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

FRANK ZAPPA — One Size Fits All (as Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention) album cover Album · 1975 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
One Size Fits All is an album release by American experimental rock artist Frank Zappa. The album was released in June 1975 by DiscReet Records. One Size Fits All was released under Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention monicker and features one of his most loved and respected lineups. The core lineup for this album consists of Frank Zappa on vocals and guitar, George Duke on keyboards, vocals, backing vocals and synthesizer, Ruth Underwood on marimba, vibraphone and various percussion, Chester Thompson on drums, sound effects and voices, Tom Fowler on bass guitar and Napoleon Murphy Brock on tenor saxophone, vocals, backing vocals and flute. Add to that guest appearances by Zappa´s old r´n´b/ blues hero Johnny "Guitar" Watson on vocals, James "Bird Legs" Youman on bass guitar and Captain Beefheart (credited as 'Bloodshot Rollin' Red') on harmonica and you pretty much got an all- star cast.

The music on any Frank Zappa album is hard to describe, but a combination of jazz rock/ fusion, blues rock, progressive rock and some avant garde elements is a shot at it when speaking of the music style on One Size Fits All. An eclectic mix if you will. In addition to the tight musicianship and at times very challenging compositions, the album features some brilliant vocal performances. Both regarding lead and harmony vocals. We´re treated with lead vocals by Frank Zappa, George Duke, Napoleon Murphy Brock and Johnny "Guitar" Watson. It´s one of the great assets of One Size Fits All, that the lead vocals are delivered by so many different vocalist with very different vocal styles. The harmony vocals are exceptional, challenging and unique. Take a listen to a song like Floentine Pogen for proof of that. The 9 tracks on the 42:58 minute long album are all unique in style and sound from the complex and progressive Inca Roads, Floentine Pogen and Andy, the soul, r´n´b and blues of Can't Afford No Shoes, Po-Jama People and San Ber'dino to the hilarious Evelyn, A Modified Dog and the two versions of Sofa ( one instrumental and one with vocals). There´s not a single moment on this album that I don´t enjoy. There´s an attention to detail on this album that you´ll seldom find in music.

At this point Frank Zappa´s unique technique of mixing live tracks ( we´re not talking songs here, but recorded audio tracks) with studio tracks were well implemented and even though there are several of the instrumental tracks on the album that were recorded live, you probably won´t be able to tell which it is. For instance I know that the Frank Zappa guitar solo in the middle of Inca Roads was recorded live and then later spliced with the rest of the tracks in the song and I´ve never been able to tell. This is a typical example of Zappa chosing what he felt was the perfect recording of a certain element for a specific song. He probably knew he had nailed it back in 1974 when he played it at a live show. Sometimes he would even chose a solo played live in one song and put it in a studio recording of another song years later. A very interesting approach IMO.

The production is warm and again the attention to detail is audible.

One Size Fits All is one of the most consistent ( quality wise) Frank Zappa albums out there and it´s probably also one of the most interesting albums from his vast discography for a progressive rock fan. Especially the songs Inca Roads, Floentine Pogen and Andy should bring a smile to the face of most fans of challenging and progressive music. The lyrics on the album are as always humourous and at times clever. There are several conceptual continuety elements in the lyrics ( references to songs from earlier and later albums by Frank Zappa), which is always great for the hardcore fans, but more casual listeners should also be able to appreciate the wacky humour. A 5 star rating is fully deserved.
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