Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention: One Size Fits All

By Noel Coppage

Stereo Review, December 1975

FRANK ZAPPA & THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION: One Size Fits All. Frank Zappa (guitar, vocals); George Duke (keyboards, vocals); Napoleon M. Brock (woodwinds, vocals); Chester Thompson (drums); Tom Fowler (bass); other musicians. Inca Roads; Can't Afford No Shoes; Po-Jama People; Evelyn, a Modified Dog; and four others. DISCREET DS 2216 $6.98, Ⓑ M8D 2216 $7.98, © MSD 2216 $7.98.

Performance: Too cute
Recording: Very good

Frank Zappa really should go into television or film or something visual and stop waiting for many of us to grasp the significance of the ugly sounds he makes in the name of music. Here, for example, his lyrics are funny if you read them and have a tolerance for half-assed surrealism, and the jacket design isn't bad as sophomore-level satire of astrology, astronomy, and several social attitudes – but adding the Mothers' kind of "progressive rock" or "jazz-rock" overlay of bops and squeaks and cowbells makes it less funny. Zappa has not really improved on Spike Jones or Somethin' Smith and the Redheads at setting jokes to contemporary pop conventions; he has merely made it seem more complicated. Po-Jama People sounds almost as interesting as it looks, but even there the instrumental waffling seems at war with the words. Zappa seems to be trying to combine whimsey and outrage here, but those two qualities don't really blend. What it sounds like is cute decadence, and I've had enough of that.