MS 2149 Overnite Sensation
Produced by Frank Zappa
Released on January 1973
Find it at GEMM
MS 2149 cover
[outer gatefold photo]

S omehow, Frank Zappa found a way on Overnite Sensation to package his oddball humor and complex arrangements into a commercially palatable package. It was the first Zappa album to go gold, and contained songs (like “Montana”) that could actually be played on FM radio without frightening away listeners. For this reason, AMG rightly refers to this as a “watershed album.” It marked a clear and conscious departure from the complex, often orchestral jazz rock of earlier efforts like Hot Rats and The Grand Wazoo, succinctly summing up the traits that made Zappa so special: the brilliant guitar leads, luminous contributions from fellow artists (Jean-Luc Ponty, George Duke, Ruth Underwood), and the perverse sense of humor. Because folks who might not ordinarily buy this album did, some were shocked to hear lyrics about bestiality (“Dirty Love”), orgasms (“Dinah Moe Humm”), and a Mexican witch who just happens to be breeding a dwarf (“Camarillo Brillo”). However, longtime listeners were used to this sort of thing; after all, is anything on here less tasteful than “Magdalena” or “The Mud Shark?” If the material is a little off color, Frank delivers it in a good-humored growl more mischievous than menacing. What’s most impressive about Overnite Sensation is that so much music finds its way into these six-minute tunes without bursting the confines of the standard lyric rock song. The band’s ability to start a track like “Zomby Woof” in a relatively straightforward manner, veer off into extracurricular melodies and solos, and then bounce back to find the original structure still intact is amazing. Some might argue that Underwood, Duke and Ponty are given limited roles in these arrangements, but all the better to hear Frank’s guitar burn up the place on “Dirty Love” and “I’m The Slime.” Overnite Sensation is probably the most accessible entry point for adventurous rock fans to approach the work of Frank Zappa. The guitarist himself was obviously pleased with his newfound ability to write in a more concise format, and continued in this idiom for the remainder of the decade, relegating his experimental side to his unreleased leviathan, Lather (which escaped in drips and drabs over the ‘70s and ‘80s).

MS 2149 inner gatefold MS 2149 back cover
MS 2149 inner gatefold MS 2149 back cover


  2. I'M THE SLIME    3:35
  3. DIRTY LOVE    3:00
  4. FIFTY-FIFTY    6:08
  5. ZOMBY WOOF    5:11
  6. DINAH-MOE HUMM    6:05
  7. MONTANA    6:37

    All selections written, arranged & conducted by Frank Zappa


GEORGE DUKE -- keyboards & synthesizer
BRUCE FOWLER -- trombone
TOM FOWLER -- bass
SAL MARQUEZ -- trumpet & vocals
JEAN-LUC PONTY -- violin & baritone violin
IAN UNDERWOOD -- flute, clarinet, alto & tenor sax
RUTH UNDERWOOD -- marimba, vibes & percussion
FRANK ZAPPA -- guitar & vocals
Ricky Lancelotti -- vocals
Kin Vassy -- announcer, vocals
Barry Keene, Terry Dunavan, Fred Borkgren, Steve Desper -- engineers
Kerry McNabb -- re-mix
David B. McMacken -- cover illustration
Cal Schenkel -- inside
Emerson-Loew -- photography

return to THE MOTHERS discography

US January 1973 Discreet LP MS 2149 gatefold cover
UK January 1973 WEA LP K41000 gatefold cover
US   Reprise LPQ MS4-2149 gatefold cover, quadrophonic stereo
US/CAN   Reprise LP MS 2149 gatefold cover, reissue
BRA 1980 Warner Bros. LP 36146 gatefold cover
US Apr/May 1995 Rykodisc CD/CS RCD/RAC 10518 digital remaster
RUS   Kankard CD TOOCD055 repackaged w. BONGO FURY


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