You Are What You Is is a double album by American musician Frank Zappa. It was originally released as a double album in 1981 and later by Rykodisc as a 20-song CD.
After the release of Joe's Garage, Frank Zappa set up his home studio, the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen, and planned to release a triple LP live album called Warts and All. As Warts and All reached completion, Zappa found the project to be "unwieldy" due to its length, and scrapped it, later conceiving Crush All Boxes. Crush All Boxes would have been a single LP containing the studio recordings "Doreen", "Fine Girl", "Easy Meat" (a live recording with studio overdubs) and "Goblin Girl" on the first side, with the second side being occupied by a suite consisting of the songs "Society Pages", "I'm A Beautiful Guy", "Beauty Knows No Pain", "Charlie's Enormous Mouth", "Any Downers?" and "Conehead".
During the production of Crush All Boxes, Zappa decided to scrap the album and conceive a set of releases drawing from both Warts and All and Crush All Boxes, which would emphasize different aspects of his multiple talents, formatting the two albums into You Are What You Is, Tinsel Town Rebellion and two series of live albums, Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar and You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore.
Zappa had performed most of the material from You Are What You Is on a tour running from March to July 1980 with a band including Ike Willis and Ray White on guitar and vocals, Tommy Mars on keyboards, Arthur Barrow on bass and keyboards and David Logeman on drums. This band recorded the basic tracks of the album in the summer of 1980 after finishing the tour, with guitarist Steve Vai and vocalist Bob Harris adding overdubs and joining the group for Zappa's fall 1980 tour. However, You Are What You Is was not released until after Tinseltown Rebellion and Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar although the latter two albums included material from the fall tour.
The album also included guest appearances from former band members, including Jimmy Carl Black and Motorhead Sherwood from the 60's Mothers of Invention, as well as the first appearances on record of Zappa's children Moon Unit and Ahmet.
Music and lyrics
Like many of Zappa's albums, some of the tracks are bound together, and the album lacks an overall storyline. The title track "You Are What You Is" is an up-tempo pop rock style song that was released as a music video in 1984.
The album was first issued on LP by Barking Pumpkin Records (distributed by CBS) in 1981. In 1981, it also received a very brief (and now very rare) issue on 8-track tape, catalog number WAX-37537 (Barking Pumpkin label, distributed by CBS). It received a worldwide release on both Ryko and Zappa Records CD in 1990, and was standardized under the Ryko banner in 1995.
The digital master prepared for both the original Ryko/Zappa Records release and the later Ryko 1995 rerelease suffered from several severe audio problems and also contained a shortened version of the track "Dumb All Over," omitting the guitar solo that closed side three of the original LP in favor of an edit to the reprise of the "Dumb All Over" chorus heard at the beginning of side four of the LP. In 1998, the problems of these previous CD issues were fixed in an unannounced reissue, including a near-complete restoration of the guitar solo from "Dumb All Over". A further reissue in 2012 included the full "Dumb All Over" ending and fadeout from side three of the LP, as well as the reprise from the beginning of side four.
No. Title Length
1. "Teen-Age Wind" 3:02
2. "Harder Than Your Husband" 2:28
3. "Doreen" 4:44
4. "Goblin Girl" 4:07
5. "Theme from the 3rd Movement of Sinister Footwear" 3:34
No. Title Length
6. "Society Pages" 2:27
7. "I'm a Beautiful Guy" 1:56
8. "Beauty Knows No Pain" 3:02
9. "Charlie's Enormous Mouth" 3:36
10. "Any Downers?" 2:08
11. "Conehead" 4:24
No. Title Length
12. "You Are What You Is" 4:23
13. "Mudd Club" 3:11
14. "The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing" 3:10
15. "Dumb All Over" 5:45
No. Title Length
16. "Heavenly Bank Account" 3:44
17. "Suicide Chump" 2:49
18. "Jumbo Go Away" 3:43
19. "If Only She Woulda" 3:48
20. "Drafted Again" 3:07
Arthur Barrow – bass guitar
Jimmy Carl Black – vocals
Bob Harris – Boy Soprano, trumpet, vocals
David Logeman – drums
Ed Mann – percussion
Tommy Mars – keyboards, vocals
David Ocker – bass clarinet, clarinet
Mark Pinske – vocals
Motorhead Sherwood – tenor saxophone, vocals
Craig "Twister" Stewart – harmonica
Steve Vai – guitars
Denny Walley – vocals, slide guitar
Ray White – rhythm guitar, vocals
Ike Willis – rhythm guitar, vocals
Ahmet Zappa – vocals
Frank Zappa – composer, arranger, vocals, guitar
Moon Unit Zappa – vocals
Amy Bernstein – artwork
George Douglas – assistant engineer
Jo Hansch – mastering
John Livzey – photography, cover photo
Thomas Nordegg – Franks personnel assistant
Mark Pinske – chief engineer
Santi Rubio – Studio Secretary
Allen Sides – engineer
Dennis Sager – digital engineer
Bob Stone – remixing, digital remastering
John Vince – artwork, graphic design
Frank Zappa – producer
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