Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch

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Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch
Frank Zappa - Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch.png
Studio album by Frank Zappa
Released May 3, 1982
Recorded September 1981–early 1982 Live and at UMRK (studio tracks)
Genre Hard rock, comedy rock, progressive rock, art rock
Length 34:18
Label Barking Pumpkin
Producer Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa chronology
You Are What You Is
Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch
The Man from Utopia
Singles from Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch
  1. "Valley Girl"
    Released: 1982

Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch is an album by Frank Zappa, released in May 1982 and digitally remastered in 1991. It features five tracks composed by Zappa, and one song, "Valley Girl", co-written with Moon Unit Zappa, his daughter, who provided the spoken monologue mocking some of the Valley girls at her school including "Gag me with a spoon!".[1]

The album's first half consists of studio recordings, while the second half consists of live recordings; its vinyl configuration presented the studio recordings on the first side, while the second side was live. This is Official Release #35.


Most of Side 1 was recorded at Zappa's Utility Muffin Research Kitchen studio at his home in Los Angeles; while the majority of the material on Side 2 was extracted from live performances during tours in 1981 and 1982. The live material was originally intended for an unreleased album titled Chalk Pie, which was scrapped after it had been bootlegged.

The cover art for the album shows the classic Droodle, by artist Roger Price (from which the album gets its name), whose shapes also suggest the letters 'ZA' (and 'P', sideways), as in 'Zappa'.

The song "Drowning Witch" is one of the most complex instrumentals that Zappa ever wrote, featuring musical quotations from The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky and the Dragnet TV theme.

Release history[edit]

The original LP release contained a note that reads "This album has been engineered to sound correct on JBL 4311 speakers or an equivalent. Best results will be achieved if you set your pre-amp tone controls to the flat position with the loudness control in the off position. Before adding any treble or bass to the sound of the album, it would be advisable to check it out this way first. F.Z."

The LP also featured a "letter from FZ" advertising the Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar box set, which had previously only been made available separately in the United States and, at the time Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch was released, was being made available for the first time in Europe. To promote the release of the UK box set, the first pressing of the UK edition of this album contained a 4-song 7" EP with A: "Shut Up & Play Yer Guitar" B1: "Variations on the Carlos Santana Secret Chord Progression" B2: "Why Johnny Can't Read?".

Track B1 entitled on label as: "Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch".

It was issued on CD by EMI with The Man from Utopia on the same disc, and separately by Barking Pumpkin, and later Rykodisc.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[2]

"Valley Girl" was one of Zappa's most successful singles.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Frank Zappa

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "No Not Now"   5:50
2. "Valley Girl"   4:49
3. "I Come from Nowhere"   6:13
Side two
No. Title Length
1. "Drowning Witch"   12:03
2. "Envelopes"   2:46
3. "Teen-Age Prostitute"   2:43




Billboard (United States)

Year Chart Position
1982 Pop Albums 23[3]


Song Chart Peak
"Valley Girl" Mainstream Rock 12[3]
Pop Singles 32[3]


External links[edit]