Guitar is a Frank Zappa Album
In early 1976 Zappa's relationship with manager and business partner Herb Cohen ended in litigation. Zappa and Cohen's company DiscReet Records was distributed by Warner Bros. When Zappa asked for a re-assignment of his contract from DiscReet to Warner in order to advance the possibility of being able to do special projects without Cohen's involvement, Warner Bros. briefly agreed. This led to the 1976 release of Zoot Allures on Warner. At this point Zappa was contractually bound to deliver 4 more albums to DiscReet and Warner.
Early in 1977 Zappa claimed he delivered master tape copies of 4 individual LP's to Warner Bros. (see ) This would have fulfilled all of Zappa's final obligations to DiscReet and Warner and freed him to move to another distributor for his next release.Zappa In New York (a 2LP set) was delivered first complete with Zappa approved artwork, followed closely by Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt, Orchestral Favorites for which Zappa supplied tapes only. Believing that the material was sub-standard, Warner refused to pay Zappa for his production costs upon delivery of the 4 albums (5 discs) according to their contract.
Due to Warner's breach of contract Zappa decided later in 1977 that he was contractually free to reconfigure the material on the 5 discs into a single 4LP set called Läther. Though both collections contained unique material the 4 disc set was trimmed down from the original 5 disc configuration, not the other way around as has been commonly claimed. While Gail Zappa claims "Lätherwas always conceived as a 4 disc set", she was apparently unaware that all the material on the original 5 disc configuration was already recorded between 1971 and 1976, and completed a year before Läther. Zappa In New York was completed and released in 1977. It was later censored and re-sequenced by Warner without Zappa's authorization in 1978.
Zappa then attempted to get a distribution deal with Mercury/Phonogram to release Läther on the new Zappa Records label. This led Warner Bros. to threaten legal action, preventing the release of the Läther compilation. In 1978 and 1979 Warner finally decided to release the 3 remaining individual albums they still held, Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt, and Orchestra Favorites. As Zappa had delivered the tapes only, the three individual albums were released with no musical credits. (see ) Warner commissioned their own sleeve art by Gary Panter, which was not approved by Zappa.
When this material was first issued on CD Zappa made the decision to re-issue the individual albums, thus strengthening the argument that this was his original artistic intention. The material on the album was made available to the public again when Läther was finally officially released to the public in 1996 after Zappa's death.
Of the four albums that comprise Läther, Studio Tan is the only one of the individual albums to be represented in its near entirety. It is also the only one that could have been possibly taken from the Läther tapes. The only clear differences are that "The Adventures of Greggery Peccary" is presented in a slightly different mix on Studio Tan and that the ending of the song had been shortened on the original vinyl release on DiscReet.
An excerpt from an unreleased alternate version of "Revised Music for Guitar and Low-Budget Orchestra" appears on the 1987 compilation The Guitar World According to Frank Zappa, with drum overdubs by Chad Wackerman.
Guitar is a Frank Zappa Album