Monday, April 9, 2007

Frank Zappa - Sleep Dirt - 320 CBR


This album has an interesting history. According to Zappa, the material on it was supposed to be part of a four-disc set called Läther, which was split into individual albums when Warner Brothers refused to release it in its original format, fearing lack of sales due to the high price of a quadruple-album. This may or may not be true, as when Läther finally was released after Frank's death, it didn't exactly match the four discs that supposedly came from it (Zappa in New York, Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt and Orchestral Favorites). But regardless of how the album came about, Sleep Dirt remains one of Zappa's better works.
The original vinyl release was entirely instrumental, with styles ranging from the howling feedback of "Filthy Habits" to the lounge jazz of "Flam Bay" to the pomp of "Regyptian Strut" to the mellow acoustic guitars of the title track to the lengthy avant power trio of "Ocean". With the first CD reissue, Zappa added a female vocalist to three tracks ("Flam Bay", "Spider of Destiny" and "Time is Money") who sings lyrics taken from Frank's unrealized sci-fi opera Hunchentoot. Fans have been griping ever since about the lost instrumentals, but the release of Läther made them available again (although in shorter versions).
All in all, this disc (along with the related albums) are prime Zappa and are definitely worth picking up. Or you could just buy the three-CD release of Läther, but if you do you may end up going back and buying the individual albums anyway. Why? Läther doesn't include the song "Sleep Dirt", which gives a rare view of Zappa's mellower side, and the version of "Ocean" on this CD is five minutes longer than the one on Läther. In New York and Orchestral Favorites also include extra material not found on Läther. Ah, hell with it, just buy 'em all.

In my youthful Zappa explorations, I became increasingly wary of later releases, and glossed this one over, among a few others. A few years ago, I read a review of this slab, which touted it as holding true to some of Zappa's greatest instrumental work. Since I don't remember where I read that, I'll repeat it here for others who were unaware:
This is a great Zappa album.
As became the norm for his late '70s work, Zappa compiled this album from recordings of various line-ups, set to tape over the course of years; in this case 1974-76. If you find the vocals in Zappa's work often annoying and obtrusive, you won't be surprised by Harris' work here. Her voice and style are right in line with Frank's and Ray's and Ike's, although a tad less goofy. The four tracks featuring her vocals aren't completely forgettable, and are certainly not out of place. Sometimes operatic, sometimes loungey, she provides some of the best vocals ever set to Zappa's work. However, the true gems here are the first and last tracks.
"Filthy Habits" teams Zappa and Bozzio with Dave Parlato on bass. Parlato comes in with a dark and haunting bass line, which shifts key and cadence occasionally, but is basically repeated throughout the song. As the other half of the rhythm section, Bozzio is given carte blanche by this repetition to go absolutely ape-shit on drums. And he does. Over all that, Frank sets up some keyboards for filler and then goes to town with multiple guitar tracks. He combines a Hot Rats like style with some distorted feedback, and pollutes the bass line with astounding grace. This easily could've been on one of the Guitar comps.
"The Ocean is the Ultimate Solution" is also driven by Bozzio's drums, but Patrick O'Hearn is brought in to add an explosive dynamic to the bass. These three present an instrumental orgy with sonic climaxes happening all over the place, leaving you to either clean up or sleep in the wet spot afterward. Bozzio shuffles along, conducting percussive experiments with bonus snare work and a flashy kick drum pattern in 5/8 that resolves the chaos from time to time. For the first half of the song, Frank's comping and strumming only ceases momentarily to let O'Hearn bust out some super fancy bass riffage. The liners only credit him with bass, but it sounds like an acoustic double bass and brings Mingus to mind. After O'Hearn's explosions, Zappa gains a partner in another double guitar track, and adds an extensive solo throughout the second half of the song. With a few changes in pace and energy, this song ebbs and flows all the way to the disc's delta, where it quietly fades out, leaving resonance in your head and your hand reaching toward the play button to repeat the whole thing again.
I may be biased toward his instrumental compositions, but I wouldn't hesitate to call these two of my favorite Zappa songs ever.
Link in comments.

20 Comments:

Blogger dagmartheugliest@yahoo.com said...

http://tinyurl.com/2ttnxy

or

http://tinyurl.com/2lqsu9

April 9, 2007 at 6:30 PM  
Anonymous gabmen from Hungary said...

Thank you for the whole collection, I had some records missing until now.
One must be quick to dl Zappa posts, Big Brother is watching.

April 9, 2007 at 8:59 PM  
Blogger msmarg said...

I have this album already and I want to thank you for your reveiw, it is amazing how much more you can get out of listening to music after you have some background info about it. Thanks again!

April 10, 2007 at 1:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Post more free music!

There is a lot of Zappa. You should post at least five new albums each day so we can have them right now

April 10, 2007 at 5:46 AM  
Blogger dagmartheugliest@yahoo.com said...

Anonymous said...
Post more free music!

There is a lot of Zappa. You should post at least five new albums each day so we can have them right now

As I do have a job and family, your wish will not be fullfilled by me. I don't have time to do that.

April 10, 2007 at 2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to post the Zappa records.
Please use another hoster than rapishare. They have legal problems and delte all known music links.

April 10, 2007 at 5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello ugly one!
why not uploading to sharebee.com, so your links will get mirrored automatically on several hosts?

otherwise you will experience RS-deletions like another Zappa-blog already did. go over to http://linkyourstuff.blogspot.com/search?q=zappa

and check schele´s place. he can tell a tale on deletions and how to overcome the frustrations resulting from them. The Zappa-family-clan probably hired trolls for checking / controlling unauthorized uploads. most non-hidden zappa-links don´t live longer than a half day...
greetz: hermanthegerman

April 10, 2007 at 10:41 PM  
Blogger dagmartheugliest@yahoo.com said...

hello ugly one!
why not uploading to sharebee.com, so your links will get mirrored automatically on several hosts?

otherwise you will experience RS-deletions like another Zappa-blog already did. go over to http://linkyourstuff.blogspot.com/search?q=zappa

and check schele´s place. he can tell a tale on deletions and how to overcome the frustrations resulting from them. The Zappa-family-clan probably hired trolls for checking / controlling unauthorized uploads. most non-hidden zappa-links don´t live longer than a half day...
greetz: hermanthegerman

As you see, I have 2 alt links....
Try the second one, that leads to sharebee.....

April 11, 2007 at 7:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi man...great blog for the music lovers!!

one sugestion: you can post the new release: Buffalo.

what do you think?

mohammad

April 11, 2007 at 2:42 PM  
Blogger dagmartheugliest@yahoo.com said...

Anonymous said...
hi man...great blog for the music lovers!!

one sugestion: you can post the new release: Buffalo.

what do you think?

mohammad

I am sorry, I don't have that one, looking for it myself. Will do some more uploading here in the next few days, however not Buffalo.

April 11, 2007 at 4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent reviews. Thanks so much for your thoughts and shares.

April 11, 2007 at 11:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey buddy,

try it!

http://uploaded.to/?id=1ndamu

buffalo 2007

thanks for the music, is the best!!

dirty mohammad

April 14, 2007 at 5:53 AM  
Blogger zeb said...

First off, great theme for a blog!

I was one of the "griping fans" who found the addition of vocals on the CD release terribly annoying. Still do. I've got Lather, but never really noticed any shorter tracks. Were the ones with the added vocals shorter on Lather?

On another note... Any chance of someone posting Civilization Phase III ? I've never heard it

Finally, thanks to "anonymous" for the link to Buffalo. DL'ing as I type this

April 15, 2007 at 5:58 PM  
Blogger . said...

Can you post "You cant do that on the stage any more" 6 CD-s, as a great introduction for anyone who is not familiar with Zappas work. I hawe them all but @128 and would like to have them at least @320. Thanx and keep up the good work!!!
rockanthoogy

April 17, 2007 at 12:01 PM  
Anonymous snausage said...

great blog! thanks for taking the time to be so cool!

April 18, 2007 at 10:21 PM  
Blogger Ereshkigal said...

Thank you for your wonderful work.

I learn more each time I visit your blog.

Thank you, too, for using ShareBee. The "choice factor" is helpful.

April 19, 2007 at 10:50 PM  
Anonymous tom said...

oh i`m too late!!! shame on me!! thanks for your zappa posts!! well....please repost sleep dirt!!!

keep up the good work!

September 17, 2007 at 12:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your review made me want to listen to this album but the link is dead...

June 14, 2008 at 9:21 PM  
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