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Frank Zappa - Zoot Allures CD (album) cover

ZOOT ALLURES

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.71 | 294 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Zoot Allures" is back on track (if you can call it that) after the slight disappointment of "Bongo Fury". Okay, starting the album with the wearing redundancies of the funky garage-band-toned "Wind Up Working in a Gas Station" may turn off some listeners, but it's actually fun for as long as you can stand it. Yet another staggeringly impressive guitar showcase, "Black Napkins" later turned up on one of the "Shut Up" compilations and also serves as a pretty good snapshot of Bozzio's skills. "The Torture" is a dark, creeping blues which betrays the lingering Beefheart influence, and should also appeal greatly to fans of Nick Cave and Tom Waits (or even fans of Frank's wife's orgasms). "Ms. Pinky" has an interesting fuzzed-out groove and a cool harmonica sound, but Zappa's 'funny sex songs' are better represented by "Find Her Finer", with the classic "I am the Slime" voiceover style and a slick and slimy pop feel. "Friendly Little Finger" has a great eastern-toned intro and then some blazing soloing- it may not really go anywhere (what's the brass section all about?), but it's still a minor treat. Often underestimated by Zappa fans, "Wonderful Wino" is a great little song, although the "Playground Psychotics" version is superior. "Zoot Allures" is another choice track, with lovely bungee bends of the tremolo bar over an understated jazz backing. "Disco Boy" is a perfect song to bridge the stylistic gap between "200 Motels" and "Sheik Yerbouti", and a darn funny take on the blow-dried club scene of the 70s. Among ZAPPA's many releases, there are a number of obvious oddballs and detours ("Francesco Zappa", "Ruben and the Jets", "Jazz From Hell") but also plenty of albums that clearly trace his development from one period to another. "Zoot Allures" is typical of the late-70s transitional albums; plenty of dumb sex jokes, but also some killer guitar and worthwhile songs. Not the overall excellence of the earlier "Overnight Sensation" or the soon-to-come "Joe's Garage", but a tasty chunk of meat to chew on in the meantime.
James Lee | 3/5 |

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