Frank Zappa - Zoot Allures (1976)

Wind Up Working in a Gas Station   2:29
Black Napkins 4:15
The Torture Never Stops 9:45
Ms. Pinky 3:40
Find Her Finer 4:07
Friendly Little Finger 4:17
Wonderful Wino 3:38
Zoot Allures 4:12
Disco Boy 5:09
Total Time: 41 min, 32 sec

With this album, Zappa dropped the pretense that every new band he put together was still the Mothers of Invention. From here on out, his work would be put out under his own name, and he would find and hire some of the top musicians in the rock field as the need arose. The cover picture for Zoot shows Zappa, Patrick O'Hearn, Terry Bozzio and Eddie Jobson, but if you read the liner notes only Zappa and Bozzio appear on the album, with Zappa playing most of the instruments. A bunch of other musicians filled in parts here and there.

It's kind of a shame then that, at this turning point in his career, the first album to come out under Zappa's own name would be somewhat mediocre for the most part. Zoot Allures is another disc that I don't play very often, although it does have a few great tracks. The very best are two signature guitar solo pieces, Black Napkins and the title track. Friendly Little Finger is also a good guitar workout. The Torture Never Stops is OK, but it runs on a little long and since there are so many versions of this song in the Zappa catalog, I've gotten completely sick of it.

Wind Up Workin' In a Gas Station is probably my least favorite Zappa track - I just find it really stupid and actively annoying. Ms. Pinky, Find Her Finer and Disco Boy continue the Overnight Sensation and Apostrophe(') tradition of pop songs steeped in sex. The latter song is a fairly decent parody of disco, and all three songs are kinda catchy, but they're not really vital to the Zappa catalog. And all three have better versions in the You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore series - the versions here on Zoot seem fairly slow and lifeless.

In the end, I'd say that this album is certainly worth picking up if you find yourself getting heavily into Zappa, but it's not one you need to pick up right away. Save it until near the end of your collecting - I did, and I don't regret it.

Album Cover

Image of the Zoot Allures album cover