Weird Al appealed to me in 1984. Not only was he funny and witty, but he was also clearly someone who embraced his nerdiness. I was definitely someone who would have been described by many if not most of my classmates as a nerd, and this was a time before nerdiness had become cool. Sure, Revenge Of The Nerds came out that year, but that didn’t really help. Throughout my grade school years I was pretty much always the second smallest (but oddly never the smallest) kid in my class, woefully un-athletic, and got good grades. I also liked role playing games and lacked even the remotest comprehension of what was cool when it came to clothes. So I kind of related to the image that Weird Al portrayed, one that doesn’t appear to be entirely separate from the person he actually is.
I can’t recall if I bought In 3-D or his self-titled debut first, but I had them both and played the hell out of them. I haven’t listened to either in decades, but as soon as I saw this great copy of In 3-D last weekend I knew I was going to buy it even before I looked saw price. It’s the perfect trip down memory lane.
Everyone of course remembers this album for “Eat It”, the magnificent cover of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” (Eat it / Eat it / Get yourself an egg / And beat it) that arguably launched Weird Al into the mainstream. But my favorite was always one of Al’s originals (♠), “Nature Trail To Hell”, a song about a fictitious teen slasher flick. We’ve also got songs about game shows, supermarket tabloids, sandwiches, TV shows, infomercials, and, of course, polka. Styles include pop, new wave, reggae, adult contemporary, and, of course, polka. Because you can never have too much polka.
I forgot how good some of these songs are. The way Al combines the actual words to the Brady Bunch theme with the music for “Safety Dance” is tremendous. “I Lost On Jeopardy” has some great references to the game show (I took potpourri / For one hundred…) with the added benefit of Don Pardo, arguably one of the great all-time game show voices, throwing down a litany of insults. And “Polkas on 45”? We get a medley of lyrics from Devo, Deep Purple, The Beatles, The Doors, Iron Butterfly (!), Jimi Hendrix, Talking Heads, Foreigner, The Police, The Clash, Rolling Stones, and The Who, accompanied by accordion, polka style.
In 3-D feels like a comedy album, but it’s also pretty damn legit musically. And if I see it’s predecessor, I guarantee you I’ll be picking that one up too.
(♠) While we rightfully think of Weird Al as a parody performer, only five of the album’s eleven songs are comedy covers – “Eat It” (Michael Jackson – “Beat It”), “The Brady Bunch” (Men Without Hats – “Safety Dance”), “I Lost on Jeopardy” (Greg Kihn Band – “Jeopardy”), “King Of Suede” (The Police – “King Of Pain”), and “Theme From Rocky XIII (The Rye or the Kaiser)” (Survivor – “Eye Of The Tiger”). The others are all originals.