What's On Lumpy Gravy?

Since the release of The Lumpy Money Project/Object (2009) most of the research and speculation that originally appeared on this article doesn't make any sense any more, but I think the comparison between the different versions of the album and the discussion about the origin of the material is still worth it. So...

There are two main incarnations of Lumpy Gravy, each one with some different versions (for a more detailed discussion of the different releases, go to The Zappa Patio):

  1. Lumpy Gravy (Capitol Records STAO-2719, August 7, 1967)—recorded between February and March at Capitol Studios, and released at least on the form of an 8-track cartridge, but quickly withdrawn. There are two known versions, and the only difference between them is on "Sink Trap," which on version 1 starts with 15 seconds of music unavailable on any other version, but on version 2 starts with the 42 seconds of "King Kong" also available on "Foamy Soaky":
    1. The Lumpy Money Project/Object (Zappa Records, January, 2009)—"FZ's Original Orchestral Edit for Capitol Records." Mono. See table below for its detailed content.
    2. A recording reportedly coming from an original stereo test pressing, available either on MP3 or FLAC files in trade circles. Side One of this version also appears on the soundtrack of Frank Zappa And The Original Mothers Of Invention (Ed Seeman, 1968), except for the bit that was inserted in "Mother People," which seems to have been sliced out directly by FZ from the tape he gave to Ed Seeman for the soundtrack. This is also the version used for the single, also available on a test pressing acetate.
  2. Lumpy Gravy (MGM/Verve V/V6-8741, May 13, 1968)—with many additions to the original orchestral recording taken from very different periods, which may go from early 1961 to late 1967. There have been three versions available on CD:
    1. We're Only In It For The Money/Lumpy Gravy (Rykodisc RCD40024/Zappa Records CDZAP13, 1986/1988)—supposedly taken from the original vinyl mix.
    2. Lumpy Gravy (Rykodisc RCD 10504, 1995)—remastered by FZ & Spencer Chrislu from an original safety copy. For this version FZ put titles to the different sections of the piece, marked by subindexes.
    3. The Lumpy Money Project/Object (Zappa Records, 2009)—"1984 UMRK Remix," with bass, drums and new voices added. An excerpt of this version appeared on The Old Masters Box I Sampler (1985).

So, let's start.

Lumpy Gravy (Capitol Version):

Capitol 8-track cover

TLMPO Repeats: LG (1995) Part 1 LG (1995) Part 2 Outtakes (TLMPO) 1995 title Content Repeated on:
0:06       How Did That Get In Here? 15:04-15:19      
0:21   06:57-07:00     Switching Girls Oh No VI. 0:00-0:03
0:24           VI. 0:03-0:06
0:27       How Did That Get In Here? 18:08-18:09    
0:29   07:02-07:11   How Did That Get In Here? 1:42-1:57 (without overdubs) Switching Girls  
0:38   07:11-07:37   How Did That Get In Here? 1:57-2:23 (without overdubs) Oh No Again II. 0:30-0:56 (without overdubs)
VII. 0:56-1:22
1:05   07:37-08:24   How Did That Get In Here? 2:23-3:09 (without overdubs) II. 0:56-1:43 (without overdubs)
1:51   08:24-08:31   Unit 2, Take 9 0:13-1:10 (part. alt. take?) At The Gas Station VII. 0:42-0:49
1:58   08:31-08:38   II. 1:53-2:00
VII. 0:49-0:56
2:05   08:38-09:11   II. 2:00-2:34
2:39   09:11-09:18    
II. GUM JOY 3:44
0:00   01:38-01:47   Unit 3A, Take 3 1:02-1:11 Oh No World's Greatest Sinner  
0:09   01:47-02:08   How Did That Get In Here? 0:32-0:52 Run Home Cues #2  
0:30 I. 0:38-1:05 (with overdubs) 02:08-02:34   How Did That Get In Here? 1:57-2:23 Oh No VII. 0:56-1:22 (with overdubs)
0:56 I. 1:05-1:51 (with overdubs) 02:34-03:21   How Did That Get In Here? 2:23-3:09  
1:43   03:21-03:30   How Did That Get In Here? 3:09-3:19  
1:53 I. 1:58-2:05 08:31-08:38   Unit 2, Take 9 0:20-1:01 (alt. take?) At The Gas Station VII. 0:49-0:56
2:00 I. 2:05-2:39 08:38-09:11    
2:34   11:59-13:09     I Don't Know If I Can Go Through This Again I Don't Know If I Can Go Through This Again  
III. UP & DOWN 1:51
0:00   13:09-13:46     I Don't Know If I Can Go Through This Again World's Greatest Sinner (73:40)  
0:38       N. Double A, AA 0:02-0:07   Oh No/Pound For A Brown VII. 1:22-1:28
0:43           VII. 1:28-1:43
1:00           VII. 1:43-1:45
0:00   14:20-14:23     I Don't Know If I Can Go Through This Again Envelops The Bath Tub V. 0:00-0:03 (alt. take)
VII. 2:30-2:33 (alt. take)
0:03   14:23-14:27   V. 0:03-0:07 (with overdubs)
0:07   14:27-14:46   IV. 0:35-0:55 (alt. take)
V. 0:07-0:25 (with overdubs)
0:26           IV. 0:55-1:10 (alt. take)
V. 0:25-0:33 (with overdubs)
0:35 IV. 0:07-0:26 (alt. take)         V. 0:44-1:02 (with overdubs)
0:55 IV. 0:26-0:35 (alt. take)         V. 1:02-1:10 (with overdubs)
1:04           V. 1:12-1:34 (with overdubs)
1:28           V. 1:36-1:41 (with overdubs)
1:35   14:46-15:36     I Don't Know If I Can Go Through This Again I Don't Know If I Can Go Through This Again  
0:00 IV. 0:00-0:03 (alt. take)         Envelops The Bath Tub VII. 2:30-2:33
0:03 IV. 0:03-0:07 (with overdubs)   12:06-12:09   Envelops The Bath Tub IX. 1:49-1:53
0:07 IV. 0:07-0:26 (with overdubs)   12:09-12:27 IX. 1:53-2:11
0:25 IV. 0:26-0:35 (with overdubs)   12:27-12:35 IX. 2:11-2:19
0:33     12:35-12:46 IX. 2:19-2:30
0:44 IV. 0:35-0:55 (with overdubs)   12:46-13:04 IX. 2:30-2:48
1:02 IV. 0:55-1:04 (with overdubs)   13:04-13:13 IX. 2:48-2:57
1:10     13:13-13:15 IX. 2:57-2:59
1:12 IV. 1:04-1:28 (with overdubs)   13:15-13:36 IX. 2:59-3:20
1:34     13:36-13:38 IX. 3:20-3:22
1:36 IV. 1:28-1:35 (with overdubs)   13:38-13:43 IX. 3:22-3:30
0:00 I. 0:21-0:24 06:57-07:00     Switching Girls Oh No  
0:03 I. 0:24-0:27            
0:06     03:56-04:41   Amen Amen  
0:51     04:41-04:51 How Did That Get In Here? 19:25-19:35  
1:00     04:51-05:23    
1:32     05:23-05:28; 09:09-09:12 (sped up)    
1:44     07:18-07:38   A Vicious Circle A Vicious Circle  
0:00     07:38-08:21 Section 8, Take 22 0:05-0:47 (with overdubs) King Kong King Kong  
0:42 I. 1:51-1:58 08:24-08:31     At The Gas Station Oh No  
0:49 I. 1:58-2:05
II. 1:53-2:00
0:56 I. 0:38-1:05 07:11-07:37     Oh No Again  
1:22 III. 0:38-0:43     N. Double A, AA 0:02-0:07   Oh No/Pound For A Brown  
1:28 III. 0:43-0:58          
1:43 III. 1:00-1:02          
1:45     08:21-08:41 How Did That Get In Here? 15:34-15:55 Drums Are Too Noisy Drums Are Too Noisy  
2:05     08:41-09:07    
2:30 IV. 0:00-0:03 (alt. take)
V. 0:00-0:03
14:20-14:23     I Don't Know If I Can Go Through This Again I Don't Know If I Can Go Through This Again  
0:00   13:30-13:35 (alt. take)       I Don't Know If I Can Go Through This Again  
0:17     09:26-10:13   Kangaroos Kangaroos  
0:00     10:16-10:52 How Did That Get In Here? 19:44-20:20 Envelops The Bath Tub Envelops The Bath Tub  
0:35     10:52-12:06    
1:49 V. 0:03-1:41   12:06-13:43    

The first conclusion is that FZ was a crazy razor-blade maniac. Taking out repetitions there are only 18:51 minutes of music, 2:31 of which are repeated with overdubs.

Lumpy Gravy (Verve/MGM version)

Lumpy Gravy

Almost all the music heard on the original Capitol version of the album is also heard on the Verve/MGM version, except for c. 4:00 minutes, but for the new version a lot of new music and stuff has been added. Now I'll try to figure out when and where all that stuff was recorded.

The Capitol Sessions

According to Greg Russo's investigations on the Local 47 session sheets (available on p. 277 of his book), most of the big orchestra stuff was recorded at Capitol Studios between March 14-16, 1967. But there was an earlier session on February 13, 1967, with a 7-piece ensemble, where a piece called "Sunday" was recorded. The instrumentation for that session was guitar, two basses, piano, percussion and drums, and the only part that matches that instrumentation (i.e., no woodwinds or strings) is Part One, from 1:47 to 3:19, part of "Oh No" on the 1995 indexed version (3:21-4:55 on Side One of the Capitol version). On The Lumpy Money Project/Object (2009), the piece "How Did That Get In Here?" is supposedly recorded that day, but it includes some instrumentation not on the session sheets, like trumpet and some other wind instruments (see table).

Comparing the musicians listed on the session sheets with the ones listed on the album cover, there are a few names missing on the cover: French horn players Arthur Briegleb, David Duke and George Price, trombone player Lew McCreary; and percussionists Kenneth Watson and Thomas Poole, who both played on the February 13 session. The guitarist for that session is listed as James Helms, who probably is the Jim Haynes listed on the cover. The only two names listed on the cover and missing in the session sheets are pianist Pete Jolly and French horn player Richard Parisi (whose name seems to be spelled actually 'Perissi' and who may or may not be one of the French horn players listed before).

The People Inside The Piano

Most of the voices were probably recorded at Apostolic Studios, NYC, during the recording sessions for We're Only In It For The Money. There are at least three different "people inside the piano" recording sessions from 1967: one of them is a conversation between Louis Cuneo, Roy Estrada and Motorhead (according to the memories of Louis Cuneo himself); another one between Spider Barbour, Monica and John Kilgore; and the last one between Gilly Townley, Maxine, Becky (identified as Girl #1 and Girl #2 in Civilization Phaze III), and Larry Fanoga (another incarnation of Jim Sherwood).

More voices from that era are those of Gail Zappa and Calvin Schenkel (heard at the beginning of Part Two), and the part of Motorhead talking about gas stations, which was recorded at Mayfair, 1967, according to the Vaultmeister himself (on a personal message to Michael Brenna). I tried to find the voices of Eric Clapton and his girlfriend Charlotte anywhere in the album, without any success, until recently Charles Ulrich mentioned a backstage interview to FZ in Copenhagen, March 3, 1976, where he specifically says that the mention of Eric Clapton in Lumpy Gravy is a mistake. Thanks, Charles, now I can rest! Anyway, I still don't know where in the album are heard the voices of Jimmy Carl Black, the 'Other John' (who probably is John Townley, as Charles Ulrich suggested), and somebody named Tony.

Then there's the people from what would become the Hampton Grease Band, listed as "Sammy, Harold, Charlie, Bruce, and the rest of the guys from Atlanta." This is Harold Kelling quoted in Hampton Grease Band by Glenn Phillips:

I went to New York with Charlie [Phillips] and Bruce [Hampton] after the IV of IX broke up. We saw Frank Zappa on the street and I just walked up to him and said 'Grease' with no particular context in mind. Somehow we communicated to him our compatible weirdness, and he invited us to the recording studio, where part of our conversation was recorded and used on Lumpy Gravy. We put 'Grease' together with 'Hampton' for the band's name because he was our only vocalist.

And this is Col. Bruce Hampton himself (Interview with Col Bruce Hampton by Michael B. Smith, January 2001):

I knew Frank in the middle and late sixties. He was very much a gentleman to me an everybody around him. I was a nineteen year old kid. We did a cameo on "Lumpy Gravy." Sam Whiteside was with me.

FZ signed them for Bizarre/Straight even if the Hampton Grease Band didn't release any record on that label. Bruce Hampton was the vocalist, Harold Kelling one of the guitarists, Charlie Phillips the bassist, and Sam Whiteside, the road manager.

The Big Squeeze

In several parts of the album we can hear what sounds like outtakes from "The Big Squeeze," the cut from The Lost Episodes recorded at Mayfair Studios in the summer of 1967 for a Luden's Cough Drop commercial. The piece was recorded by FZ on kazoo, percussion and celeste, and Dick Barber (listed on Lumpy Gravy as "Foon The Younger") on snorks.


The piece that opens the album, sometimes listed as "Theme From Lumpy Gravy," which appears on the 1995 CD version index as "Duodenum" (and which later would became "Bwana Dik" from Fillmore East—June 1971) didn't appear on the Capitol version of the album, and it was recorded in Studio Z, Cucamonga, probably back in 1964. Charles Ulrich pointed out this fragment of interview from Society Pages #1 (1989):

Den Simms: You guys did this medley called "Orange County Lumber Truck". At the end of that came the section from "Lumpy Gravy". I understand that that part of "Lumpy Gravy" was originally written as part of Captain Beefheart And The Grunt People.

FZ: That was the theme for Captain Beefheart vs. The Grunt People.

As I have discussed elsewhere, I think the surf music that closes the album and which also doesn't appear on the Capitol version, was recorded around 1963 back in the Pal Recording Studio in Cucamonga, probably with some studio musicians.

Another piece from the Cucamonga days that appears on Lumpy Gravy is a little fragment of the intro from "Hurricane" by Conrad & The Hurricane Strings, produced by FZ & Paul Buff in 1963.

Then there's a piece of scratchy jazz music sped up and identified in the 1995 CD as "It's From Kansas," and which comes from the days when FZ was trying to produce jazz in Cucamonga around 1961. I also discuss that elsewhere.

Also from those days comes the voice of Ronnie Williams, who can be heard on a brief excerpt from "Ronnie Sings?" (the cut from The Lost Episodes) at the beginning of Part Two. Ronnie, as Michael Gula suggested, is probably also the voice heard on "Just One More Time." It has been suggested that the voice belongs to Don Van Vliet, but Ronnie seems more likely (especially since Ronnie is credited on the album and Beefheart isn't, as Charles points out).

The Apostolic Blurch Injector

FZ on Mix, June, 1983:

During the time we were doing Uncle Meat, I was working with an engineer [Richard Kunc], who was real cooperative, just trying to do any kind of weird thing we asked him to do. During the 60s, who knew what was right? "Let's try this. Plug it in backwards and see what happens." So we were dealing with different types of short-term distortion, and he built a little box with three pushbuttons; we called it the Apostolic Blurch Injector. And we took various tracks of different types of material and cranked them up into the distortion range and then by poking the buttons you'd get these little rhythmic bursts of white noise, brown noise, pink noise, and gray noise—in a rhythm that you'd select. But instead of being derived from a noise generator on a synthesizer, it was completely distorted voices, instruments, percussion, whatever. We cranked off reams and reams of tape of this kind of material.

The Apostolic Blurch Injector can also be heard, among other places, on "Nasal Retentive Calliope Music" and "The Chrome Plated Megaphone Of Destiny," from We're Only In It For The Money (1968), and "Dwarf Nebula Processional & Dwarf Nebula," from Weasels Ripped My Flesh (1970).

The Rest

There's still more bizarre stuff happening in various places on Lumpy Gravy, including the harmonica bit that I first took for something that Don Van Vliet and FZ recorded in Cucamonga, but finally it has turned up to be a fragment of a Mothers Of Invention recording from the Fillmore West, 1966 (as Charles Ulrich pointed out quoting the above mentioned Copenhagen backstage interview from 1976). There are also outtakes from some Mothers Of Invention recording sessions or live tapes, and probably even some outtakes from the original Capitol sessions. Now I'll try to identify all these using the 1995 CD version of the album and comparing it with the 1984 remix, now available on The Lumpy Money Project/Object (2009).

Part 1

LG 1995 (1968) TLMPO (1984 remix) TLMPO (Capitol 1967) TLMPO (Extra Tracks) Contents 1984 overdubs Probable Recording Location
1. The Way I See It, Barry
00:00 00:00     Spider   Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967
00:01 00:02    
2. Duodenum
00:06 00:07   Theme From Lumpy Gravy Lumpy Gravy Theme vocals, drums, bass Studio Z, c. 1964
3. Oh No
01:38 01:44 II. 0:00-0:09 Unit 3A, Take 3 1:02-1:11 World's Greatest Sinner (74:01) drums, bass Capitol, LA, March 1967
01:47 01:54 II. 0:09-0:30 How Did That Get In Here? 0:32-0:52 Run Home Cues #2   Capitol, LA, February 1967
02:08 02:14 II. 0:30-1:43 How Did That Get In Here? 1:57-3:19 Oh No   Capitol, LA, February 1967
03:20 03:26 II. 1:43-1:53 Oh No   Capitol, LA, February 1967
03:31 03:37     Son Of Orange County bass ?
4. Bit Of Nostalgia
03:41       Apostolic Blurch Injector    
  03:48     Apostolic Blurch Injector (from 14:07/14:16)    
03:43 04:00     Spider   Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967
03:45 04:02     Hurricane (Conrad & The Hurricane Strings)   Pal Recording Studio, Cucamonga, 1963
03:48 04:05     Apostolic Blurch Injector    
03:51       Apostolic Blurch Injector    
  04:08     Snork (from 6:41/6:51)    
03:59 04:09     Apostolic Girls   Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967
04:47 04:58     John & Spider   Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967
5. It's From Kansas
05:16 05:27     John & Spider   Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967
05:18 05:28     High Steppin'   Pal Recording Studio, Cucamonga, January, 1961
6. Bored Out 90 Over
05:45 05:56     Apostolic Blurch Injector    
05:48 05:58     Motorhead    
05:51 06:01     Apostolic Blurch Injector    
7. Almost Chinese
06:17 06:27     Almost Chinese Music    
06:19 06:29     Larry & Girls   Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967
06:21 06:31     Big Squeeze (with Motorhead voice)   Mayfair, NYC, summer 1967
06:27 06:38     Almost Chinese Music    
06:36 06:46     Big Squeeze   Mayfair, NYC, summer 1967
06:41 06:51     Snork    
8. Switching Girls
06:42 06:52     Motorhead    
06:53 07:03     11:59 sped up   Capitol, LA, March 1967
06:56 07:06     One piano note    
06:57 07:07 I. 0:21-0:24   Oh No bass, drums Capitol, LA, March 1967
07:00 07:10     06:57 sped up Capitol, LA, March 1967
07:02 07:12 I. 0:29-0:38 How Did That Get In Here? 1:42-1:57 (without overdubs)   Capitol, LA, February/March 1967
9. Oh No Again
07:11 07:21 I. 0:38-1:51 How Did That Get In Here? 1:57-3:09 (without overdubs) 02:08 with overdubs (thanks to Mitsugu Tan) bass, drums Capitol, LA, February/March 1967
10. At The Gas Station
08:24 08:34 I. 1:51-2:44 Unit 2, Take 9 0:13-1:10 (part. alt. take?)   bass, drums Capitol, LA, March 1967
08:31 08:41   Capitol, LA, March 1967
08:38 8:48   Capitol, LA, March 1967
09:18 09:27     Motorhead    
    Hampton Grease Band talking   Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967
    Drums & Piano   ?
11. Another Pickup
11:05 11:15     Harmonica, guitar & drums (MOI)   Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, CA
June 24-25, 1966
11:27 11:37     Big Squeeze   Mayfair, NYC, summer 1967
11:40 11:49   How Did That Get In Here? 18:50-19:25 (sped up) Drums, piano & string bass sped up   Capitol, LA, February 1967
11:57 12:07     Big Squeeze   Mayfair, NYC, summer 1967
12. I Don't Know If I Can Go Through This Again
11:59 12:08 II. 2:34-3:44       Capitol, LA, March 1967
13:09 13:18 III. 0:00-0:38   World's Greatest Sinner (73:40)
13:46 13:56     Capitol outtakes sped up   Capitol, LA, March 1967
14:07 14:16     Apostolic Blurch Injector    
14:20 14:29 IV. 0:00-0:26       Capitol, LA, March 1967
14:46 14:55 IV. 1:35-2:25       Capitol, LA, March 1967
15:36 15:45     Capitol outtakes   Capitol, LA, March 1967
1. Very Distraughtening
00:00 00:00     Ronnie Sings? drums, string bass Ontario, c. 1961-62
00:01 00:01     John & Spider Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967
00:04 00:06    
00:09 00:11     Calvin & Gail Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967
00:20 00:22     Spider & Monica (with lots of micro-edits in the 1984 re-mix) Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967
00:50 00:58     Some voices (including parts of Motorhead's monologue in At The Gas Station) over MOI music with FZ guitar solo  
01:20 01:28     John & Spider Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967
2. White Ugliness
01:33 01:34     Louis, Roy & Motorhead   Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967
3. Amen
03:55 03:55     Louis & Roy   Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967
03:56 03:56 VI. 0:06-0:51       Capitol, LA, 1967
04:41 04:41 VI. 0:51-1:00 How Did That Get In Here? 19:25-19:35   Capitol, LA, February 1967
04:51 04:51 VI. 1:00-1:32     Capitol, LA, 1967
05:23 05:22 VI. 1:32-1:38   This part repeated at 09:09-09:12, sped up Capitol, LA, 1967
4. Just One More Time
05:28 05:28     Does anybody know where this come from? (Michael Gula says it sounds like Ronnie, but John Atwell suggested it was Don Van Vliet)    
05:35 05:35     John, Spider & Monica (with many more micro-edits between the two versions) drums, bass Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967
05:44 05:45    
06:18 07:46    
5. A Vicious Circle
06:26 07:55   Unit 9 0:00-0:41 Capitol outtakes sped up   Capitol, LA, March 1967
06:47 08:15     "Pony!"   Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967
06:48 08:16     Capitol outtakes?   Capitol, LA, March 1967
07:18 08:46 VI. 1:44-2:05       Capitol, LA, March 1967
07:38   VI. 2:05-2:06    
6. King Kong
07:39 09:06 VII. 0:00-0:42 Section 8, Take 22 0:05-0:47 (with overdubs) King Kong   Capitol, LA, March 1967
7. Drums Are Too Noisy
08:21 09:48 VII. 1:45-2:05 How Did That Get In Here? 15:34-15:55     Capitol, LA, February 1967
08:41 10:08 VII. 2:05-2:30       Capitol, LA, 1967
09:07 10:33     Larry Fanoga   Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967
09:09 10:36     repeats 05:23-05:28 sped up   Capitol, LA, March 1967
09:12 10:39     John   Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967
8. Kangaroos
09:19 10:46     John, Spider & Monica   Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967
09:26 10:53 VIII. 0:17-1:04   (Waltz #1 ?)   Capitol, LA, March 1967
10:13 11:40     Spider   Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967
9. Envelops The Bath Tub
10:16 11:43 IX. 0:00-0:35 How Did That Get In Here? 19:45-20:20     Capitol, LA, February 1967
10:52 12:18 IX. 0:35-1:49       Capitol, LA, March 1967
12:06 13:31 V. 0:03-1:41
IX. 1:49-3:31
      Capitol, LA, March 1967
13:43 15:08     Calvin   Apostolic, NYC, fall 1967
10. Take Your Clothes Off
13:58 15:23     Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance   Pal Recording Studio, Cucamonga, March, 1963


Original article written on February 5, 2001
Updated on April, 2003; May-June, 2004
Big Lumpy Money Update on February, 2009
Special thanks to Charles Ulrich for suggestions & corrections
© Román García Albertos
This page updated: 2017-11-02