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New Release?? Understanding America
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zallures
Joined: 2005-03-15
Posts: 107
Location: san francisco
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Post 2012-11-01 19:09   [Quote] 
First off, this was obviously a project that Frank was going to release as it is the same tapes that are shown in the Peefeeyatko documentary. The exact same photos of the tapes boxes are printed in the insert for the CD. It says the original digital master by Frank on Feb 3 1991.

It was probably some sort of "best of' idea Frank had revolving around a political theme. Clearly it was to highlight his "Deluxe" version of Porn Wars and the strange politics of America.

The entire CD has been mastered with an increased volume and the low-end and high-ends peaking on almost every track. At some times the high-end seems a bit too high. Overall the sound is actually quite nice and a great listen.

There are no NEW live versions of any of the tracks on the CD (other than Promiscuous and Jesus Thinks you are a Jerk which were originally recorded live when released on BTHW) and after one listen I don't think there are any different versions other than the PWD track. Regarding PWD, there are lots more testimony added from the original version intertwined with musically additions and excerpts from the Freak Out, WOITFTM, LG, AF, "Sex" from "The Man from Utopia", and some additional Ike Willis ala Thingfish.

After a first listen, the difference in track times in "Trouble Coming Everyday" is that the song ends before the "harmonica" exit. The difference in "It Can't Happen Here" is that the piano/snare drum music is cut out in the middle of the track reducing the track time by 40 or so seconds. There is quite a few other edits on a other tracks where it seems that Frank shorten the song by removing music that didn't have relevance to the lyrics if that makes any sense..

Not sure if this is an essential album when there is some much more that could have been released but I got it for free so I cant complain. Would I buy it, nope.


Last edited by zallures on 2012-11-02 16:59; edited 2 times in total
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pbuzby
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Post 2012-11-01 19:20   [Quote] 
Thanks for the report.
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brainpang
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Joined: 2007-02-01
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Post 2012-11-02 12:07   [Quote] 
Yes, much appreciated. I will pick it up, along with Mamamania, but will wait it out for rock bottom pricing, the used "like new" scenario. Or maybe as an X-Mas gift, then I don't have to take the plunge mahself.
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porteresq
Joined: 2006-05-16
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Post 2012-11-03 19:23   [Quote] 
The first disc has some unique transitions and edits. The second disc seems to be stitched together without much effort put into the transitions.

Porn Wars Deluxe is very cool, if Porn Wars was your idea of a good time in the first place.

All songs except PWD sound like Ryko-era masters. After enjoying the new transfers for the last couple of months they were very noticeably inferior.

All in all, another audio artifact that FZ obviously prepared but did not release, yet the ZFT deemed worthy, perhaps given PWD in context and the supplementary materials in FZ's handwriting included as artwork. It is interesting to examine this FZ-assembled two-hour-plus playlist. However, although it is of an era, it is a flawed example of the state of the catalog in 2012, and misrepresents the wonderful, long overdue job Travers did to restore the fidelity of the FZ catalog. I felt the same way when they used FZ's LaserDisc transfer of Baby Snakes instead of a brand new transfer for the DVD. So it goes.
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Mondolunch
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Post 2012-11-04 01:48   [Quote] 
I like the idea of the best of stuff... I just don't buy them. Nothing personal. I am however interested in seeing exactly what is the biznatch with the Road Tapes vol 1.

Mondo

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JWB
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Post 2012-11-04 09:08   [Quote] 
Just finally got to listen to this release.

It's garbage.

The sources used are the faulty old Ryko sources. Some tracks actually sound WORSE than the old Rykos, with even more compression and reverb. It's revolting.

And Bob Ludwig's mastering sucks. Loud, harsh & unpleasant. A lot like his mastering of "Bat Chain Puller" from around the same time. Thankfully he didn't treat the main catalog this way.

I don't reccommend it.
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Vaultmeister
Joined: 2006-11-23
Posts: 57
Post 2012-11-04 10:43   [Quote] 
JWB wrote:
Just finally got to listen to this release.

It's garbage.

The sources used are the faulty old Ryko sources. Some tracks actually sound WORSE than the old Rykos, with even more compression and reverb. It's revolting.

And Bob Ludwig's mastering sucks. Loud, harsh & unpleasant. A lot like his mastering of "Bat Chain Puller" from around the same time. Thankfully he didn't treat the main catalog this way.

I don't reccommend it.


I have to disagree. I do not find it garbage at all. Not everything are ryko sources, but the bulk of it is. Since the program was made in 1989, it's interesting to note that had this CD come out then, some of the material would have found it's way on CD for the first time as not all of the titles were available on CD yet. & admist all of the current remasters there are some mixes on UA that are still not on CD. I think it's a very interesting statement by the maestro and Porn Wars Deluxe for me is worth the price of admission (so to speak). I find Understanding America a good starting point to recommend to anyone discovering FZ, made by the man himself. Since there is currently not a "compilation" in print other than "Have I Offended Someone?" (and soon "Mothermania)....I think UA serves a purpose.
But to each his own. No disrespect to anyone's opinion, but "Revolting" and "Garbage" seems a bit rough. Concerning Bob Ludwig, I thought he did a good job considering what he had to work with. Also, the 1630 masters were in wretched shape by the time we transferred them in 2008. That Ampex tape stock is so problematic, they had to be baked in order to retrieve the data. FYI, we also had to do that for almost all of the 1630 Digital House Masters that the catalog lived on. It took almost a year to treat & save all of those tapes. UGH.
Anyway, just thought I'd chime in and give two cents worth....
Joe
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Al Fresco
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Post 2012-11-04 10:57   [Quote] 
Thank you, Joe for the explanation. I pre-ordered "UA"with "Road Tapes"
Please, could you give us some clues also on Road Tapes
Many thanks in advance Exclamation
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JWB
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Post 2012-11-04 12:22   [Quote] 
Maybe I was a little harsh, but let's be realistic here. This release sounds like CRAP. Possibly the worst sounding FZ release ever. After the amazing remasters of the main catalog, this is a step backwards and not a good way to cap off the reissue program. It's not worth paying for a double CD of badly mastered stuff we already had (and couldn't wait to get rid of) just for one song. I'm sorry but that's my opinion.
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Mondolunch
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Post 2012-11-04 17:42   [Quote] 
Vaultmeister,

Love the input on how the recording was put together. I find that very interesting. Thanks for tellin us that info. That was awesome.

Road Tape info? I am going to get the RTV1 for sure. Sounds very interesting.

Mondo

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Stucco Holmes
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Post 2012-11-04 18:45   [Quote] 
Looking forward to this just because it's got two letters involved..... F and Z. But I have been told before that "Frank Zappa could take a shit and you would think it was great and buy it" so.... that's just the kind of fanatic I am! Muhahahahah!
Thanks for all your work Mr Vautmeister in keeping us all updated with re-issuing the Maestro's extensive catalog, as well as stuff that has never been released in any way, shape, or form!!
workship
Three cheers for the Vaultmeister!
Can I get an amen from you'all brothers and sisters ?? bravo

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Mondolunch
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Post 2012-11-04 18:54   [Quote] 
Stucco Holmes wrote:
Looking forward to this just because it's got two letters involved..... F and Z. But I have been told before that "Frank Zappa could take a shit and you would think it was great and buy it" so.... that's just the kind of fanatic I am! Muhahahahah!
Thanks for all your work Mr Vautmeister in keeping us all updated with re-issuing the Maestro's extensive catalog, as well as stuff that has never been released in any way, shape, or form!!
workship
Three cheers for the Vaultmeister!
Can I get an amen from you'all brothers and sisters ?? bravo


As far as I know, FZ took a shit and I liked it.

AMEN!!!

Mondo

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Al Fresco
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Post 2012-11-04 19:10   [Quote] 
Amen to that, brother SH Exclamation
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emmapeelfanclub
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Post 2012-11-05 01:40   [Quote] 
AMEN!!!
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Raiders
Joined: 2005-06-20
Posts: 31
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Post 2012-11-05 04:33   [Quote] 
Vaultmeister wrote:


I have to disagree. I do not find it garbage at all. Not everything are ryko sources, but the bulk of it is. Since the program was made in 1989, it's interesting to note that had this CD come out then, some of the material would have found it's way on CD for the first time as not all of the titles were available on CD yet. & admist all of the current remasters there are some mixes on UA that are still not on CD. I think it's a very interesting statement by the maestro and Porn Wars Deluxe for me is worth the price of admission (so to speak). I find Understanding America a good starting point to recommend to anyone discovering FZ, made by the man himself. Since there is currently not a "compilation" in print other than "Have I Offended Someone?" (and soon "Mothermania)....I think UA serves a purpose.
But to each his own. No disrespect to anyone's opinion, but "Revolting" and "Garbage" seems a bit rough. Concerning Bob Ludwig, I thought he did a good job considering what he had to work with. Also, the 1630 masters were in wretched shape by the time we transferred them in 2008. That Ampex tape stock is so problematic, they had to be baked in order to retrieve the data. FYI, we also had to do that for almost all of the 1630 Digital House Masters that the catalog lived on. It took almost a year to treat & save all of those tapes. UGH.
Anyway, just thought I'd chime in and give two cents worth....
Joe


Joe,

I appreciate your input. I'm not quite as bully as you are with regard to UA's potential to lead to new Zappa fans, honestly; while it's an interesting set, I don't think it functions very well as a career overview. I also share JWB's disappointment with regard to the "reversion," if you will, to the old pre-2012-era audio, although I understand why that happened...it's frustrating that the brilliant efforts showcased on the 2012 reissues by and large will not be available on any commercial compilation. That said, I see why UA was released, and it does prompt certain conceptual continuity puzzles that can have people like me buzzing for weeks.

Am I correct in assuming that the ZFT generally does not prefer releasing compilations that FZ did not, himself, compile?

One of the surprises of "Understanding America" is that it uses what appear to be the 1989/1990 digital transfers of tracks from Tinsel-town Rebellion and You Are What You Is, including the "Dumb All Over" edit, but that none of those songs have the major audio problems that plagued the pre-1998, post-EMI versions of those songs. As I've never been entirely clear on what caused the peculiar issues in the "bad batch" of discs (ALL of which have been fixed by the current reissue campaign, as far as I know), this muddies the waters further. Was FZ aware of the problems that those discs had? Why do some of the songs on UA have the "bad batch" issues (notably, the Over-nite Sensation tracks, which seem to date from the 1990 Zappa Records two-fer), but the Tinseltown/YAWYI tracks do not? Do you have any insight into why this may be the case?

Because I may not get a chance to do so again: while we may respectfully disagree on Understanding America, I need to commend you and the ZFT for a job well done on the 2012 discs. Seriously, they're pretty fucking fantastic.


Last edited by Raiders on 2012-11-05 05:49; edited 2 times in total
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