Joe's Garage

What to Get: The 2012 CD, but if you find a used copy of an earlier version for cheap, it's not terrible. Beware of the European 2012 disc; it's been reported to have a big, nasty glitch on "Watermelon" (the U.S. version is fine).

Summary: With one exception observed thus far, all iterations of Joe's Garage use the exact same mix. The 2012 CD is reported to sound a bit better than older CDs, and it lengthens the silent gaps between sides.

ESSENTIAL VERSIONS FOR COMPLETISTS: The LPs and the new 2012 CD have a slightly different version of "Joe's Garage" when compared with all other CD versions. SLIGHTLY. Insane completists will also note that the pre-2012 CDs had different between-side editing. [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 1979)
  • Canadian vinyl (Polygram MIP19263, gatefold sleeve; some, however, utilized the standard Zappa Records number, SRZ-1-1603)
  • 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)
  • 2012 UMe CD (Zappa Records ZR 3861 September 25, 2012)

Joes Garage Acts II & III

  • Vinyl (Zappa Records SRZ-2-1502 in the US, November 19 1979; CBS 88475 in the UK, December 1979)
  • 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 picture discs)
  • Czech CD (Globus, 1993/1994 (?) - exact configuration?)
  • Czech picture CD (Globus 210076-8-2313, 1993/1994 (?) - exact configuration?)
  • 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)
  • 2012 UMe CD (Zappa Records ZR3861 September 25, 2012)

Acts Unknown

  • 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)

 CD 1:

  1. The Central Scrutinizer 3:28
  2. Joe's Garage 6:10
  3. Catholic Girls 4:19
  4. Crew Slut 6:38
  5. Fembot In A Wet T-Shirt 4:44
  6. On The Bus 4:31
  7. Why Does It Hurt When I Pee? 2:23
  8. Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up 5:42
  9. Scrutinizer Postlude 1:34
  10. A Token Of My Extreme 5:29
  11. Stick It Out 4:34
  12. Sy Borg 8:55

 CD 2:

  1. Dong Work For Yuda (FZ/Smothers) 5:03
  2. Keep It Greasey 8:21
  3. Outside Now 5:49
  4. He Used To Cut The Grass 8:35
  5. Packard Goose 11:31
  6. Watermelon In Easter Hay 9:05
  7. A Little Green Rosetta 8:14

Track Titles

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 "Sy Borg".

Also, the EMI CD has three incorrect titles: "Doing Work For Yuda," "A Token Of His Extreme", and "Keep It Greasy."

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 Garage. [full Läther walkthrough by Zoot]

Columbia House Record Club Acts 2 & 3 LP

From "dirt" on

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.

Joe's Garage - The Title Track

The title track, "Joe's Garage," is a bit different between the LP/2012 CD and the EMI through 1995 CDs:

a) The segue between the two tracks ("The Central Scrutinizer" and "Joe's Garage") is different.
b) The Scrutinizer is ever so slightly out of sync on the LP/2012 version.
c) The cough and "sauce" line are imaged differently.



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 mistaken.


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 vinyl?"

"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 does).

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 Stone.

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 mastering?

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 results.

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, 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 versions-vs-versions field.

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 release.

Czechoslovakian Vinyls
Czech CDs

  • MADE IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA WHERE THEY LOVE HIM LIKE A GOD!!! FRANK RULES!!! ASK VACLAV!!!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. [They 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.

2012 UMe CD

Mastered from the original analog master by Doug Sax. Some  reviews! Bill C:

Two thirds through the first CD of Joe's Garage. This title has always sounded good, but this one really has some snap to it. Sweet. More to come.

Zombie'sProg gives an artwork/catalog lowdown:

Just received Joe's Garage in the mail. It counts as releases 28 and 29 and contains two booklets. Rather interesting. All of the original artwork is included and complete lyrics.

Mike Espinoza:

Joe's Garage is very interesting. It certainly sounds very full and clear. It has a better low end than previous CDs. The drum sound is amazing while the Ryko CD sounds a bit boxy. On the other hand, the Ryko CD sounds airier. One thing that I got used to on the Ryko CD (and the Barking Pumpkin cassette) was the edit that Frank made between sides one and two. It sounds like The Central Scrutinizer is reacting to Mary's "with leather?" comment. On the new CD, there is a few seconds of silence, ruining the effect.

Another Mike, Mike B, raves:

I never cared for the CD versions at all; the deep, rich ‘Philly Soul’ mix that I loved on my vinyl copy was obliterated on the CD. Yes, it was brighter and crisper, but it left me cold and underwhelmed and continued to enjoy my vinyl JG. In my opinion, the 2012 master restores the sound quality to the original release. Vinnie’s drums now sound the way I remember, and the cymbals and other high end information are placed in proper perspective. Comparing the new release to my vinyl and a 24/96 vinyl rip, it sounds to me like they really captured the sound of the original.
This is an essential upgrade for me, right up there with the new ZA.

JWB insists:

The remaster is just as essential and improved as any of the other titles. I believe I’ve had this conversation with you before. Where are you getting your info about this?

The 2012 CD also uses the version of "Joe's Garage" with the "out of sync" Scrutinizer introduction--and perhaps other variations, to boot. Let us know what you find!

But beware the glitch! Thinman writes:

I'm pretty sure there is a nasty edit/glitch on the new version of Joe's Garage during Watermelon In Easter Hay at the point where the solo ends and the clean guitar comes back in (5:53?). On the older Ryko version and the Frank Zappa Plays The Music Of Frank Zappa CD this edit is absolutely smooth. I can't check the vinyl at the moment. Does anybody else notice the problem?

Mike E responds:

I've got the US pressing. It's not there.

Thinman sighs:

The problem in Watermelon is very obvious and is really a problem which disturbs the listening. Usually I fall asleep during Act 3 of JG and this bad edit (yes, it sounds more like a bad edit than a glitch to me) wakes me up suddenly and very unpleasently ;-).

Pee Problems

The indexing of "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?" has vexed some listeners since 1995.

Mike Espinoza wrote, with regard to the 2012 reissue:

They indexed the new CD so that "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee" starts at the vocals. That's not where the song begins!

But another observer notes:

In fairness, I think my '95 Ryko does that too.

Black Elk puts it all together:

Old Ryko (RCD 10060/61) - starts at the end of the On The Bus guitar solo, i.e., with brief musical passage before lyrics

Globus International Czech Picture CD (210076-8-2313) - as above

New Ryko (RCD 10530/31) - starts at the lyric "Why does it hurt...?"

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?

Additional Informants

  • Patrick David Neve
  • Mikael Agardsson
  • Sulton
  • Erik Steaggles (EMI FZAP 1)
  • Daniel Avey
  • Adam Biser
  • Marrot Thomas
  • James Croston

home - vinyl vs CDs - weirdo discography - bootlegs - misc - hot lynx - e-mail us at zappa dot patio at gmail dot com 2006-04-22 20:02

Search WWW Search all of

DISCLAIMER: people quoted may not share webmaster's opinions (on James Brown); information culled from many sources with no guarantees; site may look bad in other than latest Internet Explorer for Windows (I wish I were skilled enough to change this last one).