I offered HRH a little pre-birthday surprise this evening (her birthday is next Thursday) to make tonight a little special, the ‘One Size Fits All‘ album by Frank Zappa.
This folks, is parenting done right.
This album has been on her “To Find List” for months and I had the good fortune to find it at Record Theater in Buffalo last weekend when I went to claim the second part of her birthday present (stay tuned for next Friday’s post I guess).
Released soon after the live ‘Roxy & Elsewhere‘, this album contained more of the material premiered during the 1973-1974 tour (itself released in 1975), but this time largely re-recorded in the studio. The band remains the same: George Duke, Napoleon Murphy Brock, Chester Thompson, Tom Fowler, and Ruth Underwood (HRH‘s favorite). Johnny “Guitar” Watson overdubbed some vocals and Captain Beefheart (credited as Bloodshot Rollin’ Red) played some harmonica (“when present,” state the liner notes). Sadly, this was the last album by the Mothers in any incarnation.
Zappa once bragged to reporters, “You could actually dance to this record.”
Now consider the source.
The previous album focused on complex music suites being the pinnacle of Zappa’s jazz-rock work of the early ’70s. This one is more song-oriented, alternating goofy rock songs with more challenging numbers in an attempt to find a juste milieu between ‘Over-Nite Sensation‘ and ‘Roxy & Elsewhere‘. ‘Inca Roads‘, ‘Florentine Pogen‘, ‘Andy‘, and ‘Sofa No.1‘ all became classic tracks and live favorites.
These are as close to progressive rock (a demented, clownish kind) Zappa ever got. Whcih is why HRH wanted it so bad I figure as she loves her Prog Rock. The obscurity of their subjects, especially the flying saucer topic of ‘Inca Roads‘, seem to spoof prog rock clichés. The high-flying compositions are offset by ‘Can’t Afford No Shoes‘, ‘Po-Jama People‘, which even had mommy singing along for a moment, ‘San Ber’dino‘, more down-to-earth songs.
Together with ‘Zoot Allures‘, this album can be considered as one of the easiest points of entry into Zappa’s discography. The album artwork features a big maroon sofa, a conceptual continuity clue arching back to a then-undocumented live suite (from which ‘Sofa‘ was salvaged) and a sky map with dozens of bogus stars and constellations labeled with inside jokes in place of names.
I can see us air-jamming to this album for some time. Next time, loudly while mommy at work maybe. Oh, and to the many critics who once mentioned that “girls don’t like Frank Zappa”…well, this one certainly does. Well, what I’ll allow her listen to anyway. The rest, she’ll just have to wait until she’s a bit older.