Frank Zappa / Frank Zappa & the Mothers

Fifty-Fifty

Composed by Frank Zappa

Song Review by

The only two historical claims Frank Zappa's song "Fifty-Fifty" has are that it is the only track from the successful 1973 LP Over-Nite Sensation that is largely forgotten nowadays and that it represents one of the very few recordings featuring Ricky Lancelotti's distinctive vocals. And on this song, the mad lion (please believe these two words make the best possible description of his talent) got the chance to stretch his singing further than usual. The lyrics jab at empty-headed one-hit-wonder singers: "I'm just crazy enough to sing to you/Any old way/I figured the odds be fifty-fifty/I just might have something to say." Zappa often complained about the inanity of rock lyrics, even his, the result of the music industry diktat stating that instrumental music is worthless.

The song was not a crowd-pleaser. Lancelotti's vocals on the studio version are really off-the-wall: he screams in an intentionally awful Roger Daltrey/Robert Plant kind of way as a show of the narrator's total lack of talent. The middle-section guitar solo (featuring Zappa's rockiest sound to date) should not be overlooked. Live, without Lancelotti -- he only appeared as a guest at one show -- it just was not the same; thus the song was performed a few times in 1973 only (bootleg recordings can be found on Dupree's Paradise and Tiny Nightmares). The singer's real talent can be fully experienced on "Zomby Woof" from the same LP.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Over-Nite Sensation 1973 Rykodisc 6:09
blue highlight denotes editor's pick