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Frank Zappa - Apostrophe (') CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



4.03 | 647 ratings

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4 stars Apostrophe starts off strong, with three great tunes. "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" and "Nanook Rubs It" are really one hilarious song, after which the listener has to ask whether Zappa can keep this up for another twenty-five minutes. With a lead-filled snowshoe, and rightly so, "Nanook Rubs It" segues into "St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast," which is only a nonsequitur because Zappa offers a ridiculous (and funny) claim that all three songs (and maybe the fourth, "Father O'Blivion") form a continuous story.

But even if the story is continuous, the songwriting quality isn't. Lacking the catchy melodies and amusing lyrics we've gotten used to in the album's first eight or nine minutes, "Father O'Blivion" is a bit of a letdown.

Luckily, side one closes with another strong song.Zappa's anti-drug moralizing on "Cosmic Debris" sounds a bit blaxploitation-y to me (yes, I understand that Zappa is absolved of political incorrectness as long as George Duke and Don "Sugarcane" Harris are on the record), although the song is still impressive.

"Excentrifugal Forz" and "Apostrophe" are, to me, the weakest songs on the album, but without them, Apostrophe wouldn't even fill one side of a twelve-inch vinyl album - - which is probably why I suspect that they're here more for filler than anything else. The overlong "Apostrophe" is notable for its distorted Jack Bruce bass part. I guess you could say that this album lends some insight into how Zappa could turn out so many good albums so quickly.

Anyway, get your shoes and socks on, people; things improve a bit after "Apostrophe." Each of the last two songs on Apostrophe seems to take one aspect of "Cosmic Debris." The black characterization is retained on "Uncle Remus," a comment on the US civil-rights movement, which Zappa co-wrote with Duke. Meanwhile, the self-assured, no-jive DJ voice from "Cosmic Debris" returns for "Stink-foot."

I'm sure that Zappa could have produced a five-star album every year and a half during the seventies; instead he churned out about two good albums per year. Apostrophe seems to be a perfect example of this strategy, reminding us that Zappa was an astute businessman as well as a musical genius.

patrickq | 4/5 |


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