What to Get: The remix and original are
completely different. Do you like vocals? Get a non-2012 CD. Do you
want the original album? Get the 2012 CD.
Summary: The original vinyl and 2012 CD are,
barring some chat in "Sleep Dirt," all instrumental. The others CDs
contain a remix, and are heavily overdubbed:
vocals, by Thana Harris (yes!), on three tracks,
and new drums on some, overdubbed by Chad Wackerman; it's almost a completely
different album. Some of these CDs have a remix of "Regyptian
Strut" while some do not.
ESSENTIAL VERSIONS FOR COMPLETISTS: 1) Vinyl or 2012 CD and 2)
any other CD. (Some CD
versions have a remix of "Regyptian Strut" and some do not, but this is
a moot point as
both versions appear on Läther, which
you need anyway.) [completist's guide]
- Original vinyl (DiscReet DSK 2292 in
the US, January 19 1979; K 59211 in the UK, September 1979)
- French & German vinyl
(DiscReet DIS 59 211)
- Green vinyl (?!)
- Portuguese vinyl (DiscReet / Radio Triunfo LP-S-68-19)
- Israeli vinyl (DiscReet BAN 59211, with a little Hebrew
print on the back cover)
- Brazilian vinyl
- Original CD (Barking Pumpkin
D2074238 or D2 74238 in the US, September 24 1991; Zappa Records CDZAP
43 in the UK, September 4 1991 (or 1990?); VACK 5086 in Japan)
- Zappa Records cassette (TZAPPA43)
- 1991 cassette (Barking Pumpkin (D2 74238?), September 4
- 1995 CD (Ryko RCD 10527, May 2 1995;
VACK 5086 in Japan, renumbered
5221 in 1998)
- Russian CD
- Japanese paper-sleeve CD
(Ryko/VACK 1235, April 27 2002)
- 2012 UMe CD (Zappa Records ZR3858 August 28, 2012)
- Bootleg CDs
From Harry de Swart:
My German copy of Sleep Dirt I bought January 18
1979 which is one day earlier than the USA release?
Relation to LÄTHER
Five Sleep Dirt tracks appear on the Läther
album. The differences between the versions are as follows [full
Läther walkthrough by Zoot]:
- "Filthy Habits": Läther has a
shorter edit of the Sleep Dirt vinyl version.
- "Flambay": Läther has a shorter
edit of the same instrumental version as the Sleep Dirt vinyl;
old Sleep Dirt CDs have a different mix with vocals. The Läther version is spelled "Flambé".
- "Spider of Destiny": Läther has
a shorter edit of the same instrumental version as the Sleep Dirt vinyl;
old Sleep Dirt CDs have a different mix with vocals.
- "Regyptian Strut": Läther has
the same mix as the Sleep Dirt vinyl; some Sleep Dirt CDs
have a different mix. Sheepishly, the Sleep Dirt CD version
appears as a "bonus track" on Läther (Spence
Chrislu at the UMRK/zappa.com
put it there by mistake, not realising it was already on the Sleep
Dirt CD). The Läther versions is
spelled "Re-Gyptian Strut". However, as David G. observes,
the introductory drum fill is different on Läther:
As I said before, Läther has a
longer drum intro. Well, that is and isn't true. It's longer, but it
also isn't what's on all other issues of the remix. To clarify, it
seems as if the remix itself (on Sleep Dirt, and Strictly Genteel) always uses the
opening drum parts from the original mix before the song
starts, while Läther has the complete song
with Chad's original drum intro. (Ed: See the version
comparison below for more insight into this)
- "Time Is Money": Läther has the Sleep
Dirt vinyl version as a bonus track; old Sleep Dirt CDs
have a vocal version.
- "The Ocean Is the Ultimate Solution": Läther
has a shorter edit of the Sleep Dirt vinyl version.
From "Tinseltown Rebellion" by John Bamford, in Hi-Fi
November 1986 (quote provided by Biffy the Elephant Shrew):
To this day I've thought those albums [Sleep Dirt,
Studio Tan & Orchestral Favorites] had a
weird sound. In talking to Zappa recently I learned that although
Warners had the master tapes, he had the Dolby line-up tones. (He likes
to be present during disc mastering.) So the equalization on those
recordings is all wrong!
From Harry de Swart:
My LPs of Studio Tan, Orchestral Favorites & Sleep
Dirt have a German label but it mentions "STEMRA" instead
of "GEMA". STEMRA is a Dutch firm which collects the money for the
performing artist and protects their rights. All other German issues of
Zappa albums have GEMA on the label!
When Sleep Dirt came out on CD, it was heavily
overdubbed with vocals,
by Thana Harris, on three tracks. The first pressing had the original
"Regyptian Strut", but subsequent pressings have new drums on that
overdubbed by Chad Wackerman. Chad Wackerman is not credited on the CD,
and at least some CDs do not credit Thana Harris on "Time is Money".
From Chris Ullsperger:
The CD contains Thana Harris' vocal tracks on the Hunchentoot
numbers ("Flambay", "Spider of Destiny" and "Time is
Money") and represents an important "restoration" in my opinion.
Essential for continuity. Too bad that musical will never see the light.
About 10 seconds of percussive flourishes found at the end
of the original Warner Brothers instrumental version of "Flambay"
are removed - about 20 seconds of a guitar bridge found in the
original Warner Brothers instrumental version of "Spider of Destiny"
are edited out (near the end after the line that begins "All the comets
and stuff ..." and before the line that begins "Eat the Earth
[Ed: While the officially
released CD of the "Sleep Dirt"
remixes does have these edits, the tape smuggled out as part of the "Beyond
the Fringe of Audience Comprehension" bootleg--later part of the Mystery Box--has some of
these extra portions. See below for some sound
From Michael Gula:
I've never accepted the claim that the drums on "Time Is
Money" is a Wackerman overdub. The credit is wrong. That is Chester
Thompson's drum track there. Without a doubt.
From Dan B:
After careful analysis (maybe I should get a life) of the
original version of "Time Is Money" on Läther
(disc 3 track 8) and the vocal-overdubbed version on Sleep Dirt
(track 5), I have concluded that both versions feature the original
drum track as laid down by Chester Thompson. Both versions have the
same tom-tom fills and identical delicate cymbal bell rolls (in the
middle and and at the end). (It was somewhat hard to notice this at
first because the vocals take prominence in the Sleep Dirt
version.) It does become more noticeable when you compare the drums on
"Re-Gyptian Strut": the original (Chester) on Läther,
and the over-dubbed (Chad) on Sleep Dirt - a different
approach stylistically on the drum set - now back to your
regularly scheduled program. (On the Chad version you can hear a
tom-tom accent played on the off-beat right after the first snare drum
hit of each measure. On Chester's, there is an open hi-hat accent on
the corresponding 2 and 4 of the beat.)
The very first Barking Pumpkin CD pressing of Sleep Dirt
contains the ORIGINAL mix of "Regyptian Strut". The Wackerman
overdub appeared on the second and all future pressings. I have the
first pressing, a friend of mine has the second, so I have investigated
this. There is no difference in artwork between the first and second
Evil Bob raised an important point about this practice:
As far as I understand it, Sleep Dirt was one of the
albums released by Warner Brothers while Frank had them in court for
"aromatic fiscal practices" (i.e. shoddy accounting, overruns, etc.)
and as such Zappa had very little to say about that release. Other
albums in this category are Studio Tan
and Orchestral Favorites. So
what we hear on the CD is probably much closer to what Zappa had in
mind for the material to begin with.
... but on the other hand, Pat Buzby's side of things is
Actually, this is true of almost all of the CD reissues, but
people who've had the LPs for years tend to have a hard time accepting
this sort of change.
Like the original CD (that is,
different from the vinyl). Official Ryko
statement: "New master. New timing
sheet." [full statement]
Version Comparison Excre-citement
From the 2004 Zappa CD Rundown:
In summary: All pre-2012 CD versions are the same, except for
variation in mixes in "Regyptian Strut." The remix of "Regyptian Strut"
actually uses the old version's drum introduction on the Sleep Dirt
CD; only the body of the track differs. The only place to find the
remix of "Regyptian Strut" with its new drum intro is on Läther,
and the body of the track there matches the one on the Sleep Dirt
CD. Confused? Don't worry about it.
Another of the Zappa Records/BP Switcheroo titles. This
exists without the Regyptian remix (all Zappa Record
CDs I've heard) and with the Regyptian remix (the Ryko '95 and
the one BP CD I've heard: again, this
could be a coincidence). Remix aside, all discs are digitally identical
on the shared tracks.
Amusingly, Regyptian itself presents a few interesting
sub-variations. While the BP/Ryko '95 discs
use a remix, the remix is only of the body of the track; the
introductory drum fill is still
from the original mix. This introductory drum bit is identical to the
one on the "original
mix" version of the CD, meaning that only the body of "Regyptian" is
on the newer discs; "Cheepnis" on Roxy and Elsewhere presented
a similar case, with its introduction matching old versions and its
body being a remix. Lastly, barring some slight level differences, the
remixed "Regyptian" as it appears on some CDs of Sleep Dirt is
digitally identical to the "1993" version on Läther (minus the
different drum intro). In other words, the Läther "1993"
version uses the same version (EQ and all) as on the reworked Sleep
Dirt disc. Interesting.
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.
From David Goodwin:
As for this spiffy Russian item ... well, insert-wise
it seems to be an exact copy of the older CDs . The artwork does,
though, look like it might be a generation away from the original.
Spine art has "FRANK ZAPPA SLEEP DIRT" on a red background, and
then, curiously, a little picture of an old-style gramophone which is
there for a reason not known by me. The back cover seems "normal"
except for a little notice in Russian on the back which includes the
little gramophone, the date 4.06.98, an EMAIL ADDRESS (firstname.lastname@example.org) and a WEB
SITE (www.cdmusic.ru). The
disc also has a "P and C" notice, the purpose of which I also don't
know. Disc art has "FRANK ZAPPA / SLEEP DIRT" on a red
background in the same style as the cover art, along with track titles
and the notice "ALL TRACKS SEGUE".
The prior-to-2012 long-deleted vinyl version of this album has
bootlegged on CD at least twice,
once coupled with Studio Tan. [read all about
it in the son of
the alt.fan.frank-zappa Bootleg FAQ] (At least one issue of this
coupling is on the
same label as at least one issue of a bootleg CD of the (uncensored)
vinyl version Zappa in New York.)
2012 UMe CD
Remastered by Bob Ludwig from the original analog master. Reverts
to the vinyl mix, meaning no Chad Wackerman and no Thana Harris vocals.
Essential; but, of course, this means that the vocal versions are now
out of print. From a reader:
The shared tracks between this version of "Sleep Dirt" and the older
one sound much better here.
(In low-bitrate OGG format)
1) The "percussion flourish"
beginning of "Spider of Destiny" from the "Beyond the Fringe" tape.
Note...no percussion flourishes!
2) A piece eventually edited out of the
final mix of the CD version of "Spider of Destiny."
- Any details on cassette versions?
- Any details on 8-track versions?
- Any regional peculiarities?
- Is the Greek vinyl legit?
- Mikael Agardsson
- Gonçalo Falcão