Frank Zappa was one of the coolest men ever to roam the earth. Hitting the scene while the love movement was in full bloom, his music was counter culture yet anti-hippie. A musical perfectionist who weaved avant-garde compositions about cream cheese, dental floss and catholic girls, he also sang of freedom of speech and obliteration of censorship. He gave his kids names like Moon Unit, Dweezil and Diva, was appointed by the Czechoslovakia government to head their department of trade, cultural matter and tourism, and testified before the United States Senate. Fucking eh.
It’s easy to write him off as a parody act or freak show, yet digesting his discography one can argue he’s the greatest composer of the twentieth century. Who else you going to nominate…John Williams? Vangelis? Not even fucking close. Zappa.
My wife hates his music. Guaranteed way to get rid or her.
Anyways, listening to Over-nite Sensation tonight which is credited to the The Mothers. Apparently this LP and Apostrophe (‘) which was credited to Frank Zappa, were part of the same recording session. Regardless, Frank’s the conductor so it doesn’t matter what you call the band. Oh yeah, Tina Turner’s on this album, albeit uncredited!
Artist: The Mothers
Title: Over-nite Sensation
Catalog: MS 2149
Side 1 – MS-2149-A
Side 2 – MS-2149-B
Pressing Plant: Unknown
Notes: I bought this LP ages ago. If you put me to the sword, I would guess 1992 or so at Peter Dunn’s Vinyl Museum…this could very well be the very first Zappa record I ever bought. Back when one could buy a great condition Zappa record for under 4 bucks. Nowadays, you’re looking twenty bucks or so. This copy’s in grand condition. Both sides would be grated a NM if it wasn’t for some kind of stain on both sides that stubbornly will not come off. Smaller than the size of a dime, its origin befuddles me but if I were to guess, I’d say cum. So lets grade it a VG++.
The jacket’s a VG+. No ring wear, but there’s a bit of fraying of the spine although it’s entirely legible. The cover’s got a lot going on. It’s a fantastic gatefold with loads of shit to look at… a McDonald’s fast food box, Florida map, a disembodied hand, a donut, what appears to be a CD player and an orange with a vagina. The gatefold’s full of lyrics, band pictures and a shit ton of mustache (must be November).
Received a couple of bottles of Champagne for my fortieth a few months back. I don’t want to sound ungrateful…but come on? Champagne? Luckily all spirits in the beautiful province of Ontario is sold at the LCBO which takes returns. So three bottles of French fizzy wine gets me a bottle of my beloved Pike Creek and a flyer on a bottle “premium” bourbon, Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey.
As you can see in the pic, I’ve already broken it out on a few occasions. So far so good, time to pair it with some Zappa.
After taking the dog for a quick walk, I warmed up the tubes with some live Bowie and whiskey (haven’t broken out the Hayden’s yet…starting off with some Forty Creek). By the end of Diamond Dogs, Bowie’s sounding fucking awesome and I can’t wait for some Zappa.
The Bowie finishes and I pour myself a triple bourbon. Compared to the Canadian whiskey, it has an immediate sugary perfume of black licorice. It has a pleasant smell, sweet taste and short finish. Agreeable enough, it has me taking large sips. As much as I love sipping whiskey while spinning vinyl, I must admit I wish I had some king cans to go with the Zappa.
I drop the needle and am instantly encircled by sweet analog sound…but I lift the tone arm. This shit requires more volume. After fiddling with the knob, I re-drop the needle to an amazing clatter of drums, tambourine (?), guitar licks and Frank himself. Instant 10 out of 10, Camarillo Brillo’s one of my favourite Zappa songs. It’s a great track with some horn interplay which slowly gains momentum throughout the tune, taking center stage come the third go around. Ending with a piano ditty I’m at a loss for words. Four or so minutes effortlessly past.
I’m The Slime opens with the same airy sound (I’ve found all Canadian Zappa records to sound excellent), drums ruling before switching to a slow & low vibe while Fran expounds against mind control and commercialism as always with a political bent. An Ikette makes her vocal entrance as some sort of radio/TV announcer…but fuck man, the drums! The song ends way too soon.
Next up is Dirty Love…fack, can’t wait until it starts. More fantastic drum sound staging accompanied by a cat on keyboards. DL’s some sludgy Frank with vocal effects, a bass voice in the right channel and female in the front. “Just like your mama make her fuzzy poodle do”…I thinks I would like some dirty love right about now.
Fifty-Fifty is a quicker number with a keyboard and bass opening for Ricky Lancelotti singing about his bad hygiene. I’m losing control at this point, on my feet dancing to the song. A minute in the craziest church organ solo north of the Dixie Mason erupts…the song’s going somewhere as the baton’s passed to Ponty on the violin. HOLY SHIT! GO JEAN-LUC! This song’s pure psychedelia. By the time of Frank’s guitar solo the song is driving mad as I’m still on my feet looking the part of the middle aged dufus (lets try and not throw out a back tonight).
That was a fucking righteous side. If you can’t handle it don’t bother coming over to play.
As I drop the arm onto side 2, I notice just how skinny the deadwax is…good omen as that means more music. Zomby Wolf’s another sludge guitar riff interspersed with rapidly changing instruments; the song bounces between speeds, instruments and direction. More heavy psychedelia. After about 90 seconds of this, a guitar solo tries to make sense of the song. There’s some nasty keyboards during the backup singers… a few songs on this album are The Ikettes albeit uncredited…that means Tina Turner is on this recording. The song ends…every song thus far a perfect 10.
The opening riff of Dinah-Moe Hum sounds like an 80s hip hop sample…Frank even raps! DMH’s another mash of fast moving instrumentations (or at least, I think it is, kinda buzzed at this point). Oh yeah, this long has the best interlude ever! The Ikette resurfaces as one (or both?) of the sisters Frank makes a bet with…then Zappa raps some more over a soundtrack-like soundscape.
Whadd-ya mean cooties! No cooties on me!
The female vocals are the cherry on top of this masterpiece…not to mention the cowbell. The erotica interlude has me howlin’ at Frank’s mad mind (I’m thinking DMH’s just another true band story involving groupies). The song breaks out of the long interlude to a reprise of the opening musical juxtapositions.
Damn, last song already. No worries, I’ve already decided to drop another Zappa LP after this is done. Montana’s the slowest track on the LP, drums still sound awesome. This one’s a narrative. A story about Frank moving to Montana to grow some dental floss, all the while riding vibes and a sick guitar solo. The bass during his solo is legendary, pure fucking music…and I can’t help it; I’m up and dancing again. Now it’s definitely The Ikettes in either a trio or duet (can’t quite discern). According to legend Frank hired Tina Turner & The Ikettes from Ike Turner and it took them 3 days or so to nail the “I’m pluckin’ the ol’ Dennil Floss” bit, Tina excitedly called over Ike to hear it in which he responded “What is this shit?” He later insisted that Zappa didn’t include The Ikettes on the credits. They never knew what they were getting themselves into. The right channel vibes literally jump out and slap me in the face, Yippy-Ty-O-Ty-Ay, and a tear materializes from my left eye as the song, side and album end.
Yup, I’m giving this LP a 10. Both the music and sound stage are excellent and riding Frank at the peak of his powers. This record has a “sister record”, Aprostrophe (‘) which apparently was part of the same recording session but released as a Frank Zappa solo album (that’s what I listened to after this LP). This LP is highly recommended for any Zappa fan or any stew made up of fusion, avant-garde, prog and parody.
As I mentioned earlier, I tend to find all US and Canadian Zappa records of the highest sonic quality with tons of magic pixie dust. These old Zappa records are getting harder to find and more expensive all the time and I’m glad I was able to grab it for a fifth of what it typically goes for now. That said, I’m very curious about the recent reissue cut by Chris Bellman. A shoot-out would be definitively fun.
The bourbon was mighty tasty, but it might have been better paired with a more conventional jazz or rock record. This LP called for beer.
The Fine Print:
This was not a review of the aforementioned vinyl LP or alcoholic drink, but a personal reflection on my experience of listening and imbibing. Such factors such as vinyl condition, pressing, intoxication, room size, rig, stylus wear and mastering may result in a different listening experience.