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

OVER-NITE SENSATION

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.01 | 410 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars If anyone asks me where to start with ZAPPA (which, to be honest, never happens), this and "Sheik Yerbouti" are my usual first choices. The opening strains of "Camarillo Brillo" are some of Frank's most accessible sounds, letting him slip temporarily into Warren Zevon/ Randy Newman territory. It's an evocative and nostalgic sound, as west-coast 70s as THE EAGLES or any other band that had weathered the previous decade's schizophrenic psychedelic excesses and discovered more comfortable, sun-drenched property. The song may not provide as much humor or commentary (or musical skill) as others in his discography, but it is by no means a surrender. "I am the Slime" is more like; television takes a well-deserved beating, and I like Frank's voice best when it does the sleazy deep spoken thing. With Tina Turner and the Ikettes taking the place of Flo and Eddie, you might expect an increased soulfulness. A minor complaint: I wish the wah guitar had been a little more full-sounding, as the intro and the jam at the end is great. "Dirty Love" is a textbook example of weird Zappa sex, including the ongoing poodle imagery, but doesn't really stand out as much for me as it might for a ZAPPA initiate. Ricky Lancelotti's vocal take on the carnival-jazz of "Fifty-fifty" is interesting, and the ambivalent tone of the lyrics makes this an curious character piece- but again, this is not on my list of top FZ tracks. The violin solo, however, delivers all the blazing Ponty action you could hope for, and the brief unison section with the guitar is pure prog- as is the intro to "Zombie Woof". A fun and funky boogie man song, the sound metamorphs constantly through various jerky sections: lighthearted fusion, circus keyboards, heavy guitar wailing (the solo is perhaps a bit long), and funky clavinet syncopation. "Dinah-moe-humm" is an unforgettable classic- Frank's signature sex piece (for the time being, anyway). Has anyone had the brilliant idea of playing this and Barry White back to back? This single song inpsired legions of funny-dirty- underground musicians (ah, so this is the connection between Warren Zevon and Dr. Dirty) and therefore provided a soundtrack for legions of giggling high school boys. I'll bet it sounded great on 8-track, too. Finally, "Montana" lampoons the back-to-basics outlaw homesteading urge, and therefore is just as relevant in this era (stick the word 'militia' in there and bob's your uncle). The bad news? The chipmunk voices wear on me a bit, and it doesn't feel like a worthy climax to this classic album, although riding off towards the horizon is a good image to close with.

Final summation: classic and essential ZAPPA; Sure, there's better ZAPPA albums, but this one is a great start and you'll have to get it eventually.

James Lee | 4/5 |

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