Review

FRANK ZAPPA One Size Fits All (as Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention)

Album · 1975 · Jazz Related Rock
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5/5 ·
js
Something about this album has always made it stand out to me over the rest of Zappa's huge discography. It is hard to explain the difference, but this album has a real sense of joy and features the sort of creativity that only happens when a group of people are having a blast working together. 'Overnight Sensation' also touches on some interesting musical ground for Frank. This album came out when certain fusion and progressive rock bands were starting to cross over into each other's territory, while at the same time some of the more ambitious funk bands were also mixing both fusion and prog-rock into their musical vision as well. Frank and his cohorts take in this musical environment and re-process it providing us with the missing link between Yes and EW&F, while also touching on Weather Report, Stravinsky, Gentle Giant and Funkadelic.

The album opens with Inca Roads, which starts like a Weather Report/EW&F tribute/satire with the brilliant George Duke supplying the classic 70s style RnB falsetto vocals that EW&F made famous. After this, the song goes into a dizzying array of styles that mixes progressive rock with standard Zappa silliness and includes a section that gives Duke a chance to play an intense kybd solo over a hyper jazz-fusion groove. Throughtout this album Zappa'a sidemen, such as Duke, Napolean Murphy Brock and Johnny Guitar Watson help provide the voices, humor and good vibes that help Frank connect with that Funkadelic styled sarcastic funk that was so big at this time.

Speaking of Funkadelic, the next song, Can't Afford No Shoes, does a pretty good job of capturing thier old school anti-disco tounge-in-cheek funky RnB. Next up on this album is Sofa No. 1, a beautiful gospel tinged progressive rock ballad that only seems a bit ironic because you know it is Zappa. Side one closes with Pojama People, a song that features a text book example of what a two chord rock jam should sound like. Drummer Chester Thompson deserves a lot of credit for keeping the energy pumping on this one with his constant rhythmic variations, while Frank rises to the challenge with one of his best solos ever. Prior to the making of this record Frank had already established himself as a formidable guitarist, but on Pojama People he seems to have a epiphanic breakthrough and plays like a man possessed.

Side two opens with Florentine Pogan, another massive musical collage that mixes 70s rock, Zappa silliness, classic progressive rock and those faux EW&F vocals again. The next song, Evelyn ... is a short bit of silliness that is forgetable, let's move on.

San Ber'dino opens as a 70s boogie rock number with some Zappa styled progressive rock interjections. The opening is nice, but this song really takes off when they hit a groove and the one and only Johnny Guitar Watson steps up to the mic. If you have never heard Watson sing then you are in for a real treat. Johnny is a blues singer from the 50s and has a voice and vibe that does not exist anymore. Kudos to Frank for bringing this legend into the studio and recording one of the finest angry/sarcastic/funny jams ever.

The next song, Andy, continues with that mix of progressive rock and progressive RnB that makes up so much of this album. The icing on the cake on this number is yet another appearence by the legendary Mr Watson. The album closes with a vocal reprise of Sofa No 1 called Sofa No 2. The added faux operatic vocals are both sarcastic and moving at the same time, sheer genius.

This is the one Zappa album that I never get tired of and it hasn't aged a bit in the 30 years since it came out. Frank is great on this one, but much credit should be given to his sidemen (and woman) who bring so much to this project, especially George Duke who's voice, humor and warm personality permeate this album.
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Abraxas wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Just noticed this review, great, great one! I'm suprised that you consider Pojama People's guitar solo one of Frank's best, I think the same way!

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