'Frank Zappa: Apostrophe / Over-Nite Sensation'
(Frank Zappa, et al / DVD / NR / 2007 / Eagle Vision USA)
Overview: "This is where you go to find every aspect of Frank's music squeezed into two perfectly formed records." Dweezil Zappa. This new addition to Eagle Vision's acclaimed Classic Albums series focuses on Frank Zappa's early seventies albums "Overnite Sensation" (1973) and "Apostrophe(`)" (1974). Together they encapsulate Zappa's extraordinary musical diversity and were also the two most commercially successful albums that he released in his prolific career.
DVD Verdict: Throughout his career, Frank Zappa thumbed his nose at commercialism. He never let the marketplace dictate his direction, and his instincts (and taste) almost always ran contrary to whatever was `popular'. In fact, if Frank liked what you were doing, it was a sure sign that you would suffer commercially; just ask Captain Beefheart, or Wild Man Fisher, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, or Alice Cooper in his early days. The name `Frank Zappa' may now be copyrighted and a household name, but few people really ever knew his music.
His albums were tailored to appeal to those who were outside of society, so what went wrong with "Apostrophe (`)" and "Over-Nite Sensation" that allowed them to become hugely famous? For a short period of time in the early seventies, Frank Zappa and the counterculture experienced something akin to acceptance by the media. Perhaps this was due to the huge success of FM radio, or maybe it was the zeitgeist that enveloped the globe after the late-sixties meltdown of hippie culture.
Either way, Zappa's music was at a creative peak, and the world was willing to pay attention. "Apostrophe" and "Over-Nite Sensation" followed one another within a year's time, and each of them featured pretty much the same line-up of musicians. They represent his most accessible work, and this `album documentary' tells the story of how they got made.
If you are familiar with Frank Zappa's work, then I highly recommend this DVD. If you are not familiar with Zappa's work, buy each of these albums and then buy this DVD. The information contained herein is invaluable to any fan.
I've seen many, many of these `album documentaries', but none come close to the authoritative entertainment of this package. The fun facts alone are outstanding. Did you know that Zappa rehearsed his band six hours a day, five days a week? Show me another band with that type of work ethic. Did you know that the backup vocals were by the Ikettes (with Tina Turner)? Did you know that Zappa has a library of recordings that could rival the Grateful Dead in its breadth?
The editing between live performance (including a killer version of "Montana") and studio analysis is brilliant. Son Dweezil takes us deep into recording analysis, sitting at a mixing board and moving the faders while making insightful observations. The documentary is relatively short - only one hour - but there's another hour of extras that convey just as much information, while focusing on all aspects of Zappa's music, including its topicality, its technique, and its humor.
Frank Zappa was a thoroughly unique character, incapable of being categorized or lumped into a box. If you know these albums, you may think you already understand how his mind worked. See this documentary and you'll understand why. In a word, it's astounding. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Live Performances: "Montana" (1973), "I'm The Slime" (1976), and "Camarillo Brillo" by Zappa Plays Zappa
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