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Frank Zappa - Over-Nite Sensation CD (album) cover

OVER-NITE SENSATION

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.01 | 408 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'Overnite Sensation' - Frank Zappa (6/10)

With this album (and it's follow-up 'Apostrophe,') Zappa would wander into a realm that many progressive artists find themselves too afraid to venture forth into, the land of pop music. Taking his trademark inventiveness and melding it with the more conventional objectives of popular music; the result is a ridiculously fun mess that is soaked in equal parts quirk and musical intelligence.

It was this risk that actually brought Zappa into the mainstream eye. While the conventions of pop might be peaking their heads through the music here, this is still certainly not what would be considered 'pop' by most people. There are multiple vocalists here, and plenty of different instruments at work; occasionally doing some very technically proficient things. Despite the fact that Zappa manages to incorperate so many sounds (ranging from xylophone to motown vocals to classical violin,) the beating heart of 'Overnite Sensation' is still the idea of the 'upbeat pop ditty.'

An otherwise fun and intelligent collection of songs, 'Overnite Sensation' does has it's faults. It is clear that the man was checking out new territory in his music career, so it was inevitable there would be problems to work out. First among these issues are the vocals. While Zappa's singing is functional, it is on some of the guest vocal work that really weakens some of the otherwise great music. Shrieky male soul vocals from the throat of trumpet player Ricky Lancelotti are very unpleasant to listen to. While it may have been an intended effect for the singing to sound so strained and abrasive, it ends up ruining a few tracks ('50/50,' for example) that could have otherwise been alot more listenable.

Another problem is the lyrical content itself. While Frank was never a man to take himself seriously, one might wish at times that he would let the music drown out the words. While comedy can certainly make music more enjoyable (Zappa does have a few funny moments in his career,) this is not very good humour; in fact, it is simply bad humour. With a considerable portion of 'Overnite's lyrical content being derived from the topic of off-key sexual encounters, ental floss, it feels like the album could have been much more enjoyable if Frank had left his questionable taste in comedy out of the picture.

With 'Apostrophe' thankfully, Zappa would correct alot of the issues that 'Overnite Sensation' suffers with. This album is certainly musically sound; a few parts even amount to being incredible. However, many problems (including a lack of cohesion between tracks) make 'Overnite Sensation' a much less enjoyable experience than it could have been.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |

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