Apostrophe (')

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Apostrophe (')
Studio album by Frank Zappa
Released March 22, 1974
Recorded 1969 - 1974 at Electric Lady Studios, NYC; Bolic, Inglewood and Paramount Studios, Hollywood
Genre Progressive rock, hard rock, jazz fusion
Length 31:45
32:02 (2012 remaster)
Label DiscReet
Producer Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa chronology
Over-Nite Sensation
(1973)
Apostrophe (')
(1974)
Roxy & Elsewhere
(1974)
Singles from Apostrophe (')
  1. "Cosmik Debris"
    Released: 1974
  2. "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow"
    Released: 1974

Apostrophe (') is an album by Frank Zappa, his eighteenth, released on March 22, 1974[1] in both stereo and quadraphonic formats. An edited version of its lead-off track, "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow", was Zappa's first chart single, reaching position 86. Apostrophe (') remains Zappa's biggest commercial success in the US. It was certified Gold by the RIAA on April 7, 1976.[2] The album also peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Charts, and would end up becoming Zappa's highest-charting album.

Continuing from the commercial breakthrough of Over-Nite Sensation (1973), this album is a similar mix of short songs showcasing Zappa's humor and musical arrangements. The record's lyrical themes are often bizarre or obscure, with the exception of "Uncle Remus", which is an extension of Zappa's feelings on racial disharmony featured on his earlier song "Trouble Every Day".

Music[edit]

The first half of the album loosely follows a continuing theme. "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" and "Nanook Rubs It" tell of a dream the singer had where he saw himself as an Eskimo named Nanook. However one of the songs, called "Rollo", was almost taken out, except for using a section of it in the second half part of "St. Alphonzo's Pancake Breakfast".

As was the case with many of Zappa's albums, Apostrophe (') was a menage of archival and newer recordings (most of Apostrophe (') (1974) and Over-Nite Sensation (1973) were recorded simultaneously). The older recordings include the basic tracks for "Excentrifugal Forz" (a Hot Rats outtake) and "Uncle Remus" (from The Grand Wazoo). While the title track also hails from The Grand Wazoo sessions, with some possible 1973 overdubbing.

The title track is an instrumental jam featuring Cream bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Jim Gordon. Jack Bruce is credited on the album cover with bass guitar and co-writing the title song. However, in his interview for Polish rock magazine Tylko Rock he jokingly insisted to journalist Wiesław Weiss that he had not played any bass guitar parts on "Apostrophe (')", only the cello parts. Bruce learned cello as a child and plays it on some of his other recordings. However, his cello comments regarding "Apostrophe (')" can't be taken seriously, because the only cello featured on the album is contained in the opening of the title track. His bass playing on "Apostrophe (')" does in fact sound at times very much like the bass lines that he played with Cream.

(Tylko Rock, Oct. 1992, pp. 17)

  • "WW: Can you tell me something about your cooperation with Frank Zappa?
  • JB: Sure, what do you happen to know? (laughs)
  • WW: You appeared on his Apostrophe album...
  • JB: Yes, as you know, at the time I was recording an album with Carla Bley, far more interesting one... you heard that?
  • WW: Yes, Escalator over the Hill...
  • JB: Right. So Frank, whom I met earlier, appeared one day in the studio and asked me: "Can you take your cello and go to my session?" So I turned up in a NY studio with my cello, I'm listening to his music, pretty awful, and just don't know what to do with myself, and Frank says to me: "Listen, I would like you to play a sound, like this... whaaaaaang!!!" So I did what he asked me to do. Whaaaaaang!!! That was all. That was my input to Frank Zappa's most popular record! (laughs) "

However, in an interview in Guitar Player Magazine from January 1977, Zappa talks about his experience with Jack Bruce's bass playing on the song:

  • Q: What about playing with (bass guitarist) Jack Bruce on Apostrophe?
  • FZ: Well, that was just a jam thing that happened because he was a friend of (drummer) Jim Gordon. I found it very difficult to play with him; he's too busy. He doesn't really want to play the bass in terms of root functions; I think he has other things on his mind. But that's the way jam sessions go.

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[3]
Robert Christgau B−[4]
Džuboks favorable [5]
Rolling Stone favorable[6]

Apostrophe is widely considered one of Zappa's definitive works. Apostrophe (') (1974) and the preceding release Over-Nite Sensation (1973), recorded with the same group of musicians, are the subject of a Classic Albums series documentary from Eagle Rock Entertainment, released on DVD May 1, 2007.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Frank Zappa except where noted. 

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow"   2:07
2. "Nanook Rubs It"   4:38
3. "St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast"   1:50
4. "Father O'Blivion"   2:18
5. "Cosmik Debris"   4:14
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Excentrifugal Forz"     1:33
2. "Apostrophe'"   Frank Zappa, Jim Gordon and Jack Bruce 5:50
3. "Uncle Remus"   Frank Zappa and George Duke 2:44
4. "Stink-Foot"     6:33

Personnel[edit]

Musicians[edit]

Production staff[edit]

  • Cal Schenkel – artwork, graphic design
  • Barry Keene – engineer
  • Ferenc Dobronyi – cover design
  • Bob Ludwig – technician
  • Paul Hof – technician
  • Oscar Kergaives – technician
  • Brian Krokus – technician
  • Mark Aalyson – photography
  • Bob Stone – transfers, digital remastering
  • Steve Desper – engineer
  • Terry Dunavan – engineer
  • Zach Glickman – marketing
  • Bob Hughes – engineer

Charts[edit]

Album[edit]

Billboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1974 Pop Albums 10[2]

Singles[edit]

Song Chart Peak
position
"Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" Pop Singles 86[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Official Zappa Discography". Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  2. ^ a b c "Charts and Awards for Apostrophe (')". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  3. ^ Huey, S. "Apostrophe (') - Frank Zappa | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 30 August 2011. 
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Artist 4155". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 30 August 2011. 
  5. ^ Vrdoljak, Dražen. "Frank Zappa - Apostrophe". Džuboks (in Serbian) (Gornji Milanovac: Dečje novine) (11 (second series)): 22. 
  6. ^ Fletcher, Gordon (6 June 1974). "Apostrophe ' by Frank Zappa | Rolling Stone Music | Music Reviews". rollingstone.com. 

External links[edit]