1974 – DiscReet
Rock/ Psychedelic-Rock/ Prog-Rock
Frank Zappa’s eighteenth studio album Apostrophe is a bizarre record full of intricately arranged musical compositions and surreal humour with a well honed rock backing. The opening foursome of tracks (Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow, Nanook Rubs It, St. Alfonzo’s Pancake Breakfast, and Father O’Blivion) really exemplify this running thread of bizarre comedy and Zappa’s skill at writing and guitar playing. The music on these tracks is really something rather wonderful to behold with its playful irreverence and precision, the lyrical content and ‘humour’, however, I just couldn’t seem to connect with.
Perhaps it’s the puerile nature of Zappa’s story of an Eskimo who goes blind after having the ‘yellow snow’ rubbed into his eyes, or maybe it’s just that I have no sense of humour, but I just couldn’t find myself laughing at all or even seeing the humour any of it. To me these tracks just came across as plain old silly with no real particular merit apart from their musical charm.
The follow up track to this unsettling storyline Cosmik Debris, however, really is great step up from that previous nonsense with its snide assassination of the culture of inner-city mysticism. The music here is also slightly better than the previous ramblings with a much more traditional approach and some solid guitar solos.
This return to basics rock music continues on through most of the other tracks like Exentrifugal Forz and the instrumental title track which both give the listener a tasty blast of a much welcome psychedelic rock-out. Perhaps if Frank Zappa spent some more time just doing what he’s good at (i.e. being a guitar god) and a little less time trying to be funny, then this album would have worked that bit better for me, but as it stands I did have some difficulty getting myself through the first half of the record and into the meatier stuff on side two.
Really, when I got into the latter half of the album I started having a lot of fun and really seeing what all this Frank Zappa fuss is about, but I’ve got to say that with Apostrophe I was actually a little disappointed. I mean, while there are some great tracks on here, the very fact that I had to sit through the Nanook saga meant that I got much less enjoyment out of the record as whole.
The album’s really not all that bad, but, in truth, it isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be. There’s fun to be had, but that comes at the price of listening to rather annoying little ditties before any fun can actually be had. I’m not saying that it’s a record that one should avoid, but I definitely would not say that it’s anything one would need to complete their record collection.
This little ditty is one of my picks for stand-out tracks off the 1974 album ‘Apostrophe’
- Frank Zappa Made Electronic Music With a Bicycle on Live TV in 1963 (motherboard.vice.com)
- Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention: Burnt Weeny Sandwich (1970) (lostinartrock.wordpress.com)
- Frank Zappa – A Token of His Extreme (DVD) (musicofourheart.me)
- Jam of the Week: Frank Zappa (therockrenaissance.com)
- My Continuing Discovery of Frank Zappa (zombywoofblog.wordpress.com)
- Paul Recommends | Frank Zappa – 13 February 2013 (paulsmith.co.uk)
- Watch a super-young Frank Zappa play the bicycle (grist.org)
- Zappa, Frank. Quote (lunaticoutpost.com)
- The Grandmothers of Invention (lineout.thestranger.com)