Friday, February 28, 2014

“Weird Al” Yankovic - “Weird Al” Yankovic In 3-D

Following his 1983 self-titled debut album (click here for that review), Weird Al Yankovic returned to record stores again with his sophomore effort In 3-D. That 1984 release celebrates its thirtieth anniversary today (February 28th). The certified-Platinum album went to number 61 in Australia, number 17 on the US Billboard Album chart (with twenty-three weeks total on the chart) and number 16 in Canada.

Side one opens with “Eat It”, a parody of Michael Jackson’s smash hit “Beat It”. This single about a fussy eater went to number 36 in the UK, number 12 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 6 in New Zealand, number 5 in Canada and number 1 in Australia. It also won a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Performance Single or Album, Spoken or Musical in 1985.

“Midnight Star” is an original track that takes a shot at supermarket tabloids and the people who buy them. Yankovic has stated that most of the headlines that were used in the song actually appeared on papers at the time.

The next parody is “The Brady Bunch”, to the tune of Men Without Hats’ “The Safety Dance”. In it, a guy is willing to watch anything but that classic sitcom. As someone who watched a ton of TV growing up, I really like this one. With only three networks at the time, it was fairly easy to sample a lot of shows like the ones mentioned here.

“Buy Me a Condo” is an original tune done in a reggae style ala Bob Marley and the Wailers. The song is about a Jamaican man who comes to the United States and embraces the consumerism lifestyle.

“I Lost On Jeopardy” is his homage to the classic game show, to the tune of “Jeopardy” by the Greg Kihn Band. The single only scored as high as number 81 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Don Pardo, who worked as an announcer on the original show, lends his voice to part of the song. Of course, you show your age if you remember (as I do) when Art Fleming hosted the show.

Closing out the first half is the medley “Polkas on 45”, done in a style similar to Stars On’s “Stars on 45”. Here Yankovic and his band take on some Devo, Deep Purple, Berlin, the Beatles, the Doors and more.

Side two begins with “Mr. Popeil”, a tribute to inventor Samuel Popeil. If that name sounds familiar, you might remember his son Ron (founder of RonCo) who sold a number of direct-market gadgets on television. In a genius move, Yankovic even got Popeil’s daughter Lisa as one of the backup singers on the track. The musical style on this one pays homage to the B-52’s.

“King of Suede” takes the Police’s “King of Pain” and applies it to a business owner who sells men‘s clothing and suits. As a single, it hit number 62 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

The original song “That Boy Could Dance” is a rousing number about an awkward guy who could cut a rug on the dance floor. Growing up, I could definitely relate.

Next up is “Theme From Rocky XIII (The Rye or the Kaiser)”, a parody of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”. In it, a washed up fighter now works at a neighborhood deli. I like to have fun whenever my son and I are playing Rock Band; when we perform the original Survivor tune I will often replace the lyrics of the chorus with those from this track.

The album closes with an original tune called “Nature Trail to Hell”, a stab at slasher horror films. If Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" had a baby, it would be this song.

I owned a copy of “Weird Al” Yankovic In 3-D on vinyl back in 1984 and played it quite a bit. Of course, my favorites were the parodies of the chart topping hits. I love how he kept all the great elements of the songs, down to vocal inflections, while he altered the lyrics in a humorous way. The original songs on the album are also solid too, making this one easily my favorite of Yankovic‘s releases.

1 comment:

HERC said...

Top to bottom, this is Yankovic's best album, no doubt about it. The parody covers are right on, the originals are creative and the Polkas On 45 Medley fed my medley loving soul.

Saw the man and the band in concert several times and they were always top notch, capable of mimicing current songs but overall just a talented bunch of guys who looked like they were having the best night of their lives.