166 of 173 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2002
Whenever anybody asks me what the best album to buy as a first Zappa album, I tell them either "We're Only In It For The Money" or this one, and I usually give this one a little higher boost.
Why? Because this is the album that got me into FZ at the tender age of 11 years old. By accident....
One balmy spring day in early '75, my (then) uptight, Catholic, ex-John Birch Society mother came home with a stack of records from the local Ridgecrest library that she thought looked appropriate for kids. My sister and I looked through the stack until.....Apostrophe! We looked at each other in shock: Mom brought home a ZAPPA record! At that time, only kids with hipster bros & sis's had heard his records. We knew the rumours: he talked about "naughty" things on his records! Was mom "letting her hair down"? No. She just thought that "the guy on the record cover looks like a jazz musician with a sense of humor", and "the song titles are funny".
Cool! Diane & I ran to the record player & were therein initiated into the universe of Frank Zappa. Of course we giggled through the obligatory scatology of "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow" & the adventures of Nanook, but there were other songs here that made some slowly emerging gears in my 11 year old head start to turn. What was so important about "St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast"? What was "Cosmik Debris", and why was the man "jiving" him with it? Why did I like the instrumental "Apostrophe", and why did I feel in my gut that it was different somehow that other rock solos? Why did the man have the argument with the dog after the discussion of the importance of personal hygene in "Stink Foot"? My pre-adolescent brain began to burn with one of the most subversive things that rock n' roll ever did to kids. Sex? No (well, okay, maybe a little..). Drugs? No.
The frightening answer was......questions!! I was beginning to THINK FOR MYSELF, stimulated by Zappa's imaginative absurdity!!
Now, as an adult, I 've figured out those answers. "St. Alfonzo's" is a satire about religious hypocrisy & behaivior.
"Cozmik Debris" is a stab at mocking the "new age", and its voodoo b.s. "Apostrophe" is a solo in the Lydian mode, highly unusual. And the dog & the man were arguing about semantics.
Thanks, Frank, for making this guy think. Too bad, other adults didn't get warped like I did.
It's not too late. Buy Apostrophe.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2004
Zappa took a compositional turn with this album. It's in the genre of "Over-Nite Sensation," but further developed towards whatever it is musicians think of when they hear "Zappa," and there was more like this and even further developed material to come. This album has a definitive main thread, even though it features four different drummers and four different bass players, because it's very bluesy. Even if the songs aren't played with typical blues progressions --with the exception of "Cosmik Debris"-- there's a bluesy feeling pretty much throughout, which mainly the guitar solos lend. But there's more than a feeling of blues to this album; the songs are complex to an unusual (yet not extreme) degree, but make sense, and are very well performed. "Apostrophe (')" is, in a way, an album in a genre of it's own - mainly for the highly individual compositions "St. Alfonzo" and "Father O'Blivion," but also much because of "Uncle Remus" with its feeling of soul and gospel that isn't much heard anywhere else in Zappa's discography. Many think that "Stink-Foot" is not a highlight, and while I understand that point of view (since it fills a fifth of this 32-minute album and doesn't have a compositional quality like the other songs) I still find it highly entertaining and needed because of its groove. Don't let the length of the album scare you, btw - the material on it is worth the money. 4 1/2 stars.
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Look, I have to be objective here. I'm a big Zappa fan. I especially love his work with the original Mothers (ALL of it) and the work he did with his big band (Waka Jawaka, Grand Wazoo, Imaginary Diseases) as well as the Roxy and Elsewhere band. All of those aforementioned CDs get 5 stars in my reviews - some I would give 100 stars if I could. The ONLY reason I'm not giving Apostrophe (') 4.5 stars is it just isn't as good as the aforementioned material... but it IS good and worth adding to your collection.
Apostrophe (') is good fun and there is some great music here. But let's be honest, this release was used to finance more serious works by Zappa.
Yellow Snow and Nanook Rubs it are funny the first couple of listens.
St Alphonzo and Father Oblivion is at once humorous and very good music
Excentrifugal Forz is one of the high-lites but it is very short
Apostrophe (') is a great jam with Jack Bruce but it's just a jam, there's no serious writing here.
Cosmik Debris is another favorite and a indictment of new age mumbo jumbo.
Uncle Remis is a great commentary on the loss of focus and priorities when it comes to civil rights (whoa, are we movin' to slow? I can't wait 'til my 'fro is full grown - and so on and so forth)
Stink Foot falls into the same category as Yellow Snow and Nanook.
So yeah, this is a good Zappa CD. Is it essential? I guess that depends on what you are looking for in a Zappa release. It's good fun but the music simply isn't as good as that found on Roxy and Elsewhere, Waka Jawaka, Uncle Meat, Freak Out! and so on and so forth.
BY THE WAY: Dweezil's Zappa Plays Zappa band is playing material from this release. Last night I saw this band and it was FLAT OUT AMAZING! Cosmik Debris and Uncle Remus (with Ray White singing!) were included in the very generous 2.5 hour set. If Zappa Plays Zappa comes to your town, for God's sake, GO SEE THEM! You will not be disappointed as this show rivaled the concert I saw in March 74 with Zappa and his Roxy and Elsewhere Mothers. Dweezil's band REALLY IS THAT GOOD!
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2000
Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Frank Zappa produced some of the most interesting and musical recordings in Rock. Apostrophe(') is quite possibly one of Franks finest. The album opens with "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow/Nanook Rubs it". The titles are separated on the jacket, with different times listed for each, but in typical Zappa style there is no dead air between any of the tracks. This CD leans less toward the protracted jazz/rockish type of song writing of the mothers and leans more toward the more compact rock/pop song writing that characterized his later recordings. The disc continues on with "St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast," which melts into "Father O'Blivion." One can't help but wonder where his inspiration came from for any of his music, and this is no exception. Then again, with song writing this brilliant, who cares? The music is funky enough to make you tap your foot, with hooks the will have you humming all day at work. Your going to want to run home and listen to this cd all the time. Words can't really do the music justice, but if you could imagine blues and funk mixed with jazz and given a good stiff does of sometimes brash irony, you'd begin to get an understanding. Of course Zappa is constantly experimenting with sounds and arrangements, and this disc is no exception. Unlike some of his other recordings, however, he seems to sticks a little closer to a more traditional vein. Well...traditional for him, anyhow. The CD continues on with "Cosmic Debris," a short, funny, R&B inspired tune about a "mystery man" that is classic Zappa.The album continues with "Excentrifugal Forz," "Apostrophe," a nearly 6 minute instrumental that reeks of early 70's funk, the Bluesy "Uncle Remis," and ends with the classic jam song "Stink-Foot." All of the tunes are tight and well written with superb musicianship and some really fine guitar work - something that Frank doesn't often get enough recognition for. This is the kind of CD you can listen over and over again and hear something new every time. As you might expect, its laced with irony and sexual innuendo - adult material and definitely something you shouldn't play around young children. Probably all of Zappa's work could be described as brilliant, but Apostrophe(') hits the nail square on the head. It's definitely worth the price of admission - and then some.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The debate seems to be centered on which of Frank Zappa's albums is the best and the choice is between "Apostrophe" and "Over-nite Sensation." But such a debate is moot if you put the two albums on one CD, right? Besides, these albums run a bit short on their own, so putting them together makes sense on that economic level as well.
"Apostrophe," in its own words, "is an album of songs and stories set to music performed for your dining and dancing pleasure." The first four songs are about an Eskimo that almost makes sense, which makes this something of an actual concept album, at least for the first "side" of the record. What I remember is that "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" was my first exposure to the musical stylings of Frank Zappa (my roommate did the "listen to this" bit with me). The best guitar solos are on "Cosmik Debris," "Stink-Foot," and the title cut. The lyrics are perhaps a dark shade of Zappa than you usually find, but it was 1974 and that could explain it right there since you should look for deep, hidden meanings in the songs of Frank Zappa, but just not in any conventional way.
Now, the reason I have this album can easily be explained by quoting the chorus of the first track, "Camarillo Brillo":
She had a snake for a pet
And an amulet
And she was breeding a dwarf
But she wasn't done yet
She had gray-green skin
A doll with a pin
I told her she was awright
But I couldn't come in
(actually, I was very busy then).
The lyrics are what hooked me, but I also like the way George Duke pounds the ivories during that song. Along with "I'm the Slime" and "Dirty Love" I think that the first three tracks on "Overnite Sensation" distill the Zappa essence as well as any comparable set you can find in his entire oeuvre. Perhaps the best proof of this would the anecdotal evidence that this is the album people who only own one Frank Zappa album happen to own. This would make sense since "Overnite Sensation" is probably more rock-oriented than most of Zappa's albums. For songs about in a similar vein, only about an Eskimo, check out "Apostrophe," which was produced in the same time with pretty much the same musicians.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2001
This album goes nicely with that other masterpiece overnite sensation. In terms of musical complexity, it is perhaps the most 'easy-listening' zappa album. But don't let that fool you, because there is some incredible musicianship on this record! The yellow snow suite is the highlight for me. It has daft lyrics about eskimos, pancakes, huskie wee-wee,baby seals and yellow snow. It is a delight. If you've braved Ben Watson's poodle play book, you will be aware of the similarities between this album and King Lear, whether intentional/unintentional. Anyway there is a load of conceptual continuity in this album, especially the references to the poodle Fido. But this is for the intellectuals, mere music fans like myself get enough satisfaction from listening to Ruth Underwood's magical xylophone part on 'st alphonso's pancake breakfast', my favourite song on the album. Frank has a lot of stellar guitar moments on the album. His guitar bursts sounds great on nanook rubs it, there is great playing on apostrophe' and uncle remus and the stinkfoot solo is a slippery sounding masterpiece. Excentrifugal force is a joy, a short piece of music that could fit into a sci-fi movie i reckon. It's a masterpiece of recording technique and musicianship. Like the whole album. Thank you.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2007
Frank Zappa-Apostrophe(') *****
The first half of the album is sort of a concept album, well a mini-concept album about an eskimo named Nanook and all of his wild adventures. The second half of the album just plays out like a well polished jazz record with satire thrown in for lyrical content. Filled with some of the most outragiously satirical lyrics in Zappas cannon, and some of the most amazing guitar work ever heard or played mixed with some of the strangest sounds ever recorded but by this time the world had come to expect that from the genius that is Frank Zappa, and some how all of this madness managed to become a hit album. How you ask well lets see.
By this time Zappa had earned much respect in the musician comunity and a large fan base because of his humor. By the time Apostrophe(') was released in 1974 the world had began to realize that listening to a Zappa album is like whitnessing a shock and awe mission and many were curious about it. With the large success and suprize radio air time of 'Dont Eat The Yellow Snow' Apostrophe managed to become a gold album, Zappas first of his career. The song had catchy lyrics, and a great melody, and not to mention the amazing guitar playing through out.
The first two tracks 'Dont Eat The Yellow Snow' and 'Nanook Rubs It' are combined together as a single just title 'Dont Eat The Yellow Snow' which is another reason why this album is essntial and so cool because this is the way that it was ment to be heard.
'Nanook Rubs It' is a bluesy song about the murdering of Nanooks favorite baby seal. 'St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast' plays out like some strange love at first sight with Tina Turner singing backup. 'Father O'Blivion' is a fushion jazz track that is just so out of this world that it must be heard to apreciate, this track ends the mini-concept album.
The second half of the album opens with the Zappa classic 'Cosmik Debris.' This song has gone on to be a fan favorite appearing on almost all of Zappas post human compalation albums. 'Excentrifugal Forz' is just insane. Must be heard, and is truly one of the best songs that Zappa has ever written. The title track 'Apostrohe(')' is an amazing insrumental that contains some of the very best guitar playing ever recorded. 'Uncle Remus' starts out as a old time piano ballad, somewhat wild west-esq. Then it transforms into an all out guitar assualt on the ears. 'Stink Foot' is a song that not many feel is a highlight but that is just wrong, the song takes up a fifth of the 32 minute album, it is vital to the album and is perfect for closing an already great album.
Aside from Zappas guitar playing which is amazing and prevalant through out the album he also wrote everything he himself did not play. All the background music is of his own writing. All the Xylaphone, drum, ect. are all written by Zappa so not only was he playing and singing along but conductiong as well.
Apostrophe(') is an amazing album that no Zappa fan can not own and still call themselves a Zappa fan. This is essential to all jazz and rock collections!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2006
Being a middle child in life, my parents ignored me. It's a strange way of starting a review, but bear with me. One of the benefits of being a middle child is that since your parents completely ignore you, you are left free to do pretty much anything that you want, including listening to music that your parents normally wouldn't allow you to. Hence, Mr. Zappa. It was almost a badge of honor to have a Zappa album, as people felt your intelligence was superior to theirs. This was my 2nd Zappa album, and I still dig it. It may not be as avant garde as Weasels Ripped My Flesh or as musically complex as Hot Rats, but so what? It's still Zappa, and it's pretty damn good. Father O'Blivion, St. Alphonso's Pancake Breakfast, and Stink Foot are fantastic songs, ones that Zappa did in concert quite often. Zappa rules, but you already knew that.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2012
Give thanks to all who make the yellow snow - The Zappa Family Trust has finally regained control of Frank's catalog and ALL 60 FZ albums will once again be available at realistic prices before the end of the year.
First 12 albums to be released July 31 - followed by 12 more/month for the next 5 months.
The days of seeing insane prices on Zappa CDs is soon to be ended !!!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2007
Frank's first gold, and if you ask me it deserved that distinction. The first side is a mock concept album about an Eskimo and his adventures concerning huskies with overactive bladders; fur trappers bludgeoning baby seals with snowshoes; St. Alphonzo; and gay priests having sex with leprechauns. Needless to say, it's not one of Frank's more mature efforts, but some of it can be funny (the infamous doo-wap send-up "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow"; "Nanook Rubs It"), and even when humor fails him ("Father O'Blivion"), the band is so solid, and the melodies are so catchy, you won't notice or care. That, and it's amusing to play "spot-the-references-to-previous-Zappa-albums!". The second side is considerably more artistic, featuring a heavy fusion instrumental (title track) with an exquisite guitar part and amazing heavy drums by Jim Gordon (Jack Bruce also plays bass, though he's buried beneath Frank and Tony), what may just be his best song ever: "Cosmik Debris", which combines sharp, hilarious, anti-"mysticism" lyrics; an excellent R&B melody (with surprising tempo shifts in the chorus), characteristically wonderful guitars, and a couple nods to Over-Nite Sensation; and the funny mock-blues "Stink-Foot", with searing guitars. Weak points? A couple. Homophobia comes back to haunt Frank on "Father O'Blivion" (but again that's a well-written song from a melodic standpoint), and as far as I'm concerned the rocker "Uncle Remus" and the fusion experiment "Excentrifugal Forz" have nothing going for either of them. At least they're both short. This isn't as socially relevant as Freak Out! or virtuoso like Hot Rats. To its credit, though, the humor is amusing 80% of the time, the songwriting is strong 95%, and the band is really solid. Zappa fans should not go without it.