Just forget the words and sing along

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

This is a story 'bout a guy named Al....

Well, hopefully, by now, you've heard the news.

"Weird Al" Yankovic's latest album, Straight Outta Lynwood, made its debut on the Billboard charts at #10. It's officiall the first top 10 album of Weird Al's career.

The first single, White and Nerdy, debuted on the Billboard charts at #28, making it the highest-charting Weird Al single since Eat It, all those years ago.

I've had my copy for a week now, and I've listened to it non-stop. It's at least as good as his last one. And musically, it's very strong. Very hummable...easy to sing along to.

But of course, the best part is the bonus DVD. Six music videos, each one animated. Hands down, the best one is the video for Close But No Cigar, which was animated by John Krikfalusi, the Ren and Stimpy guy.

Most fascinating is the featurette of Weird Al making the album. It's nothing but raw footage of Weird Al in the studio, singing, directing other musicians, and hunched over a mixing board. We've all known that this version of Weird Al must exist...but to finally see it is endlessly fascinating. However, it loses six points for the cheezy final shot of Weird Al's baby daughter looking at Daddy through the studio glass.

Highly recommended.

Of course, along with Straight Outta Lynwood, i got my copy of The Weird Al Show: The Complete Series.

For those who don't remember, let me refresh your memory. Weird Al had been going around Hollywood for years pitching a sketch comedy show that would showcase his humour. Then, enter the CBS Network, who felt that, with some tweaking, this Weird Al show would make a good addition to their Saturday morning line-up. Around this time, new laws were passed, increasing the percentage of children's programming that had to be educational. So, CBS decide to tweak Yankovic's program even more to make it educational.

The end result? The Weird Al Show, a kids program so sterile and preachy that not even the target audience of 5-year-olds would watch it.

I just finished watching the 13th and final episode. My God, I forgot how preachy the show was. You're literally beaten over the head with a moral every 2 minutes. But a lot of Weird Al's trademark humour still shines through, which is why it's still popular with Weird Al's fans.

I'm going to have to go back and watch all 13 episodes again with Weird Al's running commentary. Apparently, in the commentaries, Weird Al vents a lot of his bitterness at how the show was tweaked to death.

But it's just great.

And over the weekend, I got to do something I'd never done before.

I experience "Weird Al" Yankovic on vinyl.

I showed up at home for the Thanksgiving weekend, and Dad was showing off his latest purchase. After being turntable-deprived for almost a decade, Dad bought himself a brand-new record player. And, he was waiting for his technologically-adept son (me) to come home and hook it up to the stereo. I had it set up in a matter of minutes, and the house was rockin' to Dad's vintage collection of Wilf Carter and Johnny Cash records.

And when Dad got bored with that, I was hit with an inspiration. I ran down to my room and dug out the only "Weird Al" Yankovic record I own.

The year was 1998. The world was still reeling at Ginger's departure from the Spice Girls. Junior high lovers were slow dancing to that Aerosmith song from Armageddon. And Augustana Univeristy was rocking out to the sweet sounds of Chaos in a Box. It was a slow night during the show, so I started digging through an old tub of 45s slated for disposal.

(For those who are too young..."45s" are those smaller records with a big hole in the middle that were used for singles.)

I reached into the tub and randomly pulled out....

the single for I Lost on Jeopardy.

Since those 45s were going to be thrown out anyway, I took it home that night.

And it sat.

Until that Thanksgiving weekend when I cranked it up on Dad's new record player.

That was really cool.

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