Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Mothers of Invention - 1970 - Weasels Ripped My Flesh

The Mothers of Invention 
Weasels Ripped My Flesh

01. Didja Get Any Onya? (6:51)
02. Directly From My Heart To You (5:16)
03. Prelude To The Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask (3:48)
04. Toad Of The Short Forest (4:48)
05. Get A Little (2:31)
06. The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue (6:52)
07. Dwarf Nebula Procession March & Dwarf Nebula (2:12)
08. My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama (3:32)
09. Oh No (1:45)
10. The Orange County Lumber Truch (3:21)
11. Weasels Ripped My Flesh (2:07)

- Frank Zappa / lead guitar, vocals
- Ian Underwood / alto sax
- Bunk Gardner / tenor sax
- Motorhead Sherwood / baritone sax and snorks
- Buzz Gardner / trumpet, flugel horn
- Roy Estrada / bass and vocal
- Jimmy Carl Black / drums
- Art Tripp / drums
- Don Preston / piano, organ, electronic effects,
- Ray Collins / vocals on 'Oh No'
- Don "Sugar Cane" Harris / electric violin and vocal on 'Directly from my heart to you'
- Lowell George / rhythm guitar and vocal on 'Didja Get Any Onya?'

"Weasels Ripped My Flesh". Just saying the name of the album brings me joy. How can you not love that name? Everything about this album is avant-garde perfection, from every song to the cover the album. It mixes free-form jazz with comedy and rhythm and blues with classical. Truly one of the greatest works of musical art ever released.
"Didja Get Any Onya?" kicks it into gear with saxophones blowing every this way and that, and some great improvisational percussion. The song hits its climax in the middle when a comedic tale of standing around a corner blasts from the speaker in a pseudo- German accent. Captain Beefheart fans may recognize this from "Trout Mask Replica" and Zappa fans may recognize this from the song "Charles Ives". "Directly From My Heart To You" is the only song on this album not written by Zappa himself. R.W. Penniman penned this song back in the day, and Don "Sugarcane" Harris lends his violin and his vocals to the song. The violin parts are a little over the top (as they were in "Willie The Pimp" just one year before), but this song still makes for an excellent Zappa-esque ballad of sorts. "Prelude To The Afternoon Of A Sexually Aroused Gas Mask" is the third song, and a tongue-twister in itself. The second of five live tracks on the album, this was born out of a stage act in which Roy Estrada would wear a gas mask. The same atmosphere as "Didja...", this song does feature some rave-ups in the middle, and Roy's screaming and yodeling bring a smile to my face every time. "Toads of The Short Forest" starts out very disappointing, because mainly it seems too, well uhh normal to be on this album of pure musical ecstasy. Around 1:05 in, all assumptions change when a quirky percussion beat kicks in until Jimmy starts to pound away with Ian Underwood flaring up alongside. After it is all said and done, the weakest track to begin with turns live and along with FZ's hilarious dialogue this is one of the finer tracks on the album due mainly to its impressive use of time structure. "Get A Little" begins with some sexual dialogue for a few seconds and then turns into a fine Zappa guitar moment, one of the only real guitar driven sections on the whole album. Although it is only 2:31, I think this may be Frank's greatest "Mothers period" solo.

After the break is announced ("Get A Little" was recorded live), "The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue" kicks off in a weird, tinkling percussion manner with dual drummers Jimmy Carl Black and Art Tripp once again playing in two different time structures. "Dwarf Nebula Processional March & Dwarf Nebula" really is a mouthful to say, so thankfully words cannot describe it. It starts out very structured but then just turns into a random percussion party. Really weird, avant stuff here and it is in the perfect spot on the album.

"My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama" is one of the greatest straight-forward head-on rock songs Frank Zappa has ever written, but frankly (hehe, that was a pun. FRANKly?) it just does not belong on this album. It has too much of a rock n' roll approach to be thrown in with these avant, stage-show pieces. Granted there are some electronic effects, they don't do justice to the rest of the album. Still an awesome songs though, just out of place. "Oh No", the shortest song on the album, is quite an enjoyable listen. Just short of two minutes, this song deals with talking about the meaning of love and I especially enjoy Buzz Gardener's "talking" trumpet. "The Orange County Lumber Truck" is another instrumental which starts off with equal involvement from everybody, but then soon turns into another masterful guitar solo crafted by Zappa himself to finish out the last minutes of the song. The is much better than the son that is featured on "Roxy & Elsewhere". "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" is the ultimate ending to this album. Two minutes of feedback that is toyed with to make it sound like, well, weasels ripping flesh.

Few people realize the artistic barriers this album knocked down with its jazz fusion and avant-garde rock n' roll, and therefore this a very underrated album. With this 5 star rating and review, I hope people will keep listening to this album and keep trying to find the genius behind the madness. Granted this is a very challenging album and incredibly hard album to get into, just keep listening an you will soon understand

The layered drum passage, some 3:40 to 4:40 within "Didja Get Any Onya?" - the first track on Weasels Ripped My Flesh - can be heard in its infancy as the 'backing track' to "The Blimp" on the Frank Zappa-produced Trout Mask Replica album from Captain Beefheart. The work, by members of The Mothers, was resident on a tape channel when Zappa used the tape to capture the field-recording of 'The Blimp' lyrics, which were read over a telephone to him in the studio. Zappa's comment can be heard at the end of 'The Blimp'.

"Didja Get Any Onya" is also reprised in a reworking as "Charles Ives", which can be found on You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 5. The modernist composer Charles Ives had a strong influence on Zappa's work.

A related and singular item, in private collection and unlikely to surface, but which is interesting:
A single test-press vinyl LP exists entitled "Weasel Music", made for Bizarre Records by LRS (Location Recording Services) . The title & band name, on a black & red printed white label, is simply typewritten. Encased in an ivory 'Audiodiscs' sleeve it was sent from "World Pacific Records, 6920 Sunset, L.A. 90028" to "Frank Zappa, 7885 Woodrow Wilson Dr., Los Angeles".

It was later scheduled to appear in a 12xLP box set in 1970 under the title "The History & Collected Improvisations Of The Mothers Of Invention", covering work from 1963 - 1969. FZ's ads in "Playboy" failed to raise interest - the set was culled, producing "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" & Burnt Weeny Sandwich - the balance to become the non-starter No Commercial Potential (bootlegged) and later, in 1974 but another non-starter set, "Four Generations Of The Mothers".

What to Get:
The 2012 CD. It's slightly shorter than previous CDs but sounds better.
Summary: Compared to the original LP, all non-2012 CDs were slightly extended - for instance, "Didja Get Any Onya?" was three minutes longer on the CD. The CDs do not have a reputation for sounding very good; they come from the "bad batch" of late-eighties releases. The 1995 Ryko CD has extra cover/booklet artwork, but is otherwise identical to earlier discs. The 2012 CD, remastered by Bob Ludwig, reverts to the original LP edits but sounds swell.
We Need: A description of the Old Masters vinyl.

ESSENTIAL VERSIONS FOR COMPLETISTS: Original vinyl/2012 CD and any earlier CD, as the non-2012 CDs have extra material.

Original vinyl (Bizarre MS 2028 in the US (repressed in 1973), Reprise RSLP 2028 in the UK, September 10 1970; Reprise MS 2028 in Canada)
German vinyls (Reprise RS 2028 with RAT TRAP COVER!, Reprise REP 44109 with regular cover)
French vinyls (Reprise 44109, Reprise MS2028)
Greek vinyl (Reprise 44019, matrix number REP 44019 BMT 410 W 116, stamped "KAT." on back cover and label)
Japanese vinyl (Reprise P-8003R)
Taiwanese vinyl (CSJ 1008)
Argentine vinyl: Las Comadrejas Me Arrancaron la Carne (MusicHall 12.957, mono (maybe a stereo version too?))
Australian vinyl (Reprise MS 2028, 1970, high-gloss cover)
New Zealand vinyl (Reprise MS 2028, 1970, smaller back cover photo)
Israeli vinyl (Reprise MS 2028, with different back cover and Hebrew writing on the front cover)
Cassette (Reprise M 52028)
8-track (Reprise M 82028)
Renumbered UK vinyl (Reprise K 44019, July 1971)
2 Originals of the Mothers of Invention (Reprise 64 024) - Dutch and German double LP coupling with Burnt Weeny Sandwich
US vinyl re-issue (Reprise/Warner DSK 229K - late '70s?)
The Old Masters vinyl (Barking Pumpkin BPR 8888-4, November 1986)
Original CD (Ryko RCD10163 in the US, Zappa Records CDZAP24 in the UK, May 1990; VACK 5028 in Japan; Ryko D30376 in Australia, 1990)
1995 CD (Ryko RCD 10510, May 2 1995; VACK 5119 in Japan, renumbered 5254 in 1998; also in a BMG Record Club version (1088038))
1995 Cassette (Ryko RAC 10510)
180-gramme vinyl #1 (UK, 1997?)
180-gramme vinyl #2 (Simply Vinyl SVLP 24, UK June 1 1998)
Japanese paper-sleeve CD (Ryko/VACK 1211, September 21 2001 - Bizarre inner sleeve; sticker included)
2012 UMe CD (Zappa Records ZR3843 July 31, 2012)

Relation to Ahead of Their Time

A few bits of the show eventually found their way into Weasels Ripped My Flesh ("Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask" and part of "The Orange County Lumber Track" included here in its complete original form) ...

On the other hand, in the Weasels Ripped My Flesh booklet you can read that "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask" and "The Orange County Lumber Track" were recorded at the Festival Hall in London, the same location as all of Ahead of Their Time. Precise concert location is given in the Ahead of Their Time booklet: Royal Festival Hall, London, England on 28 October 1968.

A comparison between the two records is not simple because, as usual, Zappa made a lot a work on the original tapes (not to talk about the different record editions ...)

I used these editions:

Weasels Ripped My Flesh: the old Ryko CD edition, RCD 10163, made in USA (1990)
Ahead of Their Time: the Zappa Records / Barking Pumpkin Records CD, CDZAP 51, made in England (1993)
Let's start with the simplest case: "The Orange County Lumber Truck". This song is 03:18 on Weasels Ripped My Flesh. Only from 01:21 to the end is it the same recording as Ahead of Their Time; the first part of the song is from another session (the music played is quite exactly the same as in the first part of the AOTT track, but there are different total and internal timings and better sound quality), maybe a studio session. The common part of the song on Ahead of Their Time starts at 01:14 of track 20, "The Orange Lumber Truck (Part II)". The Weasels Ripped My Flesh version has a cut-end in the middle of Zappa's guitar solo, while the Ahead of Their Time version goes ahead until 10:40 fading in a "King Kong" reprise.

More complex is the case of the Weasels Ripped My Flesh track "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask" (03:48) which is a collage of different materials. From 00:00 to 00:40, it's the same recording as (approximately) 06:50-07:30 of track 11, "King Kong", on Ahead of Their Time. The rest of the material of the song (in my opinion from three to five different segments) is not present on Ahead of Their Time.

Track Titles
Some 1995 CD copies carry the misprint "Toad Of The Short Forest" on the back cover (not booklet).

Original Vinyl
From Record Collector magazine #118, June 1989 (quoted by Mikael Agardsson):

This album is notable as it established a couple of precedents for Zappa: it was the first time a Zappa/Mothers album had been issued without a gatefold sleeve in the US, plus Britain finally caught up with America and released it almost simultaneously. From here on, most Zappa releases would be issued within a month of each other in both countries.

By September 1970 Warner/Reprise had established their own UK distribution and first pressings of Weasels went straight onto one-colour Reprise labels with the small boat logo.

Original CD
An extra 3 minutes was added to "Didja Get Any Onya?". [These extra minutes were the track that was called "The Jelly" on an album called We Are the Mothers & This Is What We Sound Like, which was never released, but has been bootlegged a lot; "The Jelly" is for example on the Apocrypha bootleg - Ed. PS:"The Jelly" has a couple of extra seconds at the end, that are not on Weasels.] "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask" has been rem*ed a bit. The song "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" is still 2:08 of feedback and noise. Oh well. There are no speed-ups or added instruments as far as I can determine. This album is altered for the CD release. The opening track is extended and segues into "Directly from My Heart to You", which is annoying. Other tampering exists also, but I have difficulty being specific.

1995 CD

Official Ryko statement: "New master. New timing sheet. Restored artwork." It was otherwise identical to earlier CDs.

2012 UMe CD

Remastered by Bob Ludwig from the original analog master. Reverts to the original LP edits of "Didja" and "Get a Little," but has far improved sound quality. Essential.


  1. RYKO CD + 2012 + BONUS... The Artisan & Weasel Music Acetates... (Believe me, you WANT this stuff)

  2. Howdy Drago...

    How are you brother? Hope you are well :0)

    Thanks, as always, for the Amazing posts! Digging the Zappa run! I miss this man so very much...We need him now, more than ever!

    The inclusion of the YouTube 'mini-reviews' are Great too...That isn't you, is it? Either way, I love it! :-)

    Thanks again Drago, and Have a Great Weekend...


    Peace, Lancealot :0)

    1. Howdy Lancealot!

      Always nice to have you around... happy you are diggin' the zappa run... Those mini video reviews are pretty cool indeed, they are not mine, but I liked the way the guy tied all the releases together following one line... Concepual COntinuity! , check out his youtube page, he also has great reviews of tons of other bands. enjoy your weekend, and may the force be with you!