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Frank Zappa - One Size Fits All  CD (album) cover

ONE SIZE FITS ALL

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.32 | 564 ratings

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Negoba
Prog Reviewer
5 stars THE Prototypical Zappa Album

Frank Zappa's catalog is so enormous that the newcomer can have difficulty deciding where to dive in. While most offer HOT RATS as the entry point, I believe that he didn't develop his most distinct style until a few years later, best exemplified by this album, ONE SIZE FITS ALL. Certainly, this period saw Frank with one of his most talented and tight lineups, making some of his most complex music in a complex career. While some of the best of this work is heard on live recordings, this album is an amazing studio example of the style. For a fan of prog, I think this is truly the album that will resonate most.

The album opens with perhaps Frank's second most famous song, "Inca Roads." This track is a carefully composed piece of avant-jazz-rock that still leaves room for improvisation. The off-the-wall spacey storyline only serves as a launch pad for some of the most interesting experimental instrumental pieces Frank recorded in the studio. Unlike some tracks (several on HOT RATS and for example the end of "Po-jama People" here), "Inca" is not just an extended jam. The interplay of the guitar, vibes, vocals, and keys became a Zappa standard made legendary on live favorites like "Echidna's Arf" and extended versions of "The Black Page." The wah soloing is tasty and melodic, segueing into composed melodic sections. In the age of one-song downloads, no prog fan should go without having this song in their library. (Though the whole album is worth it, see further)

Though the rest of the album cannot match the opener, the challenging style does continue on tracks such as "Florentine Pogen" with its heavy keys, "San Berdino" with its rapid fire multi-part fill lines and low harmonies, and "Andy" with an opening that opens with enormous chords straight out of THE WALL and progresses through pseudo-funk scat and loungy crooning but is based on pure fusion. Like all Zappa albums, OSFA contains plenty of sarcasm and humor, but here the music used to support those pieces still holds a high level of musicianship. The melodies are strong as well, making novelties into enjoyable listens even long after the jokes are old. Even the brief oddity "Evelyn, a Modified Dog" employs strange melodic contour and rhythm.

Along with its live companion, ROXY AND ELSEWHERE, this era of Frank Zappa's career is by far the most interesting for me. Complex arrangements that would make Gentle Giant proud, undeniable groove, a piercing eye, and mind-blowing musicianship combine to form the peak of the career of one of our lifetime's most creative musical geniuses. Five Stars.

"Arf, She Said."

Negoba | 5/5 |

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