Since his debut in 1965, Frank Zappa remained one of the busiest recording artists of his era, and one of the hardest to pin down.
Pulling from twelve tone composition to doo wop, musique concréte to sophisticated funk, societal critiques to potty humor, orchestrated jazz to virtuosic electric guitar, few (if any) pop artists could claim a wider array (or mastery) of influences. While juggling myriad styles to varying degrees, he released approximately three albums per year. His prolificacy, when combined with this confluence of ideas, usually overwhelmed and alienated the average listener, making his music something of a pariah, even on FM radio.
This changed instantly with the release of “Over-Nite Sensation.” Here, Zappa embraces ‘traditional’ song structure while condensing the intensity of his elaborate arrangements. Where previous albums made haphazard cuts, these songs retain their ‘groove’, allowing the complex rhythms to draw the listener deeper into Zappa’s mindset. The perversity of sex and gross commercialism offer a relentlessly consistent theme from song to song. As the narrator, Zappa remains bemused, reveling in the appalling details as they expand to absurd proportions.
Musically, the entire album is astounding, but the lyrical premise evokes embarrassment and/or chortling. After a half-century, there is still nothing else quite like “Over-Nite Sensation”.
I'm The Slime
Dinah Moe Humm
September 1973 - Billboard Charted #32