Apostrophe (')

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Apostrophe (')
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 22, 1974
StudioElectric Lady Studios, New York City;
Bolic Sound, Inglewood, California; and
Paramount Recording Studios, Hollywood, California
ProducerFrank Zappa
Frank Zappa chronology
Over-Nite Sensation
Apostrophe (')
Roxy & Elsewhere
Frank Zappa solo chronology
Zoot Allures
Singles from Apostrophe'
  1. "Cosmik Debris"
    Released: 1974
  2. "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow"
    Released: 1974

Apostrophe (') is the sixth solo album and eighteenth in total by Frank Zappa, released in March 1974[1] in both stereo and quadraphonic formats. An edited version of its lead-off track, "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow", was the first of Zappa's three Billboard Top 100 hits, ultimately peaking at number 86. The album itself became the biggest commercial success of Zappa's career, reaching number 10 on the US Billboard 200.


Apostrophe (') remains Zappa's most commercially successful album in the United States. It was certified gold by the RIAA on April 7, 1976 and peaked at number 10 (a career-high placement) on the Billboard 200 chart in 1974.[2] 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 racism featured on his earlier song "Trouble Every Day".[3]


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. It continues into "St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast," which Zappa said was inspired by a television commercial for Imperial margarine.[4]

As was the case with many of Zappa's albums, Apostrophe (') was a melange of archival and recent recordings; side one of Apostrophe (') (1974) and Over-Nite Sensation (1973) were recorded simultaneously. The tracks on side two originate from various 1972 sessions with overdubs recorded in 1973 and 1974, except for "Excentrifugal Forz", where the drum track (played by Johnny Guerin) originally came from the Hot Rats sessions in 1969 (along with the bass and drum tracks for "Lemme Take You to the Beach" on Studio Tan (1978) and Läther (1996), although in the case of "Excentrifugal Forz" this is not actually noted in either the album liner notes or official correspondence),[5][6][7] and "Stinkfoot", where the basic track, possibly originally known as "The Bass & Drums Song",[8] dates from the Chunga's Revenge sessions in early 1970.[9]

"Apostrophe (')" is an instrumental featuring bassist Jack Bruce and session drummer Jim Gordon, who was on tour with Zappa's band at the time of the session in November 1972. Bruce is credited on the album cover with bass guitar and co-writing the title song. However, in an interview for Polish rock magazine Tylko Rock he said that he had not played any bass guitar parts or done any co-writing on "Apostrophe (')", only the cello intro. He reminisced, "So I turned up in a NY studio with my cello, I'm listening to [Zappa's] music, pretty awful, and just don't know what to do with myself, and Frank [Zappa] 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]"[10] Bruce had studied the instrument at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and performed with it on some of his other recordings.

However, Zappa has referred to Bruce playing bass on the track in an interview: "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."[11]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideB−[13]
Rolling Stonefavorable[15]

Village Voice critic Robert Christgau wrote in his review: "Disillusioned acolytes are complaining that he's retreated, which means he's finally made top ten, but that's just his reward for professional persistence. If anything, the satire's improved a little, and the title piece—an improvisation with Jack Bruce, Jim Gordon, and rhythm guitarist Tony Duran—forays into quartet-style jazz-rock. Given Frank's distaste for 'Cosmik Debris' you'd think maybe he's come up with something earthier than Mahavishnu, but given his distaste for sex you can be sure it's more cerebral instead."[13]

Apostrophe (') and Over-Nite Sensation, 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.

In July 2016, the Zappa Family Trust released a CD of alternate mixes, different takes and live versions of material from Apostrophe (') titled The Crux of the Biscuit.[16][17] It includes early versions of "Down in De Dew", which Zappa considered for Apostrophe (') but later included on Läther.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Frank Zappa except where noted

Side one
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
1."Excentrifugal Forz"1:33
2."Apostrophe'" (Zappa, Jim Gordon, Jack Bruce)5:50
3."Uncle Remus" (Zappa, George Duke)2:44



Back-up vocals[edit]

Production staff[edit]

  • Cal Schenkel – artwork, graphic design
  • Barry Keene – engineer
  • Kerry McNabb – engineer, remixing
  • 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


Chart (1974) Peak
United States (Billboard 200)[2] 10
Australia (Kent Music Report)[18] 71


  1. ^ "Official Zappa Discography". Archived from the original on 2021-03-09. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  2. ^ a b "Charts and Awards for Apostrophe (')". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
  3. ^ Huey, Steve (2001). All Music Guide: The Definitive Guide To Popular Music, 4th Edition. Hal Leonard Corp./Backbeat Books. p. 459. ISBN 978-0879306274.
  4. ^ García Albertos, Román. "The Crux of the Biscuit Lyrics and information". IINK. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  5. ^ Sovetov, Vladimir; Ulrich, Charles. "ARF: Notes And Comments: APOSTROPHE ('): Excentrifugal Forz". ARF!. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  6. ^ Sovetov, Vladimir; Ulrich, Charles. "ARF: Notes And Comments: HOT RATS: Appendix II: Hot Rats Lineup". ARF!. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  7. ^ Travers, Joe. "Drummers On Apostrophe(')". alt.fan.frank-zappa. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  8. ^ García Albertos, Román. "Unreleased Music: Unidentified and/or Unreleased Recordings". IINK. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  9. ^ García Albertos, Román. "Apostrophe ' Lyrics and information". IINK. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  10. ^ Weiss, Wiesław (October 1992). "Moc i chwała". Tylko Rock: 17.
  11. ^ Rosen, Steve (January 1977). "One Size Fits All". Guitar Player. Archived from the original on September 29, 2008.
  12. ^ Huey, S. "Apostrophe (') – Frank Zappa | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 30 August 2011.
  13. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: Z". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 23, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
  14. ^ Vrdoljak, Dražen. "Frank Zappa – Apostrophe". Džuboks (in Serbian). Gornji Milanovac: Dečje novine (11 (second series)): 22.
  15. ^ Fletcher, Gordon (6 June 1974). "Apostrophe ' by Frank Zappa | Rolling Stone Music | Music Reviews". rollingstone.com.
  16. ^ Westergaard, Sean. "The Crux of the Biscuit – Frank Zappa | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  17. ^ García Albertos, Román. "The Crux Of The Biscuit – Lyrics and information". IINK. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  18. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 348. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.

External links[edit]