Sunday, July 24, 2016

Zappa/Mothers - One Size Fits All, reviewed in Sounds 1975

Fans of Frank Zappa's early and mid 70s albums rate 'One Size Fits All' as one of many career high points. Featuring some of the band's stage favourites from the period, including Inca Roads, Florentine Pogen and Andy, it is a consistently excellent record musically, with outstanding contributions from his core group members at the time, George Duke, Ruth Underwood, Chester Thompson and Napoleon Murphy Brock.

Here is Pete Makowski's review from the weekly UK music paper Sounds from June 1975 when the album was released. Not particularly detailed or illuminating, but it does reflect the widespread acceptance of the album, one of his most enduring recordings. Some Zappa purists dismiss the mid-70s material (the trilogy of Overnite Sensation, Apostrophe and the OSFA) because it marks the closest Zappa ever came to the mainstream. But their accessibility is entirely due to the quality of the songwriting and the playing.

The basic track for the opener, Inca Roads, was taken from the recording of a 'TV special' in Los Angeles, the video of which reveals just how tight and well-rehearsed the band were, as all Zappa's bands were!

The solo on the album is lifted from a show in Helsinki during the 1974 tour of Europe. This is typical of Zappa, who recorded pretty much everything and rarely let a good performance go to waste.

There's one story told by drummer John Guerin (who appears on the Hot Rats album track 'It Must be A Camel', and also on the Apostrophe' album).

Guerin didn't recall playing on the Apostrophe sessions. Zappa had liked the drums at another recording session and simply isolated them to create a new song, which turned out to be Excentrifugal Forz.

Guerin told Modern Drummer magazine: "Frank was a genius in the editing room. For instance, on the Hot Rats album, we let the tape run most of the time. There was no music, he just directed different feelings, or we’d establish a groove and he’d cut it off. Then, a few months later, an album with actual songs would come out. That was the beauty of his editing.”

On One Size Fits All, the track Sofa #2 features a lyric in German, the translation for which is typically bizarre:

I am the heaven
I am the water
Ich bin der Dreck unter deinen Walzen  (I am the dirt beneath your rollers)
(Oh no, whip it on me, honey!)
Ich bin dein geheimer Schmutz (I am your secret smut)
Und verlorenes Metallgeld (And lost metal money)
(Metallgeld)
Ich bin deine Ritze (I am your cracks)
Ich bin deine Ritze und Schlitze  (I am your cracks & crannies)

I am the clouds
I am embroidered
Ich bin der Autor aller Felgen  (I am the author of all tucks)
Und Damast Paspeln  (And damask piping)
Ich bin der Chrome Dinette  (I am The Chrome Dinette)
Ich bin der Chrome Dinette  (I am The Chrome Dinette)
Ich bin Eier aller Arten  (I am eggs of all persuasions)

Ich bin alle Tage und Nachte  (I am all days and nights)
Ich bin alle Tage und Nachte  (I am all days and nights)

Ich bin hier  (I am here)
Und du bist mein Sofa  (And you are my sofa)
Ich bin hier  (I am here)
Und du bist mein Sofa  (And you are my sofa)
Ich bin hier  (I am here)
Und du bist mein Sofa (And you are my sofa)

Yeah, my Sofa
Yeah-ha-hey

In the absence of the 74 shows on Youtube, seek out the DVD entitled 'A Token of His Extreme' which contains the whole show and for fans of this period Zappa is well worthwhile