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DiscReet Records was a company founded by Frank Zappa and his then business partner/manager Herb Cohen. It was created in 1973 when their previous companies Bizarre Records and Straight Records were discontinued. The name of the label was a pun derived from "disc" and the discrete (also known as "Compatible Discrete 4", "CD-4" or "Quadradisc") method of encoding quadraphonic sound into phonograph records. DiscReet was distributed by the Warner Bros. Records family of labels, which also included Reprise Records.
DiscReet signed a distribution contract with Warner Bros. Records in January 1973. The label 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. Soon after this Ted Nugent began his solo career. Herb 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 by Frank Zappa and the Mothers and Apostrophe (') credited to Frank Zappa. 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 probably still exist somewhere in the Zappa archives but the quadraphonic versions have never been released.
In 1976 the Zappa/Cohen business partnership turned sour and ended in litigation. At the same time Zappa also had disagreements with DiscReet's distributor Warner Bros. Records. DiscReet was shut down 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.
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. Zappa's recordings for DiscReet were re-issued by Reprise Records in the late 1970s and deleted in 1982. 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 the DiscReet catalogue and signed a new distribution agreement with Universal Music Enterprises to reissue the catalogue on the Zappa label.
List of DiscReet Records artists
- Christopher Bond
- Tim Buckley
- Denis Bryant (aka Bryant Sterling)
- Kathy Dalton
- Ted Nugent and The Amboy Dukes
- Brenda Patterson
- Whiz Kids
- Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention
- Sippel, John (5 March 1977). "Discreet Zaps Suit Over Zappa Tapes". Billboard: 23. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
- Christopher Morris (2012-06-11). "UMG sets Frank Zappa re-releases". Variety. Retrieved 2015-10-20.
- Edwards, David; Eyries, Patrice; Callahan, Mike. "Discreet Album Discogrpahy". bsnpubs.com. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
- "Discreet [label discography]". Discogs.com. Retrieved 22 March 2015.