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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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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Frank Zappa: Over-Nite Sensation [1973]

Rating: 9/10

Have you guessed me yet?

Over-Nite Sensation marks the beginning of what was perhaps the most recognizable period in Frank Zappa's career. After two bombastic and ambitious big-band fusion albums, Uncle Frank recovered from his stage fall and began exploring his whimsical and wacky side yet again. Musically, this album is much more commercial than anything else Zappa had done before. Normally, such a description would be an automatic condemnation for prog fans like me. On the contrary, Zappa's foray into the more commercial side of rock created one of his best albums. To be fair, this isn't a mainstream album by most senses for the word. It's loaded with absurdist humor, complex arrangements, and varied instrumentation. Still, this is one of the most accessible pieces of work he ever released. It's short and sweet - only 34 minutes - but each and every track is an absolute Zappa classic.

"Camarillo Brillo" is a fairly simple rock song complemented with brass and piano arrangements, along with hilarious lyrics. This track, along with the entire album, immediately makes me happy whenever I listen to it. "I'm the Slime" is yet another classic; an unforgettable main riff, a great chorus, and excellent guitar soloing prove this. "Dirty Love" features what may be the funniest lyrics Zappa ever penned. The bass lines in this track are also notable. "Fifty-Fifty" is the most complex song here, and the one that's most heavily focused on instrumentation. Jean-Luc Ponty performs a ripping violin solo, George Duke tears the organ apart, and Zappa plays a blazing guitar solo that's actually somewhat akin to shred guitar. The big-band arrangements that Zappa had been exploring are slightly reprised on "Zomby Woof", another complex track. Everything about this song is great: the guitar playing, the arrangements, the vocals, and the lyrics. "Dinah-Moe Humm" is Zappa's take on funky R&B. This track foreshadows the off-the-wall sexual humor that would later dominate his 80s material. There's no need for me to discuss "Montana"; it's nothing short of a classic. I realize that I'm using that description quite a bit here, but it truly does apply to this album.

I don't want to write a dissertation on this album; over-analysis would be particularly stupid when applied to this piece of work. Anybody who appreciates both whimsy and complexity is likely to enjoy Over-Nite Sensation. That statement can be applied to Zappa's entire catalogue, but it is on this album - as well as on its successor Apostrophe (') - that Zappa captures the part of the essence of what made him such a memorable artist. Albums like this prove that fun music doesn't have to stupid; it demonstrates that stoic contemplation isn't necessary in order to enjoy musical variation and complexity. That alone makes this essential.

Anthony H. | 5/5 |

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