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A MASTERPIECE BACK IN ITS GLORIOUS ORIGINAL MIX
on 7 August 2012
For the first time ever, the 1969 mix of Frank Zappa's 'Hot Rats' has been released on CD. This album was released long before I was born, so my first approach to it was in its 1987 remix encarnation. I considered it a masterpiece back then, and I must say it is not a bad remix, but the original is superior nevertheless. First of all, the sound has more low end, therefore the instruments sound "fatter" (especially bass and drums). This original mix is also drier and clearer compared to the 1987 mix which featured reverb and an overall not very pleasing "tinny" sound quality. However, the remix featured a longer "Gumbo Variations" and some extra flute work on "Little Umbrellas", but some sped-up percussion parts are sorely missed. There are many other differences, some of them much more subtle.
A lot has been said about this album. It is one of FZ's masterpieces. He makes a clever use of the then state-of-the-art 16-track recording system to orchestrate his magnificent compositions always avoiding to sound excessive or overloaded with sonic information. A special mention must be done to Ian Underwood, who plays all winds and keyboards like the extraordinary multi-instrumentist he is.
Conclusion: the original mix (the one recovered for this 2012 reissue) sounds great. The 1987 mix (previous CD editions) has some sound deffects, but featured extra material. If you love this album, try to get both (I'm sure you have at least the old CD version by now if you love it!). If you have to choose, pick the ORIGINAL MIX, mark my word.