Official Release #65. The full saga of Läther (pronounced leather) is tangled enough to give a migraine to all but committed Zappaphiles. Basically, what you need to know is that this project was originally conceived of as a four-record box set. When record company politics prevented its release in that format, much of the material was spread over the albums Live in New York, Sleep Dirt, Studio Tan, and Orchestral Favorites. This three-CD set presents the album as it was originally conceived, with the addition of four bonus tracks at the end. It mixes previously available material, alternate mixes, and edits, and previously unissued stuff, though only the most serious Zappa fans will have a good grip on exactly what has appeared where (the liner notes are surprisingly unexact in this regard).
On May 12, 1960, Elvis Presley made his first TV appearance after his two-year U.S. Army stint concluded. For a princely sum of $125,000, Presley returned to the limelight via Frank Sinatra’s TV variety show. While Sinatra was at the peak of his career during this time, his TV program was widely regarded as a mediocrity unworthy of his talents. Nonetheless, Sinatra hosted Presley’s return to the entertainment industry in what could charitably be described as one of the most fucked up shows in the history of television.
Studio Tan is one of four albums culled from the ill-fated 1976 box set Läther and released by Warner Bros. without Frank Zappa having a word to say about the final product (including the horrible artwork). The 21-minute opener, "The Adventures of Greggery Peccary," is the culmination of Zappa's art of storytelling. A complex piece painstakingly assembled in the studio over three years, it allies the comedy rock of the Flo & Eddie era with the jazzy feel of The Grand Wazoo and the twisted prog rock of the 1973-1974 band.
Frank Zappa loved '50s doo wop music. He grew up with it, collected it, and it was the first kind of pop music he wrote (like "Memories of El Monte," recorded by the Penguins in 1962). Cruising With Ruben & the Jets, the Mothers of Invention's fourth LP, is a collection of such music, all Zappa originals (some co-written with MOI singer Ray Collins). To the unexperienced, songs like "Cheap Thrills," "Deseri," and "Jelly Roll Gum Drop" can sound like an average doo wop song.
Sarah Vaughan recorded frequently during her three years with Roulette, and all 16 albums she completed for them plus five previously unissued tracks are included in this comprehensive eight-CD boxed set from Mosaic. The gifted singer is heard in a variety of settings, from superb small-group sessions to big-band settings and various dates bordering on easy listening; the sessions omitting the often syrupy string sections are the cream of this bumper crop.