Zoot Suits

By Pete Makowski

Sounds, November 20, 1976

FRANK ZAPPA: ‘Zoot Allures’ (Warners Import) ********** etc.

HAD TO review this album. It was the only way I could wean it from the fanatical clutches of my mate and have a listen for myself.

But how can I review it?

How can anyone review a Zappa album with any genuine authority? We’re just mere observers of his vast complex empire.

I like Zappa.

Turn on the superlative spewing machine.

The album is staggering, overwhelming, etc., etc., etc.

The fact is if you really want to know what’s going on, you’ll have to hear the thing for yourself. These are just observations from an armchair.

Well, for a start there’s the cover with the bearded person surrounded by some young dudes who look as if they just recently shed their last coat of acne. One of them’s Eddie Jobson although he […..] playing onna da album, he’s in the current touring outfit.

OK, but there’s some oriental scrawl on both sides of the cover. Right underneath him. HIM. Looking wasted (although he most probably isn’t) wearing the tackiest pair of ‘I wanna bulge like Dandy’ strides.


Side one kicks off with ‘Wind Up Workin’ In A Gas Station’, a genuine punk’s lament. Yes kids, music to pop your spots to.

‘Hey now better make a decision
Be a moron and keep your position.’

It looks like Zappa plays bass on most of this album, ‘cept on the title track and the next one ‘Black Napkins’, featuring Roy Estrada. This is Frank’s blues. He scales the neck, cruises the fretboard while the innocent listener is showered upon by walling geetar. This was recorded live in Japan.

The album, I do believe, was going to be called ‘The Night Of The Iron Sausage’, a line taken from the next song ‘The Torture Never Stops’. My mate says this is like on audio snuff movie. With Zappa sounding like Vincent Price only seedier. Brilliant.

‘I gotta girl with a little rubber head.’

‘Ms. Pinky’ is where Zappa recites the joys of inflation so far as dolls are concerned. Featuring Ruth Underwood. ‘Find Her Finer’ – every young man’s guide to scoring, featuring ‘Donnie Vliet’ (that’s what it says on the album). It starts off side two with a message – Don’t Talk, Eat!

‘Friendly Little Finger’, instrumental leading late ‘Wonderful Wino’ which was written in 1970 with Jeff Simmons. More Zappa observation. Hank Marvin and L.S.D. is what the next track, ‘Zoot Allures’, reminds me of. The album closes with ‘Disco Boy’, which must be the only disco record made that you can’t dance to.

‘Leave his hair alone, but you can kiss his comb.’

Oh well. I needn’t tell you that the production is brilliant, and the playing is brilliant (Terry Bozzio – drums, Davey Moire – backing vocals plus more) and it’s probably the best thing Zappa’s done since ‘Hot Rats’.

“It’s good,” agreed my dad and added, “best then again he has been around for some time.” Ra-ta-ta-ta-taa!

Thank you and goodnight.