México City, late nineties, any given Saturday. On the rare occasion when I convinced my brother to go second hand music shopping and swapping to a cultural bazaar by the name of Tianguis del Chopo, we would swim amidst the ocean of black t-shirts, bad hairdos, smudgy tattoos, horrible speaker systems, stolen goods, emos (I swear to you they were called goth back then), punks, and emo-punks, and the oceans of trash, and thrash too… a sort of Aztec Camden, if you will. Why on Earth would anyone make themselves go through that assault on very stoned senses on a sunny, sweaty, sweary and weary Saturday morning? Cheap records! Yeah, sometimes the music on them would be cheap as well. I remember, if my prescription is correct, humans had these retro-type things called cassette tapes. Wut? One said morning, my brother came across this one tape: Apostrophe, by Frank Zappa… for a buck? Must have been the equivalent of a small bag of chips, and it looked EXACTLY AS GOOD as a bag of chips. And a bag of Cheap Thrills it turned out to be… I mean, it looked pretty standard legit, you know? It had the song titles written with a pen too! I thought: Zappa… what a fucking visionary! He even makes his merchandise look as if it’s been pirated… or wait… was it piracy? FUCK! Well, having publicly admitted to unintendedly unintended crime, I might as well finish my story before the eye in the sky come get me some of that old: “What’s in ya pockets, boy?” thing that’s getting really old by now… cause I ain’t got nuttin. It’s all up here, in the head.
After some bad spat-on canasta tacos and horchata drinks, brother and I decided to head home in dad’s Tsuru 93 (smooth! Ain’t nothing like cruising round, blasting some music from 1974 on your super badass baby gray blue office boy car!) What? To us, it was the world. Well, that shit played tapes, not CDs… so all we had was this blurry-covered copy of Apostrophe, and figured, why the hell not? As it started, you could hear the needle making sweet love to the vinyl it was ripped from and the small particles of magnetized dust gathered around for the sinal wave show. But boy, what emerged from the speakers was immaculate geniality, a story about dreaming of rock loving eskimos and seal hunters shoving urine-packed snow cones in each other’s eyes, trying and failing to fix said eyes with faith healing, stinky feet and… ONE GODDAM TALKING DOG! Can you believe this freak? And all narrated through the most deliciously bizarre, intricate, funny, direct and imaginative music bits. No one’s ever gotten quite as funky as Franky did on peak Apostrophe. The exact opposite of most other musicians of the time, or any other time, Zappa and his cohorts would sound absolutely sober, just absorbed by simultaneous perfection and spontaneity. So much so, that I didn’t even mind side A of the tape stopping abruptly during Uncle Remus. I’m sorry, does ANYONE really need me reviewing this album? We all know Zappa is bigger than Lennon and thus bigger than Jesus, and wouldn’t be caught dead at… oh wait. He IS dead. What a nasty shame, God.
Intelligence at its best. Man, it’s awesome hearing this thing all over again, properly remastered. It all sounds even more perfect now; some tiny layers which were gradually lost from my brother’s tape are now heard on high definition. I mean: don’t you just LOVE the outdoors but then put your glasses on and realize it was twice as beautiful as you thought it was now that you can see all those tiny little pixels of information that make up a story? Eventually, the Tsuru was pawned… the tape got demagnetized, but my love and admiration for the highest IQ in the history of music ever (sorry, Bach and Beck! Quotation needed) remains intact and not only that: it grows greater with each sweet listen. Why do I not even bother to mention the amalgam of hundreds of musical styles, the line-up, and thecredits? Hell, no! By now you should have an idea of who FZ is, and all I can tell you is this is one of my favorites of him. If you don’t get it, you never will.
End of rant.
Words: Air Nest Vera