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Frank Zappa - Zoot Allures CD (album) cover

ZOOT ALLURES

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.71 | 287 ratings

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1800iareyay
Prog Reviewer
3 stars After a string of fusion albums and some more commercial (for him) records, Frank stripped his sound down to its bare bones and released Zoot Allures. Much of the album is focused squarely on Frank's guitar skills rather than really highlighting the band like the bulk of Frank's output. Nevertheless, the lyrics here are some of Frank's most accessibly humorous, always dirty but not as intentionally overly salacious and/or full of confusing overarching concepts.

The album opens with Wind Up Workin' in a Gas Station, a short little number with some funny lyrics and some strange yet ultimately enjoyable vocals. Next up is Black Napkins, which is one of Frank's finest guitar solos. It would be reworked on the Shut Up and Play Your Guitar set, but this is a perfectly concise, focused number. The Torture Never Stops is the only tune that really harks back to the Zappa sound we're more used to; it has a great interplay between Frank and Bozzio, hilarious lyrics, and a wonderful mood. It does, however, pale in comparison to a number of the many live versions of this tune. Ms. Pinky is a marvelously dirty tune and always makes me chuckle. Frank's guitar has a very 70s metal sound in this tune.

Find Her Finer is a rather weak track. To be honest, I really can't talk about it because every time I listen to it I forget it instantly. The suggestively titled instrumental Friendly Little Finger is much more enjoyable, with more great guitar work and some terrific percussion from Terry and Ruth. Wonderful Wino is another forgettable number that isn't bad but is simply dull. Zoot Allures is rather light compared to the hard rock of the rest of the album, and it's probably the best tune on here (The Torture Never Stops might have swayed me, but I prefer live versions more, so in the context of this album the title track is better). Like Black Napkins, it is wonderfully focused, but this tune shows off more than just Frank. The album ends with Disco Boy, a fairly good lyrical attack on disco but merely decent musically. Perhaps that's just a joke on the lack of musicality in disco.

Overall, this is a more than solid album, but Frank's albums tend to challenge us as listeners. Even when they don't, they make full use of the immense level of talent that he drafts. Here, however, it's all about Frank. That's certainly not a bad thing; his Shut Up N Play Your Guitar albums are some of his best, but this is gives us glimpses of his band's talent only to cut away before things properly gel. Great guitar work, and some Zappa classics, but it leaves me wanting.

Grade: C+

1800iareyay | 3/5 |

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