ike on the last verses.
PATRICK NEVE: Nice! Anybody know when and where this is from? Interesting how crowd noise is mixed in throughout song, much unlike the Stage series mixes. In fact, it almost sounds like it's looped. This cut rocks. Helluva solo, but not the You Are What You Is solo (we still need that version).
MIKE KENEALLY: It's a tribute to how sparkling everything else on this album sounds that this one instantly registers as fairly murky. I was at the same '84 San Diego show which Biffy has been waxing rhapsodic over lately, and it was indeed a hell of a good time, and equally indeed it was more fun to witness that band live than it is to listen to on CD. Cool guitar solo, but I wish Frank had mixed himself a little hotter (not often a problem!) and provided a little Shut Up & Play Yer Guitar-type post-mortem in-the-studio effects magicness. I like the fact that this exists - it is, in fact, the only previously unreleased piece on the album, despite what the liner notes say about "Tinsel-Town Rebellion".
SPENCER CHRISLU: This one was included at my request. Originally, Frank had intended to use the album version, but during the mix of that one, I told him that I liked the '84 version from the Pier Shows (the DOES HUMOR BELONG IN MUSIC? video) better, especially the solo (Frank called it his "Bo Diddley solo"). We had been remixing all of the Pier shows for the video and I'm glad he used it, despite its inferior sound.
PATRICK NEVE: Same mix, but edited down from 04:24. Central Scrutinizer bit clipped from the end.
MIKE KENEALLY: Still sounds wonderful. Nice to have a Scrutinizer-less outro.
PATRICK NEVE: original version was 06:01. Extra 01:13. The extra lyrics are the following, starting right after the line "MMM ... sounds like y'might be chokin' on somethin'":
It then resumes with "Did you say you want some more? Well, here's some more ..."
MIKE KENEALLY: What a trip after all these years to hear a new mix of this performance. I'm getting off on this. Pardon me if I don't type for a while ... Duke!! Boy, that was fun. I like very much the fact that this exists. Tom Fowler = God.
SPENCER CHRISLU: We mixed this one as an experiment early on in my career here at UMRK. It just sat on the shelf for years until Frank decided to put it on this disc. You should hear it in it's 6-channel surround incarnation (maybe a special DVD release someday).
PATRICK NEVE: Oh Jeezus, don't tantalize us like that unless you're serious! We've already hashed out the sociological ramifications of The Yellow Shark available to the public in ADAT form, with 6 of the channels representing the 6-way mix, and then the other two being the finished stereo master. Whaddya think of them apples? (And, how many of the albums are mixed for 6 channels, anyways?)
SPENCER CHRISLU: There are no complete albums done in 6-channel. Only selected songs and tidbits.
PATRICK NEVE: Similar to the Does Humor Belong in Music? version. Same kind of crowd noise mixed in as in "Dumb All Over". Anybody know the date or places of this? "Oh no, it's the 80's again!" sounds like a slightly previous performance to the Does Humor Belong in Music? version (assuming it's from a single performance, which it's likely not to be), due to the fewer "liberties" taken with the arrangement.
MIKE KENEALLY: This is unquestionably the same version which appears on the DOES HUMOR BELONG IN MUSIC? video; it's kind of a drag that the liner notes trumpet it as previously unreleased. (Which is as good a time as any to mention what a drag it is that Ryko and the Zappa Family Trust couldn't get it together to provide more detailed liner notes on this release. It is evident that things are not well between them - the fact that Ryko actually reveals that "no source notes or background information" was delivered with the master demonstrates that the alliance between the two entities is tenuous at best.)
OLAF ENGEL: "Tinsel-Town Rebellion" on Have I Offended Someone was performed on August 26 1984, at the Pier, New York. It was formerly released on the video DOES HUMOR BELONG IN MUSIC?. The 60-minute video is all from that show.
IKE WILLIS (not the Ike Willis): I hear a very offensive glitch at 00:55 seconds. It sounds like a skip but the time doesn't jump. I've tried the disc in a few other players and the glitch is still there. I'm hoping that it's a defective disc and not a glitch on the master.
JON NAURIN: It's on my disc too, and there's some little weird click at 04:04 too.
PATRICK NEVE: Yup, both of these glitches are on my disc as well.
SPENCER CHRISLU: Mike Keneally got it right. This is from those same remixes of DOES HUMOR BELONG IN MUSIC? that were intended for the video. The glitch is definitely there.
PATRICK NEVE: Same version as on Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch.
MIKE KENEALLY: Wouldn't have minded a guitar-enhancing remix on this one. I'm being really picky because it's fun to be.
SPENCER CHRISLU: I was waiting for Frank to dig into this one, but he never wanted to. I'm always disappointed at how compressed this one sounds.
PATRICK NEVE: Same version as on Sheik Yerbouti. Apparently four seconds shorter.
MIKE KENEALLY: Maybe this wasn't remixed, but this is listenable, which the disastrous domestic Sheik Yerbouti CD isn't. Thank God, again, for the EMI import version.
SPENCER CHRISLU: A Frank Zappa remastering from the original mix.
DAVID G: Not to rain on the parade, but this comes from the same digital transfer that produced the "bad" versions of Sheik Yerbouti. The track syncs up perfectly until the outro, when some sort of edit throws the two versions out of sync. That said, they're not digitally identical. I don't know offhand of any egregious faults on the standard CD version of this track, however, so I haven't been able to pinpoint where they might diverge. Anybody?
PATRICK NEVE: I'll say! NICE vibes at the beginning give it a real lounge atmostphere. Ike's voice has a ping-pong delay on it, possibly with a detune. It's kind of a mutant reverb. It's removed when "music has died". Synclavier sounds come forward that were inaudible before, such as a horn sound that doubles the melody in the mid-part. Strings are mixed down.
MIKE KENEALLY: Entirely new Synclavier orchestration, fun to hear. Drum part sounds new too, y'think? Odd choice for last tune on the album. There was time to follow it up with something REALLY offensive - a disco remix of "Stick It Out" would've made a nice 10-minute closer.
SPENCER CHRISLU: Remixed at the last minute when some other tune (can't remember which one) got the ax. This one was a lot of fun for me especially in light of the fact that I was still doing Hollywood sessions and working for Frank at the same time. I had more than my share of "Yo Cats".
 "Here Comes the Sun" is a Beatles song.
 "The second disc was loose" is an in-joke from the time when the Läther CD came out, and the second discs were loose.
 "Strawberry Fields" is a Beatles song.
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