Frank Zappa - Sleep Dirt (1979)

Filthy Habits   7:33
Flam Bay   4:54
Spider of Destiny   2:33
Regyptian Strut   4:12
Time is Money   2:49
Sleep Dirt   3:21
The Ocean is the Ultimate Solution   13:17
Total Time: 38 min, 40 sec

The third of the Lšther albums (see the explanation at the beginning of the In New York review). This one starts out with the guitar solo song Filthy Habits, which is largely an exercise in controlled feedback. The title is perfect for its dark sound. A very intense track. Flam Bay is a sort of lounge jazz piece, and (along with Spider of Destiny and Time is Money) the source of much controversy. Those three tracks were intended for a sci-fi concept album called "Hunchentoot" that Zappa was working on, but never finished. On the original vinyl release of this album, those three tracks were instrumentals. For the CD version, Frank decided to add a female vocalist to sing the lyrics he had originally intended for the songs, much to the consternation of many long-time fans. The instrumental versions were finally issued on CD in the 90s as part of Lšther, but even then they were different, shortened versions. To this day, the original vinyl mixes of those songs have not been issued on CD.

Moving on, Regyptian Strut is a big, purposefully pompous sounding instrumental track. Prog rock fans should like it. Sleep Dirt is something very unusual for Zappa - an acoustic guitar duet. It's a very mellow little piece with some beautiful lead acoustic work from Frank - makes me wish he had released more of this sort of stuff. The final track, The Ocean is the Ultimate Solution, apart from being a nice pun is also a great instrumental track. It's fairly jazzy, but also has kind of an avant garde feel to it. I've got to admit that if I'm not in the mood for this track, it can be kind of grating. But when I am in the mood, it's an excellent trio workout featuring Zappa on guitar, Patrick O'Hearn on bass and Terry Bozzio on drums.

Even if you own Lšther, this disc is still fairly essential, because of the added vocals (assuming you like them - personally, I think they're OK but get a little annoying in places), the addition of Sleep Dirt, and the extra five minutes or so at the beginning of Ocean.

Album Cover

Image of the Sleep Dirt album cover