Category: Was (Not Was)

Was (Not Was) – Born to Laugh at Tornadoes

ARTIST: Was (Not Was) 220px-Born_to_Laugh_at_Tornadoes
TITLE: Born to Laugh at Tornadoes
YEAR RELEASED: 1983
CHART ACTION: #134
SINGLES: Smile, Knocked Down, Made Small (Treated Like a Rubber Ball), (Return to the Valley of) Out Come the Freaks (#41 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Maybe on Dr. Demento
LINEUP: Don Was, David Was and a LOT of guests: Marshall Crenshaw, Ozzy Osbourne, Mitch Ryder, Vinnie Vincent, Mel Torme, Sweet Pea Atkinson, Sir Harry Bowens, Wayne Kramer, Doug Feiger, Bob Kulick and others
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A bunch of well-produced genre goofs with some clever concepts and lyrics.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: When you’ve got tracks called “Man vs. the Empire Brain Building” and “Zaz Turned Blue” on the same record, you know this isn’t going to be a serious political statement. What it is, is hilarious.

Not only are the lyrics and concepts of the songs a hoot, the production (as you’d expect from the Was Brothers) makes each song an excellent representation of the genre they are parodying. Plus, the guest stars that they got to sing the songs (Ozzy, the Knack’s Doug Feiger, Mitch Ryder and Mel Torme on “Zaz Turned Blue”) are solid and add to the wonderment.

The song “The Party Broke Up” is probably the standout – mainly because “Needless to say, the party broke up” is a ready-made catch phrase AND the situations are gut-busting.

Put this on, and you can’t help to smile.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Madonna (!) auditioned for the vocals on this album, but didn’t make the grade. Her vocals were done by one Carol Hall.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, single mixes and some remixes

GRADE: A-: Some albums going for humor sound dated after a while. This doesn’t.

Was (Not Was) – Was (Not Was)

ARTIST: Was (Not Was) Was_Not_Was_ST
TITLE: Was (Not Was)
YEAR RELEASED: 1981
CHART ACTION: No
SINGLES: Out Come the Freaks (#16 Club Play), Where Did Your Heart Go, Tell Me That I’m Dreaming (#3 Club Play), Wheel Me Out (Deluxe Version only, #34 Club Play)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nah
LINEUP: David Was, Don Was, Sir Harry Bowens, Sweet Pea Atkinson, and a bunch of Detroit guests like Wayne Kramer and Bruce Nazarian.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Oddball Detroiters make an oddball dance / disco record and gets some great club play. In a few years, they’re in-demand producers based on their work on their own albums. Don Was, of course, is the more famous Was.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Disco and dance were about fun, and Was (Not Was) took fun to the next level – being zany while keeping the groove. This debut album is all about the rhythm and the production (and the lyrics).

I don’t think anyone hearing this in 1981 would think that the Was “brothers” would be anything but a one-or-two album joke. But great music and great taste in guests kept them going.

NOTES & MINUTAE: “Out Come the Freaks” has four full version and one campfire version (as it were) and is on four different Was (Not Was) albums.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. The re-release re-titled the record Out Come the Freaks” and added various singles (“Hello Operator” and “Christmas Time in Motor City”) and also has each version of “Out Come the Freaks” (except the campfire version) and a 12” of “Tell Me That I’m Dreaming”.

GRADE: B : It’s a fun goof of a record. I’m shedding a lot of the remixes, though.