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Frank Zappa Läther album cover
4.00 | 232 ratings | 16 reviews | 39% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1996

Songs / Tracks Listing

Disc 1 (57:29)
1. Re-gyptian strut (4:36)
2. Naval Aviation In Art? (1:32)
3. A Little Green Rosetta (2:46) *
4. Duck Duck Goose (3:01) *
5. Down In De Dew (outtake) (2:57) *
6. For The Young Sophisticate (outtake) (3:14) *
7. Tryin' To Grow A Chin (3:26) *
8. Broken Hearts Are For Assholes (4:40) *
9. The Legend Of The Illinois Enema Bandit (12:41)
10. Lemme Take You To The Beach (2:46)
11. Revised Music For Guitar & Low Budget Orchestra (7:36)
12. RDNZL (8:14)

Disc 2 (57:11)
1. Honey, Don't You Want A Man Like Me? (4:56)
2. The Black Page #1 (1:57)
3. Big Leg Emma (2:11)
4. Punky's Whips (11:06)
5. Flambé (2:05)
6. The Purple Lagoon (16:20)
7. Pedro's Dowry (7:45)
8. Läther (3:50)
9. Spider Of Destiny (2:40)
10. Duke Of Orchestral Prunes (4:21)

Disc 3 (58:14)
1. Filthy Habits (7:12)
2. Titties 'n Beer (5:23)
3. The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution (8:31)
4. The Adventures Of Greggery Peccery (20:56)

Bonus tracks on 1996 edition:
5. Regyptian Strut (1993) (4:42)
6. Leather Goods (6:01) *
7. Revenge Of The Knick-Knack People (2:25) *
8. Time Is Money (3:04)

* Previously unreleased

Total Time: 172:54

Line-up / Musicians

- Frank Zappa / guitar, vocals, bass (5), keyboards (3.1), synthesizer (3.3), percussion (1,3.4,3.5)

- Rick Lancelotti / vocals (6)
- Davey Moire / vocals (10)
- Ray White / rhythm guitar & vocals (4,7-9,2.1-2.4,2.6,2.8,3.2,3.6)
- George Duke / keyboards (1,3,6,11,12,2.5,2.9,3.4,3.5,3.8)
- Andre Lewis / keyboards (3)
- Ruth Underwood / synth & percussion (9,2.1-2.4,2.6,2.8,3.2,3.8)
- Eddie Jobson / violin & keyboards (4,7-10,2.1-2.4,2.6,2.8,3.2,3.6), vocals, yodeling (10)
- Randy Brecker / trumpet (9,2.1-2.4,2.6,2.8,3.2)
- Mike Brecker / tenor saxophone & flute (9,2.1-2.4,2.6,2.8,3.2)
- Lou Marini / alto saxophone & flute (9,2.1-2.4,2.6,2.8,3.2)
- Ronnie Cuber / baritone saxophone & clarinet (9,2.1-2.4,2.6,2.8,3.2)
- Tom Malone / trombone & trumpet & piccolo (9,2.1-2.4,2.6,2.8,3.2)
- Bruce Fowler / trombone (1,11,3.4,3.5)
- James Youman / bass (1,12,3.5,3.8)
- Dave Parlato / bass (2,2.7,2.10,3.1)
- Roy Estrada / bass (3)
- Patrick O'Hearn / bass (4,7-9,2.1-2.4-2.6,2.8,2.9,3.2,3.3,3.6), vocals
- Tom Fowler / bass (6,11,3.4)
- Max Bennett / bass (10)
- Chester Thompson / drums (1,11,12,2.5,2.9,3.4,3.8)
- Jim Gordon / drums (5)
- Ralph Humphrey / drums (10)
- Terry Bozzio / drums (2-4,7-9,2.1-2.4,2.6-2.8,2.10,3.1-3.3,3.6), vocals
- Paul Humphrey / drums (6)
- Chad Wackerman / drums overdubs (3.5)
- Don Brewer / bongos (10)
- Emil Richards / percussion (2,2.7,2.10)
- David Samuels / timpani & vibes (9,2.1-2.4,2.6,2.8,3.2)
- Don Pardo / sophisticated narration (9,2.1-2.4,2.6,2.8,3.2)
- "Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra" / strings, woodwinds & chorus (2,11,2.7,2.10,3.4)
- Michael Zearott / conductor (2,11,2.7,2.10,3.4)

Releases information

A mix of both unreleased works and tracks that made their way (frequently in another form) into 4 albums: Zappa in New York (1977), Studio Tan (1978), Sleep Dirt (1979), Orchestral Favorites (1979).

Artwork: Steven Jurgensmeyer

3xCD Rykodisc ‎- RCD 10574/76 (1996, Europe) With 4 bonus tracks
3CD Zappa Records - UMe ZR 3893 (2012, US) Different cover art
3CD Zappa Records - O238932 (2012, UK & Europe) Different cover art

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy FRANK ZAPPA Läther Music

FRANK ZAPPA Läther ratings distribution

(232 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(39%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (13%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

FRANK ZAPPA Läther reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by soundsweird
4 stars You probably know the story: Zappa wanted to release this in the 70's as a deluxe 4-LP set, but the record company sensed disaster. So, many of the tracks wound up on single LP releases, some intact, others in different form. Now, you get the whole thing as originally intended, plus a few bonus tracks to fill out disc three. What I really like about this package is that you get a virtual overview of the various Zappa musical styles, minus the early and late stuff. Sure, there's a lot of stuff that's just okay, but the good stuff is really good. It's perfect for the more-than-casual fan who just can't afford to be a completist or doesn't have room for thirty Zappa albums.
Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars A radio-only 1977 release that would eventually become a triple CD box set. The material here encompasses the albums Sleep Dirt, Studio Tan, some of Joe's Garage, some rare live material, and parts of Sheik Yerbouti and Baby Snakes. The musicianship on these songs are impeccable and the song selection is priceless. But, if you own have the albums that these songs are on, then there is no real reason to purchase this box set. I happened to have found it discounted so I took up the chance. There are a few unreleased songs here, like a remake of Regyptian Strut and Legend of the Illinois Enema Bandit, but there isn't enough new material to make this set worthwile.

However, if you do not own any of the albums that these songs are on, this is a good way to obtain them without spending too much money on them. Overall, I would like to give it a 3.5/5 for sheer brilliance, but in reality, seeing as this really is a compilation of songs that are not different from their studio releases, I give it a 2.5/5.

Review by Man With Hat
COLLABORATOR Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
2 stars This is more of a historic release than anything essential. Almost all Zappa fans know the story behind lather, Warner Brothers wouldn't let FZ release the album in this format. To get back at then, Zappa went to a radio station and played the entire album, from side 1 to side 8, straight through. Now, many years later, Lather is finally released in its intended glory.

Many of the songs here are from other albums. These albums include Zappa In New York, Studio Tan (the entire album, although presented with slightly varying structures), Sleep Dirt, and a few others. Despite this downfall there are bright spots. First, the songs from Sleep Dirt are presented without vocals, whereas the ones on Sleep Dirt had them. In my opinion, they benenfited from them greatly without the annoying vocals. Secondly, there are some previously unreleased tracks, but unfortunatly very few. One highlight of these is an early version of A Little Green Rosetta. Totally different and fantastic! Third, the bonus tracks. Again some rarites here that any Zappa enthusist should have. On the first one of these Zappa tells the story of what Lather should have been. But aside from these its nothing special about this collection, other then the fact that is presented on three CDs like originally intended.

All in all this is for the die hard Zappa fan, not the casual listener. This is also good if you want to introduce yourself to the albums mentioned above. But this is a bad starting point, IMO. Recommended to the Zappa completists.

Review by Chris H
3 stars Would I really be doing anything original by repeating the story behind this album for you another time? OK why not, I'll do it. This was Frank's big huge creation of an 8-LP set, which those greedy folks at Warner Brothers scoffed at. So Frank, being about the music, takes his creation to the radio station and plays this sucker end to end in 1977, while "hosting" the radio show for the day. Got it? Good.

Do you own "Sleep Dirt", "Zappa In New York", "Orchestral Favorites", "Sheik Yerbouti" and "Studio Tan"? Well in case you were wondering this is virtually a combination of all of these albums. What is excellent and intriguing about this is that the "Sleep Dirt" vocals have been completely cut out. Also, the songs off of "Sheik..." are less of the songs you know and more of early stages recordings. Also there is limited but exciting bonus material on here including a 1993 version of "Regyptian Strut" and an alternate to "Little Green Rosetta".

This is mainly an instrumental compilation, but the big hits do have the vocals included. There are some amazing solo moments here, and then again there are some incredible jams and musician interaction during the whole of the recording. Definitely not for a Zappa first- timer, or anybody with the albums mentioned above. However, it is great if you are looking for some Zappa alternates, or to get some tracks off of those 5 albums. 3 stars.

Review by darkshade
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is truly Frank Zappa's magnum opus. It encompasses everything there is to know about the man. You can't go wrong, no matter what side of Zappa you prefer. There's the late 60's psychedelia and avant-guard, great classic rock, jazz-rock/fusion, classical, guitar solos galore, and so much more. Even if you own all the 70's albums that came out of this, as I do, this is still essential because this is the way it was meant to be presented, in this order and format. There are also songs and different renditions of songs that arent on any other recording.

As for the songs themselves, The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution here is the best version, much more focused than the Sleep Dirt version, while great because of the amazing extended solo section, can drag on a bit. Here it gets right to the point. Revised Music for Guitar and Low-Budget Orchestra and RDNZL are of course the show stoppers, with Greggary Peccary strangely but effectively ending this epic album. Everything else is pretty much the same versions, but with strange noises and sounds between most tracks. There's also a few bonus tracks which is sweet.

If this album had come out it would be up there with the other classic Zappa albums like The Grand Wazoo, Hot Rats, Apostrophe, Roxy & Elsewhere, One Size Fits All, etc... This is basically Zappa at his most creative, extreme, epic, and all around greatest. A must own for Zappa heads, Jazz-rock/fusion fans, rock fans, avant-fans, classical fans, comedy rock fans, you get the point...


Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Läther" is a 3 disc album set released in 1996 by American experimental rock artist Frank Zappa. The album was originally intented to be released as a 4 LP box-set in 1977, but Zappa´s record company at the time Warner Bros. Records refused to release "Läther" in the format that Zappa had imagined. Supposedly because they had doubts about the commercial potential of the project. As a consequence Zappa asked to be released from his record contract in order to release the box-set as he intended, but unfortunately for him he had already delivered the box-set to Warner Bros. Records and as his contract with the record company was still four albums short of fulfillment the label edited the "Läther" box-set into four individual albums. This was done without Zappa´s consent and created a major dispute between Zappa and Warner Bros. Records. Before the label decided to release the four individual albums they held on to the recordings for over a year (Zappa had delivered "Läther" to the label in late 1976). A course of action which made Zappa so frustrated with the situation that he actually played the whole "Läther" box-set on Pasadena's KROQ radio station and instructing listeners to record it in December 1977. Therefore bootlegs of the box-set have been circulating and was until the release of the Rykodisc 3 CD box-set the only way you had a chance to hear "Läther".

So most of the material which appear on "Zappa in New York (1978)", "Studio Tan (1978)", "Sleep Dirt (1979)", and "Orchestral Favorites (1979)", originally came from the "Läther" box-set. It should be noted here that this is Gail Zappa´s version of the story and others claim that the four albums were made as individual albums and then later put together by Zappa to form "Läther". In addition to the tracks which ended up on the four above mentioned albums, "Läther" also feature tracks which would appear in alternate versions on "Sheik Yerbouti (1979)", "Joe's Garage (1979)", and on "Tinsel Town Rebellion (1981)".

While most of the material were released on the four above mentioned albums most of the "Läther" versions differ a bit from the versions on the individual albums and therefore "Läther" is still a worthwile purchase for those who already have the individual albums. Many of the tracks are also linked with snippets of mad talking and strange sound experiments in a similar style to the odd monologues and conversations on "Lumpy Gravy (1968)" and as the tracks appear in a different tracklist order and in another context than on the individual albums this gives the listener a very different listening experience. The material are a mix of live and studio recordings as is standard on many Zappa releases.

"Disc 1:"

Disc 1 opens with "Re-gyptian strut" which is a bombastic instrumental song and a great way to start the album. After this song we´re treated with both avant garde classical music on "Naval Aviation In Art?", silly (sophisticated as always of course) pop songs like "A Little Green Rosetta" and "For the Young Sophisticate" as well as some great guitar soloing (on top of what sounds like the "Whole Lotta Love" riff by Led Zeppelin) by Zappa on "Duck Duck Goose" (which also contains a sound experiment section and an avant garde classical part) and a nice little instrumental in "Down in the Dew". The hilarious "Tryin' To Grow A Chin" and "Broken Hearts Are For Assholes" are up next. Both telling stories of the various griefs and challenges of social interactions between humans. Both tracks would appear in alternate versions on "Sheik Yerbouti (1979)".

"The Legend Of The Illinois Enema Bandit" which would appear on "Zappa in New York (1978)" (shortened to "The Illinois Enema Bandit" on that album) is next. The great Ray White shines here with his elastic vocal performance and that guitar solo by Zappa is excellent stuff. This version is sligthly different to the version that would appear on "Zappa in New York (1978)" but only slightly. The song has some of the most controversial and often criticised lyrics Zappa ever wrote. The next three tracks "Lemme Take You To The Beach", "Revised Music For Guitar & Low Budget Orchestra", and "RDNZL" eventually ended up being side 2 of the original vinyl release of "Studio Tan (1978)" and appear here in the same order as on the original vinyl album release (The CD re-release of "Studio Tan (1978" features a different tracklist order). "Lemme Take You To The Beach" is just a great fun parody of a surf-rock song. Fast paced and with some great and well performed high pitched vocals by Davey Moire. Eddie Jobson (Curved Air, Roxy Music, UK, Jethro Tull) also appears on this song with his futuristic sounding keyboards. "Revised Music For Guitar & Low Budget Orchestra" is an instrumental track and a mix of classical music and rock. The instrumental "RDNZL" is a great closer to disc 1 but to my ears this studio version is not up to par with earlier and later live versions of the song. The magic isn´t quite captured.

"Disc 2:"

"Honey, Don't You Want A Man Like Me?" opens disc 2. It´s a great comedy rock song about social behaviour on a date. The track features loads of little quirky instrumental moments in addition to the funny lyrics. "The Black Page #1" (this is the version Zappa refers to as the teenage version on "Zappa in New York (1978)") is next. This is a 2 minutes long studio version. It´s really nice finally to be able to hear this extremely challenging instrumental in a studio version. Up until the release of "Läther", "The Black Page" had only appeared in various live versions. "Big Leg Emma" is a short live r´n´b track which also appeared on "Zappa in New York (1978)". "Punky's Whips" follows and it has quite an interesting history attached to it. The track was censored by Warner Bros. Records and removed from "Zappa in New York (1978)" shortly after the original release of the album. It has since been restored and appears on the CD version of that album (as well as on vinyl re-release versions). Here on "Läther" it appears in a seemingly similar version as the one on the CD version of "Zappa in New York (1978)". "Flambé" which would be re-titled "Flambay" on the "Sleep Dirt (1979)" album appears on "Läther" in a short 2 minutes long version. The version on "Sleep Dirt (1979)" is almost 5 minutes long and naturally differs quite a lot from the version on this album.

"The Purple Lagoon" is a live recording and opens with the "Approximate" instrumental track but most of the song consists of soloing by saxophone and guitar. It´s a rather avant garde/jamming live song and features a total playing time of 16:20 minutes. Those who seek adventurous playing and sonic experiments should be able to find enjoyment here. The musicianship on the track is excellent. "Pedro's Dowry" which would appear on the "Orchestral Favorites (1979)" album is classical music piece. "Läther" which is titled "I Promise Not to Come in Your Mouth" on "Zappa in New York (1978)" appears in the exact same version on both albums just with different titles. "Spider Of Destiny" is an instrumental track which appears here in the same version as it appeared on the original vinyl version of "Sleep Dirt (1979)" (the CD version of the song features added female vocals). "Duke Of Orchestral Prunes" closes disc 2. It´s a great orchestral version of that song. To my ears this version sounds similar to the version that appears on "Orchestral Favorites (1979)", and probably is.

"Disc 3:"

"Filthy Habits", which opens disc 3, is an instrumental track showing Zappa´s skills with feed-back. It´s a dark and menacing instrumental track. The live track "Titties 'n Beer" follows and changes the mood completely as it´s a hilarious song where Zappa and drummer/vocalist Terry Bozzio interact on a story about the devil, Titties, beer and pickles (you figure it out). "Titties 'n Beer" appears on "Läther" in the same short version as the version on the original vinyl version of "Zappa in New York (1978)". The version of "Titties 'n Beer" which is featured on the CD version of "Zappa in New York (1978)" is almost 2 minutes longer. The version of "The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution" featured on "Sleep Dirt (1979)" is 13:18 minutes long, but the version which is featured on "Läther" has been edited and is only 8:31 minutes long. It´s a bit of a crime really, to edit such a beauty of a track.

"The Adventures Of Greggery Peccery" is a fantastic 20:56 minutes long track. A mix between comedy rock and classical music with added cartoon like story telling and singing (much of the singing and narration is done in mouse style). Not only is this great fun, it´s also a challenging listen. The conceptual continuity of the track should also be noted as the character "Billy the Mountain" appears here as he also did on his eponymously titled track from the 1972 live album "Just Another Band from L.A.". "The Adventures Of Greggery Peccery" is where the original version of "Läther" was supposed to end but the 3 CD Rykodisc version features 4 added bonus tracks. "Regyptian Strut (1993)", "Leather Goods", "Revenge Of The Knick-Knack People" and "Time Is Money". "Regyptian Strut (1993)" features re-recorded drums and a different mix from the version on "Sleep Dirt (1979)". "Leather Goods" is one of Zappa´s improvised live solo pieces. It closes with the guitar solo section from "Duck Duck Goose". "Revenge Of The Knick-Knack People" is a short avant garde piece while "Time Is Money" appears to be in the same version as the one of the original vinyl release of "Sleep Dirt" (which means it doesn´t feature the female vocals of the CD version).


"Läther" is an excellent collection of Frank Zappa´s mid- to late seventies recordings and it wouldn´t be the worst place to start for a curious new listener as almost every musical style that Zappa played in those years are represented here. Some might find it a bit too diverse, but that´s the whole point when you decide to listen to Frank Zappa. I think "Läther" holds great value for both fans and the more casual listener and fully deserves a 4 star (80%) rating. The quality of material, musicianship, and production values are top notch all around. Don´t despair if you already own the albums I mentioned above. As written most of the tracks appear here in slightly different versions than on the individual albums. That fact in addition to the fact that the versions of the tracks from "Sleep Dirt (1979)" which appear on "Läther" do not include the added female vocals from the Rykodisc CD reissue (the original vinyl release of that album did not include vocals) should make "Läther" a worthwile purchase even though you own the individual albums. Especially if you only own the CD versions of said albums.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Back in the second half of the 70's, even Zappa didn't escape to the giganticism and wanted to put out a 4 vinyl set of new studio and live material, yet unreleased. Despite one or two examples that would take place a few years later, like the Godley & Crème boxset, the industry doubted of the commercial success (not without reasons) of such an ambitious project and refused Zappa the release as such. So Frank released four different album containing this material (sometimes in a different version), but in a willingly disorderly fashion, so that the concept was impossible to reassemble over the Sleep Dirt, Studio Tan, Orchestral Favorites and a live album. Note that his next big projects would be the double Sheik Yerbouti and the triple (but released in two parts) Joe's Garage. This project was finally released after Frank's death by wife Gail and some associates. The least we can say is that this set is extremely well-done and really reflects Frank's (all-too often scatological) spirits of the times and reflecting his general defiance and gratuitous provocation of the well-thinking establishment about many still taboo subjects.

The first disc starts on the splendid jazz-rock Re-Gyptian Strut (on SD), but soon digresses in Modern Classical with Aviation (on OF), the Whole Lotta Love-riffed & Lumpy Gravy influenced Duck Goose and later on the scatological Assholes and Enema pieces - the latter sounding like a killer Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush blues, once past the idiotic intro. The album finishes on a Studio Tan feast, with three tracks from its flipside, including the excellent Take You To The Beach and RDNZL. A worthy first disc, but marred by the juvenile-crappy humour.

The second disc starts on the goofy bluesy Man Like Me, then segues with a few Live In New York tracks (or their studuio version), including the then-censored challenging Funky Whips (with that famous male promise ;o)))), but it is the terrific Flambay (or Flambé from SD) that grabs all of our attention. A while later, Läther (from LiNY) is one of the Zappa proggiest fusion tune almost Canterburian as the awesome Spider Of Destiny (again from SD) is. Closing on an Orchestral Favorite piece, this second disc is much more enjoyable, because the humour segues to the music.

The third disc opens on another SD stand-out piece, the dark and brooding almost- Crimsonian Filthy Habits, but the legendary (but not in my book) misogynistic Titties piece is up next and makes a second reference to Jeff Beck. A little deceiving is the much shorter Ocean Solution (from SD), reduced from 13+ to to 8-mins, even though it remains excellent. The pièce de resistance is the sidelong suite of Greggery Peccary that's closing the set and boxset, with moments of pure bliss, but a lot of that usual dumb humour. The four bonus tracks are not essential (there is a lengthy jam) but don't hinder the album either.

Well Läther is a good set that might happily replace the 4 late-70's albums, but unfortunately the Sleep dirt album tracks are not in the original album form, so you'd have to get that one and the live one as well, if you are a completist. And reversely, if you're a Sleep Dirt aficionado (like me), you'll be tempted to get Läther, at least for the re-arranged SD pieces. I'll pass, though, as I can rent this from the library.

Review by tarkus1980
4 stars It should be noted, first things first, that I heard this album, the complete presentation of Läther as originally intended (with some bonus tracks at the end), a few years after I heard the albums that contained the fallout material from that album. My attitude towards those albums wasn't overwhelmingly positive, and I stand by those reviews, on the whole.

But man, I do like Läther. There are only a few new tracks that weren't available previously (which are mostly good), as well as a few that received some reworkings, and the rest is stuff that has been covered already. And yeah, there's still some material I really don't like much: in particular, I'll never get to a point where I care much for "Punky's Whips;" "Revised Music for Guitar and Orchestra" still bores me to death, and "Pedro's Dowry" still seems like a lot of noisy classical clanging to me. All of this material works so much better on the whole than in piecemeal, though, that it's kind of astounding to me. It's really amazing what correct track placement can do: take something like "Let Me Take You to the Beach," which sounded kinda stupid as the second track on a four track album (coming out of "Greggery Peccary"), but sounds like a delightful goofy romp here. And what about "Filthy Habits," which works much better as the opener of side 7 than as the opener of an album, or especially "Regyptian Strut," which didn't have anywhere near as much impact as a mid-album track as it does as the goofily pseudo-regal/bombastic opener of this album? The only albums in Zappa's catalogue that I consider better sequenced than this one are Burnt Weeny Sandwich and You Are What You Is, and that's some mighty fine company.

It's actually really amazing how much better the Sleep Dirt material seems on here than before. One thing that helps is that "Flambay" and "Spider of Destiny" lose the incredibly stupid female vocal parts that had marred them before: here they just seem like pleasant enough jazzy interludes, fitting in well with the rest of the album. Aside from the aforementioned "Filthy Habits" and "Regyptian Strut," there's also an edited version of The Ocean is the Ultimate Solution, ditching all of the acoustic stuff at the beginning. Now don't get me wrong, I really like the acoustic opening to that track, but somehow having an instrumental driven by blazing guitar work seems perfect for the album's penultimate track.

The entirety of Studio Tan is also here, and while the second half is done grouped together, "The Adventures of Greggery Peccary" takes its place as the album's closer, and in so doing it becomes an all-time Zappa classic in my eyes. It's funny to me that, only in listening to it in the context of following an absurd amount of genre hopping, I would finally recognize that it's an incredibly sophisticated and complex track along with being an enjoyably silly one. It's the perfect capstone to the album: full of complex classical bits (not that far away from some moments in "Pedro's Dowry" or "Naval Aviation in Art," actually), full of ridiculous humor, and even boasting a great melody (the "Who is making those new brown clouds" bit) that is the perfect end to an epic listening experience.

Zappa in New York boasts quite a few entries, and only one of them ("Punky's Whips") is especially objectionable. There's an edited version of "Titties and Beer" (eliminating the moment where Zappa is reading the note from somebody in the audience), the great version of "The Illinois Enema Bandit," the great concert-ending jam ("Purple Lagoon"), the amusing "Honey Don't You Want a Man Like Me?" (which I forgot to mention in my original review), and a bunch of shorter stuff like "Big Leg Emma." It also contributes the instrumental title track, which had previously been given the unfortunate title of "I Promise Not to Come In Your Mouth" (maybe that's why I'd blocked it out; it's too bad, given that this is a really pleasant and lovely atmospheric piece). Orchestral Favorites doesn't include the redo of "Strictly Genteel," unfortunately, but it does contain the lovely "Duke of Orchestral Prunes" (in addition to "Naval Aviation" and "Pedro's Dowry"), so that helps. Sheik Yerbouti contributes some material, courtesy of "Trying to Grow a Chin" and "Broken Hearts are for Assholes" (not in the exact versions as on that album, so accusations of redundancy should at least be somewhat limited) and even Joe's Garage (reviewed below) throws in "A Little Green Rosetta" (this is completely different from the Garage version, though: it starts off sounding more like "Evelyn, a Modified Dog" than anything, before launching into a cool guitar solo that later made it to Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar).

There's also some previously unreleased material, though this doesn't make up a large portion of the album. "Duck Duck Goose" is so diverse that it's almost the rest of the album in microcosm, jumping from one of the best hard rock workouts of Zappa's career to chaotic snippets of classical bits and all sorts of weird vocal bits that almost sound more suited to the Residents. Strangely enough, it actually seems to match the title: it's like somebody's going around a circle, patting different musical bits on the head at random and letting them run around for a while until it's time for the next turn. "Down in De Dew" is a pleasant enough instrumental featuring strangely alluring, almost psychedelic guitar noises, and it's a lot of fun. And finally, "For the Young Sophisticate" is a fun blues rock romp about a guy who breaks up with a girl (voiced by Ricky Lancelotti) because of her armpit hair but decides to take her back, and which would later appear in a weaker, less striking form on Tinseltown Rebellion.

All in all, I have to say this is the most pleasant surprise in the entire Zappa catalogue. I did not have a great attitude going into this album, knowing in advance that the material was inconsistent, but it's oh so much better in this form than in the fallout albums. And you know, come to think of it, there are only three tracks here that I seriously disliked in previous albums (though their combined length is pretty long), so it's not as if I can really tack on a label of "inconsistent." It's spotty, yes, and it may drive some people crazy with how all over the place it is in style, but after all, couldn't the same accusations be leveled at The Beatles? A Zappa fan who doesn't own this is a sad Zappa fan indeed.

Review by Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The story of Lather has been re-hashed often enough by previous reviewers, so I'll cut to the chase. Assuming you're a bit of a Zappa fan, you might be wondering if it's worth buying a 3 disc collection, most of which has already seen the light of day on 'In New York', Studio Tan', 'Orchestral Favourites' and 'Sleep Dirt'.

The short answer is yes.

None of the albums that it was remoulded into stands up all that well - New York is a prototype for many subsequent double albums of stadium rock with smutty lyrics, great solos and unlikely time signatures; Sleep Dirt is more fusion oriented; Orchestral Favourites has a classical bent, and Studio Tan lumps together anything which didn't obviously fit on any of the other albums. Listened to as Zappa originally intended, however, you get a surprisingly coherent and engaging overview of Zappa's universe in the mid 70s. The whole thing is presented with sparkling UMRK remastered sound, an informative booklet and a handful of not strictly necessary bonus tracks, and a brief snippet of Zappa introducing the thing on his famous radio broadcast.

If you're new to Zappa, or even just this particular phase of his career, Lather is an excellent starting point. Given that most of his studio albums came in at around 35 miniutes in the 70s, and most of his double vinyls fit very comfortably onto a single CD, 3 hours of astonishingly varied music of such a consistently high standard is excellent value in anybody's book.


Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars If this album had been released by Warner Brothers in it's original four LP box in the seventies, I believe it would be hailed as Frank Zappa's greatest masterpiece. The album contains some of Zappa's finest work from the seventies, and a cross section of his musical styles. There are complex rock pieces, modern classical works, blues extravaganzas, and, of course, "dirty" lyrics.

To me, the best pieces are the complex ones. The album starts right out with one of these in Re-gyptian Strut. Other great examples are Revised Music For Guitar & Low Budget Orchestra and RDNZL. Special mention must be made for Patrick O'Hearn's incredible bass work on The Purple Lagoon (which also feature some amazing Brecker Brothers soloing) and The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution. And another treat is The Adventures Of Greggery Peccary, a very funny extravaganza that sounds like it came from th "Wazoo" period of Zappa's music (and has a cameo from the great Billy The Mountain).

The poppier songs are wonderful as well, at least for those of us who can take Zappa's humor.

Most of the songs on this album were used, after the WB suits turned the boxed set down, on other albums, but here is the best place to hear them, as Frank originally intended.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Around 1977 Frank approached his record label (Warner Brothers) about releasing a 4 LP set, but the label rejected him flat out. Frank would then have this 4 LP set played from beginning to end on a radio station while encouraging fans to record it.Yeah he was pissed. The songs here would end up on several albums that were released in 1978 and 1979 in "Sleep Dirt" , "Studio Tan" , "Zappa In New York" , "Orchestral Favourites" and one song on "Sheik Yerbouti". So in "Lather" we have Frank's vision finally realized, even though it took 20 years. The weird thing is that I like this set much better than the individual pieces. I know some have said that if you own the albums I mentioned above then you can take a pass on this one, but I couldn't disagree more. Maybe it's just Zappa's brilliance but this set is so well done and it's a solid 4 stars in my world. I enjoy and agree with Syzygy's thoughts on this.

Disc One is full of amazing tracks.Throughout this set we get some fantastic brass, violin, guitar, drums, keyboards and more. "Re-Egyptian Strut" has this funny intro then the music kicks in.This sounds great with the horns and percussion. Chester Thompson is on drums. "Navan Aviation In Art" is really a Chamber-like Classical piece. "A Little Green Rosetta" is good with that guitar solo before a minute. "Duck Duck Goose" opens with ripping guitar then we get a funny laugh before a minute then a fifties style vocal soundscape takes over. "Down In De Dow" sounds really good once it gets going.We then get some funny vocal tracks in "For The Young Sophisticate", "Trying To Grow A Chin", "Broken Hearts Are Assholes" and "The Legend Of The Illinois Enema". Love the narration to start the last one I mentioned. "Lemme Take You To The Beach" is too much fun. The last two tracks are excellent and serious instrumentals.

Disc Two opens with "Honey, Don't You Want A Man Like Me ?". Funny stuff. "Honey, honey hey..." "The Black Page #1" is a short complex instrumental. "Big Leg Emma" and "Punky's Whips" are both pretty funny with Terry Bozzio shining on the latter. The next six songs which takes us to the end of Disc Two are all instrumentals and man this is good. I'd especially mention "The Purple Lagoon" and "Pedro's Dowry".

Disc Three begins with "Filthy Habits" which is a top three for me. An amazing instrumental with a funny ending. "Titties And Beer" and "The Adventures Of Gregory Peccary" are pretty funny especially the latter. "The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution" has some killer bass from Patrick O'Hearn and Frank offers up a tasteful solo as well.

"Lather" pronounced "Leather" sits proudly with all my other Zappa favourites.

Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I happen to be reviewing the reissue.

This might be my favorite album by Uncle Frank. I mean, there is just every part of Zappa's long discography in place here. There's the jazz fusion of Hot Rats, the comedy-rock of Joe's Garage, the downright rock of Zoot Allures and so much more.

Lather was a scrapped triple album because his record label wouldn't release it, instead releasing just a few tracks as single albums, Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt and Live in New York. What a terrible idea, this triple album (keep that in mind, that's a lot of music) keeps attention better than those three albums alone. It has something to do with the consistency of the variation, I'm sure (an oxymoron, maybe).

There are just some great tracks on here, Broken Hearts Are For Assholes, The Ocean is the Ultimate Solution and so much more. This is truly some of Frank's best material, I'm having trouble of thinking of a time when he was any more prolific and fun. I mean, he's always had fun making music, but with Lather he seems to be enjoying himself to the maximum. It is just a really great listen.

Get the reissue! Now! It is one of those lazy afternoon albums that you can sit back and enjoy with pride.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Well, I have to say, this is a great place to start with Zappa. It has nearly every aspect of his music presented within. Orchestral, Jazz, Jazz fusion, hard rock, dowop, surf music(!), even some pretty proggy stuff. And plenty of humor. As others have mentioned, this was originally intended ... (read more)

Report this review (#128338) | Posted by infandous | Friday, July 13, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars An interesting box set. I assisted to many Zappa live performances in Europe in the 70´s, specially the line-up with Bozzio, Jobson, O´Hearn and cia. This Box set is not a surprise for hardcore fans, but the compilation is exactly the original Zappa idea put together in a 3 CD Box set. I don´t ... (read more)

Report this review (#47324) | Posted by | Monday, September 19, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Finally, Läther. Everybody knows the story about this eight-sided LP, now a 3 CD box set, that Warner Bros. didn´t released in the 70´s - "too uncommercial", they said. Well. for those who have Studio Tan, Zappa in New York, Orchestral Favourites and Sleep Dirt, there are no news here. The cha ... (read more)

Report this review (#47070) | Posted by rguabiraba | Sunday, September 18, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It might be much, but it's really an absolutely cool release, a labour of love by all involved recreating this. Most of this material has been released before, but it sounds better in this context rather than the seperate albums which got released instead of this back in the 70's (Sleep Dirt, ... (read more)

Report this review (#29715) | Posted by Kaztor | Friday, March 25, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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