Sunday, June 19, 2011
"Weird Al" Yankovic In 3-D (1984)
PARODIES: 8. Two words: “Eat It.” 5 parodies and almost all of them classics, except for a slightly weak reworking of Men Without Hats’ “Safety Dance” as a song about dreading “The Brady Bunch.” When I first heard this album as a kid, I hadn’t heard the original songs that inspired tracks like “I Lost On Jeopardy” (“Who’s Greg Kihn?”), but now I can appreciate stuff I missed. For example, I like the way Al’s lyrics play on Sting’s original lyrics, in his Police parody “King of Suede,” plus he seems to be paying tribute in the song to old-time song parodist Allen Sherman’s “Ballad of Harry Lewis.”
ORIGINALS: 8. Not all of the originals are as memorable as the 6-minute “Nature Trail To Hell,” describing a gory 3-D slasher film in gleeful detail, but there are no duds. The lyrical references to infomercial king “Mr. Popeil” might fail to connect without checking Wikipedia, but that particular song’s impersonation of the B-52’s is impeccable and introduces Al’s knack for style parodies and not just parody lyrics.
POLKA MEDLEY: 10. The one that introduced the template Al and his band would follow for the next 25 years or so: Take a bunch of rock songs and take the rock out of them, by playing them on accordion, banjo, and other instruments that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Lawrence Welk record. The selections are also quite witty: snippets of classics by The Beatles, The Who, and Jimi Hendrix mingle with oddball moments from Devo, The Clash, and Berlin, whose completely bizarre “Sex (I’m A…)” was introduced to me by this medley.
OVERALL: 9. One of Al’s very best. The main thing that keeps this from being a perfect record – and one of the main hazards of the work that Al does – is the occasional datedness of his pop-culture references.