What to Get: Probably the 1996 CD, unfortunately, which has more material (as bonus tracks).
Summary: First planned in 1977, but not released until 1996. Some material on Läther overlaps with albums like Zappa in New York, Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt or Orchestral Favorites, which sort of came out "instead" of Läther, but other material is unique, and some of the overlapping versions are slightly different. The 2012 CD loses the bonus tracks and has markedly different artwork and packaging, but is otherwise identical.
ESSENTIAL FOR COMPLETISTS: YES
1996 CD Tracklisting
1) Honey, Don't You Want A Man Like Me? (4:57)
1) Filthy Habits (7:12)
Relation to ZAPPA IN NEW YORK, STUDIO TAN, SLEEP DIRT, ORCHESTRAL FAVORITES
UP & PLAY YER GUITAR,
|The different versions
of "Titties & Beer" in
Most of the tracks on Läther also appear, in some form, on Zappa in New York, Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt or Orchestral Favorites. If you want the full (and I mean full) details, you can read this Läther walkthrough by Zoot. If you don't want ANY details, let's say there are differences, which will be outlined below.
Seven songs on Läther appear exactly as they do on the UNCENSORED VINYL version of Zappa in New York:
- "Titties & Beer"
- "I Promise Not to Come in Your Mouth" (called "Läther" on Läther)
- "Punky's Whips"
- "The Illinois Enema Bandit" (called "The Legend of the Illinois Enema Bandit" on Läther)
- "The Black Page #1"
- "Big Leg Emma"
- "The Purple Lagoon/Approximate"
Only one New York track is exclusive to Läther:
- "Honey, Don't You Want a Man Like Me?": alternate version
The CD version of Zappa in New York is completely re-assembled and remixed, and bears no relation to Läther and the vinyl version of Zappa in New York other than the fact that it contains completely different mixes of some of the same performances.
From Román García Albertos:
I have heard the three supposedly different versions of "Honey, Don't You Want a Man Like Me?" (those of the Zappa in New York LP, Zappa in New York CD and Läther), and I can't find any difference between the LP and CD versions, only that stereo is reversed (well, maybe I got some connections wrong in my turntable) and that in the intro four measures are edited out from the CD version (and because of that the vibes entry is so abrupt when Zappa begins to sing). The curious thing is the Läther version. There are parts pretty much faster, but there are other parts that I think they are exactly the same as the Zappa in New York version, so it seems to be a mix of two versions. Just after "the band was tight" (that fast part is full of vibes!) I think it edits to the Zappa in New York version, and after "they discussed the weather" it returns to the other version. Then, after "hockey in the winter," the screams of Bozzio and the others are the same as Zappa in New York, and with "he was duly impressed" it returns to the previous version. Then after "But it made him angry!", once again the Bozzio and O'Hearn screams are taken from the Zappa in New York version and it goes with that version until "in a petulant frenzy!", when it switches to the fast version again until the end. So:
"Honey, Don't You Want A Man Like Me?" from Läther I think it goes like this:
Four Studio Tan tracks appear on the Läther album. The differences between the versions are as follows:
Five Sleep Dirt tracks appear on the Läther album. The differences between the versions are as follows:
The Läther "bonus" version of Re-Gyptian Strut does, in fact, match the remixed version on Sleep Dirt: barring a slight level difference, they are digitally identical, and will cancel out if null-summed in an audio editor. Curiously, however, the Sleep Dirt version of the remix staples on Chester's drum fill. Consequently, only Läther gives you the Chad Wackerman drum intro that belongs with this mix of the track.
Three Orchestral Favorites tracks - "Naval Aviation in Art", "Pedro's Dowry" and "Duke of Prunes" - are also on the Läther album ("Duke of Prunes" as "Duke of Orchestral Prunes"). The only difference between the Orchestral Favorites and Läther versions is a stereo image reversal, so that the right channel on Orchestral Favorites is the left channel on Läther, and vice versa. On Läther, "Naval Aviation in Art" is written with a question mark - "Naval Aviation in Art?".
A little bit of the "Ship Ahoy" solo (from Shut Up & Play Yer Guitar Some More) appears on Läther, as part of the track "Duck Duck Goose". Also, a few of the little snippets that link the tracks together appear on both albums.
The songs "Tryin' to Grow a Chin" and "Broken Hearts Are for Assholes" appear on both Läther and Sheik Yerbouti, but in both cases Läther has a different recording, not the same track at all. However, a few of the little snippets that link the tracks together (according to Dave Lane, the official Zappa term is "grouts") appear on both albums.
Both albums contains a song called "A Little Green Rosetta", but this is nothing at all like what's on Act III of Joe's Garage.
The only song that appears both on Läther and on Tinsel-Town Rebellion is "For the Young Sophisticate", and they are two different recordings.
... to be released on Mercury Records #SRZ-4-1500. I recently found four complete sets of vinyl test pressings for the original Mercury release with production notes from Mercury Records included. No artwork. They are in the original Phonogram/Mercury envelopes. For your information, a test pressing is just what it says. It was for Zappa and execs to listen to and decide all was well to proceed with production.
One guy thinks the test pressing and/or radio broadcast tape is the way to go:
Man, I cannot listen to the Ryko CD up against my FM mix ... no comparison ... Ya gotta realize I had listened to the'77 FM mix almost 20 years before Ryko released the CD ... I'm guessing I got the test pressing at a record show here in Atlanta in 1984 ... no later than that ... but the CD mix just sounds dull up against what I have ... "Let Me Take You to the Beach" has the synths way out front on the test pressing ... much sharper ... Man ... "Re-Gyptian Strut" on the 9/19/77 FM just blows the CD and test pressing away ... Jimmy Youman's (hey, he's from Atlanta) bass sounds so much more up front ...
Dave-o Thomas "fairly exhasperates":
Oh, for cryin' out loud! how long are you vinyl purists gonna beat this dead puppy?! Frank takes an LP, plays it through the cartridge of a radio station in Atlanta, which goes through some board designed to play Uriah Heep records, then through a couple miles of wire, into a processor/limiter designed to make the best of a limited-range radio signal, then goes into the limited-range radio signal transmitter, then into the air, where you pick it up on whatever you were listening to in 1977, then you make some molecules wiggle onto an oxidized tape that already has some sort of soup of oxidized wiggles on it ... and you claim what you have on tape has enough signal superiority to beat what Ryko put onto 3 CDs two years ago?!?
I know, maybe you need some of them green markers to use on the edge of your CD ...
Between 1977 and 1996, the legendary Läther album existed, but was not available, which gave rise to a small plethora of bootleg releases, which you can read all about here, in the Return of the Son of the alt.fan.frank-zappa Bootleg FAQ.
From István Fekete:
The cover is all white with the Läther thought bubble in front and on the disks. There's a single-card insert with Zappa's face, blowing smoke - blown up from the photo on page 11 of the booklet in the commercial release. The music is the same, but some track titles were written differently than on the general release. These are [advance variants first, general variants in brackets]:
- Regyptian Strut [Re-Gyptian]
- The Legend of the Illinois Enema Bandit [The Legend Of The Illinois Enema Bandit]
- Revised Music For Guitar and Low Budget Orchestra [Revised Music For Guitar & Low Budget Orchestra]
- Flambay [Flambé]
- Duke of Orchestral Prunes [Duke Of Orchestral Prunes]
- Titties & Beer [Titties 'n Beer]
- Regyptian Strut ('93 remix) [Regyptian Strut (1993)]
- Läther Goods [Leather Goods]
- Revenge of the Knick Knack People [Revenge Of The Knick Knack People]
Also, on the advance CD, "Big Leg Emma" and "Duke of Orchestral Prunes" are marked with an asterisk (*) for being published by Frank Zappa Music, while on the commercial release, only "Duke Of Orchestral Prunes" is. The standard warning, "The green CD jewel box is a registered trademark of Rykodisc" is there on both, but the advance CD came in a clear case! So did the commercial release, actually, but it had at least green trays.
Whereas in Europe and America, Läther was only released on CD, it was released in Japan on both CD and vinyl. One infamous Japanese advertiser called the vinyl box "the complete Läther sessions", thereby starting the rumour that it had some extra material on it which was not on the CD. This is not true, however. From Gondaira Takeo:
There is NOT any new/other source. The differences are the liner notes. 2 Japanese add the liner notes & remove FZ pictures (without "NIXON poster" shot). The cutting level is low.
Side 1: Regyptian Strut - For the Young Sophisticate
Side 2: Tryin' to Grow a Chin - The Legend of the Illinois Enema Bandit
Side 3: Lemme Take You to the Beach - RDNZL
Side 4: Honey, Don't You Want a Man Like Me? - Punky's Whips
Side 5: Flambé - The Purple Lagoon
Side 6: Pedro's Dowry - Duke of Orchestral Prunes
Side 7: Filthy Habits - The Ocean Is the Ultimate Solution
Side 8: The Adventures of Greggery Peccary
Side 9: Regyptian Strut (1993) - Time Is Money
From Mikael Agardsson:
The Japanese issue also includes printed lyrics (in English) to all songs (which the CD version hasn't). The audio quality is very good, quite on par with the CD. The high end is somewhat sharper and the bass is deeper and more detailed on the vinyl.
Sourced from the 1996 digital master without bonus tracks. Threeheadedmonkey writes:
I got my copy of the new (European) Läther today. I can confirm it's a digipak, and it doesn't have any bonus tracks on it (ends with Greggery Peccary). I like the new cover, but unfortunately the packaging itself isn't too great. The discs are not easy to remove from their sleeves at all and the cardboard feels flimsy. I'd have preferred a jewel case to be honest (to go with the other reissues).
JWB puzzles over the three-disc presentation:
Sides 1-4 of Lather totals 79 minutes, Sides 5-8 totals 78 minutes. Fits snugly on two discs. It's unfortunate they felt the need to spread it across three discs and in crappy digipack packaging. I can also do without the "hosed-down" picture of Frank with white goo dripping off his beard.
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