Analog Adventures: Over-Nite Sensation
Frank Zappa and the Mothers
(Originally released 1973, multiple reissues)
About the Artist
Frank Zappa is known best as a provocateur due to his controversial songs such as Jewish Princess. He became known as a champion of free speech during the 1980s during the hearings on Capitol Hill about music censorship, appearing along Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister and John Denver. At the time Zappa is also a celebrated composer; a prolific career that spans the 1950s-1990s that covered doo-wop to avant garde classical music in the vein of Arnold Schoenberg. In the middle of this career Zappa did jazz fusion in a way that only he could.
Over-Nite Sensation is a strange album that acts as a time capsule of sorts. Zappa is able to capture time based musical motifs and take them to their most extreme conclusions. The album feels like it is done by the Mahavishnu Orchestra if they decide to abandon any sense of importance. Tongue is always firmly in cheek with the music of Zappa
The rear cover of the album.
The Album Itself
The album is strange to listen to as well. The time signatures are inconsistent, yet the band sounds sharp and on top of everything. The production values are top notch, containing an analog warmth and aura of dedication. The guest vocals stand out as well, Tina Turner and the Ikettes appear unaccredited on five of the albums seven tracks. This is due to Ike Turner not liking the music and not wanting his brand to be associated with Zappa. The vocal feature on Montana is perhaps the most impressive part of this album, with the Tina and the Ikettes performing perfect vocal gymnastics.
The inside of the gate fold.
The album is a gate fold, and the surrealist art is the center of attention. The scene depicts a messy hotel room littered with fast food containers and a two headed man. It is a snapshot that looks like straight from a Ralph Bakshi feature. The record feels great to hold, although the original pressing is only 120 grams. Subsequent reissues are in the 180 gram weight club.
Is It Worth It?
As far as if this album is worth picking up, yes, it absolutely is. The music is enjoyable and creative enough for several listens, and it is easy to find in record shops and online for a fair price. You can find a used copy in good condition for $20. If you have yet to listen to Frank Zappa, this is a great starting point as this is some of his more accessible work.
- I’m the Slime