Saturday, June 18, 2011

UHF – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff (1989)

PARODIES: 10. I feel like for some reason, this is going to be a controversial opinion, but here goes… the UHF soundtrack is Weird Al’s best album. Every track is perfect, and I’ve re-listened to this album more than any of the other ones listed here. If what I’ve read on the internet is to be believed, this is also the only Weird Al album that is out-of-print (although the tracks can be downloaded from iTunes and the like). So, you see how I feel like I must be in the minority here, right? Nonetheless, as soon as I hit play and Mark Knopfler’s guitar kicked in on the “Money For Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies*” mash-up (yes, he re-played the guitar part himself), I found myself pumping my fist (yes, literally) and getting ready to settle in with a classic album. While none of the other parodies got much publicity (they aren’t actually in the movie – they’re among the “other stuff”), they are primo Al, turning R.E.M.’s “Stand” into “Spam” (the canned meat, not junk email – this was ’89), turning Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing” into a TV-obsessed gem about that Gilligan’s “Isle Thing,” and changing one word in the title of a Fine Young Cannibals’ hit to create “She Drives Like Crazy,” which is self-explanatory.

ORIGINALS: 10. One moment that has always stuck with me from this album comes during “Generic Blues,” where Al tells his guitarist, “Make it talk, son.” Then the guitarist proceeds to play a repetitive two-note solo that sounds like an ambulance siren. Once his eight bars are almost over, Al says, “Okay, now make it shut up.” Not having much experience with the blues at age 8, I didn’t truly get the joke: I just liked the way Al said it. Now that I’ve actually heard a lot of blues – and heard that fateful phrase, “Make it talk” – I can’t help but think at the end of a solo, “Now make it shut up.” The other originals are utterly entertaining, too. Al rejiggers his “Slime Creatures From Outer Space” idea from Dare To Be Stupid into the more absurdly entertaining “Attack of the Radioactive Hamsters From A Planet Near Mars.” There are two hilarious sketches from the UHF film, the kick-ass movie theme song, plus an instrumental that acts as the theme to Stanley Spudowski’s Clubhouse in the movie. That’s not even mentioning the excellent 7-minute closer, “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota,” which spins a long-winded Harry Chapin-ish shaggy dog story about seeking out a stupid roadside attraction. Many folks champion “Albuquerque” from Running With Scissors because it’s so long and rambling and weird, but I think “Ball of Twine” does this sort of thing a whole heck of a lot better.

POLKA MEDLEY: 10. This time around, instead of medley-izing a bunch of hits, Al picked a bunch of Rolling Stones songs. Not sure why, but I’m glad he did. When I was 8 years old, I didn’t know the originals of these songs, but this medley made me love them before I really loved them. I think I am particularly fond of “Shattered” largely because of Al’s performance of it here.

OVERALL: 10. You may disagree, but this is the hands-down winner, y’all. Best Weird Al album ever.

1 comment:

  1. Not controversial at all. Infact, I was just telling one of my friends the other day that UHF really has no bad songs on it (although Hamsters really is just an inferior rehash of Slime Creatures), and has a number of gems. Generic Blues is Al at his best, and it's impossible to hate Twine, even with its run time (which just makes it more epic!). These two songs were performed at my first 2 live Al concerts, and both were highlights of the night.

    BTW - go back to Al's early early days, and he was doing a PARODY of Shattered called Fatter (which was a lyrical template for the Michael Jackson Fat).