Over-Nite Sensation

article on the quad version
by the Duke of Prunes

What to Get: The 2012 CD.

Summary: All CD versions prior to the 2012 CD added extra digital reverb; the 2012 remaster and the vinyl are both dry (although there are weird stereo-spectrum questions we haven't quite figured out yet). The Zappa Records two-fer with "Apostrophe'" should be avoided, because it contains "bad batch" right-channel problems. Note that the 2012 release on iTunes contains a bonus track that isn't on the actual CD.

ESSENTIAL VERSIONS FOR COMPLETISTS: The 2012 CD is probably your best bet for sound quality; the only one you really need to avoid (at present) is the Zappa Records CD. If you're an ultra-completist, you'll want to add a quadraphonic copy (pretty rare). Older CDs have additional reverb. [completist's guide]


  • Original vinyl (DiscReet MS2149 in the US, June 1973, and Canada; K 41000 in the UK (no gatefold cover), August 1973)
  • German vinyl (DiscReet DIS 41000, no gatefold cover
  • French & German vinyl (DiscReet (DISC) 4100, gatefold cover)
  • Spanish vinyl (Reprise HRES 291-54, Distribuido por HISPAVOX, S.A., 1974, no gatefold cover)
  • Portuguese vinyl (DiscReet DIS 41000)
  • Greek vinyl (Lyra Records - apparently especially rare, since only 500 copies were supposedly pressed "for a first edition" and Greece recycled the plastic in old record-store stock :)
  • Japanese vinyl (DiscReet P-8380D; also in white-label promo version with obi, "promo page" and 7-page Japanese lyric booklet)
  • Cassettes (DiscReet M 52149 and 441000)
  • 8-track (DiscReet M 82149)
  • Quadraphonic vinyl (DiscReet MS-4-2149)
  • Quadraphonic tapes (REP L9M 2149 (Q8 format), DiscReet 1-9D-2149 (CD4 format))
  • Quadraphonic reel-to-reel tape (Warner Brothers DISQ 2149-QF 7 1/2 IPS)
  • Mexican vinyl: Éxito Repentino (Gamma GX01-695, titles in Spanish)
  • Argentine vinyl (MusicHall 50-14-356, late 1978)
  • Uruguayan vinyl (Cave label)
  • Brazilian vinyl
  • Australian vinyl (DiscReet MS 2149, 1973)
  • US vinyl re-issue (DiscReet DSK 2288 (?), 1977, brown Reprise label!)
  • The Old Masters vinyl (Barking Pumpkin BPR 9999-3, December 1987)
  • Original CD, coupled with Apostrophe (') (Ryko RCD40025 in the US, September 1986; Zappa Records CDZAP18 in the UK, March 1990; VACK 5034 in Japan; Ryko D31036 in Australia, 1990; JPCD 9707412 DORA in Russia - also in a Columbia Record Club version)
  • Zappa Records cassette (TZAPPA36)
  • IRS 970.718 CD (?)
  • Minidisc, coupled with Apostrophe (') (Ryko RMD 40025)
  • 1995 CD (Ryko RCD 10518, April 18 1995; VACK 5107 in Japan, renumbered 5242 in 1998; also in a BMG Record Club version (1086354))
  • 1995 cassette (Ryko RAC 10518, April 18 1995; also in a BMG Record Club version (1086354))
  • Japanese paper-sleeve CD (Ryko/VACK 1217, October 24 2001 - sticker included)
  • 2012 UMe CD (Zappa Records ZR3850 August 28, 2012)
  • 2013 Zappa Records 180 Gram Reissue

Spanish Vinyl

From Román García Albertos:

The Spanish LP had "Dinah-Moe Humm" removed. Censorship. ["Eat That Question" was inserted instead.] Also in the bottom right corner of the cover, the drawing of the "panocha" shoved right in somebody's ass was deleted.

Two front-cover frame details from the censored Spanish LP. Parts of the "panochas" have been edited out, but in the left-hand version, you can still see something splurting out of the "mermaid".

Cara A:


Cara B:


This appeared in a single-fold cover, but with a black & white lyric sheet insert, just like the original inside cover, but with a BIG HOLE instead of the "Dinah-Moe Humm" lyrics.

From TFalcouner:

The disc has a different catalog number, and that catalog number is stamped on the unedited side and etched on the edited side.

Portuguese Vinyl

From Pär Johansson:

I ran into a Portuguese issue of Over-Nite Sensation today. I don't know if there's anything special about it. The cover is very dark, almost like my German copy; the inside, though, is very pale. The timings given are slightly different: side A is 16:44 instead of 16:45, and side B is 17:53 instead of 17:52. Released on DiscReet, DIS 41000, printed in red on the cover. There's also some Portuguese print on the back: "Fabricado em Portugal" and "Fabrica portuguesa de discos da radiotriumfo, limitada - Porto Portugal".


Quadraphonic sound was a four-channel sound system which never caught on and was soon abandoned. As of July 2000, we have a great article by the Duke of Prunes on the quad versions of both Apostrophe (') and Over-Nite Sensation which straightens out most of the question marks around. For a brief summary, the Duke says that 

  • there are no substantive musical differences between quad and stereo releases; 
  • Zappa used quad sparingly to subtle effect, except in a few obvious places; and
  • the mixes are definitely true quad mixes. [full article - recommended reading!]

Previous, Now-Made-Obsolete, Skippable Quad Discussion with Goat-Ass Picture Gallery

From Biffy the Elephant Shrew:

Not coincidentally, Over-Nite Sensation was the first of two Zappa albums to be released in four-channel sound (Apostrophe (') was the other). Even the new label name, DiscReet, was a pun on the "discrete" quadraphonic sound format. One of the reasons quadraphonic sound never really succeeded in the marketplace was that there was competition between two incompatible systems, "matrix" (used by CBS) and "discrete" (used by Warner Brothers and most other labels).

Note the plug in "Camarillo Brillo", when "she said her stereo was four-way". 

From Terry Cornett, a low opinion on the quad tapes:

The quality of tape used in the Q8s was inferior and prone to static noise. The actual separation is terrible, as well. They sound as if the stereo image is simply reversed in the rear channels and front and back images received slightly different filtering. This is the same technique used to make stereo images from old mono recordings. The resulting "quad image" actually sounds more like bad mono. It was obviously NOT mixed from multi-channel masters by Frank.

From Drew, a high opinion on the quad discs:

Worth collecting are the quad discs - a friend said the mixes are awesome on his quad player. We were thinking of bringing it back to two channel, but not sure how to do it. For sure the mix is quite different, and really can only be enjoyed on the old quad turntables. It would be cool to convert it to dolby surround sound. He has a lot of the old vinyl in quad, not just Zappa. You all know him, remember Bill Lantz ...

And Daevid:

I had 8-tracks of both [albums]. Listening to the rear channels only, you could hear some of the music, but mostly backing vocals isolated to one or two singers. I guess those were the Ikettes. I couldn't hear rear vocals on the front channels. So, rather than saying the rear channels were ambience only, I say they held a lot of unique pieces of the music.

The quadraphonic Over-Nite Sensation also came out on reel-to-reel tape. Here are some reel ugly pictures: Q8 tape (white), stereo 8-track (black), another quad tape, probably REP L9M 2149

The awful picture to the right is taken from an auction at ebay.com, in May 1998, and shows the four-track tape cartridge (the small text block in the centre says: "This 4 channel 8-track cartridge is designed to play only on the new 4-channel 8-track system."). The picture on the right is the regular 8-track, and the picture on the left below is another quadraphonic tape, REP L9M 2149 (grey), and reel-to-reel (colourful).

Quadraphonic tape: DiscReet 1-9D-2149regular 8-track 
REP L9M 2149 quadraphonic reel-to-reel tape

Original CD

The original CD version of Over-Nite Sensation was coupled with Apostrophe (') - two albums on one CD. Of course, the cover artwork suffered from this, but the 1995 CD and 2012 CD restored it.

The Ryko and Zappa Records versions of this coupling are not the same. From Joerg "Jeff" Zeyer:

... you have to be careful when talking bout the CD versions of Zappa's records: in some cases there exist different versions on CD, since some appeared on the label RYKODISC and in a different mix on the label ZAPPA RECORDS / BARKING PUMPKIN. For instance, Apostrophe (') / Over-Nite Sensation appeared on the RYKO label, and it was the same mix as on vinyl. It also appeared on ZAPPA RECORDS some years later and this was a "remastered'' version.

First, the Ryko:

From James Lee Robinson:

Is it just me or is the sound quality of the Apostrophe (') /Over-Nite Sensation disc substandard? Is is just because it is mastered at a lower volume than other discs (i.e. Make a Jazz Noise Here)? I noticed this through having my disc changer shuffle a 6-pack of Zappa, and this disc suffered noticeably. Anyone else bugged by this? How does the LP version sound? Any other re-releases with the same "problem"?

From Vladimir Sovetov:

Yes, the sound volume of my Apostrophe (') /Over-Nite Sensation Ryko disc is also noticeably lower than volume of my other CDs. Freak Out!, Chunga, Zoot Allures etc. The sound volume of the ' LP (I still have one) seems to be as good as of my One Size Fits All and Weasels Ripped My Flesh LPs.


Concerning the Apostrophe (')/Overnite Sensation CD: I prefer the overall mix on the older Ryko issue to the newer Ryko issues. As stated on the website, the older CD has an "airier" mix than the new ones. Much better, in spite of the lower volume level. In the song "Stink-Foot": During the line "But us regular folks who might wear tennis shoes, or an occasional python boot", there is a noticeable audio glitch on the word "shoes". I can't remember if this glitch is present on the new CD issue ... I don't think it is. Also, on the old CD version: if you advance to "Montana", the first note gets slightly clipped when the track starts. It sounds fine coming out of "Dinah-Moe Humm" into "Montana" just playing through, though.

I actually have TWO different old Ryko issues of this CD. The first one came in a regular jewel box, and the printing on the CD itself is white and grey, giving track titles, track times, and copyright info. I played this one so much that it hardly works anymore. The second version I found in a cut-out bin (with that damn hole drilled through it). This one came in a green jewel box, and the booklet is identical except the newer one is on heavier and glossier paper stock. The CD tray is transparent, revealing a picture of an old Victrola underneath. The record on the turntable says "RYKODISC recordings ... since 1983". The disc itself has no printing on it, other than "FRANK ZAPPA Apostrophe'/Overnite Sensation RCD 40025" (Same catalogue number on both CDs), and a purple graphic of Frank. On the back cover, where the older CD issue says "Manufactured in the USA", the newer CD has a big "MADE IN CANADA" sticker over that spot. Both older Ryko CDs say "Overnight" on the spine, and "Overnite" everywhere else in the packaging. Both CDs are the identical (and lower volume) mix.

Some info on the Zappa Records version from David G.

The "Over-nite Sensation" portion of the Zappa Records twofer has the same "bad batch" glitches as titles like "Tinseltown Rebellion." The high end is really seriously fucked up, although it isn't nearly as bad as "You Are What You Is." For fun, try listening to the right channel of "Camarillo Brillo" around the choruses; the high-end information causes the volume to jump around like crazy.

 the APOSTROPHE (') / OVER-NITE SENSATION minidisc cover

Columbia Record Club Version

From Gary Horowitz:

Although the overall volume level of the Columbia Record Club issue appears to be much louder than the BMG Record Club issue (I haven't yet compared it to a normal Rykodisc issue), 

  • in "I'm The Slime" at approximately 00:04 to 00:17 the kick drum appears to "punch holes" into the guitar solo cadenza that begins the song. As a recording engineer, my guess is the person(s) mastering this one was not paying attention to the levels or instructions and this section caused a problem as a result. It possibly may have something to do with noise reduction equipment (if any at all were) used. 
  • In "Zombie Woof", at approximately 02:41 into the song which is about one and a half measures into the guitar solo, the level swells louder and the sound gets noticably brighter. This may have existed on the original master that was used to produce the vinyl and may have been necessary. It is noticeable on the original CD, but on the Columbia Record Club version, it is really extreme! Again my theory is the noise reduction equipment caused the change to be exaggerated somehow.


The only Zappa albums that ever came out on the minidisc format were Over-Nite Sensation coupled with Apostrophe (') (on one disc), and it's just like the original CD, but in minidisc quality, which is worse, because the disc is so small that the audio data has to be compressed to fit on it, with a lossy compression scheme.

1995 CD

Official statement from Ryko:

Separated from Apostrophe ('). New master. New timing sheet. Restored artwork. [full statement]

Appears to be the same digital transfer with a volume and EQ adjustment.

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.

2012 UMe CD

Mastered by Bob Ludwig from the original analog master. Reverts to the dry LP mix, but appears to switch the stereo spectrum on some songs; see the (eventual) discussion below.

Note that the iTunes release contains a bonus track: the single version of "I'm the Slime." You can buy it separately (it is currently listed only as "BONUS TRACK" on iTunes).

Mike Espinoza approves of a packaging change:

The label logo has been removed from the upper left-hand corner of the Over-nite Sensation artwork. IMO, this is a plus. Having "Ryko" in Discreet font just looked wrong and the two-fer packaging was just a cluster fuck in so many ways. The lack of logo makes it look more elegant.

2013 Zappa Records 180 Gram Reissue

(deets/reviews forthcoming. Available at Amazon and other fine retailers.)

Stereo-Spectrum Madness?

The 2012 CD may have a different channel orientation (in other words, stuff in the left speaker is now in the right speaker) on some songs. We're still getting to the bottom of this, so stay tuned.


  • The 1995 CD?
  • Any details on cassette versions?
  • Any details on 8-track versions?
  • Any regional peculiarities?
  • Any points to make about the Old Masters version?
  • Any more release dates?
  • Any details on the Russian CD?

Additional Informants

Biffy the Elephant Shrew, Patrick David Neve, Scott Timperley, Victor Dubiler, Vee Friends, Gonçalo, Mexpressings, Steve Jones

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

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