One Size Fits All is a 1975 album by Frank Zappa and the final studio album by the Mothers of Invention. It has never been popular with the general audience, but is a fan favorite among Zappa aficionados, highly regarded as one of his best. The album is best remembered for tracks such as "Inca Roads", "Sofa" and "San Ber'dino".
- "Inca Roads" (8:45)
- "Can't Afford No Shoes" (2:38)
- "Sofa No. 1" (2:39)
- "Po-Jama People" (7:43)
- "Florentine Pogen" (5:27)
- "Evelyn, A Modified Dog" (1:04)
- "San Ber'dino" (5:57)
- "Andy" (6:03)
- "Sofa No. 2" (2:47)
- Frank Zappa: guitar, vocals, composition
- George Duke: keyboards, synthesizers, vocals
- Napoleon Murphy Brock: flute, tenor sax, vocals
- Chester Thompson: drums
- Tom Fowler: bass
- Ruth Underwood: percussion
- James Yourman: bass
- Johnny "Guitar" Watson: flambé vocals
- Bloodshot Rollin' Red (pseudonym of Captain Beefheart): harmonica.
- A Cappella: One star sign on the constellation map on the back cover is named this way.
- Ancient Astronauts: The lyrics of "Inca Roads" are a sendup of the "theories" of Erich von Däniken. In the first half of the song the protagonist wonders whether aliens made a vehicle fly to land in the Andes and "build a place to leave a space for such a thing to land." Eventually the song get sillier as it is implied that the aliens only build them to have sex on them.
- And Starring: Zappa's prime guitar influence Johnny "Guitar" Watson plays along on the tracks "San Ber'dino" and "Andy". Captain Beefheart provides harmonica, but is credited under the name "Bloodshot Rollin' Red" because he was contractually unable to record under his own name.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies, Bug War and Strong Ants: The giant ants on the back side of the album cover.
- Bilingual Bonus: "Sofa No.2" has lyrics in German.
- Bookends: "Sofa No. 1" and "Sofa No.2", which closes the album. The initials of "One Size Fits All" can be re-arranged to spell "Sofa".
- Call-Back and Continuity Nod:
No no zulch is the auto worksI'm telling youThat's where they takeAll the cars that they hurt
- The album cover features four hands. Single hands appear often on Zappa's album covers (Uncle Meat,Burnt Weeny Sandwich, Over-Nite Sensation,...) and are part of his conceptual continuity.
- The phrase "Round things are boring" on the back of the album cover are the last words on Lumpy Gravy.
- The giant ants on the back cover tie in with Zappa's love for referencing B-monster movie imagery.
- The constellation "Per Diem" is a Call-Back to a character from "The Legend of Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus" in the liner notes of The Grand Wazoo (1972).
- When Zappa toured with Flo & Eddie (The Turtles) in the early 1970s he conjured up a bizarre story about a cigar smoking God creating the universe from his flying sofa in the presence of a "chrome dinette". These images appear on the album cover and are alluded to in "Sofa", which has both an instrumental as well as a lyrical version on "One Size Fits All". The instrumental version would later be performed live on Zappa's Live Album Zappa in New York (1978) and "You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Volume 1" (1988). "Ya Hozna" from Zappa's Them or Us (1984) is "Sofa" played backwards. "Divan" on "Playground Psychotics" (1992) is the exact same work. In the song "Stick It Out" from Joe's Garage (1979) lines like "Don't get no jizz upon that sofa" and "see the chrome, etc.,..." also allude to the Sofa suite and chrome, which is another conceptual continuity item in Zappa's work.
- Space imagery is seen in the album cover art and alluded to in "Inca Roads".
- Car imagery, another Zappa conceptual continuity item, is alluded to in "Inca Roads", "Florentine Pogen" and "San Ber'dino", in the lines:
Evelyn, a dog, having undergoneFurther modificationPondered the significance of short-person behaviorIn pedal-depressed panchromatic resonanceAnd other highly ambient domains...
- "Arf!" is heard during "Pojama People" and near the end of "Evelyn, A Modified Dog". The word is part of Zappa's conceptual continuity on other albums as well. The constellation "Knarf (uview)" on the back cover refers to "Echidna's Arf (Of You)" from Roxy & Elsewhere. note Also interesting is that "Knarf" spells "Frank" backwards.
- "Louie Louie" is quoted in "Florentine Pogen", a song Zappa enjoyed referencing often in his work, including "Plastic People" and "Son Of Suzy Creamcheese" (Absolutely Free), "At The Gas Station" (Lumpy Gravy), "Louie Louie" (Uncle Meat), "Sam With The Showing Scalp Flat Top" (Bongo Fury), "Jesus Thinks You're A Jerk" (Broadway the Hard Way), "Ruthie-Ruthie" (You Can't Do That Stage Anymore, Volume 1) and "Welcome to the United States" (The Yellow Shark).
- Near the end of "Florentine Pogen" the sound "hratche-plche" is made, which was also heard halfway "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" from Absolutely Free.
- "Chester's gorilla" in "Florentine Pogen" recalls "King Kong" from Uncle Meat.
- "Evelyn, A Modified Dog" observes "someone within the Steinway", which is a Call-Back to the album Lumpy Gravy, which was largely recorded inside a piano. A large weight was set on the piano's sustain, so it was always depressed, creating a spacey and ambient resonance as the piano strings vibrated with the sound waves of the person speaking.
- In "Them Or Us: The Book" (1984) Zappa reveals that Evelyn is a collie, not a poodle. "Garlic breath" is mentioned, which ties in with "a garlic aroma that could level Tacoma" in "Jewish Princess" from Sheik Yerbouti.
- "San Ber'dino" alludes to cowboys in the line "She's in love with a boy from the rodeo/ who pulls the rope on the chute/ when they let those suckers go" and "Andy" references western movie actor Andy Devine. Zappa had a particular distaste for cowboy music.
- "San Ber'dino" also introduces the character Potato-Head Bobby, who would return in songs like "Advance Romance" (Bongo Fury (1975)), "The Illinois Enema Bandit" (Zappa in New York (1977)) and as the character Sister Potato-Head Bobby Brown on Thing-Fish (1984). Interesting side notes are that the Mammy Nuns on this album all have heads that look like potatoes and have served time in "San Quentim".
- "San Ber'dino" also alludes to "dark green air and you can choke all day", which might be a Call-Back to "Nine Types Of Industrial Pollution" from Uncle Meat.
- "Florentine Pogen", "Andy", "Inca Roads" and "Sofa #1" were all performed live on Zappa's double album The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life (1991).
- Came from the Sky: "Inca Roads".Did a vehicle come from somewhere, out thereJust to land in the AndesTo find a place to park itself?Or was it something different?
- Design Student's Orgasm: Cal Schenkel's gorgeous album cover design, complete with a star sign map in the background, full of puns, intellectual references and inside jokes about people from Zappa's community.
- Epic Rocking: "Inca Roads" (8:45), "Po-Jama People" (7:38), "San Ber'dino" (5:51) and "Andy" (6:03).
- Fictional Constellations: The back cover of the album is a parody of the constellations. All the star signs are either puns, intellectual references or inside jokes about Zappa's entourage and/or his music. Some constellations and stars, however, do actually exist: Alcyone (spoofed as Al Capone), Algieba (spoofed as Algebra), Alkaid, Alpherats, Aquarius (spoofed as Aquarium), Aries (The Ram), Bellatrix (spoofed as Beatrix), Boötes (The Herdsman), Cancer (The Crab), Capella (spoofed as A Cappella), Capricornus, Coma Berenenices, Corona Borealis, Crux (Southern Cross), Draco (spoofed as Drano), Formalhaut (spoofed as Formalhyde), Gemini (spoofed as Jim and I (the Twins)), Hercules (spoofed as Honkules), Leo (the Lion), Libra (the Scales), Musca (The Fly), Orion (the Hunter), Pisces, Pyxis, Regulus, Sagittarius (The Archer), Sheratan (spoofed as Sheraton, the hotel chain), Sirius (spoofed as Serious), Taurus (The Bull), Ursa Major and Ursa Minor (spoofed as Ursula Major and Ursula Minor ), Vega, Virgo (the Virgin) and Wasat (spoofed as Whazzat ("what's that?")), Yed Prior (spoofed as Yet on Prior)
- Fun with Acronyms: The initials of "One Size Fits All" can be re-arranged to spell out "Sofa", one of the tracks on the album.
- Gratuitous German: "Sofa" has German lyrics, though the translation from English to German isn't particular well done.
- Gratuitous Latin: Several star signs on the back cover are expressions of Latin origin, such as Rex Begonia and Corona Begonia (two begonia plants), plesbicites (a vote by the electorate determining public opinion on a matter of national importance), per diem ("each day", daily allowance for expenses), modus operandi ("method of operation",to describe someone's habits of working.) and alibi (a defense by an accused person to demonstrate he couldn't have committed the crime)
- Hurricane of Puns: Various constellations on the back side of the album cover are an Incredibly Lame Pun on words that start with the same letter, for instance: Ras Aldazzl (razzle dazzle), Ras Perry (raspberry), Honkules (a pun on the constellation Hercules and the English word honk for attractive person), Jim & I "The Siamese Twins" (a pun on Gemini (twins), one of the 13 Zodiac signs), Sadalsoar (the skin ailment saddle sores), Yed On Prior (the word "yet on prior", but also a pun on the real star "Yed Prior". Also, there is a star sign on Zappa's cover nearby called "occasion", which provides the phrase: "yet on prior occasion"), Al Nozzle (a nozzle, which ties in with Zappa references to noses in his work), Cunard (seems to be a corruption of the French word "canard" ("duck"), which also ties in with the later Zappa compositions "Canarsie" ("Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar", actually a reference to Canarsie, a Brooklyn neighborhood) and "Canard Du Jour" (from the same album), Whazat (pun on "what's that").
- Instrumental: "Sofa # 1".
- Meaningful Name: "One Size Fits All" is an advertising term to indicate that a product would fit in all instances.
- Miniscule Rocking: "Evelyn, A Modified Dog", a track that hardly takes up a minute.
- Mythology Gag: The star constellation map references a lot of Zappa relatives and crew members, but also provides shout-outs to songs from Zappa's previous albums. The presence of the toad species Bufo Speciosus and Bufo Borealis is a Call-Back to "the toads of the short forest" who were referenced earlier on albums like Weasels Ripped My Flesh, Chunga's Revenge and Over-Nite Sensation. The star sign Hot Rats namedrops Hot Rats. The Gypsy Mutant Vacuum Cleaner is an image from the liner notes of Chunga's Revenge. Several star signs also refer to vegetables, which ties in with imagery from Absolutely Free. Abracadabra probably inspired "Debra Kadabra" on Bongo Fury. D Crux is a real star sign (Crux), but also refers to "the crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe" from Apostrophe ('). RDNZL would later become the name of an instrumental on Zappa's Studio Tan (1978) and Läther (1993). Applecor might be a reference to an incident in the 1960s where Zappa led two drunk marines on stage during a show and had them say something in the microphone ("Eat the apple, fuck the corps") before they destroyed a doll under Zappa's command: "Pretend this is a gook baby.'' After the doll was ravaged the audience was in such a shock that Zappa ended the show there.
- Non-Appearing Title: The album title does not appear in any of the lyrics.
- One-Man Song: "Andy".
- One-Woman Song: "Evelyn, A Modified Dog".
- One-Word Title: "Sofa".
- Perpetual Poverty: "Can't Afford No Shoes".
- Product Placement:
Deep in the street she drove a '59 Morgan.
- "Florentine Pogen", which in itself references a Swedish cookie brand.
Somewhere near the Steinway or even from within.
- "Evelyn, A Modified Dog"
She lives in Mojave in a Winnebago. note(...)Zulch is the auto work note
- "San Ber'dino"
- Real Life Writes the Plot:
Well there's forty-four menStashed away in tank "C"An' there's only one showerBut it don't apply to Bobby
- Some of the star signs on the album cover are references to people from Zappa's entourage and family, including Pumpkin (nickname of his wife Gail, also a reference to Absolutely Free), Unit (reference to Moon Unit, his daughter), Dweezil (his son, Dweezil), Ahmet (Zappa's younger son, Ahmet), Diva (his youngest daughter, Diva, who was born in 1979 and only added to the art work after the CD release in 1988), Lala Sloatman (Zappa's niece, who later dated Corey Haim and Chris Robinson (The Black Crowes)), Herbycon (his manager Herb Cohen), Zubin Mehta (a conductor who worked together with Zappa and was also referenced on "Billy The Mountain" from Just Another Band from L.A.), Chunky, Novi & Ernie (a band whose debut album cover was designed by Cal Schenkel and where Zappa provided backing vocals.), Leo Limón (an illustrator who collaborated with Zappa), Dogess (one of Zappa's dogs, whose name is a pun on the word "goddess"), Tweezers(consequently one of Zappa's cats), Alison Wickwire, Laura (friends of Schenkel from his art department), Aunt Letty and Katy (relatives of Schenkel), Ed Barbar (a used-car salesman who lived in Southern California and who Zappa used to now.). Henna Brillo is the nickname of groupie Janet Ferguson. Black might be a reference to Zappa's former drummer Jimmy Carl Black. The asteroid Zappafrank (which exists in Real Life, by the way!) was also only added after the CD release.
- Some star signs are references to real life celebrities, such as Mark Spitz (broke a record in 1972 by winning seven Olympic gold medals in swimming, an achievement that has been surpassed by Michael Phelps in 2008), Charo (Mexican singer and actress), Dar Al Zanuck (a pun on Hollywood producer Darryl A. Zanuck), Ed Ruscha (American pop art painter), Gemma (the Dutch scientist Gemma Frisius), Bolivar (Bolivian politician Simon Bolivar), Al Surratt (drummer of The Boogie Men), Al Capone and Lotte Lenya (wife of composer Kurt Weill, who played Rosa Klebb in From Russia with Love).
- Fictional characters are also alluded on the map. Kojac (Kolchek) refers to the TV detective series Kojak and Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Gorgo is the monster in a British horror movie: Gorgo. Ali Baba is the protagonist in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and Oedipus, the character who married his mother in Greek mythology. Muscateer refers to The Three Musketeers note .
- Several star signs refer to cars or parts of vehicles, such as Pinto, Alpha Romeo, El Nash, Steering Wheel, Horn Relay, Fan Belt (also referenced in the song "Florentine Pogen"), Acc. Flasher (accumulator flasher) and R. Dir Sig. Lamp (real direction signal lamp).
- Animal species are referenced in the star signs Bufo Speciosus (the Texas Toad), Bufo Borealis (the Western toad), Silverfish (an insect species), Thorax (the bull), Hyaenas and Muscaceeto (mosquito). Baleen and sperm refer to whale species, which are also drawn on the constellation map.
- Some of the signs refer to types of food, mostly vegetables which references Absolutely Free: Borscht (vegetable soup), Asparagus, Betelnuts, Castoroil (castor oil, Aspic (gelatinous covering), Ras Perry (raspberry) and Legume (the French word légume (=vegetable)).
- Musical terms are also hinted at with A Cappella and muzak (elevator music).
- Other star signs namedrop parts of the London Underground system (Edgware Road, Charing Cross, Waterloo, Marylebone, Bayswater, Queensway), the New York subway system on the yellow line (125th, Lenox, Houston, Spring Garden St., Canal, Yellow) and the Philadelphia subway system on the Orange Line: Orange, Wyoming, Huntingpark and Olney. Other location references are Dublin (capital of Ireland), Atlanta Ga. (Atlanta, Georgia), Algerian (inhabitants of Algeria), Willow Gr. (Willow Grove), Muscatel (Muscatel, California), Cubans (inhabitants of Cuba), Mochajava (corruption of the Mojave Desert, where Zappa spent his teenage years) and Grunion Run (a location in California, that inspired an early Zappa band, the Hollywood Persuaders, to write a song about it.)
- Again other star signs are chemical and/or mathematical elements: Alcaselzer (pun of the aspirin Alka-Seltzer), algebra , differential (math), alkali (alkali metals), alkaloid, drano (a drain cleaning product), Dristan (chemical product), Teflon, formaldehyde (chemical product), sal Ammoniac (mineral), sal hepatica (salt laxative), molybdenum (chemical element), protein, yttrium and zircon (also referencing "zircon encrusted tweezers", a conceptual continuity item found in "Dinah-Moe Humm" and "Montana" on Over-Nite Sensation. Zappa also named his cat Tweezer, according "They're Doing the Interview of the Century, Part 2").
- Then there are star signs which are colours (Orange, Yellow, 6 Red and Black), hotel chains (Hilton, Sheraton) and currency units, such as peso (in Hispanic countries),dinar (used in the Middle East) and zloty groszy (used in Poland until 1996).
- Other miscellaneous explanations for star signs on the map: forsoothe (Middle English expression which means "in truth, indeed"), abracadabra (wizard spell), gainsayer (a biblical expression for one who contradicts against the word), itinerary (a guide book for travellers), Rex Begonia and Corona Begonia (species of the begonia flower), promiscuous (lustful behaviour, Zappa later named a song on his album Broadway the Hard Way (1987) this), mysogynis (mysognism: hatred of women, something Zappa's satirical lyrics were often accused of), periscope (a device used in submarines to look above the water level), alimentary (the alimentary tract is the tubular passage of mucous membrane and muscle extending about 8.3 meters from mouth to anus.). Thusfar unindentified signs are Beatrix, Miro, Auriga, Boffo, Maxpax, Uvda, Zegreb, Ofie Yucas, Navel, Nato, Paula, Pectoral, David Boötes, Arktourist, Necta, Fiscal, Aldebumen, Jocasey, Pollack, Algenon, Enough, Alioto, Althea, Rascallion, Madder, Wizened, Yazoo Delta, Sal Hepatica, Savey and Scat.
- "Inca Roads" and "Florentine Pogen" have shout-outs to Zappa band members Ruth Underwood and Chester Thompson, particularly Chester's encounter with a particular ugly groupie. Zappa's band had a "booger-bear award" for the band member who scored with the ugliest groupie. One of Chester's conquests was a girl so ugly Zappa compared her to a "gorilla". Even in the liner notes of "One Size Fits All" Chester is described as "drums, gorilla victim." The lines "why don't you sharpen it, then?" and "Mother, Mary 'n' Joseph" refer to a carpenter who once came to repair something for Zappa and talked in himself: "Screwdriver don't work. Why don't you sharpen it then?". Zappa also witnessed him hit his thumb and exclaim: "Mother Mary and Joseph!"
- On page 22 of The Real Frank Zappa Book Zappa recalls that he and his brother used to wear flannel pyjamas "with a trap door in the back", which is alluded to during "Po-Jama People".
- "Florentine Pogen" refers to Zappa's road manager Marty Perellis, whose name is also seen on the fire extinguisher on the album cover of Over-Nite Sensation.
- "San Ber'dino" refers to the Mojave Desert, where Zappa spent his teenage years. The song also has a few lines referring to Zappa's jailtime in 1964, when he had to spent a few months in prison for making a pornographic tape (basically creating silly noises with a young woman). One of the prison rooms was called "Tank C" and only had one small shower at the end of the cell block for 44 man. Zappa felt so disgusted that he didn't shave or took a shower while he was there, according to The Real Frank Zappa Book.
- Nigey Lennon, once one of Zappa's lovers and band members note , has claimed on page 136 of her autobiography "Being Frank" (1995) that she felt many allusions in the song "Andy" were about her.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "Po-Jama People".
Meet me down at the river, you can bring me my shoes and clothesOh Lordy mama, great God almightySaid meet me down at the river, bring me my shoes and clothesSays I ain't got so many, but I got so far to go
- The giant ants on the backside of the album cover seem to be a reference to the B-movie Them! (1953).
- "Can't Afford No Shoes" references the 1934 Buddy Moss blues song "Hey Ladwy Mama" at one point. Interestingly enough this blues classic also makes mention of shoes:
Andy Devine had a thong rindIt was sublime, but the wrong kind.
- "Florentine Pogen" briefly quotes the song "Louie Louie".
- "Andy" has a shout-out to western actor Andy Devine. According to Zappa the "thong rind" is the callous that builds up when one wears thong sandels.
- Singer Name Drop:
On Ruth! On Ruth! Haha, that's Ruth!
- Near the end of "Inca Roads" percussionist Ruth Underwood is namedropped:
- "Inca Roads" and "Florentine Pogen" namedrops drummer Chester Thompson and refer to Chester's "thing" and "gorilla", referring a particular ugly groupie he encountered.
- Take That!:
Is Hare Rama really wrong? If you wander around with a napkin on/ With a bell on a stick an' your hair is all gone / The geek shall inherit nothin' ?
- "Inca Roads" satirizes Ancient Astronauts theories.
- "Can't Afford No Shoes" is a satire on the economic recession. The line "Chump Hare Rama, ain't no good to try" refers the mantra "Hare Rama" from the Hara Krishna movement, worshipping Hindu deity Rama. Zappa would refer to Hara Rama again in "The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing" from You Are What You Is(1980)
You may think they're dumb and' lonelyBut you're wrong'Cause their love is strong
- "San Ber'dino"
- Western Zodiac: Some star signs on the back cover of the album are parodies of the zodiac signs: Agittarius (pun on Sagittarius), Airies (pun on Aries), Aquarium (pun on Aquarius), Cancer, Capricorn (extra name: "Gus Goat"), Jim & I "The Siamese Twins" (pun on Gemini), Leo Limón (parody of Leo and reference to Zappa illustrator Leo Limón), Libra (also referenced in the Zappa songs "Dancin' Fool" (Sheik Yerbouti) and "Stick It Out" (Joe's Garage), Thorax "The Bull" (pun on Taurus) and Virgil (a pun on Virgo)
- Word Salad Lyrics: Many songs have rather nonsensical lyrics.