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Frank Zappa - Sleep Dirt CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.62 | 262 ratings

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3 stars Sleep Dirt was one of 3 albums that Frank Zappa supplied to his record label, Warner Bros in order to fulfil his contract, the other 2 being Studio Tan and Orchestral Favorites. They declined to release them leading to a Lawsuit and Zappa set about combining much of the material into what was going to be a 4 record set titled Lather which was stopped from being released by Warners claiming they owned the rights to the material despite not choosing to release them! Lather finally saw the light of day on cd in 1996.

Sleep Dirt was given a release in 1979, 3 years after the mastertapes had been originally presented to Warner Bros but to complicate matters further the cd re-issue in the nineties had vocals added to 3 of the tracks, Flambay, Spider of Destiny and Time is Money which had been intended for an abandoned musical.

The cd is book-ended by the 2 best tracks on the album, Filthy Habits and The Ocean is the Ultimate Solution, both instrumental slabs of Fusion with some great guitar workouts. The brilliant Terry Bozzio drums on both pieces the former track having a wonderful laid back groove whilst Zappa solos away over the top. The Ocean is the Ultimate Solution is even better and more complex too and in its 13 minutes has many twists and turns and gear changes, the track really exploding in the second half and ends up being one of Zappa's most satisfying instrumental pieces ever.

Of the 3 vocal tracks, supplied by Thana Harris, Flambay is a piano dominated piece of Jazz, (supplied by old Mothers member George Duke) with Harris' jazz styled vocals on top. Spider of Destiny and Time is Money have more Jazz tinged vocals from Harris too but I would have preferred them to have been left as instrumental as the vocals do tend to grate.

Of the other 2 tracks Regyptian Strut is the better, a Brass dominated instrumental though title track Sleep Dirt is a satisfying acoustic guitar piece featuring Zappa and James Youman.

Overall then a good but at times patchy album with some brilliant moments though not enough of them to lift this album to the heights of Zappa classics. It would be great to see this album released on cd again one day with the original vinyl mix.

Nightfly | 3/5 |


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