FRANK ZAPPA’S THE HOT RATS SESSIONS, CELEBRATING THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF 1969 SOLO ALBUM, HOT RATS
NEW BOXED SET INCLUDES UNRELEASED BASIC TRACKS, RARE AND UNEDITED MIXES, WORK MIXES, RELEVANT NUGGETS FROM ZAPPA’S VAULT, NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN PHOTOS FROM THE RECORDING SESSIONS AND PHOTO SHOOT THAT PRODUCED THE HOT RATS COVER AND UNIQUE “ZAPPA LAND” BOARD GAME
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Universal Music Canada
20 December 2019 (Toronto, ON) – On the eve of what would have been Frank Zappa’s 79th birthday, Zappa Records and UMe/Universal Music Canada, the country's leading music company, are thrilled to release the massive six-disc boxed set, The Hot Rats Sessions, celebrating the legendary composer’s inimitable, groundbreaking first solo album, Hot Rats, and his highly prolific 1969 period. This expansive new collection documents and compiles every composition recorded during several days in July 1969 when Zappa recorded Hot Rats and a wealth of other material that ended up being used throughout multiple releases during his lifetime. Filled with an abundance of rare and unedited mixes, work mixes, relevant Vault nuggets and complete basic tracks mixed from the original multi-track master tapes by Craig Parker Adams and mastered by Bob Ludwig in 2019, the collection provides a fascinating look into the making of this classic album, and includes essentially every musical entity that was recorded during these iconic sessions.
The Hot Rats Sessions is already receiving rave reviews and being hailed as one of the best archival releases of 2019 with Ultimate Classic Rock, Billboard and more including it in their year-end lists. Mojo awarded the set four stars and exclaimed, “In terms of technical innovation and musical sophistication, Hot Rats is surely the Pet Sounds of the early rock era… Here, just marvel at the method of its making, the artfulness of its execution.” The Guardian, which described the original album as “a work of such imagination, humor and freedom,” lauded the collection for its expansiveness and diversity: “While many box projects that intend to chronicle, and illuminate, classic albums waste space with mild variations on the official versions of a song, most of the tracks on the Rats box differ greatly from those listeners have previously heard. The dense and raucous jams that inspired the final cuts have been fully restored, and assembled in an order that makes the development of the official versions clear.”
Released on October 10, 1969, Hot Rats was the album that put Zappa on the map as a virtuosic guitarist and changed the course of music forever with its conceptual, compositional and technological innovations. Self-described as a “movie for your ears”, the mostly instrumental 1969 album was a new musical avenue for Zappa following the dissolution of his band The Mothers Of Invention as he melded the sophistication of jazz with the attitude of rock and roll to create a highly influential masterpiece widely hailed today as a pioneering album of jazz-rock fusion.
Overseen by the Zappa Trust and produced by Ahmet Zappa and Zappa Vaultmeister Joe Travers, The Hot Rats Sessions is available as a 6-CD boxed set and digitally, including Apple Digital Master. This creatively fertile time in Zappa’s career has been visually brought to life through a beautiful 28-page booklet featuring striking never-before-seen images of the recording sessions by Bill Gubbins, photographs of the master tapes and tape boxes, and stunning outtakes from original Hot Rats cover photographer Andee Nathanson’s shoot with Miss Christine. Nathanson provides the collection’s new cover image and several unreleased photos, all from the same photo shoot, captured on Infrared film which gave the original album its otherworldly look. The photographer vividly details the shoot in the liner notes which also includes essays by Zappa collaborator Ian Underwood and Vaultmeister Travers and an appreciation from "The Simpsons" creator and lifelong Zappa fan Matt Groening who recounts his first time listening to Hot Rats as a teenager: “From the opening moments of that unforgettable drum fill, I was transported. The kaleidoscopic, calliopean, dare-I-say-callipygian, mini-masterpiece ‘Peaches En Regalia’ elevated my scrawny body into the air, spun me around like a propeller beanie, and melted my brain.”
The Hot Rats Sessions also includes a one-of-a-kind “Zappa Land” board game. Inspired by vintage board games, players are tasked with helping Frank get back to the studio to finish Hot Rats. Starting at home in Laurel Canyon, players will move their guitar pick playing piece through a windy and unpredictable path to the recording studio. Just make sure you don’t get attacked by hot rats or end up with a watery cup of coffee.
The original Hot Rats album is also now available on limited edition translucent hot pink 180-gram vinyl featuring the 1969 mix mastered from the original analog master tapes by Bernie Grundman in 2008 and pressed at Pallas in Germany. Last month for Record Store Day’s Black Friday, a limited edition 10” picture disc Peaches En Regalia was released. The EP has rare mono mixes on Side A of “Peaches En Regalia” and “Little Umbrellas”, intended in 1969 as a promotional single, and the 1969 unreleased rhythm track mixes from the forthcoming boxed set on the flipside.
Hot Rats was composed, arranged, and produced by Zappa who played guitar on all tracks and delivered extraordinary solos throughout. One of the best-selling albums of his career, the six-song record is made up of five instrumentals including one of his most beloved works, “Peaches En Regalia”. Frequent Zappa collaborator Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart provides his unmistakable vocals to lone non-instrumental, the skronky blues-rock number, “Willie The Pimp”. Star musicians on these sessions include multi-instrumentalist Ian Underwood, violinists Don “Sugarcane” Harris and Jean Luc Ponty, bassist Max Bennett, drummers Jon Guerin (Max and Jon played together in the famed fusion outfit L.A. Express), Paul Humphrey and Ron Selico, R&B pioneer Johnny Otis and his 15-year-old son, Shuggie Otis who lays down some astounding, ahead of his time bass lines on “Peaches En Regalia” and several other tracks.
The Hot Rats Sessions offers a riveting and revealing fly-on-the-wall experience by showcasing the genesis and evolution of the Hot Rats songs as well as tracks that would be featured on Zappa’s acclaimed albums, Burnt Weeny Sandwich, Weasels Ripped My Flesh, Studio Tan and Chunga’s Revenge. Hot Rats was the first record to be recorded on a prototype 16-track tape machine and this new technology, along with Zappa’s overdub techniques, further inspired him to create and innovate. The first three and a half discs of the set are dedicated to the basic track recording sessions recorded at T.T.G. Studios in Hollywood, California on July 18, 28, 29 and 30, and allows listeners the opportunity to experience what it would be like to be in the studio as Zappa perfected these compositions. His intense work ethic is on full display and a newfound respect is gained for the choices he made when creating the final masterwork.
The fifth and sixth discs of the set presents the original Hot Rats album with Zappa’s 1987 digital re-mix along with an assortment of extras such as vintage promotional audio ads for the album, the mono singles of “Peaches En Regalia” and “Little Umbrellas” and rare mixes of more than a dozen tracks. The Hot Rats Sessions is rife with unreleased session material and also includes the first-ever official release of “Bognor Regis” and several unedited masters of songs like “Peaches En Regalia”, “Twenty Small Cigars”, “Toads Of The Short Forest”, “Lil’ Clanton Shuffle” and “Directly From My Heart To You”.
The Hot Rats Sessions provides an awe-inspiring snapshot of an especially productive time for Zappa who in the year 1969 alone, outside of his own projects, produced Captain Beefheart’s outsider classic, Trout Mask Replica and the one and only album for The GTO’s, toured, and had his second child. With this new, exciting deep dive, fans can explore one of Zappa’s most revered records like never before and experience how it coalesced to become one of the greatest albums of all time.
Piano Music (Section 1)
It Must Be A Camel (Part 1, In Session)
Transition (Section 1, In Session)
Dame Margret’s Son To Be A Bride (Remake)
Peaches En Regalia (1987 Digital Re-Mix)
Little Umbrellas (Cucamonga Version)
Source Universal Music Canada
December 20, 2019 3:00pm ET by Universal Music Canada