Frank Zappa / Frank Zappa & the Mothers

Camarillo Brillo

Composed by Frank Zappa

Song Review by

Like its LP roommate "Montana," "Camarillo Brillo" enjoyed a long life as part of Frank Zappa's repertoire, even though this did not translate into a lot of different released versions or inclusions on compilation albums.

The opening track on the 1973 Over-nite Sensation, the song made its live debut during the following tour. A straightforward rock song, "Camarillo Brillo" describes one peculiar woman. She had a wild set of hair (Camarillo is a California town where there was a mental institution, Brillo is a trademark for steel wool cleaning pads), "she could throw a mean tarot," had "a snake for a pet/And an amulet." The lady tried to convince the singer (Zappa himself, as on most of the songs from that album) to come inside her house. He finally gave in and they "did it 'till [they] were un-concho." A similar sex theme was more explicitly developed in "Dinah-Moe Hum." Here, it remains light and funny. Worth noting is the fact that the lyrics make references to two other Zappa songs, "Toads of the Short Forest" (the title is mentioned) and "Cosmik Debris" ("Is that a Mexican poncho/Or is that a Sears poncho?") which would be released six months later on Apostrophe.

The song was a regular feature of Zappa's shows from 1973 to 1984, with lots of exposure during that last tour. From 1975 onward, it was always performed as a medley with "Muffin Man," both pieces sharing a similar motif and tonality. Live versions tend to be much faster and playful than the studio one. A magnificent example can be found on You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 6.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Over-Nite Sensation 1973 Rykodisc 3:59
blue highlight denotes editor's pick