|Studio album with live elements by|
|Released||October 20, 1976|
|Recorded||May–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)|
|Frank Zappa chronology|
|Frank Zappa solo chronology|
|Singles from Zoot Allures|
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.
The title is a pun on the French expression "Zut alors!", which conveys mild surprise.
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. 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. 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.
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. After Zappa's death, his family released a January 1976 concert from this band in Australia in 2002 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.
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.
"Black Napkins", one of several guitar-driven pieces on Zoot Allures, began life accompanied by themes that would later make up "Sleep Dirt". 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. 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".
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.
All tracks written by Frank Zappa, except "Wonderful Wino", written by Zappa and Jeff Simmons.
|1.||"Wind Up Workin' in a Gas Station"||2:35|
|3.||"The Torture Never Stops"||9:52|
|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|
|United States (Billboard 200)||61|
|Australia (Kent Music Report)||82|