Zoot Allures

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Zoot Allures
Studio album with live elements by
ReleasedOctober 20, 1976
RecordedMay–June, 1976 at
Record Plant Studios, Los Angeles, CA except:
"Wonderful Wino" (1972/1973),
"Friendly Little Finger" (1973/Oct. 1975) and
"Black Napkins" (recorded live on Feb. 3, 1976 in Osaka, Japan)
Genre
Length43:40
LabelWarner Bros.
ProducerFrank Zappa
Frank Zappa chronology
Bongo Fury
(1975)
Zoot Allures
(1976)
Zappa in New York
(1978)
Frank Zappa solo chronology
Apostrophe (')
(1974)
Zoot Allures
(1976)
Zappa in New York
(1978)
Singles from Zoot Allures
  1. "Find Her Finer"
    Released: 1976
  2. "Disco Boy"
    Released: 1976
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic[3]

Zoot Allures is the 22nd album by the American rock musician Frank Zappa, released in October 1976 and his only release on the Warner Bros. Records label. Due to a lawsuit with his former manager, Herb Cohen, Zappa's recording contract was temporarily reassigned from DiscReet Records to Warner Bros.

Title[edit]

The title is a pun on the French expression "Zut alors!", which conveys mild surprise.

Album information[edit]

The album was originally conceptualized as a double LP, but Zappa rearranged, edited, and shortened the track listing to what was eventually released as a single album.[4] Zappa played a test pressing of the original album for Circus magazine in 1976, which reported a radically different, though slightly erroneous track listing that included "Sleep Dirt", "The Ocean Is the Ultimate Solution", "Filthy Habits", and "Night of the Iron Sausage". The former three tracks eventually surfaced on the 1979 Sleep Dirt and the posthumous Läther; "Night of the Iron Sausage" remains unreleased, but was seemingly intended to be a guitar solo of fair length.[5] Early German copies of the album had an incorrect early tracklist on the back cover including "Filthy Habits" along with six of the nine tracks from the released album.[6]

Zappa recorded the album after completing a world tour with a band including Napoleon Murphy Brock on tenor sax and vocals, Andre Lewis on keyboards, Roy Estrada on bass and Terry Bozzio on drums. However, this band appeared only on the live track "Black Napkins" with only Bozzio retained to play on the sessions, although Lewis and Estrada contributed backing vocals.

By the time Zoot Allures was finished, Zappa had formed a new band, including Bozzio, bass player Patrick O'Hearn and keyboardist Eddie Jobson. This group was pictured on the cover with Zappa, although the latter two did not perform on the album.

Posthumous releases[edit]

In 2002, his family posthumously released a January 1976 concert from Australia as FZ:OZ, followed in 2022 by another archival release titled Zappa '75: Zagreb/Ljubljana, edited from two concerts in Yugoslavia in November 1975 when alto saxophonist and vocalist Norma Bell was temporarily added to the band.[7]

Songs[edit]

"Black Napkins", one of several guitar-driven pieces on Zoot Allures, began life accompanied by themes that would later make up "Sleep Dirt".[8] The performance heard on the album was culled from Zappa's February 3, 1976 performance in Osaka, Japan, though it was edited for the official release.[9] Along with "Zoot Allures" and "The Torture Never Stops", "Black Napkins" became a signature piece for Zappa, featuring heavily in nearly every subsequent tour and several official releases.

"Wonderful Wino" was originally released on Jeff Simmons' 1970 album, Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up. Zappa later attempted the song with the Mothers in a London June 1970 session released in 2020 on The Mothers 1970. Zappa reworked this recording in 1973 for a version that was eventually released on The Lost Episodes, while the Zoot Allures version includes an uncredited horn section apparently retained from the 1973 session.

On the liner notes to 1979's Sheik Yerbouti, Zappa noted that "Friendly Little Finger" (from Zoot Allures) was created using xenochrony. Zappa provided further details in the liner notes of The Guitar World According to Frank Zappa, mentioning that his guitar and Roy Estrada's "drone bass" (not credited on the original album) were recorded at a dressing room in Long Island in a two-track recording that Zappa later combined with a drum track outtake from "The Ocean is the Ultimate Solution."

The album's sound is influenced by heavy metal music, particularly that on the song "Ms. Pinky".[1][2]

CD releases[edit]

The first CD edition of Zoot Allures, released by Rykodisc, has different mixes and edits than the original vinyl LP. The vinyl contains a longer edit of "Disco Boy" including a count-off by a drum machine (the first three seconds) and a longer fade-out making the track's duration 5:27, instead of the original CD duration of 5:11. The 2012 remastered CD version from Universal Music uses the original vinyl mixes and edits, with improved sound quality over the original CD.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Frank Zappa, except "Wonderful Wino", written by Zappa and Jeff Simmons.

Side one
No.TitleLength
1."Wind Up Workin' in a Gas Station"2:35
2."Black Napkins"4:18
3."The Torture Never Stops"9:52
4."Ms. Pinky"3:49
Total length:20:59
Side two
No.TitleLength
5."Find Her Finer"4:22
6."Friendly Little Finger"4:19
7."Wonderful Wino"3:41
8."Zoot Allures"4:15
9."Disco Boy"5:28
Total length:22:41

Personnel[edit]

Musicians[edit]

  • Frank Zappa – guitar (all tracks), bass (1, 3–7, 9), lead vocals (1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9), synthesizer (1, 4, 5, 9), keyboards (3, 5, 7, 9), director of recreational activities (3)
  • Terry Bozzio – drums (all tracks), backing vocals (5, 9)
Also featuring
  • Davey Moiré – lead vocals (1), backing vocals (1, 9), engineer
  • Andre Lewisorgan (2), vocals (2), backing vocals (5, 9)
  • Roy Estrada – bass (2), vocals (2), backing vocals (4, 5, 9), drone bass (6)
  • Napoleon Murphy Brock – vocals (2)
  • Ruth Underwood – synthesizer (4, 6, 7), marimba (6, 8)
  • Captain Beefheart – harmonica (4, 5) (credited as "Donnie Vliet")
  • Ruben Ladron de Guevara – backing vocals (5)
  • Ian Underwood – saxophone (6, 7)
  • Bruce Fowler – trombone (6, 7)
  • Sal Marquez – trumpet (6, 7)
  • Dave Parlato – bass (8)
  • Lu Ann Neil – harp (8)
  • Miss Sparky [Linda Sue Parker] (credited as "Sparkie Parker")[10] – backing vocals (9)

Production staff[edit]

  • Arnie Acosta – mastering
  • Amy Bernstein – layout design
  • Michael Braunstein – engineer
  • Gary Heery – photography
  • Cal Schenkel – design
  • Bob Stone – digital remastering

Release history[edit]

Country Date Label Format Catalog
United States
Canada
October 20, 1976 Warner Bros. LP BS 2970
United Kingdom December 1976 Warner Bros. LP K 56298
United States May 1990 Rykodisc CD RCD 10160
United Kingdom May 1990 Zappa Records CD CDZAP22
United States May 2, 1995 Rykodisc CD RCD 10523
United States August 28, 2012 Universal Music CD ZR3855

Charts[edit]

Chart (1976) Peak
position
United States (Billboard 200)[11] 61
Australia (Kent Music Report)[12] 82

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Lowe, K.F. (2007). The Words and Music of Frank Zappa. University of Nebraska Press. p. 128. ISBN 9780803260054. Retrieved February 26, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Beat Instrumental & Songwriting & Recording. Beat Publications. 1977. Retrieved February 26, 2015.
  3. ^ Couture, François (2011). "Zoot Allures – Frank Zappa | AllMusic". allmusic. Retrieved June 26, 2011.
  4. ^ "ARF The Home of Frank Zappa Heritage Studies". Retrieved December 10, 2007.
  5. ^ Hogan, Tim (1976). "Zappa's Zoot Allures! DiscReet Charm From Un-Bourgeois Z". Circus. Retrieved May 19, 2023.
  6. ^ "Zappa* – Zoot Allures". Discogs. 1976. Retrieved May 19, 2023.
  7. ^ "Zappa '75: Zagreb/Ljubljana". zappa.com. 2022. Retrieved May 19, 2023.
  8. ^ "Information Is Not Knowledge". Retrieved December 10, 2007.
  9. ^ "the zappa patio". Retrieved December 10, 2007.
  10. ^ "GTOs, The". Nostalgia Central. June 5, 2014. Retrieved November 22, 2020.
  11. ^ "Charts and Awards for Zoot Allures". Allmusic. Retrieved August 22, 2008.
  12. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 348. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.

External links[edit]