Album Review: “Over-Nite Sensation” by Frank Zappa
via Chicago World/YouTube
Typical Frank Zappa Style
Whether you like his music or not, there’s no denying that Frank Zappa is a genius.
Over-Nite Sensation showcased his growth as a musician. Sure, there were still some sexual innuendos and other traces of his humor in the songs but the whole album was tight. But like most of his works, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. And it takes a while getting used to his sound and style. Basically, he’s an acquired taste.
Almost two years before its release, Zappa suffered from a head trauma, fractures, and several injuries after a fan’s jealous boyfriend pushed him off the stage. He was confined to a wheelchair for months and even during rehab, he experienced other health issues. While he churned out a couple of albums in the 1970s, nothing was as stellar as Over-Nite Sensation. It’s more commercial than its predecessors which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it somehow isolated the purist fans who thought Zappa was selling out. The decade started out with Zappa’s not one but two accidents but it wasn’t long before he came back with a bang.
Camarillo Brillo is one of the most brilliant tracks in the album. From the guitar work to the whole mood of the song, Zappa couldn’t have picked a better opener. It’s basically about a witch who breeds a dwarf. The spoken vocals on I’m The Slime may sound dark and haunting but Zappa’s face-melting guitar intro and ending guitar solo took center stage. The chorus features Tina Turner and the Ikettes who go uncredited on the album. Dirty Love stands out because of the mind-blowing guitar solo but other than that, there’s not much else that makes it memorable. Those who aren’t used to Zappa’s weirdness were probably offended by the bestiality. The lesser-known track Fifty-Fifty seems a bit out of place. It’s bizarre but interesting enough. It’s a little over six minutes but it should’ve been just three or four. Still, the vocals and solo are on-point.
Zomby Woof is funky and melodic. The various elements in the song shouldn’t work but it apparently did. It’s wild but well-crafted. Dinah-Moe Humm is yet another number that’s not for the easily offended. It’s silly and dirty yet catchy and funny for all that. The addition of Tina Turner and the Ikettes in the chorus is the cherry on top. The album wraps up with Montana. The drum fills and guitar solos are the highlights. It showed Zappa’s limitless creativity. Only Zappa and Tina Turner can sing about dental floss and make it this epic.
Over-Nite Sensation was the best means for Frank Zappa to come back and reclaim his spot on the proverbial top of rock ‘n roll. There’s not one bad song on here.