Was (Not Was)


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1  (1978)

- Don Fagenson (aka Don Was) -- vocals, sax, flute

- David Weiss (aka David Was) -- vocals, bass, synthesizers

 

  backing musicians (1983)

- Marin Alsop -- violin

- Sweet Pea Atkinson -- vocals

- Chris Blackwell -- vocals

- Sir Harry Bowens -- vocals

- Jervonny Collier -- bass

- Marshall Crenshaw -- vocals, guitar, organ

- Michael Edwards -- vocals

- Lawrence Fratangelo -- percussion

- Doug Fueger -- vocals

- Carol Hall -- vocals

- Kathy Kosins (aka Kim Basinger)-- vocals

- Yogi Horton -- drums

- Randy Jacobs -- bass, guitar, backign vocals

- Wayne Kramer -- guitar

- Bob Kullick -- guitar

- Jay Leonhart -- bass

- Josephy LoDuca -- guitar

- David McMurray -- sax

- David Nazarian -- guitar

- Ozzy Osbourne -- vocals

- Luis Resto -- keyboards, synthesizers

- John Robie -- synthesizers

- Mitch Ryder -- vocals

- John SInclair -- backing vocals

- Mel Torme -- vocals, piano

- Vinnie Vincent -- lead guitar

 

 

 

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Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Born To Laugh At Tornadoes

Company: Geffen / Ze

Catalog:  24016-1
Year:
 1983

Country/State: G

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: cut out notch lower edge; original inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2039

Price: $

Geez, hard to believe it, but this may be the last album I bought after seeing an MTV video clip ('Knocked Down, Made Small (Treated Like a Rubber Ball)'.  1983's "Born To Laugh At Tornadoes"  is also one of the strangest, most varied albums in my collection ...  part of it is hyper commercial; part freaked-out weirdness.  Guess that's why it is a personal favorite.

This album has so much going for it ... How could you not be mesmerized by a collection that managed to collect Kim Basinger, Marshal Crenshaw, The Knack's Doug Fieger, MC-5's Wayne Kramer, Ozzy Osbourne , Mitch Ryder, and Mel Torme in one place?   That has to be one of the most impressive (and varied) collections of artists to ever work together on an album.  And then you got to the music ...  Sweet Pea Atkinson and Sir Harry Bowens brought the Motown-styled credentials turning in classic work on 'Knocked Down, Made Small (Treated Like a Rubber Ball)' and a remake of '(Return To the Valley of) Out Come the Freaks').  Elsewhere the Don Fagenson and David Weiss team demonstrated their flexibility across an amazing musical spectrum including '80s dance tunes ('Shake Your Head (Let's Go To Bed') and 'Professor Night'), '60s garage rock ('Bow Wow Wow Wow'), and power-pop ('Smile').  The album included a couple of just plain strange efforts that seemed there mostly to infuriated radio programmers ('Man vs. the Empire Brain Building' and 'The Party Broke Up').   One of my favorite '80s albums ...  hard to believe it wasn't a massive, massive hit for these guys.   

"Born To Laugh At Tornadoes" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Knocked Down, Made Small (Treated Like a Rubber Ball)   (Don Was - David Was) - 3:05

With Sweat Pea Atkinson handling the lead vocal, the soul-meets-rock mash-up results were staggering. I remember hearing the tune on the radio one afternoon and wondering who the world these guys were.  I then saw the MTV video and was equally stunned.  I may be way off target, but I always thought the tune was about spousal and child abuse and I remember the original MTV video (with some serious bad mid-'80s production work), having a plotline that seemed to support that contention.  The video was subsequently edited deleting the abuse part of the story,  Regardless of the song's intent, one of the classic '80s tunes.  By the way, YouTube has both of the promotional videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGgRipOH0nY  and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nqKOFNA6dg    The tune was tapped as a single:

   7" format:

- 1983's 'Knocked Down, Made Small (Treated Like a Rubber Ball)' b/w 'Man Vs. The Empire Brain Building' (Geffen catalog number 7-29407)

   12" format:

- 1983's 'Knocked Down, Made Small (Treated Like A Rubber Ball)' and 'Bow Wow Wow Wow' b/w 'Smile' and 'Shake Your Head (Let's Go To Bed)' (Geffen catalog number PRO-A-2079)  rating: **** stars

2.) Bow Wow Wow Wow   (Don Was - David Was) - 3:09

My goodness, say what you will about Fagenson and Weiss, you couldn't critique them when it came to their collective tastes in guest musicians ...  Mitch Ryder for gawd's sake.   Killer rocker that sounded like classic Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels and sounds as good today as it did back in 1983.   rating: **** stars

3.) Betrayal   (Don Was - David Was) - 3:02

The Knack's Doug Feiger ...  so you have to remember for a brief moment in time, Doug Feiger and the Knack were being portrayed as rock's saviours.   It seems hysterical (but then remember Klaatu was The Beatles in disguise).  Regardless, 'Betrayal' wasn't a half bad ballad with a catchy refrain and it was certainly better than a lot of The Knack catalog.   rating: *** stars

4.) Shake Your Head (Let's Go To Bed)   (Don Was - David Was - Jarvis Stroud) - 3:52

With a seriously bad '80s dance vibe, I've always wondered why this one wasn't tapped as a single.  Add to that Ozzy Osbourne and Kathy Kosins (aka actress Kim Basinger) handled lead vocals ...   John Robie's synthesizer riff simply will not leave you alone ...   The track was released as a UK single in both 7" and as an inferior, remixed, extended 12" format:

  7" format:

- 1983's '- 1983's 'Shake Your Head' b/w 'I Blew Up The United States' (Fontana catalog number 864 100-7)

  12" format

- 1983's 'Shake Your Head' and 'I Blew Up The United States' b/w 'Listen Like Thieves (Giant Club Mix)' and 'Listen Like Thieves (Vandal Dub' (Fontana catalog number WASX 11)   rating: **** stars

5.) Man vs. the Empire Brain Building   (Don Was - David Was) - 4:00

Don and Don and their goofiest ...  Simply too new-wave strange for my tastes.   Imagine something that wouldn't have been out of place on a James White and the Blacks album.   rating: ** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) (Return To the Valley of) Out Come the Freaks
   (Don Was - David Was) - 4:20

I've had nightmares where I was faced with the choice of having to save Sweet Pea Atkinson, or Sir Harry Bowens ...   truly nightmarish scenario.   This was a different version than appeared on the debut album ...  The lyrics were typically bizarre, but the song was framed in a sweet, classic soul vibe that would have made Marvin Gaye smile with happiness.  Great tune and that I could happily hum all day long.    rating: ***** stars

2.) Professor Night   (Don Was - David Was - Felix Morris) - 4:10
Easily one of the album's most straightforward and commercial dance tunes.  Don Was' bass line was wonderful.  The song was tapped as a 12" UK released and a 7" British single:

- 1983's 'Professor Night' b/w 'Shake Your Head (Let's Go To Bed)' and 'Bow Wow Wow Wow' (Geffen catalog number TA 4412)- 1983's 'Professor Night ' b/w 'Bow Wow Wow Wow' (Geffen catalog number A4412)    rating: *** stars
3.) The Party Broke Up   (Don Was - David Was) - 2:14
Two minutes of bizarre spoken word material ...   Fred Schneider and company on a bad acid trip ?   This was probably the song that sent radio station owners running for cover ....   rating: ** stars
4.) Smile   (Don Was - David Was) - 3:12
With Fieger again handling lead vocals, I'm not sure how to describe 'Smile' other than to say it was near perfect power pop ...  It's the kind of track Marshall Crenshaw would have sold his mom to have written.   Easy to understand why it was tapped as a single:

- 1983's 'Smile' b/w 'The Party Broke Up' (Geffen catalog number 7-29477)   rating: **** stars
5.) Zaz Turned Blue   (Don Was - David Was) - 4:18
I can't help but smile every time I hear the torch ballad 'Zaz Turned Blue'.  No idea if it was really about asphyxiophilia, but if it was Mel Torme sang it with a sense of class that's all but disappeared from modern music.  Always wondered how and why they chose Torme for the tune ...   rating: **** stars

 

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