Exposé Online banner

Frank Zappa — Läther
(Rykodisc RCD 10574/76, 1996, 3CD)

by Rob Walker, Published 1997-02-01

Läther Cover art

At long last, Zappa's late 70s quadruple-album masterpiece has received a well-deserved official release. When Warner Bros. rejected Zappa's attempt to fulfill his remaining contract requirements in one fell swoop with this gigantic package, Frank took the bulk of the material, rearranged it, added a few other pieces, and handed the company the four separate and somewhat stylistically cohesive albums we've come to love as Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt, Orchestral Favorites, and Zappa in New York. He then took the Läther tapes to a local radio station, invited listeners to hook up their tape recorders, and gave his fans their first and only "official" bootleg. Those that have tolerated the mediocre sound quality of these radio recordings for the past two decades will be overjoyed with Ryko's CD pressing. Those that have previously been unacquainted with Läther will be amazed anew at not only the breadth of Zappa's musical diversity documented here, but also the contextual freshness these pieces find when restored to their original conceptual framework. The music of Läther expands in all directions to the boundaries of Zappa's vast stylistic universe, encompassing orchestral caricatures, jazz-funk jams, silly cartoonish interludes, intricate instrumentals, and blunt social documentaries. In addition to finding several tracks which never made it onto other albums, listeners will discover other goodies such as the original instrumental versions of several tracks from Sleep Dirt, and different mixes, minus the overdubs, of live tracks which ended up on Zappa in New York. To top it all off, this 3CD set contains four bonus tracks and a lengthy booklet with historical notes and lineup info for each song. A must-have for die-hard fans, and certainly a thorough, though perhaps overwhelming, introduction for novices to Zappa's musical universe.


Filed under: New releases, Reissues, Issue 11, 1996 releases

Related artist(s): Terry Bozzio, Chad Wackerman, Frank Zappa, Eddie Jobson, George Duke

Latest news

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Solstice - Spirit – One of the bright spots of 2010 was the return of Solstice. It's been 13 years since their last studio effort, Circles, and I was beginning to wonder if they'd ever return. Other than Andy Glass'...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues