Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Frank Zappa/The Mothers Of Invention - Freak Out! (1966) [Original Aborted Stereo Mix]

The Mothers Of Invention - The Alternate Freak Out!
Original 1966 Uncensored Stereo Mix
2010 Yellow Snow Records YSR 001 (Discogs)
~ThePoodleBites rip in 96 kHz / 24 bit FLAC + high-resolution artwork~

Here's an album that is completely deserving of its now-legendary status. Freak Out! was rock music's first planned double album, the first-ever double-album debut in any genre, perhaps the first-ever concept album, and one of the first albums to feature psychedelic-sounding music. Scheduled for release one week before Blonde On Blonde, and months before The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators or Revolver, Freak Out! was an incredible cultural and musical statement, and one which permanently established Zappa in both the rock and contemporary music scenes. It's commonly referred to as the album which has a song for everyone; there's straight-ahead (albeit tongue-in-cheek) pop and doo-wop such as "Wowie Zowie" and "Go Cry On Somebody Else's Shoulder," to the hard-rocking intensity of "Hungry Freaks, Daddy," to the immense experimentalism of "Help I'm A Rock" and "The Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet." And Zappa's signature style features not only great compositions but alarmingly relevant and complex lyrics, as best exemplified in "Trouble Every Day."

When I first heard of this bootleg, I instantly became envious of the set: it boasted the full uncensored "Help, I'm A Rock" along with a few seconds of music on "Wowie Zowie" unheard on any other release. When I was finally able to track down this record, though (go and try to find one! It's not an easy task -- the last and only one sold on eBay 4 years ago for ~$200), I was completely blown away at how great every single track sounded. I own both the earliest original stereo and mono LPs of this innovative masterwork, but the sound quality here is quite unique. Comparing with the 4-disc MOFO set from 2009, the increase in fidelity is obvious. This is certainly sourced from tape, and if it isn't an all-analogue pressing, it is most certainly at least from high-resolution digital transfers. My guess is that this was Frank's original mixdown for Verve, which he was probably asked to edit for removing the "since you first took the shots" line in "Help, I'm A Rock," and whence he reordered the tracks and spliced out the few-second musique concrete section in "Wowie Zowie." Duping the stereo tapes probably resulted in the muffled sound you hear on the MOFO Project/Object. 

This is the best and most important bootleg that I own, and it is certainly one of the crowned jewels of my collection. 

(Zappa would probably roll over in his grave if he knew I was calling this album psychedelic, but you just can't listen to "Brain Police" and disagree!)

This record features a different track order from the released version of Freak Out! -- instead of starting with the heavy societal critiques of "Hungry Freaks, Daddy," Zappa starts with the pop-based "Wowie Zowie" and slowly builds in weirdness to the avant-garde finale of "Cream Cheese."

Track Listing: 
01) Wowie Zowie -- 2:49
02) You Didn't Try To Call Me -- 3:18
03) Trouble Comin' Every Day -- 5:52
04) No Heart -- 2:33
05) How Could I Be Such A Fool -- 2:14
06) I'm Not Satisfied -- 2:38
07) Motherly Love -- 2:47
08) Brain Police -- 3:23
09) Any Way The Wind Blows -- 2:54
10) Hungry Freaks, Daddy -- 3:31
11) You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here -- 3:38
12) Go Cry On Somebody Else's Shoulder -- 3:46
13) Help, I'm A Rock -- 8:40 [including "It Can't Happen Here"]
14) Cream Cheese -- 12:15

Vinyl Condition: Mint (brand new)
Dynamic Range: DR 12

– Audio-Technica AT150MLx Dual Moving-Magnet Cartridge
– Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB Direct Drive Professional Turntable (internal stock preamp/ADC removed)
– TCC TC-754 RIAA Phono Preamp (new regulated power supply, added LM7812 regulator)
– Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 MkII (96kHz / 24bit)
– Adobe Audition CC 2018 (recording)
– iZotope RX 6 Audio Editor (manual declicking, additional adjustments)
– Audacity 2.2.2 (fades between tracks, split tracks)
– Foobar2000 v1.3.19 (tagging, dynamic range analysis)

A note on my mastering:
I have one complaint -- and it is quite minor -- about this record: the stereo image isn't as wide as it probably is on the tapes. On the final two compositions, this results in some bleed and resonant-sounding noise which is not on any other version of this LP. However, I was able to correct much of this without harming the original sound. This in part required a ~15 second splice in the right channel of "Cream Cheese" (aka "The Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet") at the beginning of the track, which is basically just tape noise. I properly speed corrected the other tape-based source and perfectly spliced in this section. I also mono collapsed some small mono segments in movement 3 ("It Can't Happen Here") of "Help I'm A Rock," which after some phase correction greatly improved the sound. I also spliced the ending of side A and the beginning of side B together, as the very quiet piano sound that is strangely in the background between some tracks was repeated there, suggesting that this first LP was made from the same tape split across two sides. As usual, unedited versions are available in a subdirectory, but everyone else can ignore these files. 

Enjoy, and please leave a comment below so that I know you stopped by! :) 

**NOTE: I may rip my copy of the original US mono LP at some point in the future, but in the meantime I recommend checking out the rip by 'Prof. Stoned' available here.


  1. Really awesome TPB, many many thanks for this gem !!

  2. Fantastic, can't wait to listen

  3. This is awesome.....didn't know that tapes.....brilliant rip!

  4. WOWIE ZOWIE ... Poodle !!!! Thank You , Masked Man !!!!!!

  5. Thanks for this - looking foward to a listen!

  6. Wowie Zowie !!! Thanks for this little-known gem ! 1

  7. Sounds like uncompressed master before the processing needed to cut vinyl in the 60's.
    I wonder if the master of the final cut sounds this way as well if they did a straight transfer. This may be my new go-to for this album now. Wonderful sound like hearing it for the first time in a new light. Top shelf stuff sir thanks so much.

  8. excellent thanks for sharing

  9. I too own of copies the early mono & stereo versions of 'Freak Out, and I additionally thought that I was relatively familiar with Zappa's recorded history, but I don't recall ever hearing of an 'aborted stereo mix' of the MOI debut recording. That said, your comments don't make mention of why this version was scrubbed, other than Verve's insistence on cutting a few references they deemed unsuitable. But that's just a matter of editing, or possibly re-recording the song in question, not shelving the entire mix. Can you kindly offer a explanation for rejecting this mix.

    BTW - Thanks very much for sharing this artifact. I'm really looking forward to hearing it!

    1. Sixth paragraph here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freak_Out!#Recording

  10. Related but not ...any chance that you're thinking of using your skills to create a proper "Happy Together" (in mono) https://www.discogs.com/The-Turtles-Happy-Together/release/1745230 ? As much as I dig Bill Inglot's work the 2017 remaster on Edsel has no life in it ... this album should jump through the speaker.

    1. Yes, I did this one awhile ago but wasn't happy enough with the final product so I've not posted it here. The mono mix is definitely *the one,* and the original mono LP sounds great to these ears. I will perhaps look at this again in the future, although it may be on quite a big timescale (probably years). Perhaps I can find a cleaner copy in the meantime.

  11. Thank You for such a beautiful transfer. Zappa fans rejoyce.

  12. THANK YOU - from a Happy Zappa fan in Ireland ;)

  13. Pedigree, provenance and penury. That's what a Freak Out LP should mean to a Mothers Of Invention collector. This aborted version must have been for internal use only. It sounds unlike any version of the album that I'm familiar with. I own original pressings of U.S. mono and U.S. Stereo Freak Out LPs. Thank you for this wonderful gift. It's a brand new record again. Mom, I tore a big hole in the convertible.

  14. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  15. It's really annoying that this great sounding tape wasn't released digitally on a boot. I wonder who has the tapes?

  16. mind......Beyond..... B L O W N ! ! ! ! ! ! !

    (and many thanks!

  17. I've just discovered your site.. And read with interest your blurb about the problem of studio transfers of raqre or priceless recordings. As a musician over the last 40+ years, I'm aware of these issues and have to agree on this. It's good to see someone taking up the cause so effectively.. I will certainly be back.. Also am aware of this version of "Freak Out!" but have never heard it before.. I am looking forward to it.. Thank you.. Doc.

  18. Joe Travers insists that this is a "working mix" of the album, but it's clearly not. It's the same mix of the album before it was censored and heavily processed. Oh well.

  19. Many thanks for doing an excellent job providing us with this great music :-)

  20. many sincere thanks...bit of trouble downloading from drive but got there in the end.

  21. Just great to discover the unheard version...sounds awesome and the alternate songs sequence makes it a huge PLUS.
    Thanks for sharing !!!