The opener is often sneered at, but WIND UP WORKIN' IN A GAS STATION is an actually one of the better tracks on the album. Its a little something like rock-doowop. A relatively simple song with a simple riff that belies a pretty intricate vocal arrangement. BLACK NAPKINS, the one live track on the album, is absolutely incredible. Zappa weaves a beautiful thematic phrase into some of his most inspired guitarwork, creating one of his most somber and emotive tone poems in his career. Its unfortunately followed by the mediocre, over-long and over-used THE TORTURE NEVER STOPS. The next tracks, MS PINKY and FIND HER FINER, are rather typical Zappa sex numbers. They're pretty good songs, but the production here really fails them, and after a few entertaining listens they lost their charm. The same can be said for THE WONDERFUL WINO, although this one manages to keep a lot of panache.
FRIENDLY LITTLE FINGER is an incredible instrumental with a great oriental guitar opening that leads into a rather wandering guitar solo. The real treat here is Zappa's rapid-fire bass work. The title track, ZOOT ALLURES, is another one of Zappa's most amazing solos. The composed portion of this solo is one of the most incredible things FZ wrote in his entire career. The majesty of this number is nicely undercut by the levity of the closer, DISCO BOY, which is absolutely fun.
It should be noted that BLACK NAPKINS and ZOOT ALLURES, along with one other FZ solo (Watermelon in Easter Hay), are believed to have been considered by Zappa himself as his best work. The Zappa Family Trust goes so far as to ask cover bands to not cover these songs, and a posthumous album (Frank Zappa Plays The Music of Frank Zappa) is devoted entirely to tracing the progression of these three songs. Its absolutely incredible that two of these solos are found on this unlikely album.
Although I wouldn't call it his best by any shot, or even one of his best, this album is absolutely essential. There's too much interesting going on here not to count this as an integral part of any FZ collection.
forgot to mention..."friendly little finger" sounds strange because it was created by tracking together bass and drum parts that dont make sense with the guitar in that their time signatures are off . This was intentional and was the beginning of Zappa's experiments in making compositions that didnt make sense structuraly ( by mismatching time signatures of different instruments)
Briefly, "Zoot Allures," (or indeed, the "Zappa" style of composite musical melodrama as a whole), intermingles a certain anthropological, or indeed societal, pathos with a uniquely parallel unisonant structural design, based on his clearly emblematic and euphonious concepts. Like a piquant peanut butter and jelly sandwich --with extra jelly-- for the ear, the listener's (that's YOU) personal audile delectation effect, (due entirely to Zappa's complex incorporation of whimsical lyrical elements), is further compounded when taking into account the sophisticated musicology itself. Without going into all of the philosophical or technical minutiae, the product, (disc: Zoot Allures), with its facetious consonant style, actually adds performance superfluity to what would customarily have been considered an auditory raillery limit. With respect to these specific music/humor objectives, Zappa has once again performed absolutely admirably. Bravo Frank!