Frank Zappa - Meat Light (recorded 1968, released Nov 2016)

Disc One (Original 1969 Vinyl Mix)
1. Uncle Meat: Main Title Theme 1:56
2. The Voice Of Cheese 0:26
3. Nine Types Of Industrial Pollution 6:02
4. Zolar Czackl 0:54
5. Dog Breath, In The Year Of The Plague 3:59
6. The Legend Of The Golden Arches 3:27
7. Louie Louie (At the Royal Albert Hall in London) 2:18
8. The Dog Breath Variations 1:50
9. Sleeping In A Jar 0:50
10. Our Bizarre Relationship 1:05
11. The Uncle Meat Variations 4:46
12. Electric Aunt Jemima 1:46
13. Prelude To King Kong 3:39
14. God Bless America (Live at the Whisky A Go Go) 1:10
15. A Pound For A Brown On The Bus 1:29
16. Ian Underwood Whips It Out (Live on stage in Copenhagen) 5:09
17. Mr. Green Genes 3:13
18. We Can Shoot You 2:03
19. “If We’d All Been Living In California...” 1:14
20. The Air 2:57
21. Project X 4:49
22. Cruising For Burgers 2:18
23. King Kong Itself (as played by the Mothers in a studio) 0:51
24. King Kong (its magnificence as interpreted by Dom DeWild) 1:19
25. King Kong (as Motorhead explains it) 1:45
26. King Kong (the Gardner Varieties) 6:14
27. King Kong (as played by 3 deranged Good Humor Trucks) 0:37
28. King Kong (live on a flat bed diesel in the middle of a race track at a Miami Pop Festival... the Underwood ramifications) 7:24
Disc Two (Original Sequence)
1. Dog Breath, In The Year Of The Plague 2:55
2. The Legend Of The Golden Arches 3:16
3. The Voice Of Cheese 0:26
4. Whiskey Wah 1:34
5. Nine Types Of Industrial Pollution 6:03
6. Louie Louie (Live at the Royal Albert Hall in London) 2:27
7. The Dog Breath Variations 1:51
8. Shoot You Percussion Item 1:28
9. The Whip 5:03
10. The Uncle Meat Variations 4:47
11. King Kong 10:46
12. Project X Minus .5 1:47
13. A Pound For A Brown On The Bus 1:29
14. Electric Aunt Jemima 1:46
15. Prelude To King Kong 3:39
16. God Bless America (Live at the Whiskey A Go Go) 1:11
17. Sleeping In A Jar 0:51
18. Cops & Buns 5:56
19. Zolar Czakl 0:47
Disc Three (Original Sequence and Vault tracks)
1. We Can Not Shoot You 1:16
2. Mr. Green Genes 3:13
3. “PooYeahrg” 0:32
4. Uncle Meat: Main Title Theme 1:27
5. Our Bizarre Relationship 1:10
6. “Later We Can Shoot You” 0:15
7. “If We’d All Been Living In California…” 1:19
8. ‘Ere Ian Whips It/JCB Spits It/Motorhead Rips It 2:30
9. The Air 2:58
10. Project X .5 2:38
11. Cruising For Burgers 2:23
12. “A Bunch Of Stuff” 1:40
13. Dog Breath (Single Version - Stereo) 2:55
14. Tango 0:24
15. The String Quartet 3:06
16. Electric Aunt Jemima (Mix Outtake) 1:40
17. Exercise 4 Variant 4:32
18. Zolar Czackl (Mix Outtake) 0:45
19. “More Beer!” 0:17
20. Green Genes Snoop 1:13
21. Mr. Green Genes (Mix Outtake) 3:11
22. Echo Pie 2:16
23. 1/4 Tone Unit 1:06
24. Sakuji’s March 0:35
25. No. 4 1:52
26. Prelude To King Kong (Extended Version) 5:24
27. Blood Unit 1:22
28. My Guitar (Proto I- Excerpt) 2:12
29. Nine Types Of Industrial Pollution (Guitar track, normal speed) 9:53
30. Uncle Meat (Live at Columbia University 1969) 4:44
31. Dog Breath (Instrumental) 2:50
32. The Dog Breath Variations (Mix Outtake) 1:46
Total Time:    3 Hours 27 minutes, 36 seconds

So this is the long-awaited "Project/Object" expanded boxed set version of Uncle Meat. It took me a while to lay my hands on this one, but a birthday present of an Amazon gift card from my parents finally motivated me to pick it up.

So what's in this deluxe, three disc package? Well, unfortunately not much in the way of useful liner notes. The booklet contains only a track listing, a blurb from the original album's notes, band credits, a few photos, a few new drawings and artworks, a one page reminiscence from Ian Underwood and some quotes from Frank taken from various interviews. There's no discussion of the contents of the three CDs or why said contents were selected for release, no history of the album, nothing you'd expect from this sort of archival project. Even the Zappa quotes don't have much of anything to do with Uncle Meat, specifically.

Disc one is the original vinyl mix of the album. I tried doing an A/B comparison of this disc with the Rykodisc CDs that I bought in the 1980s, and there's not a whole lot of difference. It's certainly not night and day different like Cruising With Reuben and the Jets was from the Greasy Love Songs version. The Meat Light tracks sound a little drier (i.e. without the subtle touch of reverb that Zappa added in the '80s), and don't sound quite as loud and forceful. They may sound just a tiny, tiny bit clearer than the original CDs, but really any differences are pretty small. And maybe it's just because I grew up with the '80s CD version, but I think that one sounds better. The vinyl mix won't be replacing the old version that's already on my MP3 player.

The "bonus" tracks that Zappa added to the album in the '80s (audio extracts from the Uncle Meat movie and the song Tengo Na Minchia Tanta) are, understandably, not present on the original vinyl mix disc. That may actually be considered a plus by some fans, many of whom referred to them as the "penalty" tracks when they first showed up between sides three and four of the original album on the Ryko CDs.

Disc two contains the first three sides of what is labelled the "Original Sequence". Since the liner notes make no explanation of what this is, I had to do some digging on the web and apparently this is an earlier version of the album that Frank had put together but later changed before its first release. Much of it is identical to the album we've come to know and love over the past 40+ years, but there are some tracks that are slightly different, some that are extended and some that are slightly edited. They're arranged in a fairly different order too, adding credence to the FZ quote in the notes booklet about how his music can be re-arranged and will still work due to its "conceptual continuity". There are a handful of tracks that have never been released before, like the wah-wah pedal driven guitar solo Whiskey Wah and the live instrumental jam The Whip. The Cops and Buns track from Lost Episodes makes a reappearance here, running a couple minutes longer because it's apparently unedited.

Disc three opens with the final side of the Original Sequence, which features (among other things) an audio collage of overlapping dialog from members of the Mothers called 'Ere Ian Whips It / JCB Spits It / Motorhead Rips It. Once side four of the Original Sequence has run its course, the rest of disc three is filled out by various odds and ends - pretty much whatever they could find in the vault that was related to the Uncle Meat album. More audio clips from the movie, single versions, outtakes, remixes, live tracks, instrumental snippets and pieces that didn't make the album, etc. Possibly the least essential bonus track ever comes in the form of nearly ten minutes of acoustic guitar noodling that Zappa sped up and used in background of the track Nine Types of Industrial Pollution, here presented at its original speed.

Overall, I'm sad to say that this set wasn't nearly as interesting as I thought it would be. There's not a whole lot of new and interesting stuff here. The Uncle Meat treasure trove had largely been mined out already between the original album, the movie, and stuff already released as bonus tracks and on compilations. Of the anniversary archival sets released so far, this might actually be the least interesting one, which I wasn't expecting for one of Zappa's most interesting '60s albums. On the plus side, listening to all these tracks over and over again (since there's so much repetition in this boxed set) gave me a whole new appreciation of how the musical themes from Uncle Meat formed the groundwork for much of what Frank would do throughout the rest of his career.

Album Cover

Image of the Meat Light album cover