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"Weird Al" Yankovic

 

Before I got addicted to music, the only thing I ever listened to was Weird Al. Of course, most weird kids liked Weird Al at one time or another.

review index: Dare to be Stupid / Polka Party! / Even Worse / UHF / Off the Deep End / Alapalooza

missing albums: the first two and the last two

apex: Even Worse
nadir: Alapalooza
overlooked: n/a


Dare to be Stupid - 1985

Rating: ***
Best songs: Like a Surgeon, One More Minute, Dare to be Stupid, Yoda
Worst songs: Cable TV, I Want a New Duck, Girls Just Want to Have Lunch

 

On album #3, Al does a couple great covers, a couple great originals, and the rest isn't anything to write home about.

The opener "Like a Surgeon" is a catchy-as-hell (thanks, Madonna! it's better than that "Music" shit, anyway...) ode to malpractice, and "Yoda" is a lot funnier than the sequel that he'd release 14 years later. "Dare to be Stupid" out-Devos Devo, and "One More Minute" is a delightfully sadistic Elvis-style ballad.

Okay, so maybe this isn't the only worthwhile material: the Dixieland/music hall sendup "This Is the Life" isn't that humorous lyrically, but the totally-inappropriate guitar and scratching breaks are hilarious. And "Hooked on Polkas" makes a great polka medley out of a bunch of those songs you hear on the "Best of the 80's" compilation TV commercials. (I love the "Owner of a Lonely Heart" part in particular)

But the rest? "Cable TV" is unfunny and musically uninteresting, and the only thing "Girls Just Want to Have Lunch" has going for it is Al's gruff vocals replacing Cyndi Lauper's squeaky ones. And "I Want a New Duck" proves that even Al can't make a Huey Lewis song worthwhile to listen to. There's also a rather pointless version of the "George of the Jungle" theme which sounds almost entirely like the original (if you've ever actually heard the original, that is). Overall, a rather mixed bag, to use a tired cliché.


Polka Party! - 1986

Rating: **1/2
Best songs: Living With a Hernia, Dog Eat Dog, One of Those Days, Christmas at Ground Zero
Worst songs: Addicted to Spuds, Good Enough for Now, Here's Johnny, Toothless People

 

This time, the covers uniformly suck (except for the polka, which features more great 80's hits, and the hilarious "Living With a Hernia"). There are some wonderful originals, however: "One of Those Days" juxtaposes things that happen to everyone on a bad day with more catastrophic events, "Dog Eat Dog" is a Talking Heads tribute (Al sounds _exactly_ like David Byrne) on the subject of 80's corporate America, and "Christmas at Ground Zero" will probably not be sung at grandma's next December. There's also a decent song in "Don't Wear Those Shoes", which, though it only has about one joke in it, is musically a nice skewering of corporate rock. But the c&w "Good Enough for Now" is awful.

So, will he get better with the next album? Tune in tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel!


Even Worse - 1988

Rating: ****
Best songs: (This Song's Just) Six Words Long, Fat, Twister, Good Old Days
Worst songs: Lasagna, I Think I'm a Clone Now

 

Obvious introduction: Even Worse? More like Even Better!

Okay, the covers are uneven again. "(This Song's Just) Six Words Long" and "Fat" are wonderful, and "Alimony" at least earns points for a pseudo-live treatment, but who wants to hear parodies of long-forgotten songs like "I Think I'm a Clone Now" and incredibly annoying crap like "Lasagna"?

Those originals are still great, though: "Melanie" and the James Taylor take-off "Good Old Days" are funny in a dark, disturbing manner, and "Twister" takes the Beastie Boys and Milton Bradley and combines them into an absolutely uproarious 45-second melange. The rest is... well, okay, though not a bundle of knee-slapping hilarity. However, there's nothing as terrible as, say, "Good Enough for Now" or "Cable TV" this time. Undoubtedly Al's best yet (unless, of course, the first two albums are two of the greatest albums ever recorded).


UHF - 1989

Rating: ***1/2
Best songs: The Hot Rocks Polka, Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies, She Drives Like Crazy
Worst songs: Attack of the Radioactive Hamsters from a Planet Near Mars, Isle Thing

 

Partially a soundtrack to the hilarious film of the same name. And would you believe it, the soundtrack stuff is great? "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies" (featuring Mark Knopfler on guitar!) is basically the words to the "Beverly Hillbillies" theme over top "Money for Nothing", but man, is that song ever catchy! There's also some hilarious bits from the movie -- the promo for "Ghandi II", the "Spatula City" commercial, and the mercifully brief "Let Me Be Your Hog". The instrumental "Fun Zone" is okay, but nothing to jump out of your chair for.

And the rest? Yeah, you guessed it, mixed: There's another hilarious polka, this time using a whopping nine Rolling Stones songs as its basis, and "She Drives Like Crazy" takes that Fine Young Cannibals song and actually makes it enjoyable. "Generic Blues" and "Spam" are good too, but I don't have anything to say about 'em right now.

On the other side of the clichéd coin, "Attack of the Radioactive Hamsters from a Planet Near Mars" is totally worthless except for the 50's sci-fi theremin tucked away into it, and the Tone-Loc parody "Isle Thing" is dull dull dull. Also, I find that "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota" plods on for too long. However, this one's pretty good on the whole. Not quite as good as the last one, though.


Off the Deep End - 1992

Rating: ***
Best songs: Trigger Happy, Polka Your Eyes Out, When I Was Your Age, Don't You Love Me Anymore
Worst songs: I Was Only Kidding, I Can't Watch This, Airline Amy

 

Well, um. "Smells Like Nirvana" gave his commercial success a little boost, but as for the rest of the parodies -- "I Can't Watch This" is as dull as the original, and the others are pretty nondescript (except for another wonderful polka). And the originals -- "When I Was Your Age" is a great thumping octogenarian's anthem, "Trigger Happy" is a hilarious bit of surf music, and "Don't You Love Me Anymore" is another great anti-love song, but "Airline Amy" is more yawning balladry. And boy is "I Was Only Kidding" a real drag. Overall, this is Al's least consistent album since Polka Party!.


Alapalooza - 1993

Rating: *
Best songs: Frank's 2000" TV, Harvey the Wonder Hamster
Worst songs: Bedrock Anthem, Achy Breaky Song, Bohemian Polka, Young Dumb & Ugly

 

Yikes, where did this crap come from? A bunch of unfunny parodies of already-crappy songs ("Jurassic Park", "Bedrock Anthem", "Achy Breaky Song", "Livin' in the Fridge"), a polka version of a song that's too camp to be effectively parodied ("Bohemian Polka"), lifeless generic originals ("She Never Told Me She Was a Mime", "Young Dumb & Ugly" -- Al, you've done hair-metal several times already -- and "Traffic Jam"), and no less than TWO Peter Gabriel stylistic parodies ("Talk Soup" and "Waffle King", which directly lift part of "Steam" and "Sledgehammer", respectively).

So, are there any redeeming qualities to this album? Yes: "Frank's 2000" TV" has a wonderful melody (love those harmony vocals!), and "Harvey the Wonder Hamster" is a cute little 30-second diversion from the dull other stuff. Also, "Jurassic Park" and "Waffle King" are at least listenable. The rest is skippable.


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