"Weird Al" Yankovic (album)
|"Weird Al" Yankovic|
|Studio album by "Weird Al" Yankovic|
|Released||April 26, 1983|
|Recorded||September 14, 1980–February 11, 1983|
|Studio||Cherokee Studios, Hollywood|
Rock 'n Roll Records|
|"Weird Al" Yankovic chronology|
|Singles from "Weird Al" Yankovic|
"Weird Al" Yankovic is the debut album by American parodist Alfred "Weird Al" Yankovic. The album was the first of many produced by former The McCoys guitarist Rick Derringer. Mostly recorded in March 1982, the album was released by Rock 'n Roll Records as an LP and on Compact Cassette in 1983.
Consisting of five direct parodies and seven original songs, "Weird Al" Yankovic parodies pop and rock music of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and satirizes American culture and experiences of the same time period. Nearly half of the album is made up of parodies based on the works of Toni Basil, Joan Jett, Stevie Nicks, the Knack and Queen. Yankovic's trademark instrument—the accordion—is used on all songs featured on the album.
Fueled by the underground success of the singles "My Bologna" and "Another One Rides the Bus", the album charted at No. 139 on the Billboard 200. Critically, the album received a lukewarm reception, with many reviewers feeling that Yankovic was a throw-away act, and someone who could not overcome the stigma of a novelty record.
After hearing Yankovic's parody of his song "I Love Rock 'n' Roll", "I Love Rocky Road", songwriter Jake Hooker suggested to guitarist Rick Derringer that he would be the perfect producer for the burgeoning parodist. Agreeing, Derringer used his music industry prestige and convinced Cherokee Studios to record an album's worth of Yankovic's songs gratis, to be paid from sales revenue. Then, in March 1982, "Weird Al" Yankovic stepped into a professional recording studio for the first time and recorded nine of the songs for "Weird Al" Yankovic.
The huge irony of my life; [...] it was difficult for me to get signed to a record deal back in early 80s because all the executives were saying "Oh, you do that ... novelty music. You're gonna have maybe one hit if you're lucky and then [...] you'll go right to oblivion. You know, nobody'll ever hear from you again."
After encountering difficulty picking up a record label for the first-time album, Jay Levey (a Los Angeles artists' manager) provided KIQQ-FM with a copy of "I Love Rocky Road". Impressing the program director of the Top 40 station, he played it immediately; "I Love Rocky Road" was one of the most-requested songs by the next day. At the same time, Rock 'n Roll Records president Tad Dowd had been trying to convince parent company Scotti Brothers Records to sign the 22-year-old Yankovic. The positive furor over the KIQQ playtest provided Dowd with the leverage needed to convince Scotti Bros. to offer a contract for Yankovic's first album.
Scotti Brothers Records' contract planned an April 1983 release date for a twelve-track album: "I Love Rocky Road" and eight other tracks were already recorded, "Another One Rides the Bus" would be the original 1980 live recording from The Dr. Demento Show, and the last two songs ("Ricky" and "Buckingham Blues") would be recorded at Scotti Brothers' own studios in Santa Monica, California in February 1983.
To promote the album, Levey coordinated a three-week tour in late Summer 1983 across the United States' East Coast and Midwest for both Yankovic and Dr. Demento. Promoted as "An Evening of Dementia with Dr. Demento in Person Plus 'Weird Al' Yankovic", Demento opened with recorded hits and short comedy films from his show before introducing Yankovic and the band. During their three weeks, the tour played in several famous clubs, including The Bottom Line in New York City.
The album cover for "Weird Al" Yankovic was designed by Brazilian artist Rogerio. The band chose Rogerio because of his "MAD Magazine-like drawing style." The cover art specifically features individual elements that correspond with each of the album's twelve songs.
"Weird Al" Yankovic is the only album in Yankovic's discography in which the accordion is prevalent in every song; in subsequent albums it's only used where deemed appropriate or wholly inappropriate for comedic effect. "Ricky" is a parody of "Mickey" by Toni Basil; an ode to I Love Lucy with Yankovic performing as Ricky and Tress MacNeille as Lucy. "Gotta Boogie" is a play on words discussing a man with a "boogie" on his finger and his quandary therein. "I Love Rocky Road" is a parody of Arrows' "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" made famous by Joan Jett; in the song the narrator expresses feelings about the titular ice cream flavor. "Buckingham Blues" is a blues song satirizing the socialite lifestyle of the Prince and Princess of Wales (Prince Charles and Diana). Originally, the song was going to be a parody of "Jack & Diane" by John Mellencamp; worried about spoiling a Jack and Diane movie deal, Mellencamp shot down the parody. Yankovic considered tweaking the "Jack & Diane" melody to avoid the song being a true parody, but decided against it and later rewrote it as an original song. Answering a fan in 1998, Yankovic replied that he would not rewrite and rerecord the song in light of the death of Diana.
"Happy Birthday" is a style parody of Tonio K, one of Yankovic's favorite artists. The song is a morbidly depressing birthday song detailing ails of the world, including poverty, nuclear holocaust, and eventual solar cataclysm. Only seeing two popular birthday songs at the time—"Happy Birthday to You" by Patty and Mildred J. Hill, and "Birthday" by The Beatles—Yankovic decided to write his own "severely twisted version of one." "Stop Draggin' My Car Around" is a parody of "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" by Stevie Nicks; the lament of an otherwise "cool guy" forced to repeatedly save his 1964 Plymouth car from impoundment due to illegal parking, shame, and non-payment. "My Bologna" is a parody of "My Sharona" by the Knack; the narrator talks about his obsession with bologna sausage. This is a re-recording of the song; the original Capitol Records single version would not appear on a "Weird Al" album until the 1994 box set Permanent Record: Al in the Box. "The Check's in the Mail" parodies business-related prevarications, exampling avoidance, litigation, and the titular payment delay. "Another One Rides the Bus" is a parody of "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen; the narrator laments about a crowded public bus. This is the original 1980 recording from The Dr. Demento Show. "I'll Be Mellow When I'm Dead" is a rejection of the stereotypical attitudes and accoutrements of the hippie/yuppie lifestyles.
"Such a Groovy Guy" parodies narcissism specifically noting fashion, demeanor, dominance and submission, and relationship breakup. Yankovic wrote the song for a woman he was dating in homage of her previous boyfriend who, upon the breakup asked her, "I’m such a groovy guy! Why would you break up with me?" Out of concern the individual may not be aware of his status, Yankovic does not identify him. "Mr. Frump in the Iron Lung" is an audience favorite from Yankovic's days playing in coffeehouses at Cal Poly; the song describes the rather lopsided relationship between the narrator and the eponymous "Mr. Frump" in his iron lung, until the latter's death. The sound of the iron lung is an accordion's air release valve. "It's Still Billy Joel to Me", Yankovic's 1980 parody of Billy Joel's "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me", was originally planned for this album. Wary of the song being considered "dated" three years later, and doubtful that Joel would give his blessing, the band never bothered to ask. Yankovic's parody of The Kinks' song "Lola"—"Yoda"—was written in 1980 (during the initial theatre run of The Empire Strikes Back), and a "huge hit" on The Dr. Demento Show. However, the complexities of receiving permission from filmmaker George Lucas and the Kinks' publishers delayed its release until 1985.
To promote the album, the songs "Ricky" and "I Love Rocky Road" were released as singles with accompanying music videos. Yankovic embarked on his first official concert tour, which began at the Bottom Line in New York City on May 21, 1983 and ended June 10, 1983 at Mickey's in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
|May 21, 1983||New York City||United States||Bottom Line|
|May 22, 1983||Roslyn, New York||My Father's Place|
|May 24, 1983||New Haven, Connecticut||Toad's Place|
|May 26, 1983||Boston||Jonathon Swift's|
|May 28, 1983||Syracuse, New York||Lost Horizon|
|May 31, 1983||Rochester, New York||Red Creek|
|June 1, 1983||Buffalo, New York||Tralfamadore|
|June 3, 1983||Toronto, Ontario||Canada||El Mocambo|
|June 8, 1983||Cleveland||United States||Agora Ballroom|
|June 9, 1983||Chicago||Park West|
|June 10, 1983||Milwaukee||Mickey's|
|The Daily Vault||B−|
Eugene Chadbourne, reviewer for Allmusic, felt that while "Weird Al" Yankovic was a detailed harbinger of parody to come, the album does not hold up well on its own. Chadbourne extolled most of the parodies ("Another One Rides the Bus", "My Bologna", "I Love Rocky Road") for their comedic value in contrast with their originals—songs he supposed to be "pretentious [&] overblown". However, also according to Chadbourne, "Ricky" lacks the comedic connection Yankovic cultivates in later albums, and the original songs "may not seem like they were written in ten minutes, but the ideas behind them don't seem to involve that much contemplation. [They're] like little bits of puff [whose ...] impact on the flow of an album side is more like ballast."
Introducing Yankovic as the guest DJ for All Songs Considered on National Public Radio in 2006, host Bob Boilen opined that upon his debut, Yankovic "seemed the epitome of throw-away novelty act". Reviewing Yankovic in 2008, Brian Raftery of Wired magazine wrote that "Ricky" introduced the world to "an accordion-playing spaz with a coif like Rick James and a voice like an urgent goose." In 1983, Raftery noted that Yankovic was considered a fad of the time—comparable for many to parachute pants and Contras—and "thoroughly disposable." Musical databasing and review websites Allmusic and Artistdirect rated "Weird Al" Yankovic three and a half out of five stars.
|1.||"Ricky"||Mike Chapman, Nicky Chinn, "Weird Al" Yankovic||"Mickey" by Toni Basil||2:36|
|3.||"I Love Rocky Road"||Alan Merrill, Jake Hooker, Yankovic||"I Love Rock 'n' Roll" by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts||2:36|
|5.||"Happy Birthday"||Yankovic||Style parody of Tonio K||2:28|
|6.||"Stop Draggin' My Car Around"||Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, Yankovic||"Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" by Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers||3:16|
|7.||"My Bologna"||Doug Fieger, Berton Averre, Yankovic||"My Sharona" by The Knack||2:01|
|8.||"The Check's in the Mail"||Yankovic||Original||3:13|
|9.||"Another One Rides the Bus"||John Deacon, Yankovic[nb 1]||"Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen||2:40|
|10.||"I'll Be Mellow When I'm Dead"||Yankovic||Original||3:39|
|11.||"Such a Groovy Guy"||Yankovic||Original||3:02|
|12.||"Mr. Frump in the Iron Lung"||Yankovic||Original||1:54|
Adapted from Weird Al's official website.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic – accordion, lead vocals
- Steve Jay – bass guitar
- Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz – drums, percussion
- Rick Derringer - guitar, producer
- Richard Bennett – banjo, ukulele, guitar[nb 2]
- William K. Anderson – saxophone, harmonica
- Joel Miller – bongos
- Mike Kieffer – percussion
- Dorothy Remsen – harp
- Tress MacNeille – voice of Lucy Ricardo
- Dawn Smithey, Zaidee Cole, and Joan Manners – background vocals
Charts and certifications
|1981||"Another One Rides the Bus"||104|
|1983||"I Love Rocky Road"||106|
- While Yankovic wrote new lyrics for the song, on February 2, 1981, he transferred copyright of the parody to John Deacon. This is reflected in the liner notes for the album itself, which lists only Deacon as the parody’s writer.
- The credits on "Weird Al" Yankovic give special thanks to Jim West. West was playing guitar with Yankovic and the band at live performances, but was not present for recording the album.
- ""Weird Al" Yankovic – "Weird Al" Yankovic". Discogs. Portland, Oregon, US: Zink Media, Inc. Retrieved October 17, 2010.
- "Recording Dates". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved 2018-01-29.
- "Weird Al Yankovic by Weird Al Yankovic on Yahoo! Music". Yahoo! Music. Sunnyvale, California, USA: Yahoo!, Inc. Archived from the original on July 4, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2010.
- Schwartz, Jon. "'Weird Al' Disc/Video/Bibliography (U.S. Only)" (text file). The Demented Music Database. Jeff Morris. Archived from the original on October 18, 2008. Retrieved October 23, 2008.
- Hansen, Barret (1994). Permanent Record: Al in the Box (liner). "Weird Al" Yankovic. California, United States: Scotti Brothers Records.
- Boilen, Bob (November 2, 2006). "Guest DJ "Weird Al" Yankovic". All Songs Considered. Washington, D.C.: National Public Radio. Archived from the original on November 22, 2008. Retrieved October 30, 2008.
Singer, songwriter and satirist "Weird Al" Yankovic has been spoofing artists and making his own original comic tunes for nearly 30 years. His latest album, Straight Out Of Lynwood [sic], is his first to break the top-ten. On this edition of All Songs Considered, Yankovic talks about his music and shares some of the songs that have inspired him over the years. Hear an eclectic mix of music by the Bonzo Dog Band, Tom Lehrer, The Trashmen and more.
- "Weird Al Yankovic – Weird Al Yankovic – CD – Buy.com". Aliso Viejo, California, USA: Buy.com. Retrieved October 21, 2008.
- Yankovic, Alfred M. (July 1999). "'Ask Al' Q&As for July, 1999". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Archived from the original on December 8, 2008. Retrieved October 22, 2008.
- Yankovic, Alfred M. (November–December 1996). "Midnight Star 'Ask Al' Q&As for November/December, 1996". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Archived from the original on December 8, 2008. Retrieved October 22, 2008.
- Yankovic, Alfred M. (September 1999). "'Ask Al' Q&As for September, 1999". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Archived from the original on December 8, 2008. Retrieved October 22, 2008.
- Yankovic, Alfred M. (January 1999). "'Ask Al' Q&As for January, 1999". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved October 22, 2008.
- Raftery, Brian (September 22, 2008). "Weird Al: Forefather of the YouTube Spoof". Wired. Archived from the original on October 21, 2008. Retrieved October 21, 2008.
- Yankovic, Alfred M. (June 1999). "'Ask Al' Q&As for June, 1999". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Archived from the original on December 8, 2008. Retrieved October 21, 2008.
- Rabin, Nathan (June 29, 2011). "Set List: 'Weird Al' Yankovic". The A.V. Club. Chicago, Illinois: The Onion, Inc. Archived from the original on June 30, 2011. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
- Yankovic, Alfred M. (March 1998). "Midnight Star 'Ask Al' Q&As for March/April, 1998". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Archived from the original on December 8, 2008. Retrieved October 21, 2008.
- Bianculli, David (March 22, 1984). "A Success At Last, and He's Eating It Up". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA: Brian Tierney. p. D01.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic: The Ultimate Video Collection (DVD). Los Angeles, United States: Volcano Entertainment. November 4, 2003.
- Yankovic, Alfred M. (April 2000). "'Ask Al' Q&As for April, 2000". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Archived from the original on December 8, 2008. Retrieved October 21, 2008.
- Yankovic, Weird Al. "Live Performances | "Weird Al" Yankovic". "Weird Al" Yankovic. Retrieved 2018-05-25.
- "'Weird Al' Yankovic – Overview". Allmusic. Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA: Macrovision. Retrieved October 22, 2008.
- The Daily Vault Music Reviews :
- Thomas Erlewine, Stephen. ""Weird Al" Yankovic - Squeeze Box: The Complete Works of "Weird Al" Yankovic". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
- Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (2004). The Rolling Stone Album Guide. New York City, New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 893. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
- "Weird Al Yankovic : "Weird Al" Yankovic". Artistdirect.com. Artistdirect. Retrieved November 14, 2008.
- "Another One Rides The Bus". United States Copyright Office. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
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- Yankovic, Alfred M. (2003). "Awards". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Archived from the original on February 3, 2009. Retrieved April 3, 2013.
- "Gold & Platinum – Search Results: 'Weird Al' Yankovic". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved December 21, 2016.