Monday, February 22, 2010

Frank Zappa - Zoot Allures (1976) (320)

It's impossible to briefly describe Frank Zappa's sound. His biggest influences were Johnny "Guitar" Watson and composer Edgard Varèse, and his catalogue echoes his eclectic musical tastes. Although Frank was most proud of his composition skills, he was one hell of a guitarist and used the instrument to execute his intricate and challenging pieces. I think my favorite aspect of Frank's music is that although his pieces are musically complex, he doesn't take anything too seriously and throws in high-pitched voices and silly concepts in his songs. Just a complete badass in general. Did anyone stand up as boldly as Frank during the PMRC's crusade against freedom of speech? This is a guitar-driven album, and Frank's shining moment is on his "Black Napkins" solo. There's also the repetitive riffing on "The Torture Never Stops". Frank was just as well known for his satirical songs, critiquing just about every aspect of society that he found bullshit in. Some of the best examples are his duet with his daughter Moon Unit on "Valley Girl" and Sheik Yerbouti's "Jewish Princess". Here we have "Disco Boy", an attack on the dancing fad that Frank would revisit again on Sheik Yerbouti with "Dancing Fool". Zoot Allures is a balance of great guitar work and silly high voices. Frank put it best:

"You can't always write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say, so sometimes you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream."


1. Wind Up Workin' In A Gas Station
2. Black Napkins [Live]
3. The Torture Never Stops
4. Ms. Pinky
5. Find Her Finer
6. Friendly Little Finger
7. Wonderful Wino
8. Zoot Allures
9. Disco Boy



  1. I really love the diversity of your blog Mr Hannibal and I appreciate your detailed post and I can't wait to discover Frank Zappa as I never got the chance to listen to his music-:)

  2. Haha, I thought I was going to be the first one to comment on your blog and Robert (who I don't know) JUST beat me to it as I was logging in...weird synchonicity I guess. Anyway I'm not a Zappa fan and never will be, but I like a lot of the stuff on your blog. Workin' by Miles, Goblin and Bowie's Hunky Dory (impossible to find at a decent bitrate elsewhere) are some of your offerings I've enjoyed, and I'll definitely be checking out some of your other stuff. There are very few truly eclectic (in a good way) music blogs out there. Good tastes + eclecticism + 320 = excellence. Hope you keep up the excellence!

  3. Thank you both. Robert, I suggest checking out Zappa's Freak Out!. I posted it a while ago and it's a completely different sound. I'll try to post some more Frank because he is one of the greatest, in my opinion. Thanks for checking out the site and commenting, it motivates me to post more when I see people giving feedback.