Frank Zappa

Over-nite Sensation/ Apostrophe(') Classic Albums

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Frank Zappa is an American composer and musician of such breadth and prolific output - 60 albums - that fans differ constantly about the contenders for his Classic Album. What is agreed is that over 30 years of work, Zappa’s records embraced Rock, Jazz, Funk, Blues, Doo Wop, and Classical influences and lyrically most were tinged with sufficient degrees of humour, satire and wry political observation and exuded excellent musicianship and faultless production. The two albums which encapsulate this cornucopia of musicality perfectly are Over-nite Sensation (1973) and Apostrophe(!) (1974). As his son Dweezil Zappa tells us in this film 'this is where you go to find every aspect of Frank's music squeezed into two perfectly formed records'. They were also the most commercially successful albums he released.

 

By use of interviews, musical demonstration, rare and unseen archive footage and home movies and live performances the programme tells the story behind the conception and recording of these groundbreaking albums. We will discover how Frank Zappa created both the albums with the help of a crack team of musicians including, George Duke, Napoleon Murphy Brock, Ian and Ruth Underwood and Bruce Fowler and Engineer Kerry McNabb.  Frank's wife Gail and children Dweezil, Moon, and Ahmet throw essential light onto living with a musical genius. Musician, actor and fan, Billy Bob Thornton, Alice Cooper, guitarists Steve Vai and Warren Cucurullo, add insight to Frank as a musician, composer and band leader and Zappa Plays Zappa re-create some of the classic tracks from these albums.

 

Frank arrived in Los Angeles in 1964 already with a great knowledge of Studio recording techniques, joined local band the Soul Giants and changed their name to the Mothers (finally to be called the Mothers Of Invention to appease conservative record executives). Their double album Freak Out released in 1966, was a stunning debut. Records were released in rapid succession. The almost completely instrumental solo album 'Hot Rats' in 1969 hit new heights of excellence with 'Peaches En Regalia' a classic track and Frank's guitar playing elevating him into the top echelons of guitar players.  

 

Frank loved playing live. On tour Frank was constantly composing and trying out new ideas. In a typical year Zappa would spend six months touring, and the rest of the time would be spent recording new music. In 1972 it was during a break in one of these fertile tours that Frank began the recording sessions that would form the basis of both Over-nite Sensation and Apostrophe.

 

Over-nite Sensation would prove to be his most successful album to date.We feature such Zappa classics as Camarillo Brillo, Dinah-Moe Humm, I’m the Slime, and Montana. Dweezil Zappa examines the multi-track tapes from the sessions and uncovers little known facts (Tina Turner providing backing vocals) and never before heard out-takes from songs. Frank was quick to capitalise upon its success and soon had the band back in the studio to record additional songs for the follow up album Apostrophe(!). It was a Gold Album success and featured songs that were a staple of Franks live shows for years to come. Included here are Cosmik Debris, Uncle Remus, and Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow, a song which also give Frank his first ‘hit single’.

 

The canvas of Rock and Roll always seemed too small for Zappa’s musical aspirations, but these albums brought together material that combined lyrical sophistication, surreal imagery, catchy melodies, classic ballads and great blues. This programme will shed light on the under-rated musicianship and often-unsung genius that is Frank Zappa.