Written by 4:02 am Audiophile Music

Zappa On Vinyl : When Weasels Run Free

Mark Smotroff takes certain rodents very seriously

So here is the skinny on this nice reissue of the original mix of Frank Zappa’s 1970 grand final release featuring the original Mothers of Invention, Weasels Ripped My Flesh: it sounds great! 

AR-ZappaWeaselsCover225.jpgThe new LP pressings were created by Pallas in Germany and, as we have come to expect from them, it is quite perfect. The deep dark black 180-gram vinyl disc is well centered, plays dead quiet and comes housed in an audiophile-grade, plastic-lined inner-sleeve.  

This new pressing of Weasels Ripped My Flesh is mastered a little more quietly than my original on Bizarre Records (Zappa’s first label, a subsidiary of Reprise Records then owned by Warner Brothers).  So with that in mind, you may have to turn up your amp a little louder to get the same sort of punch out of the music.  But in doing so, the new reissue seems to deliver bit more openness, air and most importantly, dynamic range — this is quite apparent when compared to the original, somewhat compressed sounding LP.

That level of compression makes some sense if you stop to think about it because the original albums were designed to accommodate the relatively limited capabilities of the average teenage record player of 1970 — especially low cost automatic changers which were becoming increasingly popular at the time.  Back in the day, the velocity of the grooves being cut onto vinyl records frequently had to be reigned in to make sure that the record player’s “needle” didn’t skip due to its inability to track the very dynamic music contained within. Thus many LPs back in the day were not necessarily optimized for the the highest of fidelity, especially when we consider them 40 years hence on the more audiophile-refined turntables of today. 

AR-ZappaWeaselsBackCover225.jpgAnd of course, you just know that every teenager worth his or her salt in 1970 would be playing Weasels Ripped My Flesh on their General Electric Wildcat record changer instead of the latest release from Tony Orlando and Dawn.  I suspect the powers that be figured out by the time Frank put out Hot Rats (an audiophile favorite for many years) that they probably could push the sonic envelope a bit more than they might have done in the past.


So, by now some of you are probably wondering how the reissue sounds overall.  Well… I hear a nice sense of detailing of the music going on in this new remaster.  For example, on the new remaster, the bass on “Oh No” sounds much more refined and audible, where as on the original it sounds a bit thumpy, like there is a some cotton over the speaker.  

There are numerous sonic reveals in that sense when listening to this new remaster.  

AR-ZappaWeaselsZappaLogo225.jpgThe cover art on this new version of Weasels Ripped My Flesh is pretty much the same as the original, with some obligatory Zappa Records legalese inserted in the lower left corner of the back cover and also the addition of Frank’s favorite Edgar Varese quote (which originally appeared on Freak Out) on the right. The only thing you really give up by getting this reissue over an original pressing is the visual joy of seeing the now somewhat iconic teal blue Bizarre Records label with its nifty science-fiction-like mechanical device (which appeared on the original front cover, the record labels and the inner sleeves). 

I could ramble on a bit more, but I think that at this point you get the basic idea that this is a good reissue.  And …. like… well… y’know… really, there is not a whole lot discuss at this point aside from splitting hairs, so I figured I’ll just keep things short ‘n sweet this time ’round.

“‘Nuff said,” as they say…. 

And so ends this quick view of the restored reissue of Frank Zappa’s Weasels Ripped My Flesh.

And it comes directly from my heart to you, Dear Readers (a conceptual continuity moment, for those who are paying attention).

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