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

ONE SIZE FITS ALL

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.32 | 559 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

jtabacco
5 stars This is a watershed for Frank Zappa in his unique musical catalog. It's so together on so many levels it became a standard by which I measured all subsequent releases by other artists. Unfortunately, in this day and age of singles (mp3) the art of putting together a work that moves you from beginning to end is becoming less frequent. None the less this album is a one of the best examples of where art and commerciality live side by side.

Where to start? Let's look at the packaging first. A big maroon sofa floating in space. A Zappa mythology brought to life for the eyes by the brilliant artist Cal Shenkel. God's sofa. One Size certainly fits all. Hilarious subtle pseudo scientific sketches abound along with continuity clues in the form of astrological hokum. Tremendous detail. Giant ants rip apart Hollywood under a blanket of absurd sounding constellations many of which are subtle references found on a myriad of FZ cds.

Inside we have the credits and lyrics written on Fresco in a calligraphic font. Almost to indicate a sort of religious reverence of the music contained herein. And it certainly is. This album sealed my fate as a recording artist.

The active mixing of Kerry Mcnabb, the colorful instrumentation, the climaxes, the solos, the absurd clever lyrics, the continued air pressure /segues from one song to the next. It was all here. FZ put all the cards on the table and presented his ideas not as just a composer but in capturing a group effort of amazing musicians. All these pieces are so strong melodically and rhythmically it's a real testament to FZ's genius as a composer. The forms are so clear and memorable it's no wonder it hit the top 40 in 1975. Quite an achievement for such a left field player as FZ. But it's all great music. No sell out. It's excellent hard rock, fusion, comedy and a bit of classical, dancing in the pop world. Like the best of FZ efforts there is something here for everyone. And it's only 42:58 ! Not one minute is wasted.

Highlights: Inca Roads. Not only one of FZ's most beautiful melodies but contains one of his greatest guitar solos interspliced from a live concert in Helsinki. Brilliant. For me, there aren't many rock guitarist who can sustain such an inventive electric solo over 7 minutes. It's so melodic you can practically whistle it verbatim. It's supported by Chester Thompson's tasty funk driven drumming, Ruth Underwood's amazingly precise mallet playing and of course George Duke adding his genius to the keyboards and vocals. The whole whirling flying saucer of a tune crashes into one of FZ's most harmonically complex rock songs where there is a modulation almost every measure. Yet the melody is so concise and memorable it's completely listenable, wrapped around some of FZ's most socially conscious observations about the state of the union. Can't Afford No Shoes indeed. The piece ends with a dashing maniac guitar meltdown that cuts off for a second and strikingly pushes us into classical rock at it's best. It's Sofa No. 1. A stoic little waltz played with panache and intricate precision. It's such a strong piece it reprises itself as the last tune with lyrics that add to the already brilliant bizzareness. Only Zappa. The piece doesn't seque. You have a second to stop conducting and then it's minor blues time. Po-jama People is FZ at his most sarcastic yet he doesn't take himself seriously and you can hear this in the outro chorus where the group is riffing off the basic hook. Catchy number with a superb frenzied FZ solo joined by Duke's piano, Thompson's drums and Tom Fowlers bass. Classic rock Zappa. Next, (which used to be the start of side 2 on vinyl) The awesome "Florentine Pogen". Another Zappa classic. A rhapsodic mini rock symphony with some of the strangest FZ lyrics. The music is incredible here (recorded live no less at TV station KCET) with overdubbed vocals by Nappy Brock, Duke and FZ. Chester Thompson plays a tasty drum solo. After all the bells and whistles we hear: Chester's gorilla - she goes quack...oink...moo...she go Haratche- platche etc...fade... More conceptual continuity for ya ass. What could follow such an odd piece? Where do you go when you spill out so much music? Where? Another multi layered piece? Of course not. FZ surprises us with "Evelyn A Modified Dog". The esoteric tale of one of his pets over a beautiful harpsichord accompaniment. The perfect humorous release after the the intense Florentine. FZ's voice doubled here sounds so commanding you have to listen to it. He ends with "Arf She Said!" Quick edit into "San Berdino", a manly redneck romp with FZ playing twisted slide guitar. Something about it reminds me of the Eagles guitar laden "Life In The Fast Lane" which did not come out until 2 years later! Was this an influence? Captain Beefheart injects his quirky harmonica playing through out and Johnny Guitar Watson does the best outro scouting on a rock record since McCartney's frenzy on "Hey, Jude"! It ends with "Bobby, I'm sorry you have a head like a potato - I really am"... Heh- heh... And then it's an awesome segue that really picks up the pace. FZ takes it up a bunch of notches with this other worldly intro in "Andy". A rhythmic masterpiece with Duke and Brock trading vocal sections. Tense snare drum rhythms against a beautiful melody played on an organ broken into a million pieces by FZ's nebula sounding guitar break. The piece just cooks. It's angry but beautiful. Towards the end we're pumped with a slick drum break down with Johnny Guitar Watson spewing vocal craziness on top and the whole band chimes in and rocks. FZ flies up and down the fret board bringing us to an exhilarating conclusion which sort of just disintegrates with pure joy and laughter. Just as we take a breath of relief so does George Duke who begins: "I Am The Heaven"... "It's Sofa No. 2". This time with words in English and in German. It's a majestic hoot. Such a fitting cap to what went before. The waltz takes us for a three minute ride and then ends with a totally over the top black sounding absurdist line - "Yeah my sofa - Ya -ha -high!"

It's too good. For a young boy of 14 back in 1975 there was no album like this. Nothing that could sustain my interest every step of the way for 42 minutes straight. To me it was a mystery how it was done, how it was captured. But it was expected. FZ had, and continually produced some of the most entertaining records of the 20th century. This is one of them. Timeless music. Definitely a keeper in any serious progressive music lover's collection.

| 5/5 |

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