DiscReet Records

Last updated

DiscReet Records, self-identified simply as DiscReet, was a record label founded by Frank Zappa and his then business partner/manager Herb Cohen. The name of the label was a pun derived from disc and the Compatible Discrete 4 process of encoding quadraphonic sound signals into phonograph records.

The label was launched in January 1973 when DiscReet arranged a distribution contract with the Warner Bros. Records group of labels. [1] The previous Zappa/Cohen labels, Bizarre Records and Straight Records, were discontinued at the same time that DiscReet was created.

DiscReet issued many albums by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention between 1973 and 1979. Another notable act on the label was Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes, who recorded their final two albums for DiscReet. Following this Ted Nugent began his solo career. Cohen also brought to the label recordings by other artists such as Tim Buckley.

Zappa's original intention was to release all albums on the label in conventional 2-channel stereo and 4-channel quadraphonic sound simultaneously. DiscReet issued two albums specially remixed for quadraphonic during 1973. These were Over-Nite Sensation credited to Frank Zappa and the Mothers and Apostrophe (') credited to Zappa alone. But the quadraphonic policy had to be dropped after just two releases. Also advertised were quadraphonic versions of two other Zappa titles. These were the double live album from 1974, Roxy & Elsewhere , and the 1975 (mostly) studio album One Size Fits All . The four-channel master tapes for these albums may still exist in the Zappa archives, but the quadraphonic versions have never been issued.

In May 1976 Zappa's relationship with Cohen ended and the partners filed lawsuits against each other. Among their arguments was the fact that Cohen had signed record deals with Kathy Dalton and Growl, two acts with which Zappa did not approve.

At the same time, Zappa also had disagreements with Warner Bros. Records; [1] the DiscReet label became inactive in 1979 following the decision by Warner Bros. to release three albums for which Zappa claimed Warner Bros. did not have proper authorization, Studio Tan , Sleep Dirt , and Orchestral Favorites . The three disputed titles had no songwriting or production credits and used artwork by Gary Panter, which was not approved by Zappa.

Warner Bros. reissued Zappa's DiscReet recordings on the Reprise Records subsidiary in the late 1970s; they were deleted in 1982. Zappa created Zappa Records in 1979 and Barking Pumpkin Records in 1981; these labels had no involvement with Cohen and were separate business entities from DiscReet.

In 1988 and 1989, DiscReet recordings by Tim Buckley and Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes were briefly re-issued on CD and cassette by the Enigma Retro label. From the late 1980s until 2012, Zappa's DiscReet catalog had been available on CD from Rykodisc. In 2012, the Zappa Family Trust regained the rights to Zappa's DiscReet catalog and signed a new distribution agreement with Universal Music Enterprises to reissue the recordings on the Zappa Records label. [2]

List of DiscReet Records artists

Related Research Articles

Reprise Records American record label

Reprise Records is an American record label founded in 1960 by Frank Sinatra. It is owned by Warner Music Group, and operates through Warner Records, one of its flagship labels.

The Amboy Dukes were an American rock band formed in 1964 in Chicago, Illinois, and later based in Detroit, Michigan. They are known for their one hit single "Journey to the Center of the Mind". The band's name comes from the title of a novel by Irving Shulman. In the UK, the group's records were released under the name of The American Amboy Dukes, because of the existence of a British group with the same name.

Warner Records Inc. is an American record label owned by Warner Music Group and headquartered in Los Angeles, California. It was founded in 1958 as the recorded music division of the American film studio Warner Bros., and was one of a group of labels owned and operated by larger parent corporations for much of its existence. The sequence of companies that controlled Warner Bros. and its allied labels evolved through a convoluted series of corporate mergers and acquisitions from the early 1960s to the early 2000s. Over this period, Warner Bros. Records grew from a struggling minor player in the music industry to one of the top record labels in the world.

Bizarre Records, self-identified simply as Bizarre, was a production company and record label formed for artists discovered by rock musician Frank Zappa and his business partner/manager Herb Cohen.

Straight Records

Straight Records, self-identified simply as Straight, was a record label formed in 1969 to distribute productions and discoveries of Frank Zappa and his business partner/manager Herb Cohen. Straight was formed at the same time as a companion label, Bizarre Records. Straight and Bizarre were manufactured and distributed in the U.S. by the Warner Bros. Records family of labels, which also included Reprise Records. Straight recordings were distributed in the U.K. by CBS Records.

<i>Quaudiophiliac</i> 2004 compilation album by Frank Zappa

Quaudiophiliac is a compilation album featuring music by Frank Zappa, released in DVD-Audio format by Barking Pumpkin Records in 2004. It compiles recordings he made while experimenting with quadraphonic, or four-channel, sound in the 1970s. Zappa prepared quadraphonic mixes of a number of his 1970s albums, with both Over-Nite Sensation (1973) and Apostrophe (') (1974) being released in discrete quadraphonic on Zappa's DiscReet Records label.

<i>One Size Fits All</i> (Frank Zappa album) 1975 studio album by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

One Size Fits All is a rock album by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, released in June 1975. It is the tenth and last studio album of the band. A special four-channel quadraphonic version of the album was advertised but not released.

<i>Zoot Allures</i> 1976 studio album by Frank Zappa

Zoot Allures is the 22nd album by the American rock musician Frank Zappa, released in October 1976 and his only release on the Warner Bros. Records label. Due to a lawsuit with his former manager, Herb Cohen, Zappa's recording contract was temporarily reassigned from DiscReet Records to Warner Bros.

<i>Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)</i> 1978 studio album by Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band

Shiny Beast is the tenth studio album by American rock band Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, released in October 1978 by Warner Bros. Records. The album emerged from production difficulties surrounding Bat Chain Puller, an album Captain Beefheart recorded for DiscReet and Virgin Records in 1976. DiscReet co-founders Herb Cohen and Frank Zappa feuded over the production of the album, because Cohen funded the production with Zappa's royalty checks. Captain Beefheart recorded a new album titled Shiny Beast due to Zappa withholding the master tapes of the original Bat Chain Puller album.

<i>Sleep Dirt</i> 1979 studio album by Frank Zappa

Sleep Dirt is an album by Frank Zappa released in January 1979, on his own DiscReet Records label. It reached #175 on the Billboard 200 album chart in the United States. Zappa's original title for the album was Hot Rats III.

<i>Läther</i> 1996 studio album by Frank Zappa

''Läther'' is the sixty-fifth official album by Frank Zappa. It was released posthumously as a 3-CD set on Rykodisc in 1996.

<i>Zappa in New York</i> 1978 live album by Frank Zappa

Zappa in New York is a double live album by Frank Zappa released on his own DiscReet Records label. It was recorded in December 1976 at a series of concerts at the Palladium in New York City.

<i>Studio Tan</i> 1978 studio album by Frank Zappa

Studio Tan is the 24th album by American musician Frank Zappa, first released in September 1978 on his own DiscReet Records label. It reached #147 on the Billboard 200 albums chart in the United States.

<i>Orchestral Favorites</i> 1979 live album by Frank Zappa

Orchestral Favorites is an album by Frank Zappa first released in May 1979 on his own DiscReet Records label. The album is entirely instrumental and features music performed by the 37-piece Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra. It reached #168 on the Billboard 200 album chart in the United States.

Derek St. Holmes is an American musician, best known as the vocalist and rhythm guitar player for Ted Nugent's early solo career. After splitting from Nugent in 1978, St. Holmes worked with various artists, most notably the Whitford/St. Holmes project with Brad Whitford, who had recently parted ways with Aerosmith.

<i>Tooth, Fang & Claw</i> 1974 studio album by Ted Nugent and The Amboy Dukes

Tooth, Fang & Claw is the seventh album by The Amboy Dukes, credited as "Ted Nugent's Amboy Dukes". The band's second release on DiscReet Records, it was the final album released under the Amboy Dukes name before Ted Nugent launched his solo career the following year.

<i>The Amboy Dukes</i> (album) 1967 studio album by The Amboy Dukes

The Amboy Dukes is the first studio album released by The Amboy Dukes. It was released in November 1967 on Mainstream Records. The Amboy Dukes interested a record label that primarily produced jazz albums. Ted Nugent assembled a new band of local Detroit players to secure a recording contract with them. He immediately brought in the soulful baritone voice of John (J.B.) Drake as lead vocalist. He had a long history with Drake in a local band called The Lourds. Nugent and Drake then recruited the remaining players. Steve Farmer was known as a rhythm guitarist, lyricist, composer and vocalist and was a natural fit with Nugent. He came from a local group called The Gang. Dave Palmer was a drummer and percussionist with experience in two local bands, The Galaxy Five and The Citations. Bill White played bass guitar and Rick Lober was an eclectic keyboardist rounding out the new group.

<i>Bat Chain Puller</i> 2012 studio album by Captain Beefheart

Bat Chain Puller is the 13th studio album by Captain Beefheart, released on February 22, 2012. It was recorded in 1976 by DiscReet Records, who had intended to release it with Virgin Records as Captain Beefheart's tenth studio album. It was co-produced by Beefheart and Kerry McNab.

<i>Call of the Wild</i> (Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes album) 1973 studio album by Ted Nugent and The Amboy Dukes

Call of the Wild is the sixth and penultimate album by The Amboy Dukes, credited as "Ted Nugent & The Amboy Dukes". Recorded in the summer of 1973, it is the first of two albums released on Frank Zappa's DiscReet Records, followed by Tooth Fang & Claw, the band's final album, in 1974. In 1977, both albums were reissued by Warner Bros as the compilation Two Originals of... Ted Nugent.

Herbert Cohen was an American personal manager, record company executive, and music publisher, best known as the manager of Judy Henske, Linda Ronstadt, Frank Zappa, Tim Buckley, Odetta, Tom Waits, George Duke, The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie, and many other Los Angeles-based musicians in the 1960s and 1970s.


  1. 1 2 Sippel, John (5 March 1977). "Discreet Zaps Suit Over Zappa Tapes". Billboard: 23. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  2. Christopher Morris (2012-06-11). "UMG sets Frank Zappa re-releases". Variety. Retrieved 2015-10-20.
  3. Edwards, David; Eyries, Patrice; Callahan, Mike. "Discreet Album Discography". bsnpubs.com. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  4. "Discreet [label discography]". Discogs.com. Retrieved 22 March 2015.