Artista: Frank Zappa
Álbum: One Size Fits All
Género: Rock / Progressive rock / Experimental / Jazz / Psychedelic rock
Género: Rock / Progressive rock / Experimental / Jazz / Psychedelic rock
Lista de Temas:
1. Inca Roads
2. Can't Afford No Shoes
3. Sofa No. 1
4. Po-Jama People
5. Florentine Pogen
6. Evelyn, A Modified Dog
7. San Ber'dino
9. Sofa No. 2
1. Inca Roads
2. Can't Afford No Shoes
3. Sofa No. 1
4. Po-Jama People
5. Florentine Pogen
6. Evelyn, A Modified Dog
7. San Ber'dino
9. Sofa No. 2
- Frank Zappa / guitar, vocals
- George Duke / keyboards and synthesizers, vocals
- Napoleon Murphy Brock / flute, tenor sax, vocals
- Chester Thompson / drums
- Tom Fowler / bass
- Ruth Underwood / vibes, marimba, other percussion
James "Bird Legs" Youman / bass
Johnny "Guitar" Watson / flambe vocals
Bloodshot Rollin' Red / harmonica
- Frank Zappa / guitar, vocals
- George Duke / keyboards and synthesizers, vocals
- Napoleon Murphy Brock / flute, tenor sax, vocals
- Chester Thompson / drums
- Tom Fowler / bass
- Ruth Underwood / vibes, marimba, other percussion
James "Bird Legs" Youman / bass
Johnny "Guitar" Watson / flambe vocals
Bloodshot Rollin' Red / harmonica
En medio de los aportes de Carlos, hoy vamos a estar a puro Zappa, en un verdadero festival del genial compositor y guitarrista del rock-vanguardia.
One Size Fits All es un álbum de rock del músico y compositor Frank Zappa y su banda The Mothers of Invention de 1975. Es el último álbum de estudio que grabaría Zappa con la banda. Se preparó y publicitó una versión cuadrafónica del álbum, pero nunca salió al mercado.Wikipedia
El álbum está grabado por una de las últimas formaciones de The Mothers of Invention, con George Duke, Chester Thompson, Ruth Underwood, Tom Fowler y Napoleon Murphy Brock. Además el álbum tiene una de las composiciones más complejas y conocidas de Zappa, "Inca Roads". Uno de los héroes de Zappa, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, aparece en dos temas del álbum.
En 1988, One Size Fits All se editó en CD bajo el sello discográfico Rykodisc.
Y esta vez, antes de adentrarnos a los comentarios de terceros sobre el disco, me parece bueno comenzar a adentrarnos dentro del Universo Zappa con el siguiente texto donde repasa toda su obra, como para continuar con la escuelita del rock que inauguró Alberto:
Frank Zappa nunca concibió su música como rock progresivo, ni tampoco los fanáticos de este género suelen considerarlo como tal. Sin embargo, en mi opinión, Frank Zappa representa la quintaesencia del rock progresivo, pues ningún otro artista o banda en la historia de la música rock ha incorporado exitosamente tanta diversidad de elementos al rock, ni ha producido música tan original y atrevida, como lo hizo Frank Zappa en sus cuatro décadas de actividad musical, hasta su lamentable deceso en 1993.Francisco Aguilar
La música de Frank Zappa, sin embargo, precisamente por su heterogeneidad y atrevimiento, y su consecuente falta de compromiso con el negocio de las disqueras y con el gusto de las masas, de entrada resulta hostil, difícil de escuchar, de asimilar y de apreciar. Así, Frank Zappa, a pesar de su excelente propuesta, si bien cuenta con seguidores fieles en todo el mundo, sigue siendo un desconocido que todavía no ha recibido el reconocimiento que se merece.
No obstante, una vez se logra traspasar el temor y sorpresa iniciales, se descubre un mundo sin igual en la historia de la música contemporánea, la obra de un verdadero genio, donde cada tema y disco se entremezclan y forman parte de un todo coherente. Una vez se entra en el universo de Zappa, es difícil salir de él, porque es una fuente inagotable de experiencias musicales gratificantes, donde nada se repite; todo constituye un nuevo desafío, que no produce otra cosa más que fascinación y, sobre todo, admiración por un músico tan extraordinario.
La música de Frank Zappa es difícil de describir y clasificar. Zappa, personalmente, no se consideraba un músico de rock ni tampoco un virtuoso de la guitarra; él se veía más como un compositor de música clásica. No obstante, la mayor parte de su legado musical, encaja, más o menos, dentro del tipo de música que comúnmente se conoce como "rock". Pero tratándose de un rock muy innovador, en el que se funden elementos tan diversos como la música clásica (sobre todo, barroca y del siglo XX), canciones doo-wop de amor, música surf, música concreta, música minimalista, jazz, blues, Big Band, gospel, hard rock, música pop, música electrónica, heavy metal, folk, reggae, música cómica, música estilo teatro de Broadway, música de dibujos animados, y hasta rap, es forzoso calificarlo, a pesar de lo estrecho de la expresión, de "rock progresivo".
La obra discográfica de Frank Zappa es titánica. Sólo la discografía oficial se compone de ochenta títulos, a los que se suman recopilaciones, una infinidad de discos pirata, y cada nuevo disco que, esporádicamente, la familia de Zappa desentierra de sus archivos.
Cronológicamente, los discos de Frank Zappa puede agruparse en los siguientes períodos:
a. El período de los Mothers of Invention originales (1966-1970), interpolado con el período de la banda Hot Rats (1969). Mejor disco del período de los MOI: Uncle Meat. Peor disco: Ninguno es malo, pero Cruising With Ruben And The Jets resulta un poco monótono. La banda Hot Rats sólo produjo el disco homónimo y es uno de los mejores de Frank Zappa.Aparte de estos discos, hay que tener en cuenta:
b. El período Flo 'n Eddie (1970-1972). Mejor disco: Chunga's Revenge. Peor disco: Just Another Band From L.A.
c. El período Big Band de jazz (1972). Los dos discos de este período, Waka Jawaka y The Grand Wazoo, son muy buenos.
d. El período de los Mothers of Invention reformados (varias formaciones) (1973-1975). Mejor disco: One Size Fits All. Ningún disco de este período es malo, pero Roxy & Elsewhere es el más difícil de escuchar.
e. El período con Captain Beefheart (1975). El único disco de este período es Bongo Fury, el cual es regular.
f. El período solista (1976-1994) Aquí se distinguen varias etapas:
i. La etapa rockera (1976-1981), interpolada con la etapa "Läther" (1978-1979). Mejor disco de la etapa rockera: Joe's Garage. Peor disco: Sheik Yerbouti. Mejor disco de la etapa "Läther": Zappa In New York. Peor disco: ninguno, pero Studio Tan no es fácil de digerir.
ii. La etapa pop (1981-1983). Mejor disco: You Are What You Is. Peor disco: Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch.
iii. La etapa de música clásica (1983-1984, 1987, 1993). Mejor disco: London Symphony Orchestra Vol. II. Peor disco: Boulez Conducts Zappa no es malo, pero es el más difícil de asimilar.
iv. La etapa heavy metal (1984). Sólo incluye el disco Them Or Us, el cual es muy bueno.
v. La etapa teatro de Broadway (1984). Sólo incluye el disco Thing-Fish, el peor de toda la discografía de Frank Zappa.
vi. La etapa electrónica (1984-1986). Mejor disco: Frank Zappa Meets The Mothers Of Prevention. Peor disco: Francesco Zappa no es malo, pero no contiene música original de Frank Zappa.
vii. Los discos póstumos (1994 a la fecha). Mejor disco: Imaginary Diseases.
Peor disco: Joe's Domage.
a. Los álbumes de solos de guitarra (5 discos).2.- Recomendaciones generales.
Frank Zappa, a principios de los años 80, tuvo la idea de extraer sus mejores solos de guitarra de las grabaciones en vivo que iba acumulando, para armar un conjunto de discos, compuestos exclusivamente de solos de guitarra. El efecto es interesante, pero en algunos casos resulta monótono.
b. La serie You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, que se compone de 6 volúmenes (cada uno, un disco doble), todos en vivo. Lo peculiar de estos discos es que no contienen conciertos completos, sino temas de distintos períodos ?y por ende, intepretados por diferentes músicos?, en lo que aparenta ser un orden totalmente arbitrario; no obstante, el principio que unifica a estos seis discos es, precisamente, el efecto del contraste. La única excepción es el Vol. 2, que recoge en su totalidad el concierto de Helskinki.
c. Álbumes en vivo.
Frank Zappa en vida editó en 3 discos (Broadway The Hard Way, The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life, Make A Jazz Noise Here) la gira final de 1988, la cual, en cierta medida, revivió el estilo de la Big Band de 1972, pero en una versión más versátil y ligera. El resto de discos en vivo de Frank Zappa han sido publicados póstumamente: FZ:OZ, Halloween, Imaginary Diseases, etc.
d. Los discos de "rarezas".
La mayoría de ellos ?excepto Ahead Of Their Time? fueron editados y preparados por el propio Zappa, pero han sido dados a conocer al público con posterioridad a su muerte. Entre ellos figuran: The Lost Epidodes, Mistery Disc, Joe's Corsage, etc.
e. La serie Beat The Boots, editada en 2 volúmenes, el primero con 8 discos, y el segundo con 7. Se trata de discos pirata "oficializados" por Frank Zappa. Sin embargo, Frank Zappa no se molestó en buscar las cintas maestras, sino que se limitó en cada caso a copiar el disco pirata, por lo que, en general, la calidad del sonido es mala, y en algunos casos, desastrosa (Unmitigated Audacity). La diferencia de éstos con la serie You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, es que aquí se trata de conciertos completos.
a. Para adentrarse al mundo de Zappa, el período más recomendable para comenzar es el de los Mothers of Invention reformados; una vez asimilado este período, puede pasarse, indistintamente, al de la banda Hot Rats, Big Band de jazz o etapa "Läther". Hay que mantenerse alejado del período Flo 'n Eddie y de las etapas clásica y electrónica, pues de lo contrario se corre el riesgo de odiar a Zappa toda la vida. También deben evitarse, por su formato limitado, los álbumes de solos de guitarra, las series You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, los discos de rarezas y los Beat The Boots.
b. Si únicamente se desea escuchar los "mejores discos" de Frank Zappa, se recomiendan los siguientes: Uncle Meat, Hot Rats y One Size Fits All. Si se desea seguir adelante, pueden intentarse Burnt Weeny Sandwich, Over-Nite Sensation y Apostrophe ('). En cambio, hay que mantenerse lo más alejado posible de Just Another Band From L.A., Playground Psychotics, Joe's Domage, y SOBRE TODO, Thing-Fish. También deben evitarse ?no por ser malos, sino por su difícil digestión?: Lumpy Gravy, Boulez Conducts Zappa, Jazz From Hell y Civilization Phaze III.
Sobre el disco en sí, es otro de los que marcaron un hito dentro de la extensa carrera de Zappa, y aquí tenemos algunas reseñas:
Mi disco predilecto de Zappa en estudio, y uno de los mejores de toda su carrera. Un combinado maravilloso de temas divertidos pero musicalmente muy ricos, que quizás esté beneficiado por lo mucho que había tocado ya la banda junta. Un disco realmente muy complejo, pero que contiene alguno de los mejores temas de Zappa. La alucinante ‘Inca Roads’, una de sus obras maestras, con una loca historia sobre naves espaciales y osos de peluche que aterrizan en los Andes, y uno de los mejores solos de guitarra de Zappa (extraído de un directo en Helsinki de 1974, y que aparece en el imprescindible ‘You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 2’, que incluye partes de los conciertos de la banda en Helsinki, y el tema base es de otro concierto, KCET TV, recogida en el pirata ‘Token Of His Extreme’); ‘Can’ Afford No Shoes’, un R&B de vieja escuela con una letra casi indescifrable; la ‘heavy’ ‘Po-Jama People’, al parecer habla sobre la banda The Grand Wazoo, con la que al parecer Zappa se aburrió bastante, y que contiene un tremendo solo de guitarra y un estribillo muy divertido, o ‘Florentine Pogen’, grabada en el mismo show que ‘Inca Roads’ para la televisión, y con un perfecto Murphy Broca. Y luego dos joyas, el blues ‘San Ber’dino’, en el que colabora una de las referencias musicales de Zappa, Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, y el Captain Beefheart, y la maravillosa ‘Andy’, también con la ayuda de Watson, y que trata de Andy DeVine, un actor de westerns de bajo presupuesto.Sebastián Ruffo
Hola amigos, hoy hablaremos de un disco que salio mucho al mercado pero sinceramente es para mi el mejor de toda su carrera, hablamos de Frank Zappa- one size fits all. Este es un album que si bien tiene todo el humor que estamos acostumbrados a escuchar en su temas, ademas es musicalmente muy rico, y tiene un trabajo muy complejo.Eric
En esta composicion de Zappa podemos presenciar una de sus obras maestras, "Inca Roads", que para mi gusto es el mejor tema de album. En cuanto a letra , es muy compleja para ese periodo, habla sobre naves espaciales que son autos en realidad pero que aparecen en la epoca de naponleon en los Andes. Podemsos apreciar el exreaordinario solo Zappa con un sonido muy particular.
No me tengo que olvidar la participacion de grandes musicos en este disco , tales como George Duke uno de los mejores tecladistas en toda la historia(principalmente en el jazz),utilizando un sonido muy trabajado con los sintetizadores.En la introduccion de tema escuchamos una ritmica preciza llebada acabo por Chester Thompson , junto a la imprecindible Ruth Underwood en el vibrafono, marinba y percusion. Y por ultimo, alguien infaltable, hay que mencionar Napoleon Murphy Brock en los vientos (saxofon y otros)
En mi opinion , sinceramente es el mejor disco de toda su carrera, ya que tiene temas con una composicion musical muy compleja y conceptual, sacando todo el provecho de los musicos ecepcionales que tiene a su lado.Agunos temas cantados por Napoleon y trabajos ritmicos junto con la ritmica de la bateria y de la melodia de los temas.Tambien por el gran aporte de Ruth Underwood con sus melodias y su virtuosinsmo en el instrumento.Por ultimo creo que es el mejor disco porque hay que tener en cuenta que el mismo Zappa ademas de componer esta obra , el mismo, escribio el trabajo de todos los intrumentos en partituras por lo cual es un merito y demustra lo grande que es.
Espero que les guste este discaso , y buenos disfruten.Gracias.
Como siempre, o siempre que podemos al menos, traemos también algunos comentarios en inglés
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.Sean Trane
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.
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.greenback
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!!Lorenzo
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 bread...um, 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 oneBjörnar Lunde
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.Robert Peña
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.
This albums seems to attract nothing but positive reviews, and rightly so, as it's one of Zappa's most inspired efforts.Fuxi
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!
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.John Davie
"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.
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.Richard Ingham
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.
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.Paul Fowler
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.
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.J. S.
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.
This is one of my favorite Frank Zappa albums and one of his strongest.Spence
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.
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.Jay Brieler
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.
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!J. Locke
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.
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.Karl Bonnek
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.
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.UMUR
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.
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?"John
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.
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:Iain
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.
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.Scott
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.
"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."Anthony Hagen
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.
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.W. Arthur
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