Tuesday, February 11, 2014

It Was 40 Years Ago Today - 1974 in Review - Frank Zappa - Apostrophe (')

When the Ripple head honcho gave us the assignment to pick a favorite album from 1974 to write about I immediately thought of Frank Zappa's Roxy & Elsewhere. It seemed like a good pick since the Zappa family is getting ready to release more audio and video from the Roxy concert in Los Angeles. Mentally, the entire review popped into my head very quickly. Then I realized that I already wrote about the album on Ripple about two years ago (http://ripplemusic.blogspot.com/2011/12/frank-zappa-roxy-elsewhere.html). After some quick research I discovered that another favorite of mine was released in 1974 also by Frank Zappa. Not only is Apotrophe (') a great album but it's also the very first I ever owned. I used to listen to Dr. Demento's radio show with my oldest brother Joe and one night we heard "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow." I was almost 7 years old at the time so the bathroom humor was perfect for my mentality. Still is, by the way.

When Christmas 1974 rolled around I was thrilled to unwrap a copy of Apotrophe ('). As a kid I had access to some pretty great records - Chuck Berry, James Brown, Johnny Cash, Dave Brubeck, etc but didn't have any of my very own. My brother knew how much I loved music and potty talk so this was the perfect gift. I must have played "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow" 9 or 10 times in a row before checking out the rest of side one. The next song "Nanook Rubs It" had me in complete hysterics. Not only did I love the lyrics but the music really flipped my lid. Some of it reminded me of the music I heard in Bugs Bunny cartoons but done by a rock band. I was hooked. The rest of side one ("St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast," "Father O'Blivion," "Cosmic Debris") continued the narrative and the music kept getting more and more outrageous. I wasn't sure if the concept would continue on to side two but I couldn't wait to find out.

Side two starts off with "Excentrifugal Forz" and it really blew me away. Clocking in at a minute and a half, it throws in a lot of musical twists and turns and a guitar solo like I'd never heard before. It was done before I could figure out if I liked it or not and segued immediately into the song "Apostrophe." Halfway through I realized there were no lyrics to this song. The mega distorted bass and crazy guitar solo sounded great on my headphones. The next song, "Uncle Remus," seemed almost serious. In 1974, racial tension was still pretty intense and this song addressed it but also put in some laughs at the end. To this day, whenever I see one of those little ridiculous jockey statues on somebody's lawn I think of this song and how I'd like to knock it over. The album wraps up with a return to immature humor with "Stink-Foot." The lyrics had me cracking up and the music was even more insane. I was totally hooked. I played this album daily for months on end. About a year later I ventured into a local record store and saw that Frank Zappa had a brand new album called Bongo Fury. It was a collaboration with someone named Captain Beefheart. It had to be good, right? That turned out to be the first album I ever bought with my own money. (You can read all about that adventure here - http://ripplemusic.blogspot.com/2012/01/my-first-album-frank-zappacaptain.html).

Over the past 40 years Apotrophe (') has proven to be a pivotal role in my musical development. I loved the heaviness of the song "Apostrophe" and wanted to find more stuff like it. I found out that a guy named Jack Bruce played the fuzzed out bass and that he was in a band called Cream. A friend's brother had a Cream album and let me check it out. That led me to Mountain and eventually Black Sabbath. I remembered the name George Duke from the back cover credits and years later saw an album that he played on by a guy named Cannonball Adderley. Maybe about 10 years ago I found out that none other than Tina Turner sang on this album. She's all over side one. Pretty cool album for a 7 year old.


Apostrophe (') tv commercial

Apostrophe (')

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