The Father Of Mothers Plus One Son

By Fred Dellar

Hi-Fi News & Record Review, August 1974

FRANK ZAPPA: 'APOSTROPHE' Don't eat that yellow snow; Nanook rubs it in; St. Alfonzo's pancake breakfast; Father O'Blivion; Cosmik debris; Excentrifugal forz; Apostrophe; Uncle Remus; Stink foot
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NILSSON: 'SON OF DRACULA' It's he who will be king; Daybreak at my front door; Count Down meets Merlin and Amber; The moonbeam song; Perhaps this is all a dream; Remember; Without you; The Count's vulnerability; Down; Frankenstein, Merlin and the operation; Jump into the fire; Abdication of Count Down; The end
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Side one of the new Zappa album is virtually one long mish-mash of songs and stories integrated in some curious way. Everything is totally irreverent and the humour often doesn't rise above schoolboy level – it says much for Zappa's delivery that it works for around fifty per cent of the time. The reverse is not that much different: the title track is an instrumental on which Zappa plays some adoit guitar, helped by Jack Bruce on bass and Jim Gordon on drums – and Uncle Remus is happy enough if one doesn't pay too much heed to Zappas nonsensical lyrics – but, on the whole, it's a reflection of what has gone before. This time out it's purely Uncle Frank's album, the stellar line-up ( Sugar Cane Harris, Aynsley Dunbar, George Duke, Jean Luc Ponty etc.) credited on the album notes being subjugated to a minor role on this occasion. I must admit to liking Apostrophe . . . but I can imagine why an awful lot of people will find it tasteless or pointless. Certainly it's not for those seeking the Zappa of Hot Rats [A:2] (= Recording very good, Performance good).

I suppose there is something of an analogy between Apostrophe and Son of Dracula, which contains the dialogue and music to Harry Nilsson's spoof horror film. But I won't dwell on that at this moment. Suffice to say that Son of makes a fine momento of a trip to the cinema (I'm assuming now that the film gets a general release – which is doubtful these days!) and that Ringo sounds as beautifully inadequate as ever in his role as Merlin. But those who possess Nilsson Schmilsson will already own the majority of the vocal tracks that appear on this one. Paul Buckmaster is responsible for the incidental music. [A: 2]  (= Recording very good, Performance good)