Apostrophe (')

The Album

FZ, interviewed by Bill Gubbins, Exit, May, 1974

The album's been out three weeks and it's sold 90,000 copies. It's the fastest selling album that I've ever put out. And that's partly because we've been touring extensively over the past year. Whenever you tour your record sells. We did over 100 concerts last year; a big touring schedule.

FZ, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, April 23, 1975

Frank, I wanna know how much did it cost to put Apostrophe(') together and how long did it take?

It took approximately two and a half years, on and off, because that's the span that the pieces cover in there, and the total budget was $65,000.

 

The Cover Art

Alternate Cover & Title

Biffy The Elephant Shrew, "Apostrophe('): The Alternate Cover," The Biffy Page

a-pos'tro-phe(')
a·pos'tro·phe(')

The Crux Of The Biscuit (2016)

The Crux Of The Biscuit

Early 1974 pictures (apparently from the same session)

Shooting Star—Celebrity Photo Syndication

Shooting Star Shooting Star
Frank Zappa (1974) Photo Credit: Yoram Kahana/Shooting Star

 

Recording Sessions

Liner notes by FZ, 1974

ENGINEERS:
Steve Desper
Terry Dunavan
Barry Keene
Bob Hughes
Kerry McNabb

RE-MIX:
Kerry McNabb

STUDIOS:
Electric Lady, N.Y.C.
Bolic, Inglewood
Paramount, Hollywood

September 26, 1973—Paramount Recording Studios, LA, CA

Greg Russo, Cosmik Debris: The Collected History And Improvisations Of Frank Zappa (The Son Of Revised), 2003, p. 287

09/26/73 (2-6PM) Paramount Recorders, Hollywood—Excentrifugal Forz; Po-Jama People; Soup And Old Clothes
MUSICIANS: George Duke (leader and only session attendee)

Ted Drozdowski, "Lauryn Hill has purchased the original Paramount Recording API 2488 console," Sonic Circus, June 27, 2006

[...] Dennis Moody, an LA-based engineer and producer who began his career at Paramount in 1975 in Studio B as an assistant to engineer Kerry McNabb on albums like Zappa's Apostrophe and Watson's Ain't That a Bitch.

Early 1974—Paramount Recording Studios, LA, CA

Greg Russo, Cosmik Debris: The Collected History And Improvisations Of Frank Zappa (The Son Of Revised), 2003, p. 288

01/23/74 (2-5PM) Paramount Recorders, Hollywood—Apostrophe ('); Uncle Remus
MUSICIANS: Bruce Fowler, Napoleon Brock, George Duke (note: FZ was not there—Fowler was the session leader)

Classic Albums (2007)—0:23:59

Classic Albums
[Kerry McNabb]

Personnel

TECHNICAL:
Paul Hof
Oscar Kergalves
Kansas & sometimes Dunt
Brian Krokus
Bob Ludwig
Unity

Oscar Kergalvis

Charles Ulrich, August 21, 2013

Previously there was some uncertainty as to whether his surname was Kergalves or Kergaives. [...]

It's Kergalvis, a Latvian surname. There's hardly anyone in the USA with this surname, but one of them is named Oscar. He's 67 years old now, which would mean he was 28 in 1974. He lives in Florida, but he used to live in southern California (specifically Canoga Park, like Mary). At one time, he was in the United States Marine Corps.

Ray Collins

Nigey Lennon, interviewed by Andrew Greenaway, The Idiot Bastard, June 15, 2000

While [FZ] was recording Apostrophe, he called me and asked if I could ask Ray [Collins] to contact him about doing some vocals. Ray was out of work at the time and was living in a fleabag hotel, the St. Moritz, which was next door to Frank's office and rehearsal complex on Sunset Boulevard. Frank apparently didn't want to call, or have someone "official" call Ray at the St. Moritz.

FZ, Orpheum Theater, Boston, MA, November 9, 1974

[Tom Waits] holds the distinction of being the only person at the St. Moritz Hotel in Los Angeles able to room next to Ray Collins for longer than three weeks at a time.

 

1. Don't Eat The Yellow Snow

The Crux Of The Biscuit (2016) liner notes

[Basic Tracks] Recorded at Bolic Sound Studios, 5/30/73
Engineer: Barry Keene
Original Recording Source: 2" 16-Track Analog Tape Master

Judy Frisk Parlato, on personal correspondence with Patrick Neve

One unknown detail: on a Zappa bus trip in Washington, it was snowing outside the bus and a dog was peeing in the snow. Dave [Parlato] told me, "I looked out the bus window and said, 'Don't eat the yellow snow!' A few days later Frank had turned it into a songtitle."

Robert Froggie Camarena, December 7, 2003

I sang [...] "Nanook no-no."

 

2. Nanook Rubs It

The Crux Of The Biscuit (2016) liner notes

[Basic Tracks] Recorded at Bolic Sound Studios, 5/28/73
Engineer: Barry Keene
Original Recording Source: 2" 16-Track Analog Tape Master

Robert Froggie Camarena, December 7, 2003

I sang [...] "Strictly Commercial," [...] "Peak-a-boo," [...] etc.

GREAT GOOGLY-MOOGLY

FZ, KMET-FM, Los Angeles, June 25, 1974 (as quoted by Charles Ulrich)

"Going Down Slow" [by Howlin' Wolf, 1961] contains the original version of "great googly moogly". The first time I ever heard "great googly moogly" any place is in the middle of this song. And he does a really good rendition of it.

Right down to the parish of Saint Alfonzo . . .

Rick Rosas, quoted by Dominic Priore, Riot On Sunset Strip, 2007, p. 56

[In the early '60s] Eddie Davis and Billy Cardenas would produce your records on their label, Faro. Billy Cardenas would have you booked all over, places like Kennedy Hall, Montebello Ballroom, the Big Union Hall in Vernon, Garfield High School, and St. Alphonsus, which Frank Zappa later sang about on Apostrophe.

 

3. St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast

Robert Froggie Camarena, December 3, 2003

I sang on St. Alphonzo's Pancake Breakfast & Apostrophe [prob. "Stink-Foot"].

Debbie and Lynn. Hmm. [...] The recordings were done at different times. They weren't there the day I did my parts. The day I did my parts it was with George, Ruben, & Nappy. Upstairs at Paramount Studios.

Robert Froggie Camarena, December 7, 2003

Can you really distinguish my voice? How about on St Alfonzo's where I sang the high background "Hurt Me Hurt Me oh yeah" [...], "St. Alfonzo," etc.

FZ, GTK, Australia, June, 1973, from "The Story Of 'Don't Eat The Yellow Snow/St. Alphonzo's Pancake Breakfast'," on The Crux Of The Biscuit (2016)

There's a margarine in the United States called Imperial Margarine, and they have this commercial that is in such a bad taste it makes you wanna die every time it comes on.

There's a young black gentleman sitting in a bed, and he's just woken up, and he's got his covers up like this. And then his young girlfriend comes trudging into the room; she's carrying a tray. She walks in, and he goes, "Oh, boy! Pancakes and butter!" And she says, "Good morning, your highness! No, it's not butter!" And as soon as she says "Your highness" this crown appears on his head. It goes, "ding!" Like that. And he takes a big mouthful of these pancakes and starts shoveling it in and goes "Mmm . . . this really tastes better than butter," you know. God, it's horrible!

Imperial Margerina
[Imperial Margerine ad, 1971]

 

5. Cosmik Debris

The Crux Of The Biscuit (2016) liner notes

Recorded at Bolic Sound Studios, 5/28/73
Engineer: Barry Keene
Original Recording Source: 2" 16-Track Analog Tape Master
Mixed by Kerry McNabb at Paramount Recording Studios 1973 to 1/4" 2-Track Stereo Analog Tape

Edits

Apostrophe (') (Zappa Records, 1990) The Crux Of The Biscuit (2016)
  0:00-0:06
0:00-4:13 0:06-4:21

 

6. Excentrifugal Forz

Joe Travers, alt.fan.frank-zappa, January 12, 2000

"Excentrifugal Forz"—John Guerin

One of John's signature drum licks is evident at :25 into "Excentrifugal Forz". Then listen to Hot Rats, 3:14 into "It Must Be A Camel". There's the lick, only faster. Also compare the opening drum fill of Joni Mitchell's "Help Me" off of Court And Spark to the first drum fill of "Forz". Those are definitive John Guerin tom-tom sounds. Most likely the same drum set. (That's a guess.)

Derek Milhouse, September 15, 2005

FZ's guitar part at the beginning of the song [...] sounds to me an awful lot like FZ is playing the electric bozouki, as he did on "Canard du Jour" on Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar.

The Crux Of The Biscuit (2016) liner notes

Recorded at Paramount Recording Studios, 7/1972
Engineer: Kerry McNabb
Original Recording Source: 2" 16-Track Analog Tape Master
Mixed by Kerry McNabb at Paramount Recording Studios 1973 to 1/4" 2-Track Stereo Analog Tape

PLAYERS:
FZ—Lead Vocal/Guitar/Bass
George Duke—Keyboards
Jean-Luc Ponty—Violin
John Guerin—Drums

 

7. Apostrophe'

The Crux Of The Biscuit (2016) liner notes

Recorded at Electric Lady Studios, 11/8/72
Engineer: Unknown
Original Recording Source: 2" 16-Track Analog Tape Master
Mixed by Kerry McNabb at Paramount Recording Studios 1973 to 1/4" 2-Track Stereo Analog Tape

PLAYERS:
FZ—Lead Guitar
Tony Duran—Rhythm Guitar
Jack Bruce—Bass
Jim Gordon—Drums

Edits

Apostrophe (') (Zappa Records, 1990) The Crux Of The Biscuit (2016)
"Apostrophe'" "Apostrophe' (Mix Outtake)" "Energy Frontier (Bridge)"
(bass & drums)
  0:00-0:00 ("Stink-Foot")  
0:00-1:19 0:00-1:19  
    0:00-0:55
1:19-1:24 1:19-1:25 0:55-1:01
    1:01-1:35
1:24-1:30 1:25-1:30 1:35-1:41
    1:41-1:46
1:30-1:47 1:30-1:47 1:46-2:03
    2:03-2:09
1:47-2:43 1:47-2:43 2:09-3:05
  2:43-3:00 3:05-3:21
    3:21-3:27
  3:00-3:06 3:27-3:32
    3:32-3:55
  3:06-3:17 3:55-4:06
    4:06-4:11
  3:17-3:45 4:11-4:39
2:43-2:54 3:45-3:56 4:39-4:50
    4:50-6:08
  3:56-4:07 6:08-6:19
    6:19-6:25
  4:07-4:24 6:25-6:41
    6:41-7:37
2:54-3:33 4:24-5:03 7:37-8:15
    8:15-8:23
  5:03-5:28  
3:33-3:44 5:28-5:39  
  5:39-5:45  
3:44-3:56 5:45-5:56  
  5:56-6:07  
3:56-4:24 6:07-6:36  
  6:36-6:42  
4:24-4:44 6:42-7:01  
  7:01-7:16  
4:44-5:06 7:16-7:38  
  7:38-7:49  
5:06-5:18 7:49-8:00  
  8:00-8:22  
5:18-5:31 8:22-8:36  
  8:36-8:47  
5:31-5:50 8:47-9:07  

Jack Bruce

Jack Bruce, liner notes for Can You Follow? (6 CD, Esoteric Recordings ECLECBOX 1, June 23, 2008)

Whilst in the USA I also played a session with Frank Zappa and Jim Gordon that ended up on Frank's album "Apostrophe". We had met before and he suggested that it might be fun to work together. For that session he originally wanted me to use a cello on the track, but as my instrument was back in London he hired one from a company in New York. It was so bad that I couldn't use it. That's when he suggested doing something with me playing my EB 3 bass and the track "Apostrophe" came out of that.

FZ, quoted by Ed Baker, The Hot Flash, May, 1974

I met Jack [Bruce] in 1967 when we were working at the Garrick Theater in New York. And I've seen him on and off since that time and when that track was recorded I was traveling around with a ten-piece group of which Jim Gordon was drummer. [...] Well, Jim Gordon was a friend of his and when we were in NY we went to see the concert of Bruce, West and Laing at Radio City Music Hall and so after the concert we went over to his hotel and talked for a while and he had the day off and we had the day off, so he decided to go into the studio and jam.

Jack Bruce, Past Tours, 1969-1973, JackBruce.com

11/06/72—'Radio City Music Hall' New York, New York

FZ, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, April 23, 1975

It was an interesting experience, and we probably will not work together anymore. What was wrong with it? Nothing! Nothing at all, you know, it's just that . . . is he? He is? He's in jail? See what I know about this stuff? George says he's in jail all the time. So that makes it tough.

FZ, interviewed by Steve Rosen, Guitar Player, January, 1977

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. On that solo on "Apostrophe" I'm using an SG with a Barcus-Berry on the bridge, and that's being sent to one of the channels, then the other side is coming out of a Pignose. And there's an attack differential between how fast the Barcus-Berry speaks and how fast the Pignose speaks. So you've got a sharp attack on one side and then the rest of the note following it on the other.

 

Informants: Tan Mitsugu, Patrick Buzby and Charles Ulrich

8. Uncle Remus

The Crux Of The Biscuit (2016) liner notes

Recorded at Paramount Recording Studios, 5/24/72
Engineer: Kerry McNabb
Original Recording Source: 2" 16-Track Analog Tape Master
Mixed by Kerry McNabb at Paramount Recording Studios 1973 to 1/4" 2-Track Stereo Analog Tape

Edits

Apostrophe (') (Zappa Records, 1990) The Crux Of The Biscuit (2016)
0:00-1:27 0:00-1:27
  1:27-2:30
1:27-2:12 2:30-3:14
  3:14-3:20
2:12-2:44 3:20-3:52
  3:52-3:59
FZ, quoted by Ed Baker, The Hot Flash, May, 1974

Q. Did George Duke write the lyrics to "Uncle Remus."?

FZ. No, I did.

Q. You did? Because I thought it was from the point of view of a black person.

FZ. Well, it sort of is. It's not exactly from the point of view of a black person. I don't think that a black person would actually write that song. It's not exactly . . . . there are subtle differences in point of view in there. I think that it's something that should have been said. If you've ever seen these little jockey on the lawn. They've had it coming for a long time.

George Duke, "Discography—1970s," George Duke Online

[On The Aura Will Prevail (1975)] I also recorded "Uncle Remus," an original song of mine that Frank wrote lyrics for, and was first released on his album Apostrophe.

 

9. Stink-Foot

FZ, interviewed by Steve Rosen, Guitar Player, January, 1977

On "Stink-Foot" there's an interesting sound where I'm using an acoustic guitar with a magnetic pickup on it and a Barcus-Berry on the bridge. The Barcus-Berry is going into one channel, and the magnetic pickup is going to a Mu-tron and the other channel, so you have a sharp attack and an enveloped attack. It gives a lot of space.

FZ, interviewed by Steve Rosen, Record Review, June, 1982

There's a solo on "Stink-foot" where I use an acoustic guitar with a Barcus-Berry on it and that's going to one side and the electric output of the acoustic is going to a Mutron on the right side. A hybrid kind of thing.

Robert Froggie Camarena, December 7, 2003

Also [I sing] in "Stink-Foot" in the part that goes "The poodle bites, the poodle chews it..." YES.

petertohen, Zappateers, October 12, 2017

So I just heard "Merry Christmas Baby," by Booker T. & The M.G.'s, for the first time, and I must say that the similarities between that and "Stinkfoot" are just a little too close. I'm thinking mostly of the [Apostrophe (')] version.

Foot Odor Commercial

FZ, interviewed by Dave Perkins, Eyeopener, November 22, 1973

There's one [song] inspired by the Mennen foot-spray commercial where the dog keels over after the guy takes his shoes off. Do you know how hard it is to write a song about something like that?

Charles Ulrich, April 27, 2008

Dr. Scholl's early 1970's foot odor commercial

I guess the commercial wasn't very effective, since before Apostrophe was even released FZ was already describing it as an ad for Mennen foot spray rather than Dr. Scholl's.

http://www.afka.net/Articles/1973-11_Eyeopener.htm

The Drummer

Joe Travers, alt.fan.frank-zappa, January 12, 2000

"Stink-Foot"—Aynsley Dunbar

John [Guerin] used single-headed tom-toms. Aynsley Dunbar used double-headed tom-toms. That cancels John out for "Stink-foot". Those are definitely double-headed toms. Aynsley plays the the bulk of "Stink-Foot" with brushes. Just like he does on "Lonesome Cowboy Burt" on 200 Motels. Check 'em out.

What is your Conceptual Continuity?

Barry Hansen, "The Grand Design Of Which Apostrophe Is But An Element," Circular, April 29, 1974

This is the idea of "conceptual continuity," Zappa's belief that everything he creates and performs in any medium is part of a single continuous artistic and communicative experience.

"Instead of thinking of each individual unit, like a guitar solo, a song or a series of songs, as being an end in itself, the way I look at the stuff is that all these units deserve ultimate care and concern, but you also have to think about what it means in terms of the overall output structure."

 

 

Research, compilation and maintenance by Román García Albertos
http://globalia.net/donlope/fz/
This page updated: 2017-11-04