Picks and Pans Review: What Up, Dog?

updated 11/07/1988 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/07/1988 01:00AM

Was (Not Was)

With song titles like Earth to Doris, Dad I'm in Jail and Somewhere in America, There's a Street Named After My Dad, Was (Not Was)'s third record has to be, at the very least, a heavy favorite for Party Platter of the Year. But David Was (Weiss) and Don Was (Fagenson), the masterminds behind this sharp L.A. pop-funk band, transcend the novelty and shoot right to the smart dance music—usually an oxymoron—category. The band's greatest asset, after lead singer Sweet Pea Atkinson's smooth-as-12-year-old-scotch voice, is a sharp and wacky sense of humor. Spy in the House of Love, for example, is about a jealous guy's obsession with catching his mate fooling around: "I used a tiny camera, I thought I'd Japanese her/ I made a voodoo doll of her and sat around and squeezed her." There might not be a better dance club hit this year, with the possible exception of another track on this album, Walk the Dinosaur. Occasionally, Weiss and Fagenson flirt with questionable taste, such as on 11 Miles an Hour, when, in the year of the 25th anniversary of John Kennedy's assassination, they write about that tragic day in Dallas: "They pulled that limousine down/ Elm Street slow and clean/ Lead fell like a shower/ At 11 miles an hour." But they never seem intentionally malicious and are often delightfully surprising, as when Frank Sinatra Jr. materializes to sing lead on Wedding Vows in Vegas ("A Polaroid's an extra twenty/ Shoot the works, man, we've got plenty"). Whether Weiss and Fagenson are too witty for their own commercial good remains a question. But breakthrough or not, this album is a dandy. (Chrysalis)

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