UHF – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff
|UHF - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff|
|Soundtrack album by "Weird Al" Yankovic|
|Released||July 18, 1989|
|Recorded||December 1988 - May 1989|
|Genre||Comedy, rock, pop, rap|
|Label||Rock 'n Roll Records
|"Weird Al" Yankovic chronology|
|Singles from UHF|
UHF – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff is the sixth studio album by "Weird Al" Yankovic, released in 1989. The album is the fifth and final of Yankovic's to be produced by former The McCoys guitarist Rick Derringer. Recorded between December 1988 and May 1989, the album served as the official soundtrack to 1989 film of the same name, although the original score by John Du Prez is omitted. The album's lead single was the titular "UHF", although it was not a hit and did not chart.
The music on UHF is built around parodies and pastiches of rock, rap, and pop music of the late-1980s, featuring jabs at Dire Straits, Tone Lōc, Fine Young Cannibals, and R.E.M.. The album also features many "style parodies," or musical imitations that come close to, but do not copy, existing artists. These style parodies include imitations of specific artists like the Harry Chapin, as well as imitations of various musical genres like blues. The album also features many music cuts from the film as well as some of the commercials, like "Spatula City", and other parody bits, like "Gandhi II".
Peaking at only 146 on the Billboard 200, the album was not a commercial success, and received only lukewarm critical attention. The UHF soundtrack is one of Yankovic's few studio albums not to be certified either Gold or Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in the United States. It would also be Yankovic's last domestic studio album to be released on vinyl record until 2011's Alpocalypse.
Background and recording
Following the success of Yankovic's 1988 album Even Worse, which featured the Michael Jackson spoof "Fat", Yankovic pitched a screenplay—co-written by his manager Jay Levey—to Orion Pictures called UHF. A satire of the television and film industries, the filmed featured Yankovic as George Newman, a man who stumbles into managing a low-budget UHF television station and, surprisingly, finds success with his eclectic programming choices. Also starring Michael Richards, Fran Drescher, and Victoria Jackson, it brought floundering studio Orion their highest test scores since the movie RoboCop. Although the movie made a little over six million domestically—out of a budget of five million—it was considered unsuccessful.
In December of 1988, Yankovic returned to the studio to record the soundtrack to his feature film. Once again, former The McCoys guitarist Rick Derringer was brought in to produce the album; this, however, would be Derringer's last production credit for Yankovic, as subsequent studio albums would be produced by the artist himself. Backing Yankovic were Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz on drums, Steve Jay on bass, and Jim West on guitar. The album was recorded in six different sessions at both Santa Monica Sound Records in Santa Monica, California and Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles. During the first session, the song "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies" was recorded. The second session yielded the titular "UHF" and "Let Me Be Your Hog". During the third session, Yankovic recorded "Stanley Spudowski's Theme"—which would later be renamed "Fun Zone"—as well as the skit "Gandhi II". Only one song was recorded during the fourth sessions, the skit "Spatula City". The fifth recording session yielded five songs: "Spam", "Attack of the Radioactive Hamsters From a Planet Near Mars", "Hot Rocks Polka", "Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota", and "Generic Blues". The sixth and final session produced the two parodies "Isle Thing" and "She Drives Like Crazy".
On February 24, 1989, Yankovic recorded the first original song for the album, "Let Me Be Your Hog". The song is a short rock snippet that is heard in the movie as Newman's uncle Harvey (Stanley Brock) lounges in his pool. Originally, Yankovic had wanted to use the 1974 single "Kung Fu Fighting" by Carl Douglas for the scene, but he could not gain the rights to the song, and thus "Let Me Be Your Hog" was recorded. Yankovic then recorded the theme from his movie, the titular "UHF". The lyrics of the song are written in the style of a TV station's large promotional campaign. On February 25, Yankovic recorded the instrumental "Fun Zone", also known as "Stanley Spudowski's Theme". Originally written four years earlier for a failed Saturday Night Live replacement titled Welcome to the Fun Zone, this song is played at the beginning of every "Weird Al" concert.
Three months later, on May 24, 1989, Yankovic three more originals. The first of these, "Attack of the Radioactive Hamsters from a Planet Near Mars", is a rock song about a number of mutated hamsters terrorizing the planet. The second original song recorded, "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota", is a folk song about a family road trip to a tourist location in Minnesota. Musically, the song was inspired both by the book Roadside America, which "featured all the campy places around the country that one could possibly visit", as well as the music of Harry Chapin and Gordon Lightfoot, which Yankovic described as "storyteller songs, [with] sprawling narratives." The final original song recorded for the album was "Generic Blues". This song was Yankovic's attempt to write "the ultimate blues song". After the release of the song, B.B. King mentioned it as one of his top ten favorite blues songs.
UHF – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff is also notable in that it was Yankovic's first—and to this date, only—studio album to dabble in the art of skits. The first of these segments is called "Gandhi II" and is a re-imagining Mahatma Gandhi as the hero of a blaxploitation-style sequel to the film Gandhi. The skit is a spoof of the theme and promos for the film Shaft. The second skit is entitled "Spatula City" and is an advertisement for a spatula outlet store. These short segments were originally featured in the UHF film as commercials. In fact, several skits that were featured in the film, such as "Plots 'R Us" and "Conan the Librarian" did not make it onto the album.
Parodies and polka
On December 20, 1988, Yankovic recorded "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies". The song features the slightly-altered lyrics of The Beverly Hillbillies theme song set to the tune of "Money for Nothing". The song appears in its entirety within UHF as a computer-animated dream sequence, framed as if it were part of a music video. As part of his terms that allowed Yankovic to record this parody, Dire Straits guitarist and "Money for Nothing" songwriter Mark Knopfler kindly insisted that he be allowed to play the guitar featured in the parody. As a result both he and Guy Fletcher—Dire Straits' keyboardist—recorded their parts on guitar and synthesizer respectively. According to Yankovic, West had practiced the song for weeks, and, as a result could recreate the original; Knopfler, on the other hand, had been playing the song for several years and was much more relaxed with his playing. As a result, West's version sounded more like the original version, although Knopfler's track was the one used. Yankovic revealed in the DVD commentary for "UHF" that the concept "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies" was originally a parody of Prince's 1984 hit "Let's Go Crazy". Prince, however, refused, and has been unreceptive to any parody ideas Yankovic has ever presented him with. The fractured titled "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies" is a result of Dire Straits' lawyers insisting that "Money for Nothing" remain in the parody's title. Yankovic was unhappy with the title and stated that he would rather have had the title be either "Money for Nothing for the Beverly Hillbillies" or "Beverly Hillbillies for Nothing". The legal title for the song features an asterisk after the word "Hillbillies", although it is often printed sans the marking.
On May 24, 1989, Yankovic started recording the second parody for the album, "Spam". The song, a play on R.E.M.'s hit "Stand", is an ode to the canned luncheon meat Spam. Yankovic noted that it was "fun to pick [apart the song] and figure out some of those almost subliminal parts—parts that would fade in and out, little bell sounds, things you don't really hear on first listening." On May 25, 1989, Yankovic recorded "Isle Thing", a pastiche of "Wild Thing" by Tone Lōc. The song is about a girl who introduces the singer to the television show Gilligan's Island. Notably, the song is Yankovic's first rap parody; an earlier rap, "Twister", is a Beastie Boys style parody. Another Tone Lōc hit, "Funky Cold Medina", is referred to in the lyrics: "Ginger and Mary Ann coulda used some funky cold medina". The final parody "She Drives Like Crazy"—recorded the same day as "Isle Thing"—is a spoof of Fine Young Cannibals' 1988 single "She Drives Me Crazy". Lyrically, the song is about a man who fears his girlfriend's crazy driving habits.
Much like Yankovic's previous album, "UHF – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff" features a polka medley of hit songs called "The Hot Rocks Polka". All of the songs in the medley are songs written or made popular by the English rock band The Rolling Stones.
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Due to the short stint of UHF in theaters, its soundtrack got "lost in the shuffle" and did not receive much of a critical response. However, from the few reviews it did receive, the album garnered mixed reviews from critics. Jacob Lunders of Allmusic awarded the album three stars out of five and called it a "guilty pleasure". Lunders noted that the album "endures artistically as a transitional album between his '80s heyday and the imminent artistic makeover revealed on 1991's Off the Deep End". He ultimately concluded that the album is something that only "moderate [to] genuine" fans may want, but that it is "nearly as accessible" as many of his compilation albums. The Rolling Stone Album Guide awarded the album three stars out of five.
UHF – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff was released July 18, 1989. After it was released, the album peaked at number 146 on the Billboard 200. Much like Polka Party! (1986), the album was considered a major commercial disappointment for the comedian; the album is his second-lowest charting album after "Polka Party!" (1986). UHF is also one of Yankovic's few studio albums not to be certified either Gold or Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The others include Polka Party! and Poodle Hat (2003). UHF would also be Yankovic's last domestic studio album to be released on vinyl record until 2011's Alpocalypse.
- "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies" (Mark Knopfler, Gordon Sumner, Paul Henning, arr. "Weird Al" Yankovic) – 3:11
- "Gandhi II" (Yankovic) – 1:00
- "Attack Of The Radioactive Hamsters From A Planet Near Mars" (Yankovic) – 3:28
- "Isle Thing" (Matt Dike, Michael Ross, arr. Yankovic) – 3:37
- "The Hot Rocks Polka" – 4:50 (Polka medley, arr. Yankovic)
- A polka medley of the following Rolling Stones songs:
- "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It)"
- "Brown Sugar"
- "You Can't Always Get What You Want"
- "Honky Tonk Women"
- "Under My Thumb"
- "Ruby Tuesday"
- "Miss You"
- "Sympathy for the Devil"
- "Get off of My Cloud"
- "Let's Spend the Night Together"
- "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
- "Ear Booker Polka" by "Weird Al" Yankovic
- A polka medley of the following Rolling Stones songs:
- "UHF" (Yankovic) – 5:09
- "Let Me Be Your Hog" (Yankovic) – 0:16
- "She Drives Like Crazy" (Roland Gift, David Steele, arr. Yankovic) – 3:42
- "Generic Blues" (Yankovic) – 4:34
- "Spatula City" (Yankovic) – 1:07
- "Fun Zone" (Yankovic) – 1:45
- "Spam" (Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Michael Stipe, arr. Yankovic) – 3:12
- "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota" (Yankovic) – 6:50
Credits and personnel
Charts and certifications
|US Billboard 200||146|
- Hansen, Barret (1994). Permanent Record: Al in the Box (liner). California, United States: Scotti Brothers Records. http://dmdb.org/al/booklet.html.
- Yankovic, Alfred M. (May 1999). "'Ask Al' Q&As for May, 1999". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
- UHF – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff (liner). "Weird Al" Yankovic. Scotti Bros. Records. 1989. Note: the original vinyl release of the album contained complete liner notes, which included lyrics and personnel. The CD re-issue, however, only features minimal liner notes as a cost saving mechanism.
- Yankovic, Alfred (2013), "UHF", 'Weird Al' Yankovic Official Limited Edition Trading Cards (Volcano Records) (42)
- Yankovic, Alfred M. (December 2007). "Recording Dates". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
- Jay Levey (director); Alfred M. Yankovic (2002). UHF – Commentary (DVD). UHF: Orion Pictures.
- Lunders, Jacob. UHF – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff at Allmusic. Retrieved April 27, 2013.
- Jay Levey (director); "Weird Al" Yankovic (writer, actor) (1989). UHF (DVD). Orion Pictures.
- Jennifer, Vineyard (June 9, 2003). "Weird Al Wisdom: Don't Rush Comedy, And Don't Trust eBay". VH1. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
- Yankovic, Alfred M. (September 1998). "'Ask Al' Q&As for September, 1998". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved June 30, 2010.
- Brackett, Nathan; Christian Hoard (2004). The Rolling Stone Album Guide. New York City, New York. p. 893. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
- Yankovic, Alfred M. (2003). "Awards". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved December 11, 2008.
- Yankovic, Alfred M. (January 1999). "'Ask Al' Q&As for January, 1999". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved June 27, 2010.
- "Alpocalypse (Vinyl)". Amazon.com. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
- "The Players". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved June 26, 2010.