a Freak Out labelography and price guide

THIS IS A LABELOGRAPHY and price guide for the ini­tial press­ings of the Mothers of In­ven­tion’s 1966 two-record album FREAK OUT! It is in­tended as a com­ple­men­tary piece to the ar­ticle “What Was the First Rock Double-Album of the ’60s?” Whereas that piece was for a gen­eral read­er­ship, this ar­ticle is in­tended for col­lec­tors (al­though many of those gen­eral readers can enjoy the photos and some of the his­tory).

In that ar­ticle, we de­ter­mined that FREAK OUT was re­leased at least two weeks be­fore the of­fi­cial re­lease of BLONDE ON BLONDE. This gives the Mothers of In­ven­tion brag­ging rights over Bob Dylan for the “first rock double-album.” That is, the first two-record set of newly recorded ma­te­rial of rock music. Frankly, this is so much nit­picking, as the two al­bums were re­leased within a week of each other.

Nit­picking aside, Bob Dylan and Frank Zappa ef­fec­tively con­ceived, recorded, and re­leased the first two rock double-album at the same time. Be­fore pro­ceeding here, I sug­gest you read “What Was the First Rock Double-Album of the ’60s?

What fol­lows here is a look at FREAK OUT and the back­ground in­for­ma­tion if the pre­vious ar­ticle will clarify things.

 

Mothers FreakOut s c 500

Mothers FreakOut m c b 600

The Mothers Of In­ven­tion: Freak Out
Verve V-5005-2 (mono)
V6-5005-2 (stereo)
Re­leased: June 20, 1966

The June 20 date is the latest prob­able date for its re­lease; it may have been re­leased weeks ear­lier.

Tom Wilson was a suc­cessful pro­ducer at Co­lumbia Records. There he was Bob Dylan’s pro­ducer, working with him from 1963 into 1965. Wilson as­sisted Dylan in his tran­si­tion from folk music to rock & roll with BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME. Two of his final and finest ac­com­plish­ments was pro­ducing Like A Rolling Stone and the hit ver­sion of Simon & Garfunkel’s Sounds Of Si­lence.

In late 1965, Wilson joined MGM/Verve, where he took over han­dling the An­i­mals. On March 1, 1966, he signed the Mothers of In­ven­tion to Verve. On March 9, the group en­tered the studio to begin recording their first album.

Wilson was listed as the ses­sions’ of­fi­cial pro­ducer, but head Mother Frank Zappa was in charge of every­thing that hap­pened. The group com­pleted their ses­sions on March 12, meaning all four sides of FREAK OUT were recorded in just four days!

 

That Tom Wilson was Ivy as well as street-smart was a jaw-dropper.

 

The music on FREAK OUT was un­like any­thing anyone had ever heard, at least in 1966. The music was a mix of the avant-garde (in­cluding as­pects of Musique Con­crète) with the sen­ti­mental (such as ’50s doo-wop). It was de­liv­ered in a rea­son­ably con­tem­po­rary rock style. The songs poked fun at main­stream Amer­ican cul­ture, pol­i­tics, and the emerging rock and drug-based coun­ter­cul­ture.

To many record buyers in the ’60s (and the ’70s, the ’80, etc.), it was un­lis­ten­able garbage. Even the al­bum’s cover art was chal­lenging: it looked like the Mothers had tired of hearing old people com­plain about the Rolling Stones being un­kempt and ugly. They de­cided, “You want ugly? We’ll give you ugly!”

And so they did.

Orig­inal 1966 jackets have an offer for a Freak-Out Hot-Spots in a box above the triangle-shaped photo in the lower right corner of the right panel of the in­side of the gate­fold jacket.

Orig­inal 1966 jackets have an offer for a Freak-Out Hot-Spots in a box above the triangle-shaped photo in the lower right corner of the right panel of the in­side of the gate­fold jacket.

 

dbl FreakOutUSA

By the summer of 1967, the Mothers had in­spired a new mag­a­zine, Freak Out, USA. The cover of the first issue fea­tured ar­ti­cles about the Mon­kees taking LSD and the Mothers being greasy! There is also sexual in­nu­endo about what love is like with two guys and two gals (The Mamas & The Papas) and how one girl makes it work with five guys (Jef­ferson Air­plane). Wowie zowie, baby!

Blue labels or black?

FREAK OUT! was is­sued in mid-1966 while Verve was using a blue label for its popular-music re­leases. Sim­ilar la­bels in blue or black were used into the 1970s, but the two label styles shown here are the only ones that ap­pear on orig­inal 1966 press­ings.

The Mothers of In­ven­tion’s first album was pressed at two pressing plants, both of which used blue la­bels but a some­what dif­ferent layout of the text. These records re­mained in print for sev­eral years, al­though there was an al­ter­ation in the jacket in which they were housed.

At some point, FREAK OUT! was deleted from the Verve cat­alog, only to re­turn in 1971. They stayed in print until Zappa gained con­trol of his back cat­alog and re­leased the album on his own Barking Pumpkin im­print in 1985.

The al­bum’s ses­sions were over­seen by jazz pro­ducer and MGM staff pro­ducer Tom Wilson, who had done the BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME album and Like A Rolling Stone single for Dylan the year be­fore.

 

dbl FreakOut sticker

Orig­inal 1966 jackets have an offer for a Freak-Out Hot-Spots in a box above the triangle-shaped photo in the lower right corner of the right panel of the in­side of the gate­fold jacket.

Original gatefold  jacket

The outer cover slicks on the gate­fold, double-pocket jacket can be found with one of four dif­ferent cat­alog num­bers on the outer cover slicks:

Mono:
V-5005-2
V-5005-2X

Stereo:
V6-5005-2
V6-5005-2X

To con­fuse col­lec­tors more, the inner cover slicks can be found with one of two dif­ferent cat­alog num­bers. The first is cor­rect, the second may be an error of some sort:

Mono and stereo:
V/V6-5005
V/V6-500502

With the mono and stereo cat­alog num­bers com­bined, the inner cover slicks were printed to be used in ei­ther mono or stereo jackets.

 

Mothers FreakOut c gatefold open HotSpots 900

Mothers FreakOut HotSpots ad 700

Mothers FreakOut c gatefold open NoHotSpots 900

This is the orig­inal inner cover of FREAK OUT! from 1966. On top is the orig­inal panels with an ad­ver­tise­ment for a Freak Out Hot Spots map in the lower right quad­rant (above the tri­angle photo). In the center is the ad. On the bottom is the jacket without the ad­ver­tise­ment, a plain white space was left in its place. 

Original east coast records

In 1966, Verve records were man­u­fac­tured at MGM’s plant in Bloom­field, New Jersey, for dis­tri­b­u­tion on the east side of the Mis­sis­sippi River.

 

dbl FreakOut m DJ yellow 600

dbl FreakOut m label 600

Mothers FreakOut s Side1 EC 600

First East Coast mono and stereo records from 1966 have blue la­bels. The cat­alog number has a dash be­tween the V and 5005 (V-5005-2 for mono and V6-5005-2 for stereo). The pressing ring around the spindle hole is ap­prox­i­mately 1¼ inches wide.

The perimeter print along the bottom reads, “MGM Records – A Di­vi­sion of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. – Made in U.S.A.”

The pub­lishing credit below the song ti­tles is on two lines:

Frank Zappa Music Is A Di­vi­sion
Of Third Story Music Co.

Verve shipped spe­cial pro­mo­tional copies with yellow la­bels to East Coast radio sta­tions for air-play.

Original west coast records

In 1966, Verve records were often man­u­fac­tured by HV Wad­dell in Bur­bank, Cal­i­fornia, for dis­tri­b­u­tion on the other side of the Mighty Miss.

 

dbl FreakOut m DJ white 600

Mothers FreakOut m WC 1966 500

Mothers FreakOut s Side1 WC 600

First West Coast mono and stereo records from 1966 have blue la­bels. The cat­alog number has a forward-slash be­tween the V and 5005 (V/5005-2 and V6/5005-2). The pressing ring around the spindle hole is ap­prox­i­mately three inches wide.

The perimeter print along the bottom reads, “MGM Records – A Di­vi­sion of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. – Made in U.S.A.”

The pub­lishing credit below the song ti­tles is on three lines:

Frank Zappa Music
Is A Di­vi­sion Of
Third Story Music Co.

Verve shipped spe­cial pro­mo­tional copies with white la­bels to West Coast radio sta­tions for air-play.

 

Mothers FreakOut s monosticker 600

It was a fairly common prac­tice among record com­pa­nies in the ’60s to slip mono records into stereo jackets and vice versa when sup­plies were un­ex­pect­edly low. Af­fixing a sticker to the jacket alerting the buyer to the record within fol­lowed, as the ex­ample of the stereo jacket above with the “Mono” sticker in the upper right corner.

Price guide

This mini-price guide re­flects values for the first 1966-1967 mono and stereo press­ings above—not any of the later press­ings below. The values as­signed are for a copy with both the Hot Spots jacket and the records in the same con­di­tion: for ex­ample, the NM value is for two nearly mint records in a nearly mint jacket.

At this time, col­lec­tors have not dif­fer­en­ti­ated be­tween the press­ings in terms of prices paid:

                            VG           VG+             NM    
V-5005-2  $ 20-3
0    40-60      80-100
V6-5005-2 
$  15-25     35-50        60-80

Yellow la­bels promos are worth $300-400 in NM con­di­tion while white label promos are worth $400-500 in NM.

 

Mothers FreakOut newspaper spread 1000

Freak Out! The Of­fi­cial News of The Mothers of In­ven­tion was a four-page pub­li­ca­tion printed in red and black that was in­serted into the Sep­tember 9, 1966, issue of the Los An­geles Free Press. It was de­signed by Frank Zappa and paid for by MGM’s ad­ver­tising de­part­ment. 

Later stereo pressings

Aside from the two plants noted above, during the ’60s MGM also had LP records made by Mid­west Record Press­ings (Chicago, Illi­nois), Monarch Record Man­u­fac­turing (Los An­geles, Cal­i­fornia), Savoy Records (Newark, New Jersey), and Southern Plas­tics (Mem­phis, Ten­nessee).

After 1971, they used Philips Recording Com­pany (PRC,  Rich­mond, In­diana). After Poly­Gram ac­quired MGM, they also hired Shelley Prod­ucts (Hunt­ington Sta­tion, New York) and Al­lied Record Com­pany (Los An­geles, Cal­i­fornia).

The fol­lowing have la­bels de­signs sim­ilar to the orig­inal 1966 de­sign and can be con­fusing.

 

Mothers FreakOut s re blue 1971 600

Blue and silver label used 1971-1972. Cat­alog number is V6-5005-2. Perimeter print reads “MGM Records – A Di­vi­sion of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. – Made in U.S.A.” This label is iden­tical to the East Coast label from 1966 above but the im­print ring is much bigger: 3 inches wide rather than 1¼  inches.

Sug­gested NM value: $25-35

 

Mothers FreakOut s re blue 1972 1 600

Mothers FreakOut s re blue 1972 2 600

Blue and silver la­bels used 1972-1973. Cat­alog number is V6/5005-2. Perimeter print reads “Man­u­fac­tured by MGM Records, Inc., 7165 Sunset Boule­vard, Hol­ly­wood, Calif. 90046.”

Sug­gested NM value: $30-40

 

Mothers FreakOut s re white 1973 600

White label used 1972-1973. Cat­alog number is V6/5005-2. Verve used this white label on com­mer­cial records for a brief time be­fore switching to black.

Sug­gested NM value: $40-60

 

Mothers FreakOut s re black 1973 2 600

Mothers FreakOut s re black 1973 3 600

Black and silver label used 1973-1976. Cat­alog number is V6-5005-2. Perimeter print reads “Man­u­fac­tured by MGM Records, Inc., 7165 Sunset Boule­vard, Hol­ly­wood, Calif. 90046.”

Sug­gested NM value: $25-35

 

Mothers FreakOut s re black 1973 4 600

Black and silver label used 1977-1984. Cat­alog number is V6/5005-2. Perimeter print reads “Man­u­fac­tured and Mar­keted by Polydor In­cor­po­rated 810 Sev­enth Av­enue N.Y.  N.Y. 10019.”

Sug­gested NM value: There are no sales of this record listed on Discogs, which is odd: Is it that rare or does no one care?

Ac­cording to Frank Daniels: “Verve Records con­tinued in the ’80s, putting fac­tory codes on the label and then changing cat­alog num­bers. I don’t know of any copies of FREAK OUT! with the Polydor num­bering system, or with pressing-plant num­bers on the label, so the album may have gone over to Frank by that time. I know he reis­sued it in 1985 on his own label.”

 

 

dbl FreakOut map copy

This is the orig­inal Freak Out Hot Spots map, which is black and white with red. It de­scribes L.A.‘s un­der­ground subculture—Frank Zappa re­ferred the term “freak” to “hippie”—and lo­cates some of the places where freaks could be found and there­fore seen by tourists.

The Freak Out Hot Spots map

This is the orig­inal Freak Out Hot Spots map was ob­tained by sending $1.00 to United Mu­ta­tions, Frank’s dis­tri­b­u­tion com­pany. Be­cause it was pur­chased sep­a­rately from the album, it is not a part of the album.

It mea­sured 23 x 29 inches and had sev­eral touches of color. Re­pro­duc­tions of this map are common and far more plen­tiful than au­thentic copies. Sup­pos­edly, a smaller black and white ver­sion was sold at head shops on Sunset Strip and other lo­ca­tions in Hol­ly­wood.

 

Mothers FreakOut bootleg 600

This bootleg fea­tures a black and white re­pro­duc­tion of the front and back covers with the title whited out. The promo sticker is ac­tu­ally a Warner Brothers sticker. Sup­pos­edly, this was a num­bered edi­tion of 25 copies with the records on blue and clear vinyl. It also in­cluded a black and white re­pro­duc­tion of the Hot Spots map.

Boots and repros

•  Coun­ter­feits copies of the stereo album exist.
•  Copies with black and white covers are bootlegs.
•  Copies on col­ored vinyl are bootlegs.
•  Copies with pro­mo­tional stickers on the cover are bootlegs.

Re­garding the pro­mo­tional press­ings of FREAK OUT! above: I would be truly amazed if there was a radio sta­tion in this country that played a se­lec­tion from FREAK OUT! more than once prior to the “un­der­ground radio” phe­nom­enon on FM radio in 1967!

 

Mothers FreakOut Zappa studio 1000

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of the page is Frank Zappa con­ducting the ses­sions for FREAK OUT! MGM com­pany policy called for staff pro­ducer Tom Wilson to be on hand and re­ceive the credit as the pro­ducer. Zappa was in charge of the mu­sical di­rec­tion of his band. This photo was used on the in­side of the gate­fold jacket for FREAK OUT!

 

Mothers FreakOut Taedo SouthKorea 600

South Korea paid scant heed to in­ter­na­tional copy­right laws and throughout the’60s made hor­ren­dously in­fe­rior “re­pro­duc­tions” of le­git­i­mate al­bums. They often made cheap pho­to­copies of the front cover—and know that pho­to­copying ma­chines were prim­i­tive and ex­pen­sive at the time—and used an LP as the source from which they made their “master.” Here an orig­inal Verve cover was copied, in­cluding the “Lim­ited Edi­tion” sticker. The sleeve held one record that con­tained sides 3 and 4 of the of­fi­cial album. These records sounded as crappy as they looked. Need­less to say, there are se­rious col­lec­tors of these vinyl trav­es­ties.

 

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