The London Symphony Orchestra
The 1995 CD has a completely new mix (where previously inaudible parts can be heard for
the first time), and contains both Volume 1 and Volume 2. The old mix of
Volume 1 has been
available on CD; the old mix of Volume 2 has been available on vinyl only.
ESSENTIAL VERSIONS FOR COMPLETISTS: 1995 LSO I & II CD, 1986 LSO CD and LSO II vinyl (two different mixes,
one of which is spread out over two releases). [completist's guide]
This is a jungular case, and I'm not at all sure about how this was issued before 1995.
If you are, please step forward. I have
gleaned the below from sources in contradiction.
- The London Symphony Orchestra Volume I (blue/purple
Barking Pumpkin FW 38820,
June 9 1983, US only)
- The London Symphony Orchestra (Ryko RCD10022, US only, September
1986 (imported into Australia by Festival Records and re-stickered Ryko D40703) -
never issued on Zappa Records, although it was planned and listed in catalogues ...
lookingly re-issued on Ryko)
- The London Symphony Orchestra Volume II vinyl (Barking Pumpkin SJ-74-207 in the US, Zappa Records ZAPPA 5 in the UK, September 17 1987)
- The London Symphony Orchestra Volume II cassette (Zappa Records TZAPPA 5)
- Original Japanese CD (VACK 5045 - believed to be identical to The
London Symphony Orchestra (Ryko RCD10022))
- The London Symphony Orchestra Volumes I & II (Ryko RCD
10540/41, April 18 1995; VACK 5115/6 in Japan,
renumbered 5250/1 in 1998)
- Japanese paper-sleeve CD (Ryko/VACK 1252-1/2,
October 23 2002 - discs in separate sleeves)
The London Symphony Orchestra Volume I
The original vinyl release of Volume I had the following tracks:
1. Sad Jane (09:55)
2. Pedro's Dowry (large orchestra version) (10:26)
3. Envelopes (04:11)
4. Mo & Herb's Vacation: First Movement (04:50)
5. Mo & Herb's Vacation: Second Movement (10:05)
6. Mo & Herb's Vacation: Third Movement (12:56)
Digitally Remastered Version
From Román García Albertos
My vinyl has a sticker on the cover which says "DIGITALLY REMASTERED". I
don't know what this means. I bought the album sealed at low price in 1993, so I don't
know if this is the original version or a remasterd one from ... when? The only date
I find in the cover or in the label says (P) (C) 1983.
The London Symphony Orchestra
Before Volume II was ever issued on vinyl, there appeared a CD
called The London Symphony Orchestra, which had some of the Volume I tracks plus "Bogus Pomp", which would later appear on
the Volume II vinyl.
1. Sad Jane (09:55)
2. Mo & Herb's Vacation: First Movement (04:50)
3. Mo & Herb's Vacation: Second Movement (10:05)
4. Mo & Herb's Vacation: Third Movement (12:56)
5. Bogus Pomp (24:32)
The London Symphony Orchestra Volume II
Volume II was released, on vinyl only, as late as in 1987. Not until then had Zappa
managed to hide all the out-of-tune and wrong notes in the (somewhat odd) mix. It
contained these tracks:
1. Bogus Pomp (24:32)
2. Bob in Dacron (12:12)
3. Strictly Genteel (06:53)
From Gilbert Hétu:
The "inner groove" of my orignal US copy of FZ's LSO Vol. II
(bought new but only in 1991) sho' contains a lot of hand-engraved squiggles
and scratched-out gibberish, incl. mysterious, "cabalistic" looking
triangles. The most intriguing of that for me is a hand written "FZ
Hotline 818-Pumpkin" that looks to me like Zappa's own hand writing, from
what I have seen of it. Is that at all possible, since I read somewhere on
your pages that FZ used to overlook some of the cutting process himself?
(My own LP has: 1-1, [triangle]15016, [upside-down raindrop] B-26097-Z1,
BPR-LSO2-A Z1 (where everything before Z1 has been stricken out), SJ-7420Z and FZ Hotline 818-PUMPKIN on side A, and 1-1, [triangle]15016-X,
[upside-down raindrop] B-26098-Z1, SJ-2-7420Z, BPR-LSO2-B Z1 (everything before
Z1 stricken out), and FZ HOTLINE 818-PUMPKIN on side B. It's all done by at
least two different hands - Ed.)
1995 Double CD
The 1995 CD is radically different from the previous LSO releases. First of all, it's a
double CD with ALL the LSO recordings, unlike the weird 1986
CD which had only some, but it's also a whole new mix. Zappa had originally mixed the
music, especially on Volume II (which wasn't ready for release until
1987) so as to hide the many wrong and out-of-tune notes. Someone commented that in the
new mix, you can hear them all, but it's worth it.
Official Ryko statement:
Completely remixed and remastered. The complete LSO sessions, including all pieces
found on the original vinyl master, with four never before available on CD. Restored
artwork, all original liner notes. [full statement]
From John Henley, Austin, Texas:
It's no exaggeration at all to say the new London Symphony Orchestra
discs have been "completely remixed and remastered." The LSO sessions were done
when digital was still pretty new. Frank took full advantage of what digital
"tweaking" was available at the time, to completely reshape the basic sound. A
digital "atmosphere", or "sheen", was applied to the tapes, and also a
pretty heavy reverb. The results were twofold: the orchestra was given an incredibly lush,
"romantic" sound, giving FZ's compositions a professional polish they'd never
had before; and, all the mistakes were covered up in the general mix. LSO
Volume II had the more mistake-riddled takes on it, and they tended to be just a
tad more ragged-sounding than Volume I - but still pretty slick.
For the re-mix, the digital sheen has been eliminated, and the reverb cut way
back. Again, the results are two-fold: now, the raggedness of the LSO's performance can be
heard in all its glory. Mistakes in "Sad Jane" that just weren't audible before
are right out front, now. This is very likely the sloppiest performance ever issued under
the name of the London Symphony Orchestra. And oddly, this phenomenon doesn't hurt the
music - it helps. Melodies which were very hard to pick out of the digital sheen can now
be plainly heard. Some instruments that were buried in the mix now take their rightful
place in the ensemble. Percussion instruments are sharp and crisp. "Sad Jane" is
now emotionally affecting, rather than just "pretty". As I listened to this
thing last night, and adjusted to the new sound, I got more and more fascinated - and I've
heard these records dozens of times. Lumpy Gravy and 200 Motels were pretty sloppily pulled off, too, and Orchestral Favorites alternated between sharp and
sloppy. Now LSO fits right in with that group. We listeners to Zappa's
serious music are quite used to raggedy ensembles. LSO's not as
well-played as The Perfect Stranger or The Yellow Shark, but the music is just magnificent. I am
delighted that the entire sessions have been issued. "Pedro's Dowry" is one of
my very favorite Zappa pieces and in my opinion is the best performance on LSO,
and I hated not having it on CD before now. (It's even better on Orchestral Favorites, where the smaller ensemble fits
the music better.)
I think this reissue is completely successful. Gratuitous commentary: I understand that
the original LSO CD now becomes the "LSO Sampler". To call
the new one "LSO Volumess I & II" is correct insofar as all cuts are now
present, but it's misleading in that the order of tunes is completely changed. Disc one
does not correspond to Volume I. It would be more appropriate to call
it just LSO, but I guess you can't have two records with the same title.
From Lewis Saul:
There is an amazing amount of this music that is heard for the first time when the
massive washed on reverb is removed on the 1995 CD. However, there are other sections of
certain compositions where the "reverb wash" works to the score's advantage. I
think Frank just got a little carried away with the effect initially, trying (so
heartbreakingly unsuccessfully) to remove the many mistakes ...
The Webmaster Has a Misprint!
webmaster has a misprint of the '95 CD - the yellow colour component is
missing from the raster on the bottom part of disc 1, which tints Zappa's skin very pink.
Semi-interestingly, the misprint area is slanted a couple of degrees, sloping to the right
of the disc, unlike in the simplified illustration. (Of course, there is
also text on the disc and a hole in the middle; these things have been left out of the
illustration to make the misprint effect marginally less invisible.) If in doubt, look at
the bottom of the picture. (Thanks to Chris Maxfield for supplying the original scan.)
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-2012-update: It appears as if the Japanese may be warming up the
mini-LP ovens for a new batch based on the 2012 UMe remasters. We'll let you
know if this happens.
- How about the "digitally remastered" version of Volume I?
- Any details on cassette versions?
- The original Japanese CD was of the London Symphony Orchestra variety,
wasn't it, like Ryko RCD10022?