Weird Al Yankovic

#787: Mix CD 19 – “Green Album”

GETTING MORE TALE #787: Mix CD 19 – “The Green Album”

As we’ve done in the past, let’s have a look at a mix CD I dug up, from about a decade ago.  It’s an interesting mix, made mostly of stuff I found online.  Any time I’d gather at least 80 minutes worth of downloads, I’d burn them to a CD.  I considered that to be a much more permanent format.  This disc is really just an archive of things I downloaded during a certain period of time in 2008.  The title 19 suggests that it’s the 19th such archive CD that I burned.  More than that though, I made it a good listen.  As usual there are surprises and a few attempts at buffoonery.  Let’s dive in.

The first thing to notice:  There are 23 tracks on the CD, but 19 listed on the front sleeve.  That means I hid four comedic bits somewhere between the songs, to be discovered by surprise.  That’s why I left off the track numbers.

The opener “Big Yellow Joint” is a jingle from the TV show Arrested Development.  Remember the Banana Stand?  In the 60s it was a popular place to meet to buy and sell weed!  But that’s out of the way quickly and it’s “25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago from a very poor quality mp3.  “25 or 6 to 4” is the definitive rock song with a horn section.  Find me a better one.

Then, seamlessly, it’s an old childhood favourite:  “Bad to the Bone”!  When you make a mix CD, the software generally defaults to a three second gap between songs.  I liked a tighter flow than that, so I always used one second or even no gap.  This disc is almost 80 minutes long so I used every second I could find.  The transitions on my mix CDs are always top notch.  After George Thorogood, it’s Pat Travers with “Snortin’ Whiskey”.  I was probably hearing these tracks on the radio a lot at the time, so I downloaded ’em and burned ’em.

A really terrible sounding mp3 of “Sonic Reducer” by the Dead Boys reflects my love of the movie Hard Core Logo.  It started with the H.C.L. version of “Sonic Reducer”, and then Pearl Jam’s cover.  If I liked those, I figured I should download the original.  But all this proves to me is why you need to buy the CD.  Downloaded versions suck.  This is sonically not up to par and I’m surprised I was satisfied by this 10 years ago.

The first audio hoodwink follows the Dead Boys.  It’s a 30 second clip from the movie Walk Hard, starring John C. Reilly as Dewey Cox.  This clip features Jack Black as Paul McCartney, Paul Rudd as John Lennon, Justin Long as George Harrison, and Jason Schwartzman as Ringo Starr.

Having a chuckle at the Dewey Cox clip is a perfect way to transition over to a couple good reggae songs by Inner Circle: “Sweat” and (of course) “Bad Boys”! Have a laugh, then get down and dance. I like what I did here, if I do say so myself! Going from that back to rock and roll is tricky, but I think I pulled it off with the very poppy “Fire, Ice & Dynamite” by Deep Purple (Mk V). It’s an oddball rarity, only ever appearing on a Deep Purple DVD as a video slideshow.

One of my favourite 80s songs, the Grateful Dead’s “Touch of Grey” still pleases today. I can only handle the Dead in small doses, but this is my favourite of their songs. It’s probably 50% pop and 50% nostalgia. In keeping with the 80s, it’s Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, a live version with the 1999 lineup supposedly intended for the Sandler flick Big Daddy.  Immediately following is a live version of “Dead Flowers” from an earlier time.  Ah, Limewire!  I remember regularly typing in searches like “Guns N’ Roses rare” or “Guns N’ Roses live” and downloading anything I could get my digital digits on.  It was also hit and miss in terms of quality.  These are bootleggy but not excessively so.

I remember watching Napoleon Dynamite a fuck of a lot back then.  I used the presentation Napoleon gave about the Loch Ness monster for the next unlisted comedy bit.  Then it’s another rarity, also only available as a bonus track on a DVD:  “Nobody Knows What It’s Like to Be Lonely” by Motley Crue.  The track is 7:05 long, and every fan of Too Fast For Love needs to hear it and have it.  “Song to Slit Your Wrist By”, which I used to think was by Motley Crue but is actually by Nikki Sixx’s 58, is a waste of time that I shouldn’t have included.  I thought I had downloaded a rare Japanese bonus track.  In a cruel twist, Motley included a 58 song on the Japanese edition of Generation Swine, forcing me to seek it out, not realizing it wasn’t actually Motley Crue.

In the very first instalment of Getting More Tale called That Crush on Avril, my not-so-secret affection for Avril Lavigne was revealed.  Let’s be honest, folks — her second album rocked.  I still like it.  She’s never rocked heavy like that since, and I’ve long since gotten off the train.  This CD has a rare acoustic version of “Complicated”, but far better then that is Weird Al’s parody “A Complicated Song”.

“Why’d you have to go and make me so constipated?
‘Cause right now I’d do anything to just get my bowels evacuated,
In the bathroom I sit and I wait and I strain,
And I sweat and I clench and I feel the pain,
Oh, should I take laxatives or have my colon irrigated?”

Keeping the comedy going, it’s a clip from Arrested Development with Jason Bateman and Michael Cera.  It’s a good show; you should watch it.

In 2008, Harem Scarem released a free official download:  a recent live version of “Hard To Love”.  This was intended as a final gift to fans, since the band were breaking up.  Temporarily, thank you very much!  The live version shows off the band’s impressive singing abilities, and of course being an official download, the sound quality is all but perfect.  I followed that with a live radio performance by ex-Tesla guitarist Tommy Skeoch, a song called “I Left the Circus”.  Well, I think technically he was kicked out of the circus.  It’s a jokey song about Tesla.  According to Skeoch in the intro, one of the guys from Tesla heard it and took it well.  “Although he’s kind of a pompous fuck and I don’t really like him.”  I’m glad I downloaded this; I don’t know how you’d find it today.  Who knows what radio show I downloaded it from.  The LeBrain Library is a storehouse for things like this.  I keep things that the record companies lose in massive fires.

Too soon?

In the late 80s, Robbie Robertson had a popular single called “Somewhere Down the Crazy River”, from his solo debut.  Some like it, some hate it, but it’s a remarkable song.  It sounds both retro and futuristic.  It featured a weird electronic instrument called the Omnichord, and an explosive chorus accompanied by Sammy BoDean.  A lot of this CD, scattershot as it is, features songs I enjoyed in my youth, but don’t own the albums.  I should fix that.

After a final sketch from the movie Superbad (“I’m gonna cry myself to sleep every night.  When I’m out partying”) it’s the ultimate rock comedy of all time.  Can you guess what that might be?  No, not Spinal Tap.  No, not Bad News either.  It’s Van Halen’s isolated vocal track of “Runnin With the Devil”!

Weird CD indeed, random but with a lot of effort to make it cohesive and listenable.  I’ll give myself:

4/5 stars

VHS Archives #74: Weird Al Yankovic – TV ad for The Ultimate Collection (1993)

One of my favourite things to find on old VHS tapes are the TV ads. Here’s one you forgot about – Weird Al’s first video compilation! The Ultimate Collection and Alapalooza were brand new in 1993.  It’s a special Christmas offer and you can even get your own “Yankasaurus”!

VHS Archives #47: Weird Al Yankovic “interviews” Vince Neil, Def Leppard and Ozzy (1992)

Summer, 1992!  Weird Al Yankovic took over MuchMusic for a day, and it became AlMusic!  This entry is dedicated to good pals Sarca Sim and Mars!

Check out Weird Al’s hilarious “interviews” with:

  • a newly solo Vince Neil
  • a jinxed Def Leppard
  • and the prince of darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne.

AlMusic was a full day of comedy and music, but I only taped the parts I knew I needed to have for my VHS Archives.

#644: On the Road with Peter and Ozzy

GETTING MORE TALE #644: On the Road with Peter and Ozzy

Peter started coming up to the cottage with us in the summer of 1991, after we both finished highschool. Peter didn’t pack light. On any given trip, Peter would pack the following items:

  • Baseball gloves & ball
  • A football
  • Nintendo games
  • At least a dozen movies
  • Food, food and more food
  • Several tapes for the car

Peter’s favourite artist for cottage road trips was Ozzy Osbourne. During the summer of 1992, No More Tears was in the deck. Peter skipped the ballads. No “Mama I’m Coming Home” for him! We also enjoyed Billy Idol. Peter made a special mission to pick up Whiplash Smile before a road trip.  I can recall going to Fairview Mall, and opening the tape in the car.  We were also into a band called Transvision Vamp who had a couple great car tunes – “Baby I Don’t Care” was one.

When he had a car CD changer, we played a fun guessing game. We’d throw in Nirvana’s Nevermind, and Weird Al Yankovic’s Off the Deep End. Peter hit shuffle. When we heard the classic chords to “Smells Like Teen Spirit”/”Smells Like Nirvana”, we had to guess who it actually was before the vocals began. It took a while to hear the difference.  Eventually I could tell.  Weird Al tends to do spot-on covers, instrumentally speaking.

Ozzy was good for passing other cars. Nothing like passing people going 150 kph on the highway, with Ozzy cackling “Crazy Train” out the windows. Black Sabbath was also handy. While visiting Frankenmuth Michigan, Peter scored a three CD Sabbath box set called The Ozzy Osbourne Years.  It had virtually every song from the first six Sabbath albums, only missing instrumentals.  I can distinctly remember passing cars to “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”. Peter tried to synch up passing the cars to Ozzy shouting “You bastards!”

When we weren’t rocking, we were laughing. Peter had an extensive collection of comedy tapes and CDs. Andrew Dice Clay was a favourite. We liked his “Christmas song”:

“Suck his dick, til the veins are blue…
Suck his dick, til you take his goo…
Merry, merry Christmas….”

Dana Carvey also had a hilarious rock opera spoof song about choppin’ broccoli.

But the food! My God. Peter did not skimp on the food. He liked to treat the whole family to a chicken stir fry. He brought all the food and equipment. Once he even made his own chicken balls from scratch, with his mom’s special recipe. Noodles, bean sprouts, chopped veggies, and all the fixings: nothing was missing. Sometimes he’d bring a dessert, and always a bottle of wine.  Choppin’ broccoli indeed.

We were never hungry nor bored. When available, we would run into town to buy fireworks. When we ran out, if Peter hadn’t got his fill, we’d go back in town to buy more. My mother used to joke that there was no downtime with Peter. When done one activity, he’d move right on into the next one. And if we had a building project on the go, he’d be there with his tools, in the fray helping out.

Car trips with Peter were unforgettable. Try passing a car while Ozzy shouts “You bastards!” out the window and you’ll have an idea what it was like to hang out with us.

 

 

#538: Just Eat It

While deleting old emails, I discovered two unreleased Record Store Tales written almost five years ago.  I don’t know why they were never finished, so here’s one of ’em!  The original draft was written June 28 2012.

GETTING MORE TALE #538: Just Eat It

To paraphrase Ricky, sometimes working in a record store is not all “peaches and cake”.

We did have cake sometimes.  Grand openings, special occasions.  The only peaches I ever saw were on Presidents of the USA albums.

Trying to eat lunch at work was an issue.  We had a rule:  No eating at the counter.  Nobody wants to come into a store seeing somebody scarfing down a burger, drooling mayo all over their chin.  But, sometimes you had very little choice.  Like when you were working alone.  This is how I got into the habit of not eating lunch anymore.  I used to make sandwiches and then not have a chance to enjoy my lunch, because I was working alone and constantly getting interrupted.  Oakville was the worst store for this.

Oakville was nice in one way, which was there was a Lick’s in the plaza (and a liquor store, which helped make things bearable after arriving home).  So you’d go across and get a burger and fries.  I liked my Lick’s burgers with sautéed onions (or “funky onions” as Jen calls them).  I’d often be working with a trainee but still able able to sneak to the back room for a minute to inhale some fries.  However, Oakville was a busy store for buying used stock – and I was the only buyer there.  The trainees weren’t up to speed yet.  So there would be this constant stream of bags and boxes coming in, and no time to eat.  It often took me an hour or more to finish one soggy burger and some cold, dry fries.

Not to mention you’d be an idiot not to wash your hands repeatedly after handling the customers’ discs!  The cases were often coated in a dry, smokey layer of crime.  Sometimes you could smell the cigarettes.  Sometimes the actual paper cover inside the case was stained yellowy-brown.  In other cases, the discs were sticky with God knows what.  (Dried soda?  Food?  Bodily fluids?)  But you still had to handle them!

I’m told that one time a CD came in with what looked like semen on it, but I wasn’t witness to that.

One time early in my career, a guy brought in a box of discs where every single case was coated in a soapy, dry white coating.  I felt gross just touching them.  I passed on the box for that reason.  Then he took them to another store to get a second opinion (they always did) and my boss took them.  He gave me shit – “Why didn’t you take these discs?”  Well, because I haven’t had my shots yet this year.

This is how I kind of got into the bad habit of eating candy bars and pepperoni for lunch.  Stuff that came in nice wrappers so I didn’t have to handle the food with my hands.  Stuff with zero nutritional value.  I’m not a germophobe, but when you can’t eat a sandwich because you’re constantly handling disgusting discs and washing your hands, eventually you kind of get sick of even trying.

So, when people ask me, “What’s it like, working in a record store?” I always like to give them the truth.  And the truth is, it’s not all peaches and cake!

MOVIE REVIEW: “Weird Al” Yankovic- UHF (1989)

“Hey!  These floors are dirty as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” – Stanley Spadowski


UHF_0001“Weird Al” Yankovic – UHF (1989 MGM, 2002 DVD)

I never understood why this brilliant, family friendly and absurd comedy wasn’t a hit.  Weird Al never made another movie, such was the box office failure.  UHF was simply ahead of its time.  Today, viewers familiar with the Family Guy and modern comedy will “get” the tangents and bizarre fantasy sequences.  Also, it’s important to remember that this great cast was barely known at the time.  Michael Richards was pre-Seinfeld.  Fran Drescher had yet to become the Nanny.  David Proval was years away from playing Tony Soprano’s nemesis in season two.  The only one I’d heard of in 1989 was Billy Barty!

George Newman (Yankovic) is an unemployed dreamer who lands a crummy job managing a UHF TV station on the verge of bankruptcy and permanent closure.  He just can’t focus, constantly losing himself in rich, heroic dreamscapes.  Weird Al as Indiana Jones…Weird Al as Rambo…Weird Al as Mark Knopfler…Can he use his imagination to help the TV station survive?  If he doesn’t, his girlfriend Terri (Victoria Jackson) isn’t likely to stick around for long.  Fortunately George’s best friend Bob (David Bowe) is there to help.

The station, U-62, comes with its own assortment of personalities. Pamela (Drescher) is the hard working receptionist dying to make the move to on-camera.  Noodles McIntosh (Billy Barty) is a 3’9″ camera man!  And then there’s Filo, the “chief engineer” who actually lives at the station.  (He’s currently working on his interocitor, a reference from the 1955 science fiction classic This Island Earth.  If you’ve seen This Island Earth, remember that reference next time you watch UHF.  Get it?)

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Unfortunately for George Newman, Channel 8 across town doesn’t want U-62 to succeed. RJ Fletcher (Kevin McCarthy) wants to buy it and turn it into a parking lot.  Fletcher, a prick, also cruelly fires his best janitor Stanley Spadowski (Michael Richards) over a misunderstanding.  Newman hires Stanley, and even buys him a new mop.  His old one, which Fletcher’s goons confiscated, was a birthday gift from his mom.

Newman introduces some new shows to U-62 (Wheel of Fish, Raul’s Wild Kingdom, Secrets of the Universe, Uncle Nutzy’s Clubhouse), but nothing really takes off until Stanley is given his own show, Stanley Spadowski’s Clubhouse.  His crazy personality endears him to all ages and his show becomes the hottest in town.  RJ Fletcher, however, doesn’t intend to let the station’s success continue.  Can George and his friends raise enough money to save the station?

UHF is very special for a few reasons.  One is that Weird Al does parody better than anyone.  The parodies of Geraldo, Rambo, Ghandi, Conan the Barbarian, and more are still being quoted by fans today.  Then there’s Michael Richards.  The great thing about Michael Richards, says Al, is that you can just “turn him on and tell him to go crazy for two minutes”, and that seems to be how most of the Stanley Spadowski scenes seem to work.  And it’s brilliant.  Kids who saw this movie in the 80’s loved Stanley.  He’s not only an innocent soul who loves cleanliness, but he’s absolutely whacky, hilarious, lovable and loyal.  Third, the movie has a good heart.  It celebrates imagination, uniqueness and loyalty, qualities that we all value. And of course it also has those random, rapidly changing sketch comedy bits, not too different from Monty Python and SCTV in style.  It’s actually intelligent comedy.

The audio commentary on this DVD is great  — even Michael Richards stops by to chat.  The deleted scenes are a stream of cut bits, but Weird Al’s intro and commentary makes it hilarious.  They  weren’t in the movie because they suck, says Al!  But if they didn’t put them on the DVD, we’d all be whining that they didn’t include any deleted scenes.  He has a point!   Some characters and shows (such as “Those Darn Homos”, which seems to be about two men who chase each other around a room trying to spank each other with spatulas) were cut completely from the film, so this is the only place you’d see them.  As is usually the case, the movie is better for the cuts made.  Additionally there is a short behind the scenes doc, explaining the origin of “Wheel of Fish” and more.  Al and the cast aren’t serious in the interviews, which are hilarious:

Q:  “Why do they call you Weird Al?”

A: “I don’t know, I guess people are basically cruel.  I don’t know why they call me Al.”

There’s a huge photo gallery, standard fare for a DVD, and they’re fun but non-essential. The music video for “UHF” is present (the first time he shaved off his moustache, to play Axl Rose!), an indispensable companion piece.  Even the menus are awesome, with Al himself popping up and acting silly. My only real beef about the DVD is this:  It’s one of those double sided discs with widescreen on one side and full screen on the other.  But the deleted scenes are only on the full screen side, so you have to eject and flip the disc just to watch them, because nobody watches full screen anymore.

Do you wanna drink from the fire hose?  Then get UHF.  It’s out on Blu-ray, too.

4.5/5 stars

Tom and Meat’s Top Whatever of 2014

For my Top Five of 2014, click here.

For Dr. Dave’s Top Ten of 2014, click here.

For the Top Whatever of No Pre-Determined Amount from two of Canada’s most knowledgeable rock gods, stay tuned right here.  From Meaford Ontario, weighing in at XXX lbs, it’s Iron Tom Sharpe, who turns it up to 11.

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Tom’s Top Eleven of 2014

BEN WARD11. Various ArtistsRONNIE JAMES DIO: This Is Your Life
10. JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE – Single Mothers
9. MASTODON Once More ‘Round the Sun
8. EARLY MAN – Thank God You’ve Got the Answers For Us All
7. OPETH – Pale Communion
6. JOHN GARCIA – John Garcia
5. ST. PAUL & the BROKEN BONES – Half the City
4. sHEAVY – The Best Of sHeavy – A Misleading Collection
3. DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS – English Oceans
2. BRANT BJORK and the LOW DESERT PUNK BAND – Black Power Flower
1. ORANGE GOBLIN – Back From The Abyss


Saving the best for last, here’s Uncle Meat.  For added rocket sauce he’s also given me his top movies of 2014.

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Meat’s Top Eight of 2014

Copy of IMG_20140706_0857128. MASTODONOnce More ‘Round the Sun
7. ECHO AND THE BUNNYMENMeteorites
6. FOO FIGHTERSSonic Highways
5. “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC – Mandatory Fun
4. FLYING COLORSSecond Nature
3. BRANT BJORK and the LOW DESERT PUNK BAND – Black Power Flower
2. DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS English Oceans
1. ORANGE GOBLIN – Back From the Abyss

Meat’s Top Twelve Movies of 2014

WHIPLASH12. Lucy
11. X Men : Days of Future Past
10. St. Vincent
9. Interstellar
8. The Lego Movie
7. The Grand Budapest Hotel
6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
5. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
4. Guardians of the Galaxy
3. Get On Up
2. Birdman
1. Whiplash