Review Summary: Can Zappa prove to be an Over-nite Sensation? I figure the odds be fifty-fifty...
In the massive discography of Frank Zappa, stuff of comedic influence with touches of jazz and avant-garde music is highly common, with the subject matter of his albums spanning from simple instrumentals to rock operas about black-faced stage actors and sex dolls. Obscenity and bizarre events are the norm. With “Over-nite Sensation”, it features obscene lyrics and is bizzare, but for a different reason than usual. In this third and final incarnation of The Mothers of Invention, “Sensation” is highly accessible from first listen unlike the rest of M.O.I.’s discography while keeping the raunchy and quirky lyrics ever present while criticizing the culture of the then-present day. And with the backing vocals of Tina Turner and the Ikettes, and the support of the late Ricky Lancelotti on vocals for “Fifty -Fifty” and “Zomby Woof”.
With “Camarillo Brillo”, “Dirty Love”, and “Dinah-Moe Humm”, the subject matter is about sexual situations, with “Dirty Love” being about intercourse with a poodle, while “Dinah-Moe Humm” is about the narrator’s attempts to make the titular character orgasm. Meanwhile, “I’m the Slime” openly criticizes the media and how it controls one’s actions and mindset: "Your mind is totally controlled, it has been stuffed into my mold, and you will do as you are told until the rights to you are sold." The latter half of “Sensation”, like the first half, incorporates the funk-oriented rhythms of “Dirty Love” and “Fifty-Fifty”, with the presence of Tina Turner and the Ikettes increased. “Montana”, the highlight of “Over-nite Sensation”, focuses on the tale of a man who moves to Montana to grow and profit off of dental floss, in which he has a profound affinity for dental floss.
Overall, “Over-nite Senstion” makes for an excellent record, while having a saddening outcome as well. Lancelotti would have a falling out with Zappa not long after the recording of this album and after an incident where Lancelotti showed up to rehearsals intoxicated, Lancelotti would refuse to go on tour, accusing Zappa of using him only to learn how to sing. Lancelotti would die from injuries sustained in a car accident in 1980. He was 32. Even with the rarely-known legacy that Lancelotti left behind, his efforts on “Over-nite Sensation” are truly remarkable, and with the influence of Zappa, helped make the album become one of Zappa’s most eccentric, making for a fun and interesting listen.