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Frank Zappa - The Mothers of Invention: One Size Fits All CD (album) cover


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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Mid-75, Frank's second incarnation of the mother's Of Invention was now in full swing and One Size Fits all is probably one of the more serious mothers album of that period, since it gives a bigger than usual space to instrumental music and avoids the scatological humour of albums surrounding it. A bizarre spacey artwork graces the album's cover with a personal view of the zodiac system on the back cover.

Opening on the excellent Inca Roads is a jazz-rock piece that starts a bit brass-rock, before veering almost fusion and ending in a ridiculous and silly fashion, which cheapens the whole 8-mins+ of previous ingenuity. . . The short Can't Afford No Shoes is easily forgotten and segues into the short-instrumental Sofa N°1 a rather promising foray into dramatic sympho-jazzy prog. The 7-mins+ Po-Jama People is the classic track from OSFA (IMHO, anyway) and it deserves to be, as the track is a showcase for one of Frank's most brilliant guitar solo in studio, gliding over a funky jazz)-rock, with Chester Thompson's superb drumming in full swing.

The flipside opens with a fair and average Florentine Pogen and the following and thankfully-short Modified Dog is best forgotten. San Ber'dino starts like a typical Zappa humoristic bluesy piece, but develops an-almost-interesting instrumental mid-section. Ditto for the qirky Andy, a bizarre burst-ey piece that develops some interesting ad unusual moments, some rather impressive, but again the dumb over-powering vocals screw it up. Unfortunately the second Sofa piece is much less a success than its first instalments on the other side of the vinyl.

This, as usual, goes in every possible musical direction and is just too confusing to be considered as highly recommendable. The musicianship is superb as usual, but ones wishes that all of the tracks would be of Inca Roads or Po-Jama People, but it is far from the case, even if some tracks (Andy & Ber'dino) could be saved by editing the vocals. Despite some obvious flaws, it would miss my personal Top 10 Zappa albums, but not by much.

Report this review (#29576)
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Inca Roads" and the 2 variations of "Sofa" are the highlights. the rest are just too much song and not enough music for my taste (see my review of "Overnight Sensation") but as with all Zappa albums the compositions and the musicianship are stunning. Ruth Underwood (probably my favourite member of the Mothers) is particularly outstanding on this album. I love "Evelyn, A Modified Dog" for no other reason than it is so silly; only FZ could have written it.
Report this review (#29577)
Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The tracks contain many miscellaneous lead & backing vocals, that's why many people should like this record. Those kinds of vocals will be present on many of his records from the 80's. The best track is "Inca Roads": its second part reaches quintessence: a really intense part full of Ruth Underwood's delightful, fast & complex xylophone! Compared to "Apostrophe", the musical instrumentation is a bit more elaborated, but not at its best. The album contains many of Zappa's gross & strange guitar solos. George Duke plays some good piano parts. I'll say the album has a rather complex, catchy & rhythmic rock tendency, but it is not necessarily addictive.
Report this review (#29578)
Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of the most inspiring albums by ZAPPA, despite of being quite discontinuous, but the best stuff here is excellent... actually its righter score should be "4 stars and an half", especially by forgetting a few not inspiring tunes;instead his tribute to George Duke is important here and well done too, as usual!!
Report this review (#29573)
Posted Friday, April 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars ZAPPA and THE MOTHERS continue to explore rhythmically intricate arrangements and observational absurdities on One Size Fits All. Similar in scope and effect to "Roxy & Elsewhere", there are complex songs that feature George Duke's dexterous vocals and Ruth Underwood's dazzling percussion ("Inca Roads", "Florentine Pogen"), comparatively conventional rock songs fettered by Frank's vocals and unleashed by his brilliant guitar work ("Po-jama People"), and even a few throwbacks to the band's semi-classical posturing ("Sofa Nos. 1 & 2" and the epic "Andy"). The supporting cast ranks with the best Frank ever had, allowing him to fade into the background on occasion and showcase the estimable talents of Duke, Underwood, Tom Fowler and Chester Thompson. In fact, it's perhaps in this incarnation that THE MOTHERS came closest to the egalitarian accomplishments of an actual band. Compositionally, however, the album finds ZAPPA at a crossroads; clearly wishing to show off the band's technical skill on the one hand, but at the same time attracted to rock and its relatively limited structures. As a result, songs like "San Ber'dino" are odd amalgams of the two styles that find ZAPPA cramming complex arrangements into the crevices of a semi-conventional rock song, like a composer determined to use the cannons at his disposal.

One Size Fits All remains a challenging album -- the last to resurrect his jazz/rock/classical tendencies for some time (the Lather project notwithstanding) -- and despite the lack of a recognizable hit it's as essential as anything from this period.

Report this review (#29574)
Posted Tuesday, May 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is a good example of Zappa's versatile style and complex musicality. Don't expect it to be the craziest thing done by Zappa - there aren't any infinite jam sessions - but look at it as a good gem in the middle of the full-of-LSD-brainless 70's hippies. Good non- pretentious instrumental moments in "Sofa no.1" and in the arrangement in "Inca Roads". Strong vocals, short songs and very well performed rock are the main characteristics of this simple but great album, that im my opinion, should be listed as an rare example of original north-american rock music at that time, as others Zappa's albums.
Report this review (#29580)
Posted Monday, October 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars The best Frank Zappa album I think, though I've heard Zappa enthusiasts say it's too much like a 'normal' rock album. I don't really know what a 'normal' rock album is, but I like One size fits all best of all Zappa things. Unlike some of his other productions it feels like a well put together album, not just a whirlwind of fantastic ideas cleverly performed with estreme musicianship. The only recording that might be considered better is You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore 2, but that of course is a live album.
Report this review (#29581)
Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#38043)
Posted Thursday, June 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars In the late seventies I saw a Zappa concert on the television an immediately became a hugh fan: recently I was able to obtain this material containing tracks like 'Uncle Meat', Florentine Pogen and Inca Roads. I was impressed by the musicians (Chester Thompson, George Duke and Zappa himself) and the next thing I did was buying One Size Fits All. And I was not disappointed. Superb compositions (SOFA), Funny Tracks (pojama people), special guest Johnny Guitar Watson, and excellent solo's (Inca Roads). But the album has also always struck me as being a bit incoherent. I like all the tracks, but some of them do not really seem to fint on this album. (Can't afford no shoes). But still, it's one of his best.
Report this review (#52937)
Posted Sunday, October 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Perhaps his best album ever, the perfect mix of jazz-rock, blues, rock and a good dose of humor buttered over a delight slice of, I mean vinyl/CD. A while I concidered "The Grand Wazoo" as his best, but I have to say now that this one towers over it by a few inches. It is a more complex work than "Over-Nite Sensation" and "Apostrophe", featuring a bit more ecletic sense of instrumentation and more complex arrangements. A coulpe of brilliant guitar solo's here as well, notably the one in "Inca Roads", which may be his best of his more relaxing ones. Technically; extremely competent and tight, notably Ruth Underwood does a great job behind the percussion kit and Chester Thompson's drumming is jazzy, funky and fits the album style well. The only weak spots here are "Can't Afford No Shoes" and "Evelyn, a Modified Dog", which aren't bad, but a bit weaker than the rest of the albums featured material. I'll give this one 4.75/5
Report this review (#59049)
Posted Saturday, December 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars "One Size fits all" was my introduction to the great Frank Zappa... A very strange day a friend of mine gave me the record, and so the story goes... As any Zappa first listener i ended up confused with this bizarre jazz/rock style, but fascinated with the composition of his music.

"Inca Roads" (probably Zappa's greatest album opener) gaves me chills up and down my spine, and it still does, this is probably the highlight of the album, along with "Po-Jama People"... Zappa's inventive guitar playing and George Duke/Ruth Underwood virtuosity make this album a total gem.

Musically speaking, albums like "Uncle Meat" and "Freak Out!" are superior, but "One Size fits all" is a perfect showcase of Zappa's music in the 70's... Funky, with a nice amount of quirkiness and avant-garde dissonance, but a bit less noisy than the 60's albums (more jazz/rock-ing , if you will)

This is definitely NOT an ideal introduction to Zappa's music (that might be "Zoot Allures" or "Bongo Fury") and it needs to be listened by people who has already tasted Zappa's quirkiness... If you do like me, you'll get a huge surprise

Report this review (#62723)
Posted Sunday, January 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Frank Zappa's 1975 studio affair would feature his jazz and blues sensibilities coming to an apex, with both styles being intertwined and mingled together. The album, One Size Fits all, would also along with Bongo Fury, would be the last official Mothers album, although the members of the group did stay with Zappa for the next few albums. This album actually features some of Zappa's most infamous compositiions as well as ones that would remain in his repetoir and were played live for years to come (especially during the epic 1988 tour). The entire Roxy & Elsewhere lineup is present for this album, and if you haven't listened to that album, it's a phenomenal live album that competes with some of Zappa's best albums in terms of greatness. So what you can expect here is a tight and cohesive band playing some great complicated and "sophisticated" rock/jazz/blues.

The album opens with the infamous Inca Roads, with the catchy marimba line and the consistent bass/drum interplay. The song has a definite Sci-Fi from the 50s vibe with the underlying sound effects. The interplay with the vocals is also fantastic and Zappa's guitar solo is fantastic. The song has many tempo and time changes, most of them come out of left field and it just kicks the complex nature of the piece up a notch. If you're looking for one of the best Zappa pieces ever, look no further. Can't Afford No Shoes is a rockier piece with some great vocals from Duke and Murphy Brock. It's a silly piece (and later part of the vocals would find their way in backward form onto Ya Honza, but I might be wrong on that). Sofa No. 1 and its counterpart Sofa No. 2 are two of the prettiest songs Zappa wrote, the first part being a strict instrumental with a great piano motif and a superb overall progression. It doesn't do anything but bring a smile to my face listening tot his song.

Po-Jama People begins with a magnificent Zappa guitar breakdown before settling in on a main theme, with some vocals from Zappa that invoke memories of I Am the Slime off of Over-Nite Sensation. The vocals on this track are generally very silly, but musically this track is anything but silly. The interplay between Fowler and Thompson on bass and drums is also great as they were one of the more cohesive rhythm units with Zappa (along with the stellar Bozzio/O'Hearn and Wackerman/Thunes units). Florentine Pogen to me invokes memories of Penguin in Bondage off of Roxy & Elsewhere, don't ask me why, though. It has a great riff and feel to it and Murphy Brock's sax and vocals are superb as well (and Chester Thompson is superb on this song behind the kit). Evelyn, a Modified Dog is a throwaway piece but it is short and not really that bothersome. It's an unfitting piano/vocal track that throws off the mood for the most part.

San Ber'dino is a fantastic track about the city of San Bernadino, California, and about a man named Bobby whose head looks like a potato. The musicianship ranges from blues overtones to jazzier instrumental sections. Zappa is superb on this track, providing riff after riff and solo after solo of just biting energy, and Chester Thompson and Tom Fowler are great on the rhythm unit. The vocals are superb as well, with everyone offering their voice to create a fuller and varied vocal sound (kudos go to the outro vocal performance, which gives the song an even more bluesy feel). Probably my favorite track on the album behind Inca Roads. Andy has a bluesy feel and some fuzzy and biting Zappa guitar as well as some nice percussion from Ruth Underwood and George Duke is incredible on this track with a nice piano solo in the middle. Sofa No. 2 ends the album in a manner much like Sofa No. 1. Where the first one was an instrumental this one has some lyrics and vocals, which if you weren't paying attention would sound heartfelt and like a ballad, but upon investigation you can tell it really isn't. I still say musicially this song is a masterpiece, and can do nothing but bring a smile to my face. It ends the album perfectly, in my opinion.

Overall, the final official studio album for the Mother's of Invention would prove to be one of their absolute best. Fans of the jazzier side of Zappa will find something to enjoy here, and the fans of the bluesy and more rocking Zappa will also find something to enjoy here. Me? Since I enjoy essentially all eras of Zappa I immediately enjoyed this album. This is one of the great Zappa albums, and it is a masterpiece in my eyes (although Evelyn is a pretty stupid track, luckily it's only a minute long). Masterliness. 5/5.

Report this review (#85971)
Posted Sunday, August 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This albums seems to attract nothing but positive reviews, and rightly so, as it's one of Zappa's most inspired efforts.

I would like to stress that ONE SIZE FITS ALL is definitely one of the great SYMPHONIC PROG masterpieces. Listeners who are only vaguely aware of Zappa's career (and who may be prejudiced against his avant-garde experiments, his twenty-minute guitar solos and his warped sense of humour) may not be aware of this. But any proghead who plays this album a few times will soon realise it's in the tradition of SELLING ENGLAND, CLOSE TO THE EDGE, OCTOPUS and A PASSION PLAY.

Most of the compositions on ONE SIZE are fairly complex but enormous fun. Chester Thompson is a virtuoso on the drums, Ruth Underwood's vibes are some of the liveliest in prog (together with Pierre Moerlen's, I guess), all the vocal arrangements are delightful, and George Duke plays some of the best synthesizer solos of the mid-1970s. In my opinion, Duke is right up there in the pantheon with Keith Emerson, Chick Corea and Patrick Moraz. What a shame he never recorded any proggy solo albums!

'Sofa' is one of those hymn-like tunes British prog bands (esp. Genesis, Jethro Tull and VDGG) used to favour, but this being Zappa, it's a hilarious parody, of course. And oh, all of Zappa's guitar solos are really first-rate!

Report this review (#91556)
Posted Sunday, September 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chris H
3 stars This album is most likely the perfect introduction to the unique world of Frank Zappa if you haven't experienced it already. Summing up his genre diversity in a mere 9 songs, this is extremely accessible. So why am I only giving it three stars? Well because of that specific fact that it is very accessible. For a tried and true Zappa fan, always looking to up the ante with complexity of the music and the genius of the lyrics, this is just too easy of an album. Same thing as Over-Nite Sensation, pretty much.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not writing this off as unimaginative. "Inca Roads" is an amazing album opener, and George Duke plays his keyboards like a madman here. One of the highlights of the latter half of the seventies, in my opinion. "Po-Jama People" is also appealing to diversity seekers. Although it carries forward a straight and rocking edge, it features some nice chord progressions and the lyrics are very goofy, yet masterful at the same time. "Florentine Pogen" opens up with an excellent riff, and the hors are at their finest here. Unfortunately, the music is so good it completely eclipses the singing and lyrics, which brings the quality down a ton.

Other than those three songs, let's just face the facts that this is a mediocre album. The much praised "San Ber'dino" is nothing more than an uneventful harmonica-driven rocker. The two "Sofa" songs are jazzy, yes, but boring as well. The y completely lack any atmosphere that keeps you hanging on to them. "Andy" is very bluesy, and although it is a highly forgetful track, I must give a shout to the amazingly skilled percussion work of Ruth Underwood. "Evelyn, A Modified Dog" is a piano-only almost spoken word song that makes no sense, but not in the good way. Most Zappa songs are praised for making no sense, but at least they are relevant to the non-sense that they make. Completely a song that breaks the flow, if there was any.

Like I said right from the beginning, extremely accessible and a great place to introduce yourself to the world of Frank Zappa. Unfortunately, if you own more than two Zappa albums, this just will not appeal to you the same way it would is this was your intro. Some amazing musical parts, but the mediocrity is overwhelming.

3 stars, begin here.

Report this review (#114083)
Posted Friday, March 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is one of my favourite Zappa records. Interestingly enough there is only one instrumental "Sofa No.1" yet the instrumental work on this album is truly incredible. Ruth Underwood on vibes is amazing, while Chester Thompson is his usual brilliant self on drums, and Frank gets a lot of mileage out of his guitar on this one. George Duke sings lead by himself on "Inca Roads" and is part of the lead vocals on two other tracks, while his keyboard work is stunning.

"Inca Roads" features high pitched vocals, but it's the guitar solo from Frank that lasts close to 3 minutes that impresses me to no end. The vibes and Frank's hilarious vocals are also highlights. "Can't Afford No Shoes" makes me laugh just thinking about it. It's an uptempo, funny song that's a good little rocker with some great guitar to end it. "Sofa No.1" is a fantastic sounding instrumental.The sound is so thick and solid. "Po-Jama People" opens with some blues flavoured piano and guitar. Vocals arrive a minute in.The vocal melodies are so funny. "Hoy, hoy, hoy". A scathing guitar solo follows as piano joins in.The vocals are back before 6 minutes.

"Florentine Pogen" has some heavy sections to it and in general it has an an amazing sound to it. "Evelyn, A Modified Dog" is just too funny for words. "San Ber'Dino" is as catchy as hell, and I know i'm repeating myself but the sound is so full, it sounds great as does the guitar again. "Andy" has some fast paced vocals that come and go. Organ before 3 minutes.The drumming is outstanding as is the scorching guitar and fine piano melodies. "Sofa No.2" has some different vocal styles on it that work well.The vibes and drums are highlights as well.

It would be difficult picking my top ten Zappa records, but this one would be near the top.This would be a great place to start for someone new to Zappa's work.

Report this review (#138892)
Posted Tuesday, September 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Zappa Genius.

One size fits all stands as a high point in the illustrious well documented career of eccentric composer/virtuoso FRANK ZAPPA showcasing his amazing sense of humor, his songwriting talent and overall musical genius. Once again Zappa has assembled a crack team of musicians to do his bidding, Zappa was notorious for demanding relentless perfection from his musical troupe and it really shines through here, especially with the rhythm section, there is some fantastic drumming and some fat bass groove to be had as well as some great synth work (which contributes some of the sillier moments of the record) and Zappa's vastly under-appreciated guitar talent.

Inca Roads is one of the best songs of Zappa's long career, very technical with a groovy breakdown and very silly - it's about the never ending quest to find a place to park your car. Zappa even experiments with tapping in the solo section, a very early example of the guitar technique long before Van Halen even recorded a song. Another highlight is Po-Jama people a very funky song about people who always wear Pyjamas, my personal favourite song on the album featuring a blistering hot 5 minute jam and some great lyrics - Zappa at his best.

Every song on the album is great if the music doesn't get you then the humor will, Overall an amazing album recommended to any fans of FRANK ZAPPA and similar artists eccentric/funny artists.

Report this review (#141693)
Posted Wednesday, October 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars I never thought this album is as good as Apostrophe ('), Over-Nite Sensation or Hot Rats. I don't know, but I never like it. Yes, Inca Roads is a great song, probably one of the ten most beautiful Zappa songs. Yes, the two Sofa parts are good. Yes, Florentine Pogen is good. But I really hate San Ber'dino, Andy, Evelyn, A Modified Dog and Po-Jama People. I think this album is too overrated, it's just an average one. Lots of Zappa fans began with this album, but I don't think it's the most accessible Zappa album. Really, what the hell you feel about One Size Fits All ? It's often boring...
Report this review (#163421)
Posted Saturday, March 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars So why do you listen to Zappa?

There are lots of reasons to listent to Zappa. Do you like avant-garde instrumentation and composition? Do you like quality musicianship? Do you like imaginitive guitar work? Do you like weird and fantastic lyrics? Do you like humourous yet serious music?

If you answered yes to those questions, One Size Fits All is for you. All of those attributes are enthusiastically present.

And yet I'm only giving this three stars. It's good, but not great. Let me try to explain why.

If I'm going to call something great (four or five stars), I expect to be captivated from the get-go. I expect to say Wow! from the first minute of the song, because all of the attributes that make the song great gel together. That just doesn't happen with this album. I can listen to something like Inca Roads or Po-jama People or Florentine Pogen or Andy and I can say Dang, that part is just great! but I can't say it about the whole song. Things just don't gel here. There are lots of good parts, but they just don't come together into a great whole.

Still it's a good album. If you answered yes to the questions I started out with, you will be very happy with One Size Fits All. But if you want to know what makes Frank great, you need to listen to Hot Rats, Apostrophe, or Joe's Garage.

Report this review (#166427)
Posted Saturday, April 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars One Size Fits All was the last record to feature one of the best line-ups that Frank Zappa ever had; in fact it's also the last record he put out as Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention so it was also an end to a great era. Fortunately it's also one of the best records he released, if not the best. It's got everything a Zappa fan could want; the complex arrangements covering musical bases from Rock to Fusion with a bit of Funk for good measure, the harmony vocals, the humour and it sounds great too with a totally sympathetic production.

The almost 9 minute Inca Roads opens in excellent style. Complex in a Jazz/Fusion style and features an excellent Zappa guitar solo which incidently was lifted form a Helsinki concert and pasted onto the backing track, something that Zappa has not been averse to doing over the years. It fits perfectly and you can't see the seam.

Things get more rocky for Can't Afford no Shoes which is followed by a lovely instrumental featuring the Sofa in space on the front cover and titled Sofa No 1. The track makes a re-appearance at the end of the album as a vocal version as Sofa No 2, a nice way to tie up the record.

The hilarious Po-Jama People with the trademark Zappa humour pokes fun at, you've guessed it, people who wears pyjama's. It's also great instrumentally too with another excellent solo from the man. In fact it can't go unsaid, though expectedly the whole band play brilliantly throughout the album and vibes have never been used as well as on Zappa records in a rock band setting supplied by the brilliant Ruth Underwood. I also love Chester Thompson's drumming on this album too ably aided by Tom Fowler on bass in the rhythm section, though replaced by James Youman in places (not sure where exactly) due to Fowler breaking a hand.

More musical complexity follows with Florentine Pogan with many twists and turns and then we're into more hilarity with Evelyn, a Modified Dog which is over within a minute. The next 2 tracks feature one of Zappa's early heroes Johnny "Guitar" Watson on vocals. San Ber'dino is an excellent mix of Rock and Funk and Andy is more complex though also having funky elements. The afore mentioned Sofa No 2 follows bringing this excellent and most complete album to a close, not a weak track present.

So whilst nowhere near being one of the more commercial Zappa albums it's not a bad place to start for the novice due to the strength of the material and an excellent example of his mid-seventies period work.

Report this review (#169160)
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars In my book a total Zappa classic. There is a lot of rocking on this album! And I seem to enjoy every single track on this album, which usually isn't the case with Zappa (often there is a stinker or two). The album opens with the classic Inca Roads which is up beat, but still have a mellow feel to it due to George Duke's awesome vocal performance. The songs features some great melodies and a killer guitar solo... good stuff! Can't Afford No Shoes is a fun little rocking song with great riffs and a nice choir melody. Both Sofa songs are nice and comfortable and they build up very well to the almost symphonic climax. Po-Jama People is perhaps my least favorite of the album, but it's still a nice tune. The middle guitar solo is great and the ending melody slays! Florentine Pogen is a really heavy song. The opening riff is gold. This is one of my favorites of them album. Napoleon does a tremendous vocal job on this tune. This song has it all. Beside the before mentioned is has it's fair share of craziness yet still being catchy. And Chester Thompson does an awesome job on the drums. Evelyn, A Modified Dog is a little crazy interlude-like song, but I think it's great and it fits in fairly well. San Ber'dino is another rocking track. Great melodies, riffs and the ending is superb. Andy also has it's fair share of rocking and is overall good. As I'm typing this all this down I realize how many awesome songs this album consist of with Andy being another one of them.

This is a near perfect album and the production is also great. Really recommended to people who likes the more rocking or bluesy side of Zappa.

Report this review (#170009)
Posted Tuesday, May 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars ''One Size Fits All'' was the last record released under the name of ''Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention'', although most musicians stayed with him. After the more solo-oriented releases, this clearly is the record of a band. And what a band this is! With this line-up, Zappa created one of his best albums. It is different from its predecessors not only in terms of quality, but also in complexity. The band has all space to show its potential in about 42 minutes, which are enough for more than a dozen of instruments, it seems. To mention is the usual fantastic guitarplaying by Zappa himself, doing once again his impressive solos. Now, let's go a bit in detail about the songs..

''Inca Roads'' evolved to become a classic of Zappa. This track features some insane vocals (partly canon, duet or solo), a catchy marimbaphone melody and drums setting accents, either stopping or bringing on a song. Yes, it seems to halt sometimes, which makes this a particular interesting track. ''Can't Afford no Shoes'' is more of a rocker here, the vocals are just insane, the music is fast. ''Sofa No.1'' is slower again, keyboards and percussion take the lead role in this short instrumental to prepare us for what is to come. ''Po-Jama People'' rises the tempo a bit. There are again crazy vocals, so the guitar playing, and.. well, like so many songs. Not a high point, but it does not fall out of line. ''Florentine Pogen'' goes on like this, it is instrumental impressive and has nice melodies. ''Evelyn, A Modified Dog'' is very laid back, with slow, supporting piano playing to vocals adding a mood of.. classical craziness? ''San Ber'dino'' is pretty satisfying, the harmonica adds tones to a rhythm and guitar, creating the atmospehere of Wild West. The rude vocals in the middle and the bar-piano playing makes me think of some old movies. I really ought to look for them in the TV guides. ''Andy'' is as crazy as the preceding tracks. Starts slow, falls into piano melody, to a pre-chorus, piano again? Chorus and so on. As you see, the piano is very present here, not only to add rhythmic chords, but occassional some scales. The vocals are also dominant here, so is the percussion. But what is sung here.. canon again. Dual again. The comparison might be taken from afar, but it remembers me of Gentle Giant. ''Sofa No.2'' Made me burst out laughing. It features the mighty melodies of ''Sofa No.1'', supported by bells, piano, strings and other keyboard effects, with Frank Zappa claiming in pseudo operatic vocals ''Ich bin hier, und du bist mein Sofa!''. Since I am a German native speaker, those words were so absurd to me. Combining nonsense like that with music to feature church bells? The holy ritual of relaxing or what? The shout at the end sounds like crazy Frank, leaping on his sofa with pleasure.

All in all, this is still one of the best albums of Frank. The points I often critisize (excessive soloing, too dirty lyrics) are not disturbingly present here. The music is quite eclectic, fusing elements from so many different genres to one. Zappa does not rush in the foreground of the music, his guitars are just an element of the whole. This whole is a nearly perfect mix of music, however, you might have to take it with a pinch of salt. It is not for everyone. If it is for you, Frank Zappa gives you the ticket to a trip through his universe, on an old red sofa. See you later!

Report this review (#170219)
Posted Thursday, May 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
Easy Money
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Something about this album has always made it stand out to me over the rest of Zappa's huge discography. It is hard to explain the difference, but this album has a real sense of joy and features the sort of creativity that only happens when a group of people are having a lot of fun working together. I also think this album contains some of Frank's most overt references to classic progressive rock, as well as many references to the progressive funk/RnB scene that was at a peak when this album came out. During the mid-70s RnB based bands such as Earth Wind and Fire and Funkadelic were heavily influenced by the progressive rock scene and countered with an outpouring of creative RnB based music. There are moments on this album in which Frank and his talented co-horts seem to be supplying the missing link between Yes and EW&F while also referencing Stravinsky, Gentle Giant, Weather Report and ELP.

The album opens with Inca Roads, which starts like a Weather Report/EW&F tribute/satire with the brilliant George Duke supplying the classic 70s style RnB falsetto vocals that EW&F made famous. After this, the song goes into a dizzying array of styles that mixes progressive rock with standard Zappa silliness and includes a section that gives Duke a chance to play an intense kybd solo over a hyper jazz-fusion groove. Throughtout this album Zappa'a sidemen, such as Duke, Napolean Murphy Brock and Johnny Guitar Watson help provide the voices, humor and good vibes that help Frank connect with that Funkadelic styled sarcastic funk that was so big at this time.

Speaking of Funkadelic, the next song, Can't Afford No Shoes, does a pretty good job of capturing thier old school anti-disco tounge-in-cheek funky RnB. Next up on this album is Sofa No. 1, a beautiful gospel tinged progressive rock ballad that only seems a bit ironic because you know it is Zappa. Side one closes with Pojama People, a song that features a text book example of what a two chord rock jam should sound like. Drummer Chester Thompson deserves a lot of credit for keeping the energy pumping on this one with his constant rhythmic variations, while Frank rises to the challenge with one of his best solos ever. Prior to the making of this record Frank had already established himself as a formidable guitarist, but on Pojama People he seems to have a epiphanic breakthrough and plays like a man possessed.

Side two opens with Florentine Pogan, another massive musical collage that mixes 70s rock, Zappa silliness, classic progressive rock and those faux EW&F vocals again. The next song, Evelyn ... is a short bit of silliness that is forgetable, let's move on.

San Ber'dino opens as a 70s boogie rock number with some Zappa styled progressive rock interjections. The opening is nice, but this song really takes off when they hit a groove and the one and only Johnny Guitar Watson steps up to the mic. If you have never heard Watson sing then you are in for a real treat. Johnny is a blues singer from the 50s and has a voice and vibe that does not exist anymore. Kudos to Frank for bringing this legend into the studio and recording one of the finest angry/sarcastic/funny jams ever.

The next song, Andy, continues with that mix of progressive rock and progressive RnB that makes up so much of this album. The icing on the cake on this number is yet another appearence by the legendary Mr Watson. The album closes with a vocal reprise of Sofa No 1 called Sofa No 2. The added faux operatic vocals are both sarcastic and moving at the same time, sheer genius.

This is one progressive rock album that I never get tired of and it hasn't aged a bit in the 30 years since it came out. Frank is great on this one, but much credit should be given to his sidemen (and woman) who bring so much to this project, especially Georg Duke who's voice, humor and warm personality permeate this album.

Report this review (#174467)
Posted Thursday, June 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one of my favorite Frank Zappa albums and one of his strongest.

One Size Fits All kicks off with the inescapable classic Inca Roads. If you are looking for a track by Frank Zappa that features incredible musical creativity, wild guitar chops, prominent instruments from the rest of the band, clever lyrics, and wonderful melodies, I do not think you could possibly do better than this song. It's almost like a showcase of the best of Frank and his band's abilities, while still being tasteful and unique. The final minute of this piece toys with one of the oddest vocal melodies, doubled with altered vocals--and dwelling on deep lyrical subjects such as a guacamole queen and Chester's thing. If you are interested in Zappa in the slightest, this song must be heard, I aver.

There is no way to follow such a song up, really, but Frank does an admirable job with the upbeat and catchy Can't Afford No Shoes. Sofa No. 1, the instrumental version of Sofa No. 2, is kind of fun filler with a really clever melody also. Po-Jama People moves the album along with another long song, though when compared to Inca Roads this does not really seem to be quite as inspired. A long series of guitar jamming nevertheless makes it a strong centerpiece to the album. Florentine Pogen is built on a particularly creative exotic riff. The vocal melodies are classic, but the real beauty of this song lies in the sound of the keyboards. Evelyn, a Modified Dog, is a pointless filler track, but a funny one.

San Ber'dino continues the album with another song like Po-Jama people: interesting, but not great. The vocal harmonies are strong, but the melodies somewhat weak. There's an element of the Beach Boys here, likely being targeted by Frank's inexhaustible sense of parody. Piano also intertwines itself throughout this song, giving it an upbeat Californian sort of sound. Andy features some goofy vocal lines, ranging from gentle falsetto to Alice Cooper sounds to some sort of burning speedy thing. The lyrics don't really go anywhere, naturally, but the progression of the music is notably quite mature. Finally, the album closes with the aforementioned Sofa No. 2. The vocals, many of which are in German, sound absolutely divine here, creating a great tune out of what probably could have been mere rehash.

One Size Fits All is easily one of the best releases ever by Frank Zappa, and a worthy one to start with. Any fan of Zappa should own this one.

Report this review (#184228)
Posted Tuesday, September 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars As the years go by, a certain myth has held steady, especially maintained by the British music press, that there is only one good Frank Zappa album and that is Hot Rats. If you are a Zappa hound then you know this just isn't true. But you don't have to own all seventeen thousand albums sent from Frankland to realize that maybe, just maybe, there might be one or two other really great albums by FZ out there.

One Size Fits All is my personal contender for Zappa's best record. It's the one I come back to the most and the one I want to push into the hands of people who've never really given him a listen. It may not have that dada-anarchism fans of the 60s Mothers want, but there sure is a great deal of absurdist humor here, plus it lacks the potty-mouthed knob obsession that can mar some of the later 70s work. Some of the tracks here have that straight-ahead rock feel of Apostrophe (') and Zoot Allures, but the arrangements on One Size are more elaborate and there is a greater array of styles, moods and textures here. So if you want some squonking 70s guitar doing fine blues and boogies, it's here for you. But if you want a rich tapestry of complex time signatures and odd tonal shifts, well, that's here, too. In many ways, for me, this is the record where Zappa's classical compositional modes merge the best with his rock band orchestrations.

The stand out tracks are "Inca Roads" (an absolute prog masterpiece), "Sofa No. 1," "Sofa No. 2," "Florentine Pogen," "Andy," and for the best blending of lyrical weirdness and ornate composition, "Evelyn, a Modified Dog." And ultimately what makes these tracks really happen is that these whacked and beautiful songs are played by, for me (hands down, no question) Zappa's best band: Napoleon Murphy Brock, George Duke, Chester Thompson, Ruth Underwood and Tom Fowler. The Roxy/Helsinki group just soars and bucks as well as any band can.

On the back of the album is a picture of the sky with new constellations like Coma Bernice the vacuum cleaner, Rex Begonia the T. Rex, and Pixies the Whales. Under these stars and inside the tracks we get into sofas, dogs and Andy Devine. It's not a bad alternate universe to spend forty minutes or so.

Ich bin der Chrome Dinette, indeed. Arf, she said.

Report this review (#223126)
Posted Thursday, June 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
3 stars For me, Zappa's blend of rock, blues, jazz, and zaniness on "One Size Fits All" comes up short, but is still a worthy listen.

The mixture of genuine complexity and musical genius is prevalent throughout this album from the get go, with "Inca Roads" standing as the clear winning track. It features some tremendous guitar, keyboard, vocal gymnastics, and class which makes it a rightfully deserved classic. Zappa's and the group's creativity shines with energetic playing and songwriting. The mix of singers is also a nice addition.

Then, it's all pretty much downhill. Successive songs sound very much like Zappa is simply trying very hard to be the genuis everyone expects him to be. Songs are crammed with weird complexity, hard-blues outbursts, and directionless humor. Of course things are punctuated now and then with moments which catch one's attention and remind the listener that his reputation is desereved, but few songs on "One Size Fits All" are actual successes in their entirety. Songs like "Evelyn the Modified Dog" and "Po-jama People" sound very contrived, but well doubtless please casual prog-listeners.

Overall, not my favorite Zappa album, compared to say "Apostrophe" which has as much complexity and is gratifying throughout.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 2 Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Report this review (#248204)
Posted Wednesday, November 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
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."

Report this review (#259809)
Posted Thursday, January 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars ''Hoy, hoy, hoy!''

One Size Fits All is one of the greatest Zappa records of all time. It's well-written, funny, creative, and original. Not to mention some of the best playing the man has ever done is also here. It was the very first Zappa album I heard, and it made such a dent in my musical taste, that I changed my perspective right then and there. Once I had heard the entire album, I knew a whole new world had opened up to me, and I was willing to try out even more new and different styles of music. Thank you, Mr. Zappa!

The standout tracks to me by far are ''Inca Roads'', ''Po-Jama People'', ''Floentine Pogen'', ''San Ber'dino'' and ''Andy'', but the shorter, interlude tracks also hold a certain charm. The ''Sofa'' tracks are brilliant little bridges between the epics, and ''Evelyn, A Modified Dog'' is a hysterical little narration.

It's clear that everybody on this album was having a crazy amount of fun, and I wish i could have been there to witness what was undoubtedly a hilarious time in the studio. It's such an uplifting album, full of life and comedy, but also a ton of great songwriting and top-notch musicianship. With such a huge output of music, Zappa managed to outdo himself with this one. It served as a great introduction to his work for me, and so I always point to it when anybody new to Zappa wants a starting place. I love this album so much, it's just so rich with content! I honestly don't think anybody should go through their life without hearing this record, at least once.

Among the highlights on this record (of which there are many!), I would say the three-minute-plus long guitar solo in ''Po-Jama People'', the hard rockin' breakdown during ''San Ber'dino'' and the outro of ''Andy'' make me smile the most. I think the funniest track for me is the first of those aforementioned three. But those are just my own takes on this, and the entire album is a masterful blend of everything Zappa did great. I just can't imagine anybody not enjoying the experience of listening to it.

Clever in it's own Zappa-esque way, yet also a hard rocker with plenty of groovy tunes that will have you bopping your head and humming the melodies long after you've shut the album off, One Size Fits All is the prime example of Avant-Garde Rock music done right. It's very unusual in so many ways, and yet, much like Henry Cow's Leg End (which I also just recently reviewed), it's also incredibly accessible in so many ways. Anybody who appreciates good music will like something about this record, guaranteed. The quality is top-notch, and nothing sounds tacked-on or contrived. It has no throw-away tracks.

Please listen to this album if you haven't yet. It's an absolute masterwork, as far as I am concerned, and as much as I try to keep my five-star ratings at a minimum these days, I honestly believe One Size Fits All to be one of the few iconic Prog albums that cannot be missed by anybody who considers themselves fans of the genre. Even if you don't find to be as perfect as I, you WILL enjoy it, I promise you. How can you not, when it's so obvious the performers themselves were having the time of their lives? I just love it when the happiness and creativity of my favorite artists are at an all-time high, and I love it even more when it can be heard so plainly on the works themselves. This is certainly one of those cases.

An absolute classic album, as far as I am concerned, an one that cannot by any circumstances be missed. It's so good, it blows my mind.

Essential happy listening.

Report this review (#270438)
Posted Monday, March 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I don't know how You can not consider "Inca Roads" one of the greatest prog songs of all time. The guitar, the voice and that strange instrumentation makes one beautiful opening to, IMHO, the best album Zappa ever recorded. I know everybody's favorite is Hot Rats but if I have to choose this one is a winner. I remember buying this album in the period of time when I was in love with Deep Purple and Grand Funk and how It scared the bejesus out of me (Xylophone and Marimba in a rock LP?) Now I keep listening over and over again and never get tire of It. How age has mellowed me. I think that You must give this recording a chance in your collection. It will be a nice addition for the adventurous listener. Solid four stars.
Report this review (#281163)
Posted Sunday, May 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Frank Zappa. By mentioning his name alone my wife already starts rolling over the floor from laughter. "Muppet Show music" she calls it. Yes, she's a cheerful person, and I must say her enthusiasm has spurred me to spend more time with the man's discography over the last year.

Frank Zappa has always been an artist I found difficult to get into, usually enjoying the jazz-rock based musicianship a lot, but at the same time put off by the goofy humour, the whimsical songwriting, and the theatrical storylines and quotes from music styles such as "German Schlager" (Du bist mein Sofa), circus music, cabaret, musical etc... This album has it all really. Great jazz-rock, goofy humour, absurdities and a couple of good grooves and catchy melodies of which Inca Roads, Po-jama People and Andy are the ones to check out first.

One Size Fits All seems to be the Zappa where both the musicality and the lyrics get an equal amount of attention. As such it is doubtlessly his most complete album and the obvious favourite for the real Zappa fans. Being a Zappa outsider I happen to enjoy albums like Hot Rats more, but who knows how much more I'll be brainwashed.

Report this review (#284143)
Posted Sunday, May 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars One Size Fits All is an album release by American experimental rock artist Frank Zappa. The album was released in June 1975 by DiscReet Records. One Size Fits All was released under Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention monicker and features one of his most loved and respected lineups. The core lineup for this album consists of Frank Zappa on vocals and guitar, George Duke on keyboards, vocals, backing vocals and synthesizer, Ruth Underwood on marimba, vibraphone and various percussion, Chester Thompson on drums, sound effects and voices, Tom Fowler on bass guitar and Napoleon Murphy Brock on tenor saxophone, vocals, backing vocals and flute. Add to that guest appearances by Zappa´s old r´n´b/ blues hero Johnny "Guitar" Watson on vocals, James "Bird Legs" Youman on bass guitar and Captain Beefheart (credited as 'Bloodshot Rollin' Red') on harmonica and you pretty much got an all- star cast.

The music on any Frank Zappa album is hard to describe, but a combination of jazz rock/ fusion, blues rock, progressive rock and some avant garde elements is a shot at it when speaking of the music style on One Size Fits All. An eclectic mix if you will. In addition to the tight musicianship and at times very challenging compositions, the album features some brilliant vocal performances. Both regarding lead and harmony vocals. We´re treated with lead vocals by Frank Zappa, George Duke, Napoleon Murphy Brock and Johnny "Guitar" Watson. It´s one of the great assets of One Size Fits All, that the lead vocals are delivered by so many different vocalist with very different vocal styles. The harmony vocals are exceptional, challenging and unique. Take a listen to a song like Floentine Pogen for proof of that. The 9 tracks on the 42:58 minute long album are all unique in style and sound from the complex and progressive Inca Roads, Floentine Pogen and Andy, the soul, r´n´b and blues of Can't Afford No Shoes, Po-Jama People and San Ber'dino to the hilarious Evelyn, A Modified Dog and the two versions of Sofa ( one instrumental and one with vocals). There´s not a single moment on this album that I don´t enjoy. There´s an attention to detail on this album that you´ll seldom find in music.

At this point Frank Zappa´s unique technique of mixing live tracks ( we´re not talking songs here, but recorded audio tracks) with studio tracks were well implemented and even though there are several of the instrumental tracks on the album that were recorded live, you probably won´t be able to tell which it is. For instance I know that the Frank Zappa guitar solo in the middle of Inca Roads was recorded live and then later spliced with the rest of the tracks in the song and I´ve never been able to tell. This is a typical example of Zappa chosing what he felt was the perfect recording of a certain element for a specific song. He probably knew he had nailed it back in 1974 when he played it at a live show. Sometimes he would even chose a solo played live in one song and put it in a studio recording of another song years later. A very interesting approach IMO.

The production is warm and again the attention to detail is audible.

One Size Fits All is one of the most consistent ( quality wise) Frank Zappa albums out there and it´s probably also one of the most interesting albums from his vast discography for a progressive rock fan. Especially the songs Inca Roads, Floentine Pogen and Andy should bring a smile to the face of most fans of challenging and progressive music. The lyrics on the album are as always humourous and at times clever. There are several conceptual continuety elements in the lyrics ( references to songs from earlier and later albums by Frank Zappa), which is always great for the hardcore fans, but more casual listeners should also be able to appreciate the wacky humour. A 5 star rating is fully deserved.

Report this review (#299609)
Posted Saturday, September 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I don't think I've ever been this unenthused about writing a review for a solid **** album before. There just comes a point where you have to ask yourself: how many weird rhythmic left-turns, or great guitar/synth/vibe breaks, or clever bizarre post-modern lyrics, or whatever else that Zappa throws onto this album, can a person handle before that person starts to get bored with them? If your answer to that question is along the lines of, "This is a stupid question, why the hell would somebody get tired of these things?" then feel free to boost the rating by a point. Alas, when I listen to this album, my general thought process ends up going something like this: "Huh, boy, that's a neat instrumental passage, huh, look at that, another slam of mainstream society, huh, boy, I wouldn't have expected something like that weird break here, is this album over yet?"

What's really weird about this album is that, for all of its eccentricities (and boy, there are a lot of them), the central core of it is semi-mainstream slick commercialized 70's jazz rock. I get the feeling that Zappa really wanted to satisfy both the "normal" fans who had jumped on board with Overnite Sensation and Apostrophe, on the one hand, and the olden-day instrumental freak-out (pun sorta intended) fans who loved when Frank and co. would start wanking in all directions, and the end result certainly does an adequate job of providing satisfactory elements for both. Honestly, though, it's not done in a way that I find ideal; I find myself longing for a bit more grit in the final product, rather than the technically perfect but rather (in my opinion) soulless sounds and instrumental techniques that dominate. It really comes down to where your music priorities are; if you find yourself judging the quality of music primarily by the technical prowess and compositional "sophistication" involved in making this (in other words, if you're a big fan of "King Kong" or "The Grand Wazoo"), or if you instinctively go "yay!" at anything that has a heavy jazz influence (see previous parentheses), you'll probably adore this album. Personally, I like a little more function to go with my form, a little more solid offensive line play to go with my Pro-Bowler wide receivers and running backs, and a little more effort in the melodies than I get here.

But sheesh, I've done nothing but whine in this review so far. Let's change directions and look at the good parts, which are many. The band is the same as on Roxy, and while it's not as flabbergastingly engaging in its tightness as on that semi-live album, it's still the most impressive he'd had to that point (and quite probably his most impressive ever). Frank's guitar techniques have only gotten better, and that says something; his soloing in "Andy" (a bizarre mix of 70's funk/pre-disco and prog-lite) is almost beautiful, and he gets great leads all over the place on the rest of the album. The rest of the band is similarly fantastic; "Inca Roads" is probably overlong, but the cool synth, vibe (and of course) guitar breaks save it from being even close to unenjoyable.

Switching gears, Frank's perverse sense of humor is all over the place on this album; it's less concentrated than on, say, Overnite, but it's still omnipresent. Going back to the opening "Inca Roads," it does get a little tiring after a while when the vocals riff on weird bits like "guacamolequeenguacamolequeenguacamolequeen..." but for the most part the bizarre call-and-response passages work with the lyrics in a satisfactory way. The first "Sofa" track doesn't make much sense when you first hear it, but when you hear the closing second part, with Frank and co. singing as bombastically in German as they can while delivering their ludicrously mundane lines (the english translation is, "I'm here and you are my sofa"), the two parts become a laugh riot (I agree with George Starostin that it would have been more effective to switch the order of the two; having the instrumental close things out as a reprise would have been a perfect capstone).

The album also seriously rocks in places. "Can't Afford No Shoes" is a great piece of semi- compact riff rock, with lyrics about begging in the streets that are disturbingly fun (I love the way they do the line, "Hey anybody, can you spare a dime? If you're really hurting a nickel would be fine!"). "Pojama People" (deeeuhr, this isn't thematically similar to "Plastic People" in the least bit, nope, not at all) is an effective piece of intense, jazzy blues-rock that has low-key power running through it (and yes, low-key bluesy power can rock), and dang if that isn't an awesome guitar solo. And finally, "San Berdino" does a good job of aping "average" mid-70's rock, mixing redneckiness with the standard Zappa elements with flair.

I'm also rather fond of the totally genre-ambiguous "Florentine Pogen," which I'm almost tempted to name my favorite of the album except for the fact that it kinda makes me droop around the five minute mark. Ah well, with a little more energy it could actually have fit in well on Roxy; as is, its weird mix of "normal" music with all of the weird harmonic trappings and rhythmic "disturbances" that normally go with Zappa makes it intriguing.

In the end, then, I really like most of this album's component parts, but as an album, it falls a little short of where the individual tracks say it probably should be. I guess I just feel like the album, in trying to be so "artsy" while still being vaguely accessible, holds back too much of its potential in either direction. Make no mistake, though, there are no obvious low points on this album (even the throw-away "Evelyn, A Modified Dog" is oddly fun), and a Zappa album with this set of positives and with no song-specific flaws is practically guaranteed a high grade.

Report this review (#300666)
Posted Monday, September 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have to admit that my first Zappa experiences were kind of traumatic: the first album listen was "Hot Rats" with the absurd of "Willie the Pimp" and other 20" madness. Peaches en Regalia and Little Umbrellas sounded more comfortable and convinced me of Zappa's skill for composition. But we're not here to talk about "Hot Rats" (I understand and accept it much better today). "One Size Fits All" is my favorite Zappa album! I think his compositions skills are very developed here. There are some intrusting things about this album. Well, considering "Over-Nite Sensantion" and "Apostrophe (')" this is a rather darker album. Zappa seems to be amazed by the Lydian mode, which he uses all along the album, especially in the wonderful "Inca Roads" solo and the whole "Andy". Yet, other compositions seemed to have some kind of blue, like "Florentine Pogen", the Sofas, even "Inca Roads". That's very weird if we consider song like "Dirty Love" and the epic but hilarious first side of Apostrophe. Was Zappa getting sick or depressed? "Zoot Alures" is an even darker, more melancholic attempt? But I have to say: this kind of melancholy usually produces great works, and this case wasn't different. "One Size Fits All" is a great album, maybe an emotional descend, but an incredible composition and execution demonstration, its role was perfection. Let's talk about the songs:

"Inca Roads" starts with an exceptional swing, with the xylophone playing an Andes melody, like the ones we here in Chile and Peru, and a lot of noises from a synthesizer on the back. Well that's the musical representation for the lyrics, giving the idea of a flying saucer landing in the Andes (Machu Picchu?). Genial! Then Zappa's weird and schizophrenic rhythms on his solo. This is where the firs Lydian appears and, because of the way Zappa plays it, it even reminds Mixolydian. Again it's genial. After that solo and the great vocal part, the song sounds a little tiring. Zappa explores all the musicians' technique along the rest of the song, with enormous improvisations, accelerated and irregular tempos.

"Can't Afford no Shoes" gives our minds a rest after all the pyrotechnics in the first track. It's a simple, major tone, rock n' roll like song. It's a funny song. Fuzzy guitar sound and solo? very fast thing?

"Sofa nº 1" mixes German like erudite music with Rhythm and Blues. It's an epic, yet funny composition. Its execution is perfect, with all the instruments working together as a mass of sound, that's typical for Zappa, an orchestral vein.

"Po-Jama People" is another funny song. I admit I don't understand it's joke and the games with the words (if someone can explain it to me, please do it). The blues introduction is beautiful, but the song is kind of boring. I don't like this one as much as the others.

"Florentine Pogen" pleases me a lot. It's a simple composition, usual time signature and simple tones, between A Dorian and E Aeolian. Cool. Who impresses here is Napoleon Murphy Brock, a very crazy guy, with a great singing and playing skill. In this song he screams, sings "La, la, la" and plays great saxophone parts. His interpretation of the song needs no explanation. Great song indeed. There's an essential live version of it on "Dub Room Special".

"Evelyn, a Modified Dog" is used by Zappa for showing off. Difficult and complex time signatures, mostly atonal, Schoenberg's vocals? Well, he can do it, why shouldn't he?

"San Ber'dino" Again, as a Brazilian guy, I don't understand the joke. But musically it's another funny rock n' roll song, with great vocals and guitar sounds.

"Andy" starts with an epic melody and great parts in the rhythmic session, drum and bass work together like a machine gun, shooting, stopping, and shooting again. This is brilliant and very difficult to reproduce. Some irregular tempo vocals come to complete the mess. Like this one, some of Zappa's lyrics express some kind of hard feeling and I don't like that? But the song is great, anyway. Mostly Lydian as well. Beautiful, anyway.

"Sofa nº2" is the grand finale? Same song as nº1, but with some weird German singing, sometimes like an Opera. It couldn't end better than this.

Well, that's all folks. This is my first review and I hope you like it... Sorry if there's any misspelling or anything.

Report this review (#355008)
Posted Thursday, December 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Limbo Variations (Frank, Incense and Mirth)

I had dismissed Zappa long ago as the 'smart arse's smart arse' until I accidentally stumbled upon a transcription of his statement before congress from 1985 in response to attempts by the PMRC to instigate a ratings system for all rock albums with regards the suitability of their lyrics for children. Much to my surprise, his comments revealed a mature, witty and responsible individual who had thought deeply about the perils of censorship for an industry he clearly held in disdain but still felt compelled to protect the rights of its artists. Zappa may have considered Sheena Easton and Prince's projected tantric offspring to be the beneficiaries of a ban on their parents pillow talk but he defended their right to free expression regardless:

The PMRC proposal is an ill-conceived piece of nonsense which fails to deliver any real benefits to children, infringes the civil liberties of people who are not children, and promises to keep the courts busy for years, dealing with the interpretation-al and enforce-mental problems inherent in the proposal's design. It is my understanding that, in law, First Amendment Issues are decided with a preference for the least restrictive alternative. In this context, the PMRC's demands are the equivalent of treating dandruff by decapitation. (Frank Zappa)

This is a political act in stark contrast to Frank's routine dissent which up to that point amounted to merely rubbing the noses of middle class US suburbia in their own clandestine droppings for our entertainment. There are so many different faces to the perennially moustachioed one that with over 60 albums to choose from, which Frank you meet beneath the covers is about as predictable as a 5 headed blind date. I find his contemporary classical music wilfully impenetrable, his scatological pastiches to be scribbled prurient adolescence, his musique concrete works don't and his feature length movies amount to a slapstick and plagiarised take on 'Dada and Surrealism grab a burger from the Psychedelicatessen'. Which of course leaves One Size Fits All where we encounter the fusioneering Frank who for me, is representative of Mr Z at his most endearing and loveable.Together with Hot Rats and Zoot Allures these are the only records I ever find myself playing. This is neither 'Rock from Heaven' or 'Jazz from Hell' and occupies a middle ground where the giggling schoolboy is expelled, the contrapuntal sadist is at the very least on a Roman holiday while the adventurous and irreverent composer/musician holds sway.

Inca Roads - One of the most enduring of his compositions that landscapes quite ingeniously a forbidding developmental structure beneath an accessible and attractive surface.The first hints of the subject matter are revealed by Duke's sci-fi synth atmospheres which paint suitably gaudy technicolor images of Martians invading the earth under the command of Emperor Sun Ra. Zappa speculates if aliens could have assisted the ancient Inca people of the Andes in their incredible feat of construction and although you know he doesn't buy this hokey for a second, he loves the Von Daniken storytelling opportunities it affords immensely:

Did a vehicle Did a vehicle, Did a vehicle Fly along the mountains And find a place to park itself Or did someone Build a place To leave a space For such a vehicle to land?

Like many of his 'large scale' melodies, this one does not resolve itself over a couple of bars as is the norm for rock. We are so used to bite sized packets of information in popular music that when anyone steps outside this convention, we're left exposed as tone deaf budgies with A.D.D. Similar to classical Indian ragas, Frank's tunes are certainly not of the 'theme and variation' type so endemic in our culture and, as if things needed to be any harder, he has a consuming fetish for breaking up such lengthy strands of melody with unrelated short 'shocks' of dissonant musique concrete, sound effects and tangential dialogue. I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds this irritating:

George Duke: This is such a beautiful melody, do you have to mess it up? Frank Zappa Yeah, but it needs some messing up

Napoleon Murphy Brock, George Duke and the composer all sing on this number but as to whose voice belongs to whom I'm really none the wiser. Zappa certainly exploits the 'other worldly' quality of Duke's analogue synths on the album and rarely have I heard similar devices receive such a pronounced role in his sound palette as they do here. Then something rather unusual occurs: Zappa plays a guitar solo using a tone that has body, texture and clear articulation. Normally I find his guitar timbre a brittle tinny froth that completely undermines his virtuosity on the instrument. Here he exploits the embouchure of a subtle wah-wah effect to create an exquisite lyrical solo that builds gradually in intensity all the while supported by some stellar bass playing outlining and gently implying the harmonies without ever sacrificing the hypnotic pulse. This reciprocal dialogue is underpinned by the sparing groove of Chester Thompson who provides a salutary example of how a drummer can create space rather than just fill it.

The final section of the track veers headlong into an up-tempo electronic jazz hybrid featuring the marimba of Ruth Underwood (a brilliant and sympathetic player certainly, but Frank overcooks the chromatic percussion on practically everything I have ever heard that bears his name.) Still, say what you like about both Dylan and Zappa, at least they invented their own clichés (and Frank's are practically impossible to plagiarise without the hand and eye co-ordination of a contortionist ping pong champion) Unfortunately when the vocals return in a different meter and faster tempo Zappa seems to get cold feet and the story lapses into one of his who dipped that hairy chick from Finland? in-jokes. Shame, as this is a number that otherwise represents everything commendable about the man and his music. (BTW I won't say who it was but his initials are C.H.E.S.T.E.R.)

Can't Afford No Shoes - Transparently silly but great fun all the same. Even on a joke at the expense of heavy rawk riff merchants you sense that Zappa is a little bit too fond of the thing he is lampooning for there ever to appear genuine vitriol in his delivery. He will also never be accused of ingratiating himself to a destitute and needy audience on this evidence either:

Hey anybody, Can you spare a dime? If you're really hurtin', a nickel would be fine

I suspect that the harmonica of 'Bloodshot Rollin Red' is a contractually expedient pseudonym for Captain Beefheart.

Sofa No 1 - has the stately swaying gait of gospel music but as if penned by a defrocked or cross dressing priest who has pawned the collection plate to finance both his sling-back habits. There is something vaguely unwholesome cooking beneath those swishing vestments but Zappa defies my expectations by playing this one straight as a very beautiful piano dominated instrumental. My suspicions are not entirely unfounded as we shall discover later on.

Po Jama People - As a swipe at middle class mores this comes across as plain half hearted in the extreme. Frank sounds as bored as the people he ridicules and despite a grudgingly memorable chorus hook the whole undertaking is just gauche stereotyping. Since when did someone as avowedly anti establishment as Zappa allow himself to be hoisted by his own hippy petard? Their fans presumably found in the Mothers a kindred spirit, 'bright young thangs' who realised that people should not be judged solely on appearance (Man). So why this creaking excuse for the equation that dressing for bed makes you a square and unthinking conformist ready and willing to gun down the longhairs in their drug infested groovy love shacks? The fact that this song was seldom if ever played live on subsequent tours should tell you that even its author realised he had shot himself squarely in the foot.

Florentine Pogen - I can tell you that a pogen is a Swedish cookie but cannot find any reference to an importer in Italy. More fool me for taking Frank seriously I suppose. It hardly matters that this is verbal gobbledygook as the music is of such a high quality that singing the entire zip codes of Florence over same would not impinge on its coherence. This is another example that like Inca Roads, has what could be described as a 'through composed' melody i.e. the habitually short thematic statements of popular and classical music which are subject to elaborate variations are dispensed with altogether. This is just one of the ways Zappa conspires to avoid what he surely felt was the burdensome gravitational pull of the diatonic key system. In other words, he treats chords merely as a means to 'colour' the melodic contour and thus frees himself from the requirement of harmonising a tune within conventional triad based devices to navigate to a predetermined tonic. (Guess that's what 'chromatic' originally meant?) If you play Em and Bm and whistle a certain tune over the top people might say, if they're old or drunk enough, hey that's Epitaph by Crimson ain't it? You can't do that with Frank's music which explains why you will seldom be regaled by Buskers from the FZ songbook.

Evelyn, A Modified Dog - Those of you who have heard Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire and survived the ordeal may detect a whiff of sprechstimme (spoken voice) in this. Rest easy however because Zappa's deadpan tone poem inhabits a cheerier and more melodic realm where his delivery for the most part is redolent of 'talking on pitch' as practised by Rex Harrison in the musical My Fair Lady (No I'm not gay) He does however run out of steam towards the end and his lyrics starts to crib from 'Beefheart for Dummies, lesson 1' - dazzle them with shadows:

Evelyn, a dog, having undergone Further modification Pondered the significance of short-person behaviour In pedal-depressed panchromatic resonance And other highly ambient domains. Arf she said

San Berdino - After the punishing but rewarding obstacle courses represented by the last two tracks it's something of a relief to inhabit more traditional territory. This is as conventional as any blues based boogie under the baton of an avant garde lover could reasonably be expected to approach. The track radiates fun in spades and carries several resilient vocal hooks and instrumental disembowelments of blues clichés along the way. Listen to the joy displayed by Zappa's hand picked band, who by this stage could play anything he cared to throw at them and return it with interest, getting 'down and dirty' on a pumping shuffle fade that would put the Allman Brothers to shame. For reasons I'm at a loss to explain I cannot help laughing audibly whenever I hear this line:

She lives in Mojave in a Winnebago His name is Bobby, he looks like a potato

Andy - Possibly as close as Zappa ever came to music that in places is traditional bombastic prog. George Duke's declamatory synths certainly contribute to that feel and I can even imagine someone like Yes tackling this number to impressive effect. However, before we all get carried away this is Frank Zappa remember? and he will not let 6 minutes pass without stamping his contrary carbon footprint on any 'eco friendly' piece of music. Once again the chromatic percussion of Ruth Underwood is everywhere and she starts to resemble a precocious toddler who insists that these 'pussy kiddies instruments' need some serious attitudinal correction. If Andy Devine is the actor typecast as the cowboy sidekick with that distinctive raspy voice, what on earth did he do to merit the caustic bile in these lines that relegate Po Jama People to a spat in the rumpus room?:

Is there anything good inside of you If there is, I really wanna know

Sofa No 2 - Just when you thought it safe to go back on the psychiatrist's couch. The Sofa No 1 music is reprised but this time the latent mischief is released in the rather disappointing form of 'Goons' style German language vocals. Perhaps I just don't get this strain of Zappa's humour but why is 'I am a sofa' sung in a schoolboy Teutonic accent deemed hilarious in some quarters?

Given the sheer mass of material that Zappa produced and contributed to in his lifetime, it's very difficult to form an overview of his music so I'm not even going to try as it would undermine the breadth, depth and scope of his undoubted talent.

I'm not a Zappa fan by any stretch of the imagination but this is my favourite album of his by quite a considerable distance.For this reviewer One Size Fits All captures a rare sincerity, a heartfelt anger and a strain of his humour I can at least enjoy.

Report this review (#379259)
Posted Thursday, January 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars It is generally (but not universally) agreed that this group was one of the best, if not THE best of Frank Zappa's lineups. This group could play the most difficult of Zappa's music, while also sounding relaxed and comfortable. And this is one of the best albums showcasing Zappa's ability to mix fusion with popular song structures. And it's one of my all time favorite albums.

The album opens with Inca Roads, a cool and complex fusion song, where George Duke gets to sing Zappa's lyrics about extraterrestrials visiting the planet (with a lot of in jokes intertwining - but they pepper the entire album). The song also contains of of Frank's greatest guitar solos. Can't Afford No Shoes is the most straightforward song on the album, but has enough Zappaisms to keep it fun. Sofa No. 1 is a playfully pompous classical-styled piece, that was previously played on tour in the Flo & Eddie years. It sounds much better here, even the No. 2 version, with lyrics, that closes the album.

Po-Jama People is how Frank did the blues. And Florentine Pogen (named after a cookie), is a slow dirge-like song, filled with jokes and puns, and Chester Thompson's gorilla. Evelyn, A Modified Dog has Zappa singing haughty lyric about said dog over sone Duke keyboard work. San Ber'dino is another fine rocker. That harmonica you hear is credited to "Bloodshot Rollin' Red", but it's obviously Mr. Don Van Vliet.

Andy is the most striking prog number on the album. This song features odd syncopation, cool time changes, and extremely difficult instrument parts, as well as more funny lyrics.

If you want an album to impress musicians, while entertaining the rest, start here.

Report this review (#425230)
Posted Wednesday, March 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
Anthony H.
5 stars Frank Zappa: One Size Fits All [1975]

Rating: 9/10

"Evelyn, a dog, having undergone further modification, pondered the significance of short-person behavior in pedal-depressed panchromatic resonance and other highly ambient domains... 'Arf!', she said."

I've been listening to Zappa's immense discography over the past few months, and it's simply impossible for me to be anything less than astounded. This man created such an enormous amount of essential music in such a short amount of time; he released string after string of essential albums, reinventing and building upon himself with each of them. It's hard to believe that one man was responsible for all of this. On second thought, perhaps "one man" is unfair phrasing. Zappa always was able to assemble the greatest musicians to form the most incredible bands. This is particularly apparent on One Size Fits All. The names that show up on this album's ledger constitute what is undoubtedly one of Zappa's greatest lineups, if not the greatest. George Duke, Napoleon Murphy Brock, Ruth Underwood, Tom Fowler, and Chester Thompson come together with Uncle Frank to assemble yet another bodacious buffet of succulent sonic snacks.

The mind-blowing "Inca Roads" is one of Zappa's most complex and multifaceted tracks. Every member of the band is in top form here, and different sections of this incredibly dense composition allow different strengths to be shown. Duke's keyboard solo is particularly impressive. "Can't Afford No Shoes" is another example of Zappified blues-rock, with hilarious lyrics as per usual. "Sofa No. 1" harkens back to instrumental Mothers compositions of the late 60s. "Po-Jama People" brings even more blues. Zappa finally busts out his monolithic guitar-soloing prowess here. "Florentine Pogen" focuses primarily on Brock's vocals and Underwood's mallets. This is also one of the few moments on the album where reeds show up. "Evelyn, A Modified Dog" is a brief piano/vocal interlude with some of my personal favorite wacky Zappa lyrics. The blues-rock returns on "San Ber'dino", a harmonica-infused track with an absolutely fantastic conclusion featuring some of my favorite vocal work in Zappa's catalogue. "Andy" is a heavy, jazzy blues-rock song with more great vocals, guitar, and polyrhythms. The closing piece, "Sofa No. 2" is a loungey piano number.

This is yet another quirky masterpiece from the maestro known as Frank Zappa. Everything is firing on all cylinders: the composition, the musicianship, the balance of the band, the humor, the overall feel. This is also the most band-centric record in Frank's discography; every track makes it apparent that this is a group effort rather than a one-man outing. No other Zappa album features quite the same level of democratic balance between band members. What exactly is One Size Fits All? Is it blues? Is it jazz? Is it hard-rock? Is it prog-rock? It's all of these things, and none of them. It's Zappa, and that's enough of a description. This is an album of great musicians making great music; there is not much more anybody can ask for.

Report this review (#491786)
Posted Thursday, July 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars The zenith of the mid-1970s Mothers lineup finds Frank Zappa in a surreal mood as opposed to being preoccupied with the scatological subject matter that so often creeps into his discography. Armed with songs about Erich Von Daniken's crackpot Chariots of the Gods theory, economic crisis, B-movie cowboy actors, modified dogs and sofas, the Mothers present a jazz-rock tour de force, featuring guitar heroics (see Zappa's famed solo on Inca Roads), wild vocal harmonies (as on Can't Afford No Shoes), Ruth Underwood's amazing percussion skills and a top-notch performance from all concerned. The last studio album to bear the name of the Mothers (unless you count the part-live part-studio Bongo Fury) sees the erstwhile name be put to rest on a high. Along with You Can't Do That On Stage Any More Volume 2, it's probably my favourite album of this stage of Zappa's career.
Report this review (#537989)
Posted Friday, September 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention - One size fits all (1975)

A return of the Mothers with one of the most balanced Zappa albums. That is, if you can balance out top-notch inventive compositions with random silliness and stand-up comedian- like lyrics and performances. Musically we hear fusion, symphonic/spacey prog, awkward pop and silly soul music. The production is very good and clean, though I've yet to hear an album in which Frank Zappa with/without the Mothers has a memorable sound that's sticky. Often I feel some distance towards the music.

The lyrics are about being unable to buy shoes, modified dogs, the intolerance towards people wearing pajamas and the like. The vocals are always silly (in many different forms though) but not as irritating as one would find on some earlier Mother's records, 'Weasels ripped my flesh' comes to mind.

The guitar-work of Zappa is brilliant at times and he has developed a great guitar distortion sound. I would have loved to hear some more of it though. The opening track and 'Sofa no.1' are great tracks for this reason, though 'Sofa no.1' is also the most conventional symphonic prog track (with that glorious majestic feel) I've ever heard of Zappa. The track 'Po-Jama People' is funny, but a bit too stretched, whilst 'Can't afford no shoes' is more effective in this respect. On side two the funny and the musically developed are more intertwined. I had some expectations of 'Sofa No. 2', but it turned out to be almost exactly the same as part one, albeit with silly lyrics and vocals in German this time.

Conclusion. Now I shouldn't be put forward if searching for Zappa's biggest fan, but here's an album I can appreciate and enjoy without putting to much effort in it. Therefore it might be a good entry into Zappa's fast discography. I can give away the big three-and-a-halve stars here. Recommended to both fans and new-comers who want to know what the Zappa-fuss is all about.

Report this review (#755686)
Posted Sunday, May 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars 'One Size Fits All' is known in the prog community as quintessential Zappa featuring some of his greatest compostions. One may look no further than the killer opener 'Inca Roads' with nice harmonies and an absolutely delirious instrumental break. There are massive lead guitar runs, manic keyboard work, and very odd quick tempered meters. It goes into overdrive towards the end with frenetic percussion and squelching synths, not to mention manic xylophones and a blitzkrieg of Magma like vocals at the end.

To follow this hard act is virtually impossible, but Zappa knocks out a nice short thing called 'Can't Afford No Shoes', with a cool groove, tremelo bar guitar vibrations, and silly off the wall vocals. Horrible clich' lyrics are well hidden by innovative structures, and a delightful heavy 70s riff.

'Sofa No. 1' is the sole instrumental but it is a class act with fine keyboard work, Zappa waxing eloquent on axe, and some madcap xylophone passages. 'Po-Jama People' is a hilarious stab at all those who wear pyjamas with comical lunacy in the lyrics department and musicianship. Zappa's guitar is demented brilliance, similar to 'Hot Rats', and the vox are low and derisive. This is how I love Zappa, with off the wall humour and genius musicianship; his lead solo is divine. 'Wrap em up, roll em up, get 'em out of my way!' sums it up.

'Florentine Pogen' is jazz fusion revved to the max, with dirty guitar riffs and nice buzz synths from Duke and solid gold brass with a mean streak. It has outbursts of circus sideshow music and glorious madness. 'Evelyn, A Modified Dog' is simply Zappa being Zappa, not much to write about, no great musicianship. 'San Ber'dino' is okay thanks to some fine harmonica blues and intense lead guitar. The gay lyrics are offensive but that's the way Zappaholics like it, though that ending drags on interminably. 'Andy' is better with some wonderful musicianship and quirky vox. The blazing guitars are heavy in places and the melodies are way off kilter. Duke has a field day on keyboards unleashing some of his best work, especially the passage at 3 minutes in. 'Sofa No. 2' closes it with the same melody as part one except now we have German lyrics, but this feels more opportunistic than inspired. This caps off what may be the best Mothers era Zappa album, that certainly is way better than some previous efforts, and more consistent, out of the box, and it is well worth indulging in with some of the Mothers' most famous material.

Report this review (#841146)
Posted Saturday, October 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars "America" music wise: A lot of great things were happening to music specially to north-American popular music; the USA to be exact; I mean; Benny Goodman playing alongside Bela Bartok! The music of Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Alice Coltrane, Satchmo, Ella, Billie, the Duke and a long list of etcs ... The majority of these "great things" came from the "black Jazz" scene; as you probably guessed. Frank Zappa never denied his fondness for USAs heritage and popular music. Half his work; mocks at it; and the other half is used wisely. It has to be fun at least; to find out; as fact; that your best music was coming from "black" people, Yes ! those guys again! How "painful" that your best "export" comes from those you thought less of.... (Intention, law and accident.) Frank Zappa more cunning; craftily took the "chunkiest part" (not everything was gold) absorved it and re-composed it more to his own goals, more to his needs. . If asked; my other favorite Zappa record of 3 ; will be this one. Here he has self-lowered from all the mayhem they launched off. In "One Size Fits All"; he realizes he can go anywhere without the over-sized frenzy of some earlier works. In my opinion; not as historian but as audiophile; this work shows the real magnitude of scopes that he could display; without over-doing everything in pose of novelty or jokes.( that does not mean that this work is humor-less, quiet the opposite; HUMOUR here; serves the music, not the other way around. . To my benefit; I started my audiophile: ZAPPA discography: with this album. When I turned back for earlier works; to me they sounded kind of "primitive" or too "Miles Davisy" (Hot Rats; as great as it is; still stood too close to the Avant/Garde Jazz of the time; which of course is great; ..but..that is not the goal of any respectful composer; to sound like someone else. In plain english; to me he started to sound like the Frank Zappa we now know; until his last Jazz/Rock works. So maybe that is why I appreciate this Masterpiece so much. To me; it was the day Frank Zappa was born, (in my mind of course.) ...If you like Modern Jazz/ Avant Garde Jazz (without the eternal detourings), (or/and the Chicago Blues scene), RIO rock ; or plain Rock n Roll; you will rave over this one. Pure fun in an original musical language... 5 STARS

Report this review (#926208)
Posted Thursday, March 7, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars One size fits all from 1975 is probably one of the better Zappa albums and for sure among my fav aswell. Chester Thompson on drums, George Duke on keybords are two musicians involved here among others with spectacular moments, the best example is the opning track Inca roads, absolutly killer piece, love it, it really smokes from start to finish, George Duke prestation here is impressive, jazz fusion with blistering progressive arrangements. The funny Po-Jama People is another highlight and Andy with nice intresting guitar parts and great vocal lines. Definetly one of Zappa best albums, and one who will intrest most of prog fans. Easy 4 stars, recommended, excellent art work.
Report this review (#1039896)
Posted Friday, September 20, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review #150

As with "Over-Nite Sensation", I don't know why did Frank Zappa decide to call this a The Mothers of Invention record if none of the original members of The Mothers played in here, actually, this was the first record in which Zappa got a stable line-up of musicians (George Duke, Ruth Underwood, Napoleon Murphy Brock, Tom Fowler, and Chester Thompson).

This album includes some of the most amazing guitar solos Frank Zappa ever played; if there was a doubt of his guitar habilities, here we can appreciate them at their maximum; George Duke's keyboards got more spacey than funky on this record and that also gave the album a very unique style. Ruth Underwood's marimbas are very catchy and omnipresent while the arrangements in "Sofa 1" and "Sofa 2" sound almost orchestral and the German lyrics on this last piece were a nice surprise.

As a whole, the record is majestic, one of the best records in the huge Zappa catalog.

SONG RATING: Inca roads, 5 Can't afford no shoes, 5 Sofa No. 1, 5 Po-jama people, 5 Florentine Pogen, 5 Evelyn, a modified dog, 4 San Ber'dino, 5 Andy, 5 Sofa No. 2, 5




I ranked this album #27 on my TOP 100 favorite Progressive Rock albums of all time.

Report this review (#2636649)
Posted Wednesday, November 24, 2021 | Review Permalink

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