Zappa / Mothers - One Size Fits All (1975)

Inca Roads 8:45
Can't Afford No Shoes 2:38
Sofa No. 1 2:39
Po-Jama People 7:39
Floentine Pogen 5:27
Evelyn, A Modified Dog   1:04
San Ber'dino 5:57
Andy 6:04
Sofa No. 2 2:41
 
Total Time: 43 min, 2 sec

The third and last studio album by the Roxy band. Sometime in the late '90s a "playoff" was held on the alt.fan.frank-zappa newsgroup, with someone matching all of Zappa's albums up into pairs, and everyone voting for one or the other. The winners moved on to the next round, until it came down to one final, "favorite album of the newsgroup". One Size Fits All was the final winner. A great starter album for new Zappa fans, and a classic that holds up after dozens of listens. This album has a little bit of almost everything - the rock Zappa, the jazz Zappa and the comedy Zappa.

The disc starts out with Inca Roads, which brings together different musical ideas that Frank had been "road testing" for years. In fact, the guitar solo actually comes from a concert, overdubbed onto studio backing tracks. The song is an excellent jazz fusion piece, with bizarre rapid-fire lyrics about spaceships. If I had to choose one Zappa song to take to a desert island, this would be it. It's also the song that was picked to represent Zappa on the Supernatural Fairy Tales progressive rock boxed set.

Can't Afford No Shoes is a bouncy little blues-based rock song. Fun, and great to sing along with. Sofa No. 1 is a beautiful instrumental waltz - sort of an elegant sequel to Peaches En Regalia. The second version that closes the disc is pretty much the same, but adds surreal lyrics in English and German.

Po-Jama People is another bluesy song, with lyrics that convey Frank's frustration with small-minded, boring people. I often find myself singing "They all got flannel up and down 'em, a little trap-door back around 'em, and cozy little footies on their mind", even if I haven't heard the album recently. There's also a killer guitar solo - the super-fast flurry of notes towards the end never fails to amaze me. Florentine Pogen is a strange, plodding rocker that is probably my least favorite track on the disc, but still not bad. Evelyn is a surreal little poem about a dog who hears a noise from inside a piano. San Ber'dino is a ripping rock song with vocals that are hard not to howl along with. And Andy is midway between a rock song and a march, with a very cool stop-time drum part and more amazing vocals.

If you're looking to try Zappa and you only want to buy one CD, this is the one to get. It was one of the first two I bought (along with Hot Rats), and is largely responsible for turning me into the Zappa fanatic that I am.

Album Cover

Image of the One Size Fits All album cover