How often do you get the chance to see Frank Zappa on TV? Once a year, if you’re lucky. As for airplay, since Valley Girl caught people’s fancy, zilch. So hurrah that I can now get Sky Arts on Freeview. Yesterday, their first ‘Classic album’ of the evening was Overnite Sensation. There was quite a lot of music and a lot more talking about music, by his family, musicians who worked with him and serious fans (all Zappa fans are serious). It was a good little programme, without a wasted moment. I particularly enjoyed virtuoso percussionist Ruth Underwood’s contributions.
Why isn’t Zappa more popular? Some of the songs are very rude, it’s true. The classical music is avant-garde and appreciated more in Europe than in America. When I was selling a lot of Zappa albums and ephemera (I couldn’t keep everything), a lot of it went to Germany or Norway. Much of his music is very accessible, though, like Peaches en Regalia (see below) which could be played on just about any radio station. It’s from the album Hot Rats, which came out in 1969. Zappa was making the kind of music absolutely no one else did and was way ahead of his time. There’s a lot you can admire, even if you don’t like it much.
I have selflessly listened to several versions on YouTube and picked this as the one least likely to put people off.
I have heard it live, which is of course much better.