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

APOSTROPHE (')

Frank Zappa

RIO/Avant-Prog


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5 stars Apostrophe, along with a select few others, remains one of Zappa's greatest works. The album opens with the hilarious song cycle of "Don't Eat That Yellow Snow", "Nanook Rubs It", "St. Alfonzo's Pankake Breakfast", and "Father O'blivion". While showing some interesting musical ideas, the real strength of this lies in the humorous lyrics about a guy who gets 'yellow snow' rubbed in his eyes. There are other songs showcasing Zappa's musicianship, such as "Excentrifugal Forz", but the best track would have to be "Apostrophe", a stunning instrumental with Jack Bruce appearing on bass guitar. All in all, Zappa has managed to craft another hit, arguably surpassing his previous effort, "Over-nite Sensation". Both of these albums are highly reccommended as a noteworthy introduction to Zappa.
Report this review (#29613)
Posted Monday, April 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I agree with what has been said before, The song cycle at the beginning (tracks 1-4) is hilarious, though I get tired of them after a while; as repeating any joke can be. The highlight of the album is of course " Apostrophe' ", with Jack Bruce on bass and Jim gordon on Drums, this has to be one of the very best jams on record - ever, anywhere, by anybody.
Report this review (#29617)
Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I think this album is absolutely overrated. The bass is absolutely loud, bottom and complex. The drums can be very elaborated. Zappa's electric solos sound are, more than usually, very gross. The tracks are unequal: some reach a REAL quintessence, like "St.Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast" and "Father O'Blivion", while all the others are just too slow, not elaborated enough, outrageously vocals oriented and narrative: they sound like the ordinary George Duke's albums: sadly R&B at the limit!!!!!!!! This album is definitely disappointing: I never found it really interesting, except the 2 tracks mentioned above. Unfortunately, these tracks taken together barely last 4 minutes. Nevertheless, all the tracks contain interesting elements, but the overall mood is rather boring. People looking for a more accessible and simple Zappa's work will enjoy.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Report this review (#29615)
Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
lor68
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Well probably this is the best album by ZAPPA, among his most accessible ones, and naturally thanks to this work you start appreciating his music within his accessible moments of such "classic rock"... actually after being in the habit also with his usual bizarre moments, you can get an inkling of his grandeur!!. The track "... Yellow Snow" is at times stunning and ironical too; instead the song "St. Alfonzo" is a pure moment of madness and perhaps the most crazy episode of the album... besides "Nanook Rubs It" demonstrates that this ZAPPA's amazing master work on guitar should be awarded, being equal to the splendid closing section concerning the 1st half (represented by "Father O'Blivion"). The last track is good enough , even though to me the instrumental title track stands alone as one of the best moments during the whole remarkable career.

Moreover I like to make a special mention for "Cosmik Debris," a political and sociological satire against the unsuccessful achievements of the youth, within such hippie era, which was coming to an end; and therefore another "jewel" should be worth to be mentioned, that's the excellent piano intro within "Uncle Remus." ( without forgetting naturally some other amazing and spare breaks through), which makes this album another must-have...probably the unique defect is represented by the bad mixing (above all the bass guitar recorded too much loud) and a strange 'raw' approach in the arrangements by Zappa, reminding me of a few uneven performances of his early days, but it's a minor defect after all!

Final score: from three to four stars

Report this review (#29618)
Posted Friday, April 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Great Googly Moogly! Hardcore fans probably have other favorites, but a newcomer to the ZAPPA world could do a lot worse than start with this album. Continuing the approach that worked wonders on "Over- nite Sensation", Frank keeps up the bent humor and rock-pop accessibility (relatively, of course) to balance the instrumental prowess and compositional intricacies. The opening suite is one of the greatest musical interpretations of a dream sequence- surreal, funny, full of strange references, compositional left turns, and red herrings (or, rather, mud sharks). "Cosmik Debris" is a classic sleazy track with incredible performances; if for some strange reason the sounds of Jean- Luc Ponty don't impress you, how about Tina Turner and her backup singers? "Excentrifugal Forz" is a "Hot Rats" leftover, but sounds more at home here, providing a good jazzy contrast with the rest of the album. "Apostrophe" is simply outstanding, a funky, heavy jam- even if Zappa and Jack Bruce had a difficult time working together, the result is on a par with ZAPPA's better rock jams. "Uncle Remus" is a portrait of the conflicted emotions of the black man of the era; I can't verify its authenticity, but it is one of my favorite examples of Frank's less bizarre character portraits. "Stink -foot" returns us to classic over-the-top territory- a song about bromidrosis featuring a dialogue from a dog. It's also a great slow bluesey way to wrap up the album. If you've never heard Frank or want to start a collection? This will be a necessity. Is it for everyone? No...but if you like him even a little, you'll like this- after all, "The crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe."
Report this review (#29619)
Posted Friday, August 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars at first when i heard that album i was disgusted, what the hell it is? - i though. but i can honestly say now that it's the BEST Frank's album of what i've heard from him. not much of improvisation here, so we have only half hour trip which is so damn good and funny. the album is more bluesy than jazzy (thank God) and sometimes even some Emerson Lake & Palmer like avant grade prog (St Alfonzo). a bit of classical music (Uncle Remus) and really good old fashioned blues (Cosmik Debris). it's kid of concept and the lyrics are simply outstanding with big sense of humor and absurd. i recommend this album for all prog fans because even if someone doesn't like Zappa and his variations can still listen to that without any disgust. so listen without prejudice.
Report this review (#45014)
Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
davidlevinson
5 stars Where do I begin? This is one heep of work! The Production, The Humor and most of all the Musicianship. FZ was great and this album is incredible!!! The first few songs of the album arepractially one song, telling the story of nanook and his huskies. Man was that guy warped(But great) and Cosmic Debris is a good song(BUT I GOTHA CRYSTAL BALL!!) One of the best songs on the album is the title track "Apostrophe", that song has to be the best instrumental song ever recorded. Another good song on that side is "Stinkfoot" That tune ends it all well. More Zappa warpedness to send off. Frank Zappa may not be Prog in The Yes Sence. But with him and his backup band, he sure is up there as a true Virtuoso
Report this review (#59654)
Posted Wednesday, December 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One of the more accessible albums in the Frank Zappa catalogue, Apostrophe was his first to go Gold, mainly due to the popularity of Don't Eat the Yellow Snow. After Overnite-Sensation, Frank Zappa released Apostrophe, which is very much in the same vein as O.S. in that the compositions are very technical and the songs are just as weird. The band on this album is superb, most noteworthy is the magnificent Jack Bruce (Cream, etc.) on bass. Zappa's solos on this album are arguably his fastest studio solos, and they are played wonderfully on a wah drenched guitar.

From the opening whisps of wind on Don't Eat the Yellow Snow, one can already feel a carefree ride ahead of them. The catchy 7/4 riff along with the background vocals has a very warm feeling. It segues into Nanook Rubs It, which is another part of this "suite" of sorts. It has a very nasty solo in between verses and Zappa's vocal parts are comedic and refreshing. It segues into St. Alphonzo's Pancake Breakfast, which is a short little number that has a very catchy riff to it. It segues into Father O' Blivion, which is another short little tune that finishes off this "suite" of sorts. Cosmik Debris is another live favorite that has a very distict "new-agey" sound in it. Another catchy but complicated riff only heightens the experience. Excentrifugal Forz and Apostrophe are both instrumentals that are very different. Where Excentrifugal Forz has a rock feel to it, Apostrophe has a very bluesy feel to it, with very distinctive bass (Bruce must have had it on at 11!). Stink Foot rounds off this very short album with more weird ideas from Zappa. The spoken vocals combined with the searing solos and magnificent horn section end the album perfectly.

Overall, I was very impressed with this album, although there are some faults to it. The sound on Apostrophe is muddled and has a bit of a bootleg feel to it, and the album is terribly short, only being 31 minutes long (hell, Utopia had a 30 minute song at the time this was released!). If you want catchy Zappa in the vein of Overnite-Sensation, go for this one. But for me, I'll give it a 4/5.

Report this review (#60727)
Posted Sunday, December 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars As is the case with most of Zappa albums, this one is unpredictable as any Zappa albums have never been the same in styles - it keeps changing - that's why it's called prog. "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow" is a funny song with varied textures followed with another funny one of "Nanook Rubs It". Well, I like the guitar part that follows the singing - it truly a classic rock style combined with brass section. "St Alfonso' Pancake Breakfast" is a xylophone combined with brass section and vocal line. The xylophone and guitar work in particular segment run very quickly - it's really good. It continues seamlessly to next track in even faster tempo with varied styles.

"Cosmik Debris" blends the avant-garde, jazz and rock into one composition augmented with female backing vocals and saxophone. The album title track "Apostrophe" brings the music to the complex brass section with upbeat tempo. The touch of jazz appears so obvious with the guitar work. "Stink-foot" brings the music into more accessible beats and melody with unique singing style and voice of Frank Zappa. The guitar solo is so stunning and it represents the glory days of the seventies. This concluding track is rich with textures with each instrument seems like playing in different direction and the song seems like unstructured. But when it is repeated it brings good subtleties. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#75719)
Posted Friday, April 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This, without any doubt what so ever, is the best Frank Zappa album. It crosses the lines perfectly of impressive, genius music, with audience accessible music. This whole section of his work, from Overnite Sensation right up to One Size Fits All are some of the best albums ever recorded. The album kicks off with a four part story about an eskimo named Nanook and his journeys. The music is extremely impressive, especially in St. Alphonzo's pancake breakfast. This is one of the only times you will hear me say: check out that marimba player! He tears it up though. I'm sure if you know who Frank Zappa is at all, you've heard Cosmic Debri and/or Stinkfoot. They're both classic FZ songs. Apostrophe pretty much sums up Frank. This is where'd I would start somebody with FZ. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and buy it!
Report this review (#92053)
Posted Tuesday, September 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is the only album from Frank Zappa I've heard so far. At first I wasn't sure I would like it but after listening to it a couple of times I found it to be a great record full of fun music. My only complaint is that is way too short (just a little over a half hour), but anyway...

The first four songs on the album form a sort of mini epic that narrates the adventures of an eskimo boy named Nanook. The music here is very enjoyable and the way FZ tells the story makes it really fun. The rest of the songs are quite good too, especially the title track which is an instrumental filled with really cool guitar riffs and solos.

A good album really, I just wish it were a bit longer. 3 stars.

Report this review (#101360)
Posted Friday, December 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album was released in 1974 as the fallow up to Zappa's commercially most acclaimed record Over-Nite Sensation. Most of the music here is blues-rock with a little jazzy feeling here and there, no real RIO/Avant-prog here therefore Apostrophe' is one of his most accessible albums.

The first four songs Don't Eat The Yellow Snow, Nanook Rubs It, St. Alfonso Pancake Breakfast and Father O'Blivion together comprise a silly nonsensical story full of funny wordplay. The story is about an Inuit boy named Nanook and his adventures with "the deadly yellow snow from right there where the huskies go". Lyrics of other songs are written in a similar vein. Excentrifugal Forz and Apostrophe' are examples of Zappa's first class musicianship. The title track is a great instrumental that features Jack Bruce on bass guitar.

Overall this is a very good album with one major fault - it's only 32 minuets long, so a 4 star rating is appropriate.

Report this review (#102249)
Posted Saturday, December 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
1800iareyay
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Apostrophe is the follow up to the brilliant Overnight Sensation, and it's almost as great. As usual Zappa has some of the finest musicians in the land to help fulfill his bizarre vision. The centerpiece of the album is without question the Nanook suite. The first four songs of the album comprise a mini opera detailing a dream where the narrator is an eskimo. The song starts simply enough until the line "Don't you eat that yellow snow" comes then the suite devolves into classic Zappa debauchery and filth. I can't outline too much about the suite because children may visit this site. The drumming on this song is superb and the lyrics will leave you howling, while parts like St. Alfonzo have catchy riffs.

Cosmik Debris is a sort of avant-garde blues with Frank using his deeper voice (the one found on his vox on Overnight Sensation) and a tasteful use of background vocals and sax. The lyrics viciously tear into the failure of the hippie youth and are some of his best satire.

Excentrifugal Forz is a short instrumental that's rather hard edged. My complaint is that it's over too soon.

Apostrophe' features Cream's bass legend Jack Bruce on a near 6 minute instrumental that highlights his distorted bass more than any Cream track ever did. Jack's presence gives this a very bluesy feel and it's certainly his greatest performances and it's one of the finest bass performances in rock.

Uncle Remus is one of the most serious songs Zappa has ever written (don't expect it to be somber though). It details the struggles of black men during the late 60s-early 70s.

Stink Foot ensures the album doesn't get any more serious with its ode to...well, it's pretty obvious. This song is a fine way to close the album, and it's very melodic.

Apostrophe doesn't quite measure up to its predeccessor, but it's still one of Zappa's finest works and it's a good place to start along with Freak Out, We're Only In It For The Money, and Overnight Sensation

Report this review (#102566)
Posted Monday, December 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This may have been Frank's highest charting achievement, climbing up as far as the number ten spot, but it's far from being his best. In light of the surprising and overdue airplay he got from the excellent "Over-Nite Sensation" it's not hard to understand why Zappa would follow suit with another dose of accessible, humorous satire. For the first time in his career he was riding a wave of unexpected popularity with the public in general and it may have gone to his head just a bit (as it would anyone in his position).

The album starts off in grand style with a witty rock drama in four parts that mainly concerns itself with a dreamed confrontation between an Eskimo and a bloodthirsty baby seal clubber (a hot button in proper society at the time). You learn a great lesson in "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" (useful advice from the hero's mother), then the villainous fur trapper gets his comeuppance for whapping a pup with his lead-filled snowshoe when he is assailed with Husky wee-wee and dog-doo sno-cones in "Nanook Rubs It." Now blinded and forlorn, the bad guy seeks a cure at "St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast" restaurant where the dubious "Father O'Blivion" is the cook that serves 'em up light and fluffy white. This epic is truly amazing in its deceivingly complex creativity, musicianship and arrangement. The single (a three and a half minute version found on the "Strictly Commercial" compilation) actually got on the hot 100 list and helped to boost the LP into gold status. No sacred cow was immune from Frank's sarcastic lampooning so next he takes on his generation's obsession with Transcendental Meditation, Gurus and higher consciousness seeking with "Cosmik Debris." ("Is that a real poncho or is that a Sears poncho?") It's a hilarious tune and delivers an excellent guitar lead in the middle just to let you know Zappa hasn't lost his fiery touch on the fretboard. This song garnered a lot of FM radio spins as well, generating even more sales. "Excentrifugal Forz" is a short, bizarre ditty that runs by so fast that it's hard to decipher what it's about. "Apostrophe" is a six-minute jam between Jack Bruce, Jim Gordon and Frank that never goes anywhere, much less reaching a climax. It's what Cream would have probably sounded like if Zappa had replaced Eric Clapton. Sorta. It marks the low point of the album for me. "Uncle Remus" dares to poke devilish fun at the civil rights movement. Now before you start accusing Frank of not being politically correct or respectfully sensitive here keep in mind that the co-author was none other than George Duke, an African American. It's actually a well-written song with some tasteful piano and soulful backup vocals. But "Stink-Foot" is where the project sadly runs out of funny ideas and the odorous joke involving the unsuspecting Fido falls flat on its face. The interesting guitar lead helps but, as Zappa himself admits toward the end, "Ain't this boogie a mess?"

There's a telling credit on the back of the LP cover that reads "Produced, Arranged & Struggled with: Frank Zappa." Despite the relative success of this album I think even Frank knew this "novelty" angle was taking him too far away from his avant-garde passions and purpose. His next offerings would show him stepping back into the sublime strangeness that he loved (i.e. "Bongo Fury" with Captain Beefheart). And, while "Apostrophe" wasn't as consistent and clever as some of his previous albums, it still succeeded in bringing him out of the underground realm and into wider acceptance along with his eclectic music.

Report this review (#114328)
Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars My favorite Zappa album, OK, it's to short, but the content more than makes up for that. This was Frank's second gold record and it has a little bit of everthing thrown in, intricate music, ripping lead guitar, humorous stories with lyrics full of Zappa's satire and wit, even lead (fuzz) bass by Jack Bruce on the title cut. I know, I know, FZ's music was not for everyone, especially his lyrics, which could be very sexist, but I don't know many woman who like the music much less the vocals (Ruth Underwood must have been a rare breed, although she claimed to love the challenge of playing his music). I won't go into all the individual songs, as that's been done, but the final two tracks are worth extra mention. Uncle Remus is such a cool song, with it's gospel feel, great solo, and some of Frank's best vocals, gives me chills every time I hear it. It could have been the second single if not for the hard hitting lyrics. Bravo to Frank and George Duke for this little beauty. Stink- Foot "this is the dog talking now" is another gem that while last is not least by a long shot. Zappa's guitar work here is some of his finest. The first solo showcases his trademark distorted sound and is short and to the point, but it's the second solo that I always look forward to. This solo with it's clean tone and wonderful use of the wah wah pedal, really shows what a great guitarist he was. It's a fairly long solo but it never gets boring, and he continues this tone at the end of the song, just to give you another little taste of his brilliant playing. I don't listen to this one all the time but when I do it's a treat.
Report this review (#119070)
Posted Friday, April 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Zappa goes accessible again

Don´t eat the yelow snow Made upon a repetitive instrumental groove (the melody is quite nice, though), but it still sounds rather seneseless. 2.5 stars

Nanook rubs it A number with repetitve bluesy grrove and average melody, Frank moves between speaking and singing, the band plays fine, but there are no instrumental parts, except for a few guitar outsbursts by Frank. 1 stars

St, Alphonzo´s pancake breakfast A faster number. a good instrumental passsage featuring xylophone and a moog, but melodywise this is really sub par, plus it sounds like an underdeveloped snippet or excerpt.0.5 star

Father O´blivion A speed rock track with some nice vocals from Zappa, but the melody is nothing extra and forgetttable. 2.5 stars

Cosmic debris Another spoken blues rocker. Some nice understated keyboard playing here, but the female vocals sound hilarious and the eerie whispering can get on one´s nerves after a while. At least it has an ok enough melody and a fine solo by Zappa. 3.5 stars

Excentrifugal forz Sort of a twin to the previous track in style, but the melody is worse. Great rhytm section (as on the whole album, though). 0 stars

Apostrophe A very fine instrumental with heavy distorted guitar from Zappa. A very good guitar solo from Zappa and some excellent bassplaing on this one as well. Pretty rocking. 5 stars

Uncle Remus Dominated by piano and vocals, this is mostly a comedial track with a good ndd accessible melody and a fine short guitar solo from Zappa. 4 stars

Stink foot An ok blues based track with some nice guitarplaying, even if the melody is nothing special. The atmosphere of this one is fine, though. 4 stars

Overall rating: 2 STARS

COLLECTORS/FANS ONLY

Report this review (#133510)
Posted Friday, August 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars It would be easy enough to dismiss this album as silly and juvenile, something a teenager might get a kick out of. Yet there are a several things about this record that impress me very much. First of all the way Frank has the ability (like reading a book) to take our imaginations into the story as we picture the silly things that Frank is singing about. What I found though after a few listens was I started to focus more on the playing rather than the stories and man was I amazed ! I mean I was already blown away by the title track, but the "Yellow Snow" suite and the other silly songs revealed some incredible instrumental work that brought a new appreciation.

"Don't Eat The Yellow Snow" opens with the wind blowing and it's cold as we hear the story of Nanook. The drumming is crisp and is accompanied by guitar. "Nanook Rubs It" has more good drumming, xylophone, trumpet and some scorching guitar. "St.Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast" has more xylophone, horns and great drumming. It blends into "Father O'Blivion" and yes I must sound like a broken record but check out the drumming. "Cosmik Debris" is a satire directed at the hippies. It opens with guitar and deep vocals. Nice guitar solo after 2 minutes and another good section after 3 minutes as it becomes more uptempo.

"Excentrifical Forz" is only a minute and a half long but it features some ripping guitar. "Apostrophe' " is just a killer instrumental, where former CREAM bass player Jack Bruce and Frank Zappa fight throughout the song for the spotlight. The drumming 3 1/2 minutes in is worth mentioning. "Uncle Remus" has some serious lyrics about racism as the piano and guitar lead the way instrumentally. "Stink-Foot" is just plain funny with more great guitar throughout, especially 6 minutes in. And this is where we get the album's title from. As Frank sings "The crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe (')."

I have to give this 4 stars because although it's so accessible, and at times silly, there is much more to offer if you dig deeper.

Report this review (#142536)
Posted Sunday, October 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
ghost_of_morphy
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars There are some albums that I hate more each time I spin them. (Pnk Floyd's Wish You Were Here comes to mind.) And then there are some that I love more every time I hear them. Frank Zappa's Apostrophe is an excellent example of the second category.

This is one of the best of the more or less straightforward rockers in the Zappa catalog (only Saint Alfonzo's and Father O'Blivion stray pretty far from that formula.) The weird sense of humor is enthusiastically evident n every track, and gratefully Frank shows a lot more originality in the subjects of his humor than normally. The musicianship on this album is superb, which of course is the norm for Zappa albums after We're Only In It For The Money, and Frank has few albums which showcase his talents on the guitar better. As for the music itself, what can I say? It's COOL! Once again, coolness is something that we expect from Uncle Frank, but it's nice that he can sustain it throughout an entire album.

I guess what makes this album stand out above other Zappa albums is the consistency of the thing. The quality of the album stays true to our highest expectations from Zappa from start to finish. There are no weak spots here, none at all. So I'm giving this four stars. It's an excellent addition to any prog collection.

If things continue at this rate and I continue listening to this album, I might eventually end up giving it 5 stars, though.

EDIT: Six months later, I realize that I just have to bump this thing up to five stars. Frank's guitar work on this is among his most masterful performances, the songs are all of an extremely high quality and it's possibly Uncle Frank's most likeable album (although there is some stiff competition on that score.) So five stars it is!

Report this review (#158399)
Posted Saturday, January 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This would be the album I'd recommend to anyone who isn't yet familiar with the music of Frank Zappa because it captures perfectly his skill as a musician and his pension for the absurd. The songs on this album will drill itself into your brain and if your lucky people won't thing you too odd when you start using the term crux of the biscuit (maybe even in college research papers) or advising friends and loved ones in the middle of winter to watch out for that yellow snow. So strong are the songs that surround it on this album I almost overlooked Cosmik Debris which, along with Montana off of Over-Nite Sensation, began my love affair with the music of Frank Zappa, as it was my father's favorite FZ song off of this his favorite FZ album. While this whole album will stick with you after a listen the songs that are absolutely seared into my permanent memory would be St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast, Excentrifugal Forz, and Uncle Remus. Truely, every song demands to be listened to till this album replaces all your other time honored memories becoming the only thing occupying your mind and you have to be re-taught proper table manners and how to tie your shoes by a kindly stranger or nursing home attendi. 4.5 toppled lawn jockeys out of 5!
Report this review (#159940)
Posted Sunday, January 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Recollections of Frank and more... where to begin. My first glimpse of her was in a sleazy bar in Marin. Van Morrison was on a riser, singing his guts out to an almost empty room. Singing to her. Perhaps my best glimpse of her was watching Stevie Ray Vaughn, completely lost in a publicly viewed private orgy with her, the audience forgotten. Many of us have caught glimpses of Estelle, the cosmic whore. Some rare few have even ascended to her dance floor.

Estelle takes two kinds of lovers, The currency of her services is passion. The burning tearing passion that all too often takes our geniuses away before their time. There are those who would woo her, who would take that stroll, looking oblivion in the face. Then there were those who hearken to her, hear her breathe those darkling bright strains into their being and reflect them back as best they are able. Sometimes in words, sometimes in gestures, sometimes other. It is said Van Gogh would wipe tears from his eyes in the heat of his passion with this demanding mistress.

I had the honor of knowing Frank. Perhaps that is overstating things a little as Frank was as complex as his music. Or maybe one could even say the music was him. Most certainly his dances with Estelle were an integral part of his being.

Frank laughed at Apostrophe. I was offended, in a way, but concealed my feelings. Although the compilation by that name was light hearted and mostly a joke, he poured himself into it. One aspect of his genius was he knew when, on occasion, to know when to quit: That is good now let's more on.

Apostrophe was light hearted and fun. He seemed to crank out recordings like this as a break, a breather. Let's be honest, trying to churn out substance like Yellow Shark each and every time is the swift road to oblivion or insanity. Apostrophe was, of course, a compilation of experimentation, Frank's ribald sense of humor, a taste of his rapier wit, and a short quick fling on Estelle's dance floor. No doubt Frank would be the first to critique and shred the album, but then he always was his own fiercest critic.

Apostrophe, for me, was along the lines of Just Another Band and Overnight Sensation. Frank had a lot of humor that had to come out, along with his serious efforts. Not saying that he lost one when he pursued the other mind you.

Apostrophe is a few facets of a particularly complex diamond which was Frank. As with any gem, the facets are seen in a different light by each individual viewer. Some sparkle, some show depth and clarity, and some are muddy and drear. I would point out, the facets don't always sparkle with perfect clarity the same way each time we view them. Yellow Shark once put me to sleep then, in the right frame of mind, I caught a passage in it that absolutely mesmerized me.

As someone else mentioned, Apostrophe is a good 'primer' for Frank. I would agree. Get past the silly lyrics and pay attention. Even in comedy music you can easily discern the intricate demanding musicianship Frank either crammed in or simply let fall into place.

But as for Frank himself, Apostrophe is one small facet in one of the worlds greatest gems.

The irony of me writing this is if Frank was around to read it the following conversation would be me informing him where to kiss what while he nearly rolled off his piano bench, laughing at us both. Missing you, my friend.

PS I rated this exactly as Frank did.

Report this review (#166106)
Posted Wednesday, April 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This was my very first Zappa album, and still remains my favorite. It is more humor oriented than many of his other releases, but that certainly does not mean that the music is any less impressive. St. Alphonzo's Pancake Breakfast, for instance, is hilarious. But what you may not notice upon first listen is the intricate interplay and unisons between the different instruments. Musical genious, indeed. The rest of the album is similar in that the complexity is more subtle than on many other Zappa albums.

The highlight to me is the 'Yellow Snow Suite' which is comprised of the first four tracks. The spoken word verses during Nanook Rubs It are nothing short of comedy gold, but are made even better by the way the musicians are also telling the story, so to speak, with the way they play their instruments. The way they are able to shift seemlessly through different genres is very impressive, as is their ability to make each unique style sound like part of a whole as opposed to have it sound like different pieces.

That is not to say that the rest of the album is not excellent as well. Cosmik Debris remains one of Zappa's most well known songs and also contains one of my favorite Zappa guitar solos. Stink-Foot is among the very funniest songs in Zappa's extensive discography, and Uncle Remus shows that he can write beautiful 'normal' music, too.

All in all, this album stands out as one of Zappa's finest. An essential piece of progressive music, deserving no less than five stars.

Report this review (#168408)
Posted Tuesday, April 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Apostrophe surely represents the most commercial Zappa: this album, with his complementary Over- Nite Sensation, has short tracks with (apparently) easy melodies and funny lyrics. The adventure of Nanook, the eskimo, is one of the best known recordings of Frank. It may seem an easy listening work, but it would reduce the great job that stands behind it. A very useful dvd by Classic albums explains the making of these two records, and thanks to it I understood what they really are. I used to consider them two minor cds, but now I learnt to appreciate them: Simply they're different from what you expect after some albums like Waka/Jawaka and Grand Wazoo. But this is only one of the great changes that Zappa had in his carrier.
Report this review (#168515)
Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars As others have said, Apostrophe (') is a very solid and accessible album by Zappa, chock-full of dirty humor and bluesy, rockin' guitar licks. However, there are no tracks here that stand out to me, and this appears to be the weakest of Zappa's mid-70s, more mainstream rock records. Nothing here ever reaches the heights of Camarillio Brillo, Inca Roads, or The Torture Never Stops off Overnight Sensation, One Size Fits All, and Zoot Allures respectively. What we have with Apostrophe (') is a middle-of-the-road, inoffensive (an odd term considering this is Zappa we're talking about) album, with few musical peaks or valleys. Of course, the main draw here is the Nanook Suite, or however you wanna call it. This is Zappa's dirty, absurd humor at its best, and the message seems to take the forefront, with the music supporting except for spurts of action around key events in the story. The parts of the sequence that appeal most to me are St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfastand Father O'Blivion, when Zappa finally deviates from the slow, supporting blues of the Don't Eats the Yellow Snow and Nanook Rubs It and rocks out with some funky and interesting parts.

The rest of the album just kinda falls flat with me. There is the resurgent oozing blooz of Cosmik Debris and Stink Foot, which is rather uninteresting, and Zappa would prove he could do much better with the formula on Zoot Allures. Excentrifugal Forz is a decent, frantic intro to Apostrophe', but as oddball as it is, I really don't know what purpose it serves at all. It's not even a proper intro really, but rather a half-baked idea tossed in for I-really-dunno-why. The lowest point for me is Uncle Remus, which I just don't like at all. Against the rest of the album, this piano-driven track stands out, but only in that minor respect. It really doesn't have any value to me, but if you can dig Zappa's bluesy stuff easily, you'll probably get a bigger kick out of it than me. In fact, you'll probably knock the album up to a 4/5 rather than my 3/5. The title track is all that remains now, and it's a winner. This is Zappa-blues-rock done well with yet some more dirty guitar licks, but this time the song has a much faster pace and it's an instrumental, meaning Zappa can let loose (finally) on this conservative (heh, another funny word to describe Zappa) album, and really rock out.

Why this album was such a hit when 3 or so albums surrounding it were all more deserving is one of the injustices we've all gotta deal with. Apostrophe (') is alright, but only just. Get it somewhere down the line after his better rock and jazz-rock records.

Report this review (#168714)
Posted Friday, April 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars I often hear a lot of praise of this album, but I don't think it lives up to the hype. Admitted there are some good elements on this album, but it does come near it's twin Over-Nite Sensation imo. The inuit songs Don't Eat the Yellow Snow and Nanook Rubs It are good starters and frankly hilarious. St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast is far better on some of the live version of it and it doesn't that well in on this album. Father O'blivion is fun but nothing special. Cosmik Debris is a hit and it is a nice tune. Nice theme and a good melody. Excentrifugal Forz also seems kinda out of place. I wish Zappa would have evolved some of the shorter songs on this album to something more, because the ideas are there, but they never seem to go anywhere. The title track rocks and is one of the better songs on the album. With Uncle Remus Zappa shows that he can write Elton John like music and it's actually a great little piece. The ending track Stink-Foot a lot people seem to go berserk over, but I think it's highly overrated. To me it doesn't seem to go anywhere.

So with it's running time barely over 30 minutes way to few of those minutes consists of high quality music. The production though is great and continues Zappa newly more commercial sound.

Report this review (#170007)
Posted Tuesday, May 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Great googly moogly! ''Apostrophe'' is the successor of ''Overnite Sensation'', and Zappa uses the same formula, which is easier song structures, clear melodies and crazy lyrics. However, this time they don't end up in some dirty jokes (well, mostly not). Here it is more about.. humour?

Maybe because of this Nanook-thing (which is among his most known works). ''Don't eat the yellow snow'' introduces us with the story of an eskimo boy (or shall I say inuit?). The chorus leads over to ''Nanook rubs it'', a song clearly suffering from the seemingly endless spoken words over slow playing. It becomes more rocky in the end. The following two tracks are more fast and musically interesting, with a feel of craziness. ''Cosmik Debris'' again is a slow tune, more bluesy as usual and rhythm oriented, with mostly spoken words and choir in the refrain. ''Excentrifugal Forz'' is rather short, and nothing special. But what was a Zappa album without some show-off? Therefore, we have the title track ''Apostrophe''. Again, everyone shows what he is capable of doing. What happens here is yet different from other albums: they never lose melody and keep the listener interested. ''Uncle Remus'' is again slow blues, this time with piano rhythms in the background. ''Stink-Foot'' is the only track in which the spoken words are by no means annoying, especially in the end. Some text is good for outro, but since we have no concept here (besides the conceptual continuity of the.. oh, forget it,listen!) it is rather unimportant.

To make it short, we have silly words and simple melodies supported by competent players, as we had with ''Overnite Sensation''- but why do I rate it three, and not four stars? As often mentioned, there are those spoken words. I like this effect to create tension, but this is too much of the good. They can ruin a song and bore you to sleep. If Zappa was a story-teller, I'd accept it, but here he is a musician. We know he can sing, so why does he deliver monotonous words? Secondly, the music here is less original than on ''Overnite Sensation''. Zappa presents us a good work, which by no means is exceptional. And remember: three stars is not a bad rating. Here it goes with its describtion: ''Apostrophe'' is good, but non- essential.

Report this review (#170010)
Posted Tuesday, May 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
LiquidEternity
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I understand that this might well be his most commercially popular release ever. He's written better, in my opinion, but this Apostrophe does stand well on its own.

The first four songs flow together to generate a continuous story, though that story begins with a discussion of yellow snow and the maturity level goes down from there. Musically speaking, the instruments are fascinating and high-quality, particularly on Father Oblivion. The first two tracks feature mostly spoken-word lyrics, which works in some ways but doesn't lend the songs to stand very well by themselves. All in all, this first-side suite plays as a fun diversion, but a lack of musical cohesion and a lack of individual musical merit makes this multi-track monster an odd one to review. The final track on the side, Cosmik Debris, is a high-energy song that actually does stand on its own.

Side two begins with Excentrifugal Forz, a relatively weaker song in terms of music. The lost pace quickly picks back up with the splendid title track, Apostrophe'. This long instrumental rocks with the best of Zappa's early jam tunes, built around a burning riff and splendid sound. Uncle Remus stands alone as the terribly rare serious-lyricked tune by this famous goofball, and musically it is rather strong as well. Stink-Foot drops any hint of maturity that Frank built up in the previous track, as he spends over six minutes discussing critically odorous feet. The music is mellow but strong, featuring some excellent clean guitar soloing. The album wraps with this song.

In all, the second side is quite stronger than the first, but the album is still critically injured by the mostly aimless first four tracks. A good album, but a spotty one.

Report this review (#184225)
Posted Tuesday, September 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars Yet another classic Zappa album featuring his best band (that's the Ponty-Dunbar-Duke-Underwood line- up) and one that boasts some (a few) of his better known numbers, despite being one of his shortest albums ever (not sure it even last the half hour). Actually I was never sure whether this was a solo album or a group effort. But with the three Hot Rats (solo) albums under the belt, and the forthcoming Bongo and Zoot albums, maybe this one is also a solo.

Starting on the delightful Yellow Snow and it's hilarious but almost scatological follow up Nanook Rubs It and the absolutely bonkers St Alfonzo all the way through its short denouement Father O'Blivion, it's a four-movement suite that has forgotten to take up a name, but it takes up most of side A, leaving the connected Cosmik Debris, a destructed blues track, to close it up.

The flipside opens on the short Excentrifugal Forz, but powerful enough to shake us up before the Bruce/Gordon/Zappa-penned title track, a semi-lengthy jam (most likely recorded live) where the bassist's style is immediately recognizable and Gordon's drumming self-explanatory. With the ultra well- known short ditty Uncle Remus and the much-longer almost-improvised Stink Foot for another greasy laughs from the motherhood.

This album might be a bit of n'importe-quoi, (but then again which one of his oeuvre isn't, but this sounds like a fast-assembled compilation of tracks past the first side's suite, the flipside amounting to an unconstructed mess, but a funny one. Not any worse or better than his albums of that era.

Report this review (#200141)
Posted Thursday, January 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars As a Zappa neophyte I can't compare Apostrophe's to his other works, but to any investigating Zappa's work should know that this album is a pure joy to listen to.

In general, this release features tongue-in-cheek songwriting played with a bluesy, classic rock sound, punctuated by exceptional shows of musicianship and zany lyrics made serious by their excellent delivery. The opening suite is a silly series of connected events which flows, cooks, and grooves all at once-- with frantic, bluesy shredding throughout. Very catchy, polished and varied in its sounds.

Cosmik Debris is probably my favorite song, with its low, gravelly blues feel, guitar solo and exciting bridge-- and lyrics pointing fun at New Age everything. The instrumental title track features upbeat, heavy, bass-led grooves making for a nice change of pace before the silly closer. Musicianship throughout the album is truly first rate, with interesting rhythms, melodies, and effects. I found myself laughing and engaged with every song.

Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys a classic rock sound; Zappa's sense of humor, fine musicianship, and memorable guitar sound are sure to please.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Report this review (#209417)
Posted Tuesday, March 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Apostrophe (') is a studio album by American experimental rock artist Frank Zappa. After the commercial success that Frank Zappa had with his previous studio album Overnight Sensation (1973) he followed up that success with another succesful album in Apostrophe (') and laid the economic foundation that made it possible for him to release some obscure albums in addition to his more popular works. I´m not sure it was a deliberate search for commercial success but more a matter of circumstance and a personal need to make some music that was more simple and instantly enjoyable than many of his previous more challenging works. It´s always hard to know what his intentions were though as later sarcastic comments made by Zappa himself about songs like Don´t Eat The Yellow Snow and Titties´n´Beer ( from Zappa in New York (1978)) could lead to thinking that he actually was annoyed that it was his more commercial output that got the most attention instead of his more serious work.

Either way Apostrophe (') is IMO an excellent display of Frank Zappa´s more accessible ( and yes commercial as well) songwriting style. There´s a great emphasis on humour in the lyrics as well which should appeal to more than a few people. The music is rather sophisticated though. It might seem simple at first listen but some of things that are played on Apostrophe (') are really intense and challenging. Just listen to Ruth Underwood´s treatment of the vibes/ xylophone/ marimba ( I´m not an expert in the difference so I´ve included them all) in St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast. Virtuosic to say the least. I like the funky/ fusion rock drumming style on most of the album´s songs too.

The first four songs segue into each to form a suite and it´s really entertaining lyrically. Total nonsense about an eskimo boy named Nanook, a horny leprechaun and so on. Great vocal arrangements and instrumental performances makes these songs are highlight on the album. Cosmik Debris is a blues based song with ( again) some hilarious lyrics and great vocal arrangements. Excentrifugal Forz is quite an atypical Frank Zappa song as it has a kind of psychadelic flavour to it. I´ve always found it really excellent. Great self-biografical humour in the lyrics to that one. Apostrophe' is the only fully instrumental song on the album. It´s a great jam with Jack Bruce ( Cream) playing the distinct basslines, Frank Zappa and Tony Duran playing the guitar and Jim Gordon ( Everly Brothers, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, George Harrison, Derek & The Dominos...etc) playing the drums. A great jam that one. Uncle Remus is a soul pop song with George Duke doing the lead vocals and The Ikettes doing backing vocals. I didn´t use to like this song much but it´s grown on me in recent years. It has that special nostalgic feeling to it that some music has. At least it´s the feeling of nostalgia I get when I listen to that song. The last two letters of my PA name actually comes from this song, so it´s got a special place in my collection. The album ends with a live favorite. The blues based Stink-Foot with it´s extented Zappa guitar solo is just great fun and another favorite on the album.

Zappa had collected a really strong batch of musicians for the recording of these songs. The lineup does suggest that the songs were recorded at different times between the years 1972 and 1974 and not nesseccarily in one session though.

The production lacks a bit of the pleasant warmth of the production on Overnight Sensation IMO but it´s still well sounding and professional as always when we´re talking Zappa productions.

Apostrophe (') is the sibling album to Overnight Sensation IMO. But while I regard Overnight Sensation as a masterpiece I find Apostrophe (') a bit more flawed. It´s still a sure 4 star rating though and an extremely enjoyable album for me. One of the best and most accessible places to start for newcommers to Zappa´s musical universe IMO.

Report this review (#219923)
Posted Friday, June 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The title jam and the ''Don't Eat the Yellow Snow'' suite are really what save the album for me. I've never been too fond of the post-Mothers humour phase of Zappa's career as the humour doesn't click with me. What made the Mothers works hilarious was the randomness of it all and everything sounded natural. The humour on APOSTROPHE sounds too forced with very uninteresting backing music in support.

''Stinkfoot'' and ''Cosmik Debris'' are so boring they put me to sleep even if there's supposed to be a few funny moments here and there. I could care less about the humour side of the ''Don't Eat the Yellow Snow'' suite, but the title part has one of the best basslines on a Zappa album and the last two parts have great xylophone parts. The ''Apostrophe'' jam is a highlight simply because the instrumentalists really run wild, especially the bass from Jack Bruce. If more focus was on the music power rather than the cheap jokes, then I'd enjoy APOSTROPHE much more.

Report this review (#224380)
Posted Friday, July 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is supposed to be one of the more accesible albums by the American master. I personally think it's much easier to start with something almost-purely instrumental like "Hot rats" before jumping into Mr. ZAPPA's vocal jokes.

Much in the same vein as "Over-Nite Sensation", this album contains similar jazz-oriented, American-sounding, totally-humorous serious music. Because there's no question about it: what the instruments are doing, what Zappa the composer wrote down in the staff with fourths and silences, that's pretty elaborated and interesting. While not really to my liking, I can appreciate the original riffs and odd time signatures and the use of less typicalk harmonies. The vocals, on the other hand, just as the lyrics, are a complete joke, a work of humour, at times fine humour, at times just plain incoherent. One look at the lyrics may tell a prospective listener exactly how this music will be sung. And there will be few errors in the predictions.

In my view, this is even less accessible than "Over-Nite Sensation" precisely because it's more full of humour. Of my few ZAPPA experiences, it's clear the more music-oriented "Hot Rats" has been ther more successful, as I think it will be for anybody that hasn't heard any of his music yet.

Report this review (#230869)
Posted Monday, August 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars ''The crux of the biscuit is the Apostrophe''

Apostrophe (') while a Zappa solo album, it's technically, looking at the line-up involved in, pretty much the same Mothers of Invention which played on Over-Nite Sensation. However this is not played in the same style nor the compositions are similar to its previous:

In style Apostrophe presents even more profound humour than that presented in Over-Nite Sensation, believe it or not fellas! Every song(with the exception of 'Uncle Remus') have long odd story-lines in which are familiar to that from 'Zomby Woof' or 'Montana' and the like, all pretty weird yet some laughs might jump out of your mouth.

In composition Apostrophe mainly seems way more Blues/Rock rooted than its previous (Over-Nite), with 'Don't Eat the Yellow Snow', 'Nanook Rubs It', 'Cosmik Debris', 'Apostrophe' and 'Stink Foot' all with obvious blues rock characteristics, taking more than half of the album's length which is not much(30 minutes!), however Zappa takes the blues roots and twists them as he pleases, all of them having Zappa's signature guitar rocking out splendidly, plus some very well done twists and turns in the composition itself.

Then there are the more complex or at least non-blues based tunes which are the ones left. The first one being 'St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast' which easily flows with 'Father O'Blivion', while both very short in length, like Zappa has already proved before, he is able of making complex tunes in less than 2 minutes, so do expect having really complex and fast passages very ala Zappa, even some of the ideas presented in these songs, mainly Ruth's vibes, would later be kind-of emulated on future live opus, Zappa in New York. 'Excentrifugal Forz' on the other hand reminds me of the monotonous 'Dinah-Moe Humm', though this time it only lasts 1 minute and a half, so that's kind of an improvement. Lastly there's the gentle piano-led 'Uncle Remus', while pretty simple in structure, it's well worth listening to Zappa in a kind-of sincere up-lifting mood.

Apostrophe while not being Frank's highest level of uniqueness, this still makes up a very pleasant record and definitely "essential Zappa", with some highlights here and there for the dedicated Zappa fan (mainly the suite on Side 1 and Stink Foot). But I really recommend this, firstly, for those who want to get into Zappa's less complex material yet with solid compositions and flawless musicianship. 3.5 stars rounded up because in future releases Zappa would still want to write accessible music, but none really done with such precision and originality like this one.

Report this review (#245960)
Posted Saturday, October 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Watch out where the huskies go, and don't you eat that yellow snow!

This was my third venture into the work of Frank Zappa. I first bought Chunga's Revenge, and I was pretty disappointed to be honest. I enjoyed Hot Rats a lot, but I thought the only really great song was Peaches en Regalia, though the rest did eventually grow on me. Apostrophe (') was the first Frank Zappa album where I was immediately captivated. From the hilarious and entertaining lyrics to the excellent music that is held beneath them, I fell in love with this album.

Since acquiring this album, I've purchased many more Zappa albums, and I've concluded that Apostrophe (') is one of my favorites. It is really enjoyable from beginning to end. My only real complaint is that it only barely cracks the half-hour mark. I guess that's a good thing, though. If you're wishing that an album was longer, that obviously leads to the conclusion that the content present on the album is excellent.

I think this entire album is almost pure genius. The way this album is so lyrically entertaining, while still having virtuosic music shows what an excellent musician Frank Zappa is. Despite all of my praise, I don't quite consider this to be a 5 star album. I can't even reasonably say why, but I don't feel it's up to the level of my other 5 star ratings.

THE MUSIC:

"Don't Eat The Yellow Snow"- The first song begins a suite that will continue into the next three songs. It opens with snow sound effects, but soon a funky riff enters. The drumming is excellent on this song especially. Ruth Underwood does an excellent job throughout this entire album. This song begins the hilarious story of the Eskimo boy named "Nanook".

"Nanook Rubs It"- This is when the story really begins. This song is absolutely hilarious, and I always laugh during some moments in this song. There's an evil fur trapper that is hitting Nanook's favorite baby seal with a lead-filled snowshoe. Nanook gets pretty angry and shoves dog pee in his eyes, and then the fur trapper shoves a "dog-doo snow cone" in Nanook's eyes, so they're both blind, though Nanook is only temporarily blind. Alright, you get the point! This is entertaining lyrically, and the music is pretty good. It's pretty standard blues rock with some typical Zappa trademarks.

"St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast"- This picks up the story where the previous song left off. They go to the parish of St. Alfonzo, overlooked by Father O'Blivion, who is a master pancake chef. The rest of the story in the next two songs goes on about this and introduces a horny leprechaun. It's total nonsense (that's absolutely hilarious), dealing with the leprechaun masturbating in pancake batter, etc. This song musically has excellent percussion, especially the use of the xylophone. The synth solo has an ELP sound to it, and the rest of the song is complex and unusual.

"Father O'Blivion"- This song is based completely on the story I mentioned above. I figured I'd mention the entire thing in my previous song description. This song is a fast paced rocker with excellent basslines. The ending is very solid. This is a great end to the suite.

"Cosmik Debris"- The fifth song very bluesy, with a jazz tinged chorus. The use of xylophone is excellent, and there are surely enough oddities to keep this song interesting. Musically, this reminds me a lot of "I'm The Slime" off of Overnite Sensation. This song is not nearly as lyrically entertaining as the previous suite, but the concept of fake psychics is still fun and entertaining. This is probably my least favorite song on the album.

"Excentrifugal Forz"- After a short but effective opening, the first vocal section comes in. This is the album's shortest song at just over one and a half minutes, so it mostly uses the same vocal melody with a few little guitar noodlings.

"Apostrophe"- This is the only instrumental song on this album, and it is excellent. The bass playing from Jack Bruce is excellent, and turns the instrument into a major part of the song. The guitar is played from Frank Zappa (of course) as well as Tony Duran. The arrangement is spectacular, as well as the musicianship. This is surely a highlight of the album.

"Uncle Remus"- This song has the most melody of any of the songs here. It opens up with some nice piano chords that lead the whole song. I like the background singers on this song especially. I really like the guitar solos present on this song. This reminds me a lot of something from Paul McCartney & Wings.

"Stinkfoot"- The closing song has another ridiculous story. Some guy couldn't get his shoes off for months, and got the imaginary disease of "stinkfoot". This is a blues-rocker with many prog and jazz tendencies. It has some avant leanings as well. It has some odd electric piano melodies, and sound effects add to the occasional avant sound as well. Overall, this is a fun song.

Conclusion:

Apostrophe (') is a great album. This is the album that really got me interested in Frank Zappa. The musicianship is excellent, the lyrics can be hilarious, and it is one of the most consistent Zappa albums I've heard. I think the best part of this album is the "Nanook" suite, but the rest of the album is excellent as well. If you're looking for an introduction to Frank Zappa, Apostrophe (') is a great place to start.

4 stars.

Report this review (#256330)
Posted Tuesday, December 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One of most commercially successful Zappa albums is no way pop-album. Even if one of most accessible his albums ( what is the main reason for it's commercial success), this album is still essential Zappa.

One of the best Zappa's musicians line-up contains such names as Jack Bruce on bass, Jean-Luc Ponty on violin, George Duke on keys, Ainsley Dunbar on drums between others. Plus brass section.

Album's music is heavily based on blues/blues-rock with some brass rock arrangements and great solos, often of free form. Zappa sings half-spoken vocals, with full of black humour lyrics. His guitar solos are as great as usual. Even if album is short and almost all songs are short as well, all music sounds as one blues-fusion-avant opera. Excellent musicianship in combination of Zappa's charisma is present in full form there.

Possibly, one of easiest entrance to Zappa's world. After listening you will love it or possibly will hate it. But just try to catch these vibrations, and you will feel the hunger to second and next Zappa albums, one after another.Really 4,5.

Report this review (#262852)
Posted Wednesday, January 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Together with its companion Overnight Sensation, Apostrophe was one of the first Zappa albums to win me over. It's been called accessible and even commercial, but while I would go along with accessible, commercial is quite a stretch still. The album might have been successful but it sure wasn't made to sell big numbers. I really sounds like bunch of superb musicians having the best of times.

The music is strongly rooted in blues this time. Rather then the jazzy leanings of earlier albums, this album is filled with shredding solos on blues and soul standards. Of course, as with all Zappa, there's a big anecdotic element in this music. The songs often step out of the main groove or melodies to accentuate a certain narrative development. It's that exact theatrical aspect of Zappa that can make his music hard to get into. But the creative juices ran so free during this recording that there's plenty to enjoy for the novice.

For me this album stands as an example for music radiating with playing pleasure that is too engaging to ignore. As I mentioned before in previous Zappa reviews, I might start to love this music even more if I can ever overcome my disinterest in checking out lyric sheets. Ignoring the words while listening to Zappa, it's like watching a stand-up comedian show with earplugs in.

Report this review (#271619)
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Apostrophe (')' - Frank Zappa (7.5/10)

Finally, a Zappa album I can appreciate and enjoy from start to finish! In terms of my journey with this man's music, you might consider it less than ideal. To start things off, I gave 'Lumpy Gravy' a listen without any warning what it might end up sounding like. After half an hour of silly noise, I definitely wasn't any closer to liking this man or his music. Secondly was the jazz piece 'Hot Rats,' which I found a lot more to like, but still found it hard to enjoy so much improvisation and soloing without as much solid composition. While 'Apostrophe' might not have the same influence on a genre or resonance that 'Hot Rats' seems to have a lot of people, the fact is that this is the first time that I am really enjoying Zappa's music.

He has probably had better songwriting sessions in his life, but this is a fine example of progressive rock that doesn't take it too seriously, and I think that's one of the best things about Zappa. The album starts out with lyrics about not eating yellow snow and an Eskimo named Nanook? Obviously not a 'Scenes From A Memory' in the caliber of the concept, but it's obvious that this guy is having fun with making his music. I am not only giving my praise on his disposition though? The music itself- while generally keeping in line with blues-rock, still blows me away in sections. A rapidfire instrumental section in 'St. Alphonzo's Pancake Breakfast' really showed me where Dream Theater got their inspiration from.

The album works as a running piece of music; there is no fade-out between tracks? All that you get is a half hour of unrelenting quirkiness, (bad) humour, and good bluesy riffage. While this artist's more recognized works had turned me off initially, all it took was a commercial- leaning album to show me the groundwork of this man's talent, and finally get me into the music of Mr. Zappa.

Report this review (#280001)
Posted Friday, April 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Really fun album to listen to... I think this is a great example of the versatility that Frank Zappa managed to achieve in some of his records. He excells in terms of musiciansip, composition, originality, and the overall value of entertainment achieved by his music.

APOSTROPHE features irreverent storytelling in the form of complexly musicalized songs that blend in elements of jazz, blues, and rock. The use of a wide variety of orchestra instruments to create diverse sound effects help create the atmosphere and portrait the events going on in the song's lyrics. Even though most of the album consists of riffs and backgrounds that "accompanies" a somewhat "flat" singing style that tries sometimes a bit too hard to be comical, there are also some small bits of excellent music scattered all around this record.

There surely is virtuosism in terms of performance and composition, but I think that all the talent perceived in this record could be put to a better use (Wether that happens or not in the rest of Zappa's dischography I'm still to find out :D). I personally enjoy very much tracks like Cosmik Debris and St. Alfonzo's Pancake breakfast that in my opinion prove to be more solid pieces of music than some of the other tracks in terms of composition.

This album needed quite some spins before I could really enjoy it (as I've heard happens with a lot of Zappa's albums) but once you get into it, it can be a very enjoyable experience. It's a very different (and weird) style that still manages to get my ear, entertain me, and challenge me into getting more of it. Not even close to a masterpiece though. I'm giving it 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 (I was tempted into rounding it down to 3 but I think that'd be unfair because of the excellent stuff that's in here, not to mention the awesome recording quality that helped me get along with this album very well).

1. Don't Eat The Yellow Snow (2:07) 2. Nanook Rubs It (4:37) 3. St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast (1:50) 4. Father O'Blivion (2:18) 5. Cosmik Debris (4:14) 6. Excentrifugal Forz (1:33) 7. Apostrophe' (5:50) 8. Uncle Remus (2:44) 9. Stink-Foot (6:32)

Report this review (#287647)
Posted Monday, June 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Frank's most commercially successful album ever, it's really hard for me to get a firm grasp of what I think about this album. The problem for me is that, in a lot of ways, this album bears the marks of a, dare I say it, throwaway album. It's only just over half an hour, almost six minutes of which are taken up by an instrumental jam (and almost another seven minutes of which are taken up by a Zappa blues-parody, which is actually pretty great, but that's aside the point for the time being), and the "jazziness" of the songs too often seems like a cover for a relative lack of real songwriting ideas. The end result of all these factors is that this album ends up turning into background noise for me just a little too often for comfort, and I can't give a very high rating to an album like that.

On the other hand, it's surprisingly enjoyable for an album with all of these negatives. The aforementioned instrumental jam, the title track, is a total rock-out treat for me. Jack Bruce of Cream fame co-stars with his bass playing, and while I know that a lot of people are irritated with him on this track for spending so much time in the highest registers of his instrument, I just can't help but love the way his playing interacts with the tight drumming, and this in conjunction with some blistering guitar solos (though not mixed extremely well) adds up to a heck of a headphone experience for me. The closing "Stink Foot" is also a fun listen for me, even if it doesn't really add much to Frank's legacy from a pure music perspective, as it gets to play off his whole "conceptual continuity" kick, and does throw in a bizarre guitar tone to complement Frank's great blues soloing.

So anyways, I haven't mentioned the reason that this album is most infamous, for better and worse. This is Zappa's parody on the whole concept of rock operas, as this album tells the touching story of an Eskimo named Nanook whose mother told him to never eat the yellow snow, and ... ah, I don't want to tell the story, it's available in billions of places, and it's as dumb and goofy as you'd expect a mock rock opera plot-line from Frank to be. It helped spawn a memorable single that was a large part of this album's success ("Watch out where the huskies go, and don't you eat that yellow snow!"), and it is just effective enough to be able to hook the listener back in when they start to get especially distracted.

There are also large chunks of, as mentioned before, Frank's obsession with conceptual continuity. In one of the tracks we get the "poncho phrase" from "Camarillo Brillo," in another we have reference to the Grand Wazoo, in yet others we have reference to the Mudshark, and in the closer we have references to the "Dirty Love" poodle and the whole concept of "conceptual continuity" in general. You know, things like this make me realize that, to a large degree, Zappa was just a big dork, but it's hard for me to dislike him for that.

So anyway, that's the album: not amazing by any means (did you notice how few actual songs I mentioned? There's a reason for that), but a basically enjoyable listen. Plus, if nothing else, the playing on this album is freaking marvelous, as this really stands out as one of Zappa's tightest bands. If that's the sort of thing that plays a big role in how you think about music, then rush out and get this.

Report this review (#296728)
Posted Monday, August 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars Frank Zappa was simply a music machine. These days, it seems to take mose musicians anywhere from two to five years to complete an album. But Frank was pumping out albums, mostly high quality music, at more than two albums a year. And this was another home run. At this point, Zappa had, arguably, one of his best lineups ever.

George Duke, Tom and Bruce Fowler, Ralph Humphrey and all were incredible, but what set this band apart was Ruth Underwood. Having played occasionally with Zappa as early as "Uncle Meat", on this album, for the first time we get to hear her completely revolutionize the percussionist role in music. What she does in the Don't Eat Yellow Snow suite is absolutely incredible. And her talent seemed to inspire Zappa to compose more and more incredible passages for her to play during her stint in the band.

Okay, enough gushing about Ruth. The rest of the album is great as well. Although there is a lot of blues riffing, it's all done with that inimitable Zappa style and humor. Cozmik Debris is a hilarious song, detailing a good way to deal with anyone spouting any sort of mystical bull$#!t. Stink-Foot is just a scream, as well. And don't miss Apostrophe', with a guest appearance by none other than Jack Bruce, who plays a mean fuzz bass solo.

Report this review (#306932)
Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
Anthony H.
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Frank Zappa: Apostrophe (') [1974]

Rating: 9/10

Great googly moogly!

Apostrophe (') is yet another essential Zappa album from the 70s. This album is the logical continuation of Over-Nite Sensation; I consider the two to be companion pieces. On Apostrophe ('), Zappa builds upon the twisted rock n' roll that he explored on Over-Nite and incorporates elements and motifs that had previously characterized his work: zany storytelling, guitar instrumentals, and social commentary. The result is an album that is even more well-rounded, engaging, varied, and memorable than its superb predecessor. This is yet another testament to the musical might that Frank so triumphantly possessed.

"Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" is one of Zappa's signature tunes, with a great main hook and lyrics. "Nanook Rubs It" is Zappa's greatest storytelling piece. Even when one ignores the priceless lyrics, the guitar licks are absolute perfection. Brass arrangements and mallet percussion show up on "St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast", and the "Yellow Snow" suite concludes with the energetic "Father O'Blivion." "Cosmik Debris" is a bluesy rock song with some fantastic gospel-choir vocals. "Excentrifugal Forz" is a short and quite complex track featuring impressive drum work. The instrumental title track is one of Zappa's all-time greatest guitar solos, not to mention Jack Bruce's incredible bass solo. "Uncle Remus" stands out from the rest of the album; it's quite serious in tone, with lyrics about racism. This track emotionally stirring for me in an odd way, and is certainly one of my favorites. The closer "Stink-Foot" is musically similar to the "Yellow Snow" suite, with more fantastically creative lyrics and guitar soloing.

I don't want to ramble on, because a long review for Apostrophe (') simply doesn't fit the music. Zappa crafted yet another gem here. Creativity, humor, and musicianship abound. Whether it's the off-the-wall storytelling of "Nanook Rubs It", the guitar rock of the title track, or the emotional gospel-rock of "Uncle Remus", anybody who even passively appreciates Zappa's music should find something to enjoy here. Frank restores my faith in humanity.

Report this review (#486492)
Posted Tuesday, July 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Apostrophe refines and perfects the approach that Zappa and the Mothers tried out on Overnite Sensation, attaining a sound which is accessible wiithout sacrificing any of Zappa's quirky complexity. A short but sweet affair, beginning with the long nonsense story that runs from Don't Eat the Yellow Snow to Father O'Blivion, the album also includes an Overnite-styled off- cut in the form of Cosmic Debris and a clutch of other excellent songs. Zappa's lyrics are as witty as ever but are a bit lighter on his usual sexual and scatological themes, and the musicianship is as tight as you'd expect from the superb mid-1970s lineup of the Mothers. This probably qualifies as Zappa's first masterpiece since Hot Rats.
Report this review (#513770)
Posted Saturday, September 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.3 stars

This was my first experience with Frank Zappa. This album hooked me on Zappa, and just for that it deserves 4 stars. A great, cohesive album overall, and while this doesn't show any extreme spectrum of Zappa (from jazz-fusion to dirty humor), it does offer a great variety of Zappa style. You can hear a little bit of everything here, from jazz-fusion stuff like the title track to intensly complicated stuff like St. Alfonso's Pancake Breakfast to more laid-back, humorous songs like Cosmik Debris.

The first few songs flow very nicely, and St. Alfonso's Pancake Breakfast might be my favorite moment (moment, considering it's only a little under two minutes). Cosmik Debris, which along with Don't Eat the Yellow Snow might be the most famous song, is a great song all-around, and has a great solo. Excentrifugal Forz is kind of a throw away, in my personal opinion. Nothing really here. Uncle Remus, probably my favorite full length song, is amazing. It just has this great vibe that it gives off, and also contains maybe the best, although short, solo on the album. Well, at the very least it's my favorite solo on the album.

A great place to start with Frank Zappa. I couldn't think of a better starter album, other than maybe Hot Rats if you love jazz-fusion.

Report this review (#644966)
Posted Saturday, March 3, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars The family-friend Zappa: 10/10

I first listened to Serj Takian's cover of Don't Eat the Yellow Snow and upon researching, discovered this "Frank Zappa" was its original composer. So I listened to the original version and found it absolutely great (who doesn't? I think Yellow Snowis one of Zappa's classics), along Nanuuk Rubs It. I listened to the suite but wasn't really fond of St. Alphonzo's act.

And as time progresses, I discovered Apostrophe (') Zappa's most commercially successful work - homes the awesome Yellow Snow suite, and after an underwhelming experience with HOT RATS - which everyone claimed to be a sparkling brilliant Zappa masterpiece; although it was very good, it was repetitive and not nearly as innovative as expected... I guess the hype killed it - I decided to give Zappa another shot because he HAD to be good.

He had to be good, right?

Well, is he good? Is he avant-garde-ish? Is he progressive?

Oh boy.

If you're unfamiliar with ZAPPA or the avant-garde "genre" as a whole, know that there's no such thing as "labeling". In fact, avant-garde is many times used as an interchangeable term with "labelless" mostly because there are so many musical genres in different songs you can't simply just call it A or B. Normally, there's a horseload of experimental and uncommon elements to compose the songs, but ZAPPA here prefers to stay out of the experimentality and stick to labelless tracks. However, if you're desperate for something to grab and know what you're giving here, I would suppose that the common ground among all songs is a jazz influence. But that's it: influence.

ZAPPA put the first side of the album surrounding the slightly conceptual Nanuuk/St. Alphonzo Parish act, while the second are a bunch of unrelated songs. To prove the point of ZAPPA's genre mixture, the first two tracks about Nanuuk are jazzy and chilly, while the next two are energetic xylophone 'n' keyboard frenzied pancake breakfast parish storytelling.

Speaking of storytelling, one of ZAPPA's strongest point besides his musical creativity is his captivating lyrics and narrative. Often using comedic ways, his lyrics seldom doesn't please the listener. You can laugh with some lyrics, while others, such as Nanuuk Rubs it, you get immersed. You can get offended too; Zappa loves to piss people off with a burning passion. Worth mentioning too is the musician's versatile and unmistakable, delicious voice.

Another unique point about ZAPPA's storytelling is something his fans have always thrived upon while newcomers were clueless about: a thing cited - ironically - in Stink-Foot by our most beloved slippers-muncher poodle pal Fido, is the conceptual continuity. ZAPPA is one hell of a funny guy, and he likes to "connect" his albums and songs into some sort of Grand Scheme of things. A better "explanation" is found at Lumpy Gravy Pt. 2, where he talks about "THE BIG NOTE" in an allusion to the Big Bang and some other stuff. However, you shouldn't see this conceptual continuity as anything but... running gags.

1. "Here Fido" can be heard on Nanuuk Rubs It's "Circular Motion" solo, in reference to Fido from Stink-Foot;

2. "The Grand Wazoo", a fellatio joke ("The price of meat has just gone up/An' yer ol' lady has just gone down . . . ") and the reference to the song Camarillo Brillo from OVER-NITE SENSATION "(Now is that a real poncho or is that a Sears poncho?)";

3. "Arf! Arf! Arf" as spoken by Fido, and the piece "THE POODLE BY-EE-ITES/THE POODLE CHEWS IT", both in Stink-Foot;

Among others, I'm too lazy to search for.

Zappa is known to be demanding of his musicians, expecting virtuosity and superb quality on each track. I believe this has been reached on this album, each musician truly seems to give his best. I can claim the keyboards, which are SO VARIED, the distorted and virtuoso guitar, and the appallingly nimble drums as the album's highlights. And for those fond of technical prowess, this album has lots of it. In fact, Zappa manages to make odd time signatures - such as Don't Eat the Yellow Snow's 7/4 or St. Alphonzo's Pancake Breakfast's 9/8 - sound as natural as 4/4.

After paying attention to Stink-Foot I found an interpretation for the "crux of the biscuit is the Apostrophe (')", that being nothing more than one of Zappa's numerous ironic moments. Possibly, he was criticized for his constant contractions (upon reading the lyrics you'll notice how frequent they are) and trying to ironize his critics he created this musical section. Or perhaps, instead, he was just stating his adoration for the apostrophe. Nonetheless, the usage of the apostrophe - thanks to this very song - became another item of his conceptual continuity, assuming it had become a gag (as Fido toyed with contractions right after his owner's unnerved reaction). In fact, for some reason, Zappa felt compelled to highlight this section among all others to the point of naming his album " ' ". Another point for Zappa: making a joke out of a grammatical and morphological gimmick.

Regarding creativity, Zappa is a fountain beyond endless. Even though the first songs are loosely connected they are still unique on their own manners, each with characteristics and compositions singular to themselves. Not to mention each individual song concept: an Eskimo being told not to eat whatever the hell is a yellow snow; a fur trapper using a lead filled snowshoe, an Eskimo legend which orders you to trudge across the tundra mile after mile to a Parish, a mystery man doing offers way too great to believe.

This is even more flabbergasting when you put in perspective this is ZAPPA's fifteenth album, and even after twelve years of career, he has the mind to create such things. Besides, the whole idea of making your entire discography interconnected through jokes is genial, to say the least.

In the end, APOSTROPHE (') is a delicious, gay (on the lighthearted sense) and unpredictable masterpiece of this immemorial master that is Frank Zappa. For those new to avant-garde, look no further - there's no introduction like the best introduction.

Report this review (#1691042)
Posted Thursday, February 9, 2017 | Review Permalink

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