Zoot Allures

What to Get: The 2012 CD is a clear upgrade.

Summary: The original vinyl is generally considered to be superior to the Old Masters LP (which utilized a partially reverb-soaked digital master, one which also trimmed the intro to "Disco Boy") and all pre-2012 CDs (which are made from a potentially be-futzed-with version of the Old Masters transfer). The 2012 CD reverts to the dry vinyl version and is Swell.

ESSENTIAL VERSIONS FOR COMPLETISTS: The vinyl or 2012 CD. [completist's guide]


  • [Test pressing of the originally planned double vinyl, which was never released - see the Weirdo Discography for details]
  • Original vinyl (Warner Brothers BS 2970 in the US and Canada, October 20 1976; K 56298 in the UK, December 1976)
  • RCA Record Club vinyl
  • French & German vinyl (Warner Brothers 56298)
  • Greek vinyl
  • Japanese vinyl (Warner Brothers P-10266W, white-label promo also reported)
  • Argentine vinyl (MusicHall 14.297 - Warner Brothers WB 14297 white-label promos also issued)
  • Israeli vinyl (Warner Brothers K 56298, 1976, some Hebrew print on label and back cover)
  • Yugoslavian vinyl (Warner Brothers K 56298, 1976, pressed by YUGOTON, "SUZY RECORDS PRODUCTION" on label - legit?)
  • Turkish vinyl (Warner Brothers BS 2970)
  • Brazilian vinyl (WEA Discos Ltda, 1977, with special "DISCO DO MĘS STATUS" version)
  • 8-track
  • The Old Masters vinyl (Barking Pumpkin BPR 9999-8, December 1987)
  • Saudi-Arabian cassette (IMD-6550 - may be counterfeit)
  • Original CD (Ryko RCD 10160 in the US, Zappa Records CDZAP22 in the UK, May 1990; VACK 5037 in Japan; Ryko D30373 in Australia, 1990)
  • 1995 CD (Ryko RCD 10523, May 2 1995; VACK 5126 in Japan, renumbered 5261 in 1998)
  • Japanese paper-sleeve CD (Ryko/VACK 1222, October 24 2001)
  • 2012 UMe CD (Zappa Records ZR3855 August 28, 2012)

From Harry de Swart:

My Dutch copy of Zoot Allures I bought November 18 1976 which is 14 days earlier than the UK release.

Original Vinyl

From Mikael Agardsson:

Speaking of Zoot Allures, there's another misprint LP [the first being the German - Ed]: it has two B-sides and comes from the USA. I have it myself.

Canadian Vinyl

DAN WATKINS: I was checking out a web page full of Zappa interview clips and came across one in which Frank mentions a censored Canadian pressing of Zoot Allures, which censors out "Black Napkins" and "The Torture Never Stops" (the latter being for the screams) by a sheet of paper that was actually placed over the vinyl. Has anyone ever seen one of these?

RICK STILES: I have a vinyl copy of this, bought in Canada. It doesn't appear to be censored as you describe. However, it was bought used ...

STAN: The Canadian release itself wasn't censored; the management of one radio station put tape or something across the front of their copy to prevent "The Torture Never Stops" from being played on the air. Frank did an interview at that particular station and complained that the tape also blocked them from playing "Black Napkins." (I have that interview on tape.)

JON NAURIN: A similar thing happened at a 1975 interview (KSAN 12/26, I think), where Zappa claims that the station would never play "Dinah-Moe Humm" on the air. The interviewer wants to prove him wrong, asks Zappa what album it's on, and then digs up Over-Nite Sensation from their archives. It turns out that the vinyl is badly scratched, someone has crossed it over with a yellow crayon and put a "contains dirty, dirty words" label on it. The interviewer sounds noticably embarrased, and lets Zappa recite the whole song on the air. Frank seems amused and keeps stopping to ask whether the interviewer had heard any "dirty, dirty words" yet.

RCA Record Club Vinyl

From CSTMAS's ad on ebay, March 2000:

This is a really hard to find variation on a great ZAPPA LP! This is the Zoot Allures RCA Record Club Edition! These record club editions are fastly becoming some of the greatest collectable LPs! I think this was the only Zappa LP on the Warner Brothers Tree Label (this has "RCA MUSIC SERVICE EDITION" above the title on the LP label and of course their added catalog number.

German Vinyl

Originally, Zappa planned a different track order for Zoot Allures, but changed his mind (well, orignally-originally he planned a double album, but that's another story - see the Weirdo Discography for details). This track order shows up on the cover (only) of some copies of the released album, at least in Germany:

1. Black Napkins
2. The Torture Never Stops
3. Disco Boy

4. Filthy Habits
5. Wonderful Wino [Zappa/Simmons]
6. Zoot Allures
7. Find Her Finer

From Mikael Agardsson:

There's actually a German (WB 56298) MISPRINT issue, with ZZ TOP on side A!

Brazilian Vinyl

A Brazilian edition of this LP had a light-blue "DISCO DO MĘS STATUS" logo stamped or printed in the lower-right corner of the front cover. Edumilk explains this:

Brazilian LP released in 1977 by WEA Discos Ltda. It has the label "DISCO DO MĘS STATUS". Status was a Brazilian adult magazine like Playboy. They used to endorse some records in the '70s and this one was one of the best. Very rare.

Old Masters Vinyl

The Old Masters LP came out in late 1987, and featured a "digitally tweezed" master: there's extra reverb (particularly noticeable on formerly super-dry tracks like "Find Her Finer"), and the EQ is very different. The drum-machine intro to "Disco Boy" is also missing. This version was later used (perhaps unmodified) on the various CDs.

Original CD

Like the Old Masters vinyl; contains additional reverb and missing the intro to "Disco Boy."

From Pat Buzby:

Zoot Allures is ... one case I know of where the CD is inferior to the LP. It's a subjective difference, but I noticed a certain boxy quality to the CD sound that I never noticed on the album. Also, the last scream on "Torture Never Stops" is obnoxiously placed at the introduction to the next track.

From Michael Pierry:

The difference between the vinyl and the CD IS QUITE noticeable, and the CD does sound murkier. Just take a listen to "Black Napkins" for example. The guitar jumps out on the vinyl, but it doesn't on the CD. So you have to turn it WAY UP to compensate until you can't tell the difference. Extremely annoying and aggravating.

Let's just say the only reason I even like that album is because of the vinyl. Hearing "Black Napkins" was an absolutely jaw-dropping experience. It lives in a much larger, more alive space than the CD mix[]. Everytime I hear the CD I find myself checking to see if there's cottonballs in my ears. I've said it before and I'll continue to say it everytime this comes up: I barely even liked Zoot Allures until I found a vinyl copy of it. The bottom line for me is that Zappa's guitar is much more present in the LP mix. I think Keneally described the Ryko disc's sound as "wrapped in gauze" or something like that.

From David G.:

Reverb galore. Things that stand out in the original are, by comparison, buried here. I don't detect any of the right-channel problems that usually plague the 1989/90-era titles, so this might be more or less a straight transfer of the 1987 digital master (the other bad-batch titles all had older digital masters, if any existed at all).

1995 CD

Like the original CD. Official Ryko statement: "New master. New timing sheet." [full statement]

Mikael Agardsson has compared the WB 2970 vinyl and 1995 CD versions:

There's a "Sparkie Parker" singing backup vocals on "Disco Boy". On the CD, this person has suddenly been renamed "Sharkie Barker".

The LP cover is not as dark as the CD cover, so the faces can be seen more clearly. The picture is also sharper. The words "Zoot Allures" are printed in two colours: red approaching purple and blue. The blue colour is a lot brighter on the LP. Clearly noticable. Additonally, the following information is not on the CD:

Recorded at Record Plant. L.A.
Engineer: Michael Braunstein, Davey Moire.
Re-mix engineer: Frank Zappa.

JWB weighs in:

This one sounds like absolute garbage compared to the original LP.

Japanese Paper-Sleeve Version (2001-2002)

Starting in 2001, Video Arts Music released a limited-edition series (2000 copies each) of Zappa CDs in paper sleeves - miniature LP sleeves. There was nothing special about this series other than the covers, which were very well done - inserts and "bonuses" were reproduced, the albums that originally had gatefold covers got little miniature gatefolds, and cover track lists were exactly as on the corresponding LPs, even in cases where the CD has bonus tracks or a different track order. Included in this series were some entries that never had "proper" LP issues, i.e. Läther. Additionally, some rarities--like the "green/gold" cover of Chunga's Revenge--were reproduced as special items in this run.

We need to stress that the sound quality of these discs matches the US Ryko issues, which they are clearly derived from. These are collectors items, not new remastered editions.

Late-2012-update: It appears as if the Japanese may be warming up the mini-LP ovens for a new batch based on the 2012 UMe remasters. We'll let you know if this happens.

2012 UMe CD

Mastered by Bob Ludwig from the original analog master (this info may be missing from the back cover of some copies). Reverts to the dry LP version and restores the introduction to "Disco Boy." Definitive; buy this.


  • Any details on cassette versions?
  • Any details on 8-track versions?
  • Any regional peculiarities?
  • Is the Greek vinyl legit?
  • Are all CDs the same? Comparisons between '95 CD tracks and tracks on promos seem to suggest this.

Additional Informants

  • Biffy the Elephant Shrew
  • Andrew Harper
  • Tony Burke
  • Gonįalo
  • Steve Jones
  • Otmar Haβlinger
  • The guy who uploaded the Old Masters rip of "ZA" onto at least one tracker, thus allowing it to spread.

home - vinyl vs CDs - weirdo discography - bootlegs - misc - hot lynx - e-mail us at zappa dot patio at gmail dot com 2006-04-22 20:02

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