a Freak Out labelography and price guide

Estimated reading time is 10 minutes.

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.

 

2 thoughts on “a Freak Out labelography and price guide”

  1. I’m surprised no aficionados have ever commented on this before. I found my copy to be from the 73-76 pressings. I paid $25 for it in the early 80s and it’s in excellent condition. Thanks a bunch, I’ve always wondered as I had only seen the blue labels previously.

    Reply
    • RAY

      Thanks for the comment!

      Glad you found the article helpful. The Mothers albums sold respectably well in the ’60s given their near-complete lack of commercial potential. By the early ’70s, there was already interest in the Verve albums from collectors but and the new fans that Zappa’s Bizarre/Reprise albums were accruing.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if fewer copies were pressed of the ’70s albums than the ’60s pressings but there is far more interest in the originals.

      Keep on keepin’ on!

      NEAL

      Reply

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