“Apostrophe(‘)” by Frank Zappa (No. 58)

Frank Zappa album cover Apostrophe(')Great googly moogly! Frank Zappa‘s Apostrophe(‘) fills me with unmitigated joy every time I listen to it. Apostrophe(‘), particularly the “Yellow Snow Suite” on the first half of the album, is equal parts silliness and brilliant composition and execution.

The first four songs on the album, “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow” through “Father O’Blivion” are best consumed together, even though you’ll run into a badly edited single version of “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow” here and there.

The suite is connected musically and thematically (loosely), with so much going on you need to listen to it multiple times to catch all the nuances. Zappa doesn’t just use lyrics to get yuks, the music is amusing in its own right. But it’s not “just” funny tunes, this is a complex piece of music and expertly played. Just check out the live version on YouTube to get a sense of how much is going on here.

“Cosmik Debris” stands off from the “Yellow Snow” suite slightly, but still fits with the preceding tracks.

“Apostrophe'”, the album’s namesake, is an instrumental that’s just shy of six minutes. This is a glorious jam, highlighting Zappa’s magnificent guitar playing but also letting the bass and drums shine as well.

“Stink-Foot” will win no awards for social commentary. Delivered as a sort of talking blues, it begins with a discussion of (yes) “stink foot” and ends with a dog holding forth on the importance of the apostrophe. It’s absurd and awesome. Which sums up Apostrophe(‘) reasonably well, I think.

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