William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

RetroReview: Polka Party!

4. Polka Party!
1986, Scotti Brothers

"Living with a Hernia"
parody of "Living in America" by James Brown
+ It's corny, but it's just hip and slick enough to work.
+ You learn a lot of names for different types hernias.
- It's the kind of parody that wouldn't appeal much to people who aren't "Weird Al" fans. It's fun to hear the song, but it's not laugh-out-loud funny by any means.
- So there's no way it could have been the title track, and this album is in desperate need of a better title, or an actual "punk polka" theme that's tantalizingly alluded to on the cover. (See the entire CD booklet here - chances are your print doesn't include a complete insert.)
+ But it's still, somehow, decent listening.

"Dog Eat Dog"
+ A great send up of narcissistic office workers. We all know one or have been one.
+ This would work as a theme song for Dilbert, though it doesn't match the attitude of any one character in the strip.
+ I'm a big fan of the hook and the chorus.
+ Man, I want my own private parking place!

"Addicted to Spuds"
parody of "Addicted to Love" by Robert Palmer
- This one is corny too, but somehow not hip or slick enough to work.
- Potatoes... are not that interesting over three verses, though it does come across as a labour of love. Or food lust.
- The puns are memorable, but there's nothing fond in the remembrance in my experience. It's wit-by-rote.
- I've listened to this song too many times, remembering the bad-old-days when Weird Al albums were almost the only music I had.
- When the original song has a short shelf life, the parody fares exponentially worse. Parody "King of Pain" well and it's timeless. Parody "Addicted to Love" painfully, and you have a song that nobody wants on their playlist.

"One of Those Days"
+ For the most part, the song builds up bigger-and-bigger woe-is-me tales. It's certainly one of those days.
+ The misfortunes and carnage are lightened up significantly by the happy bounciness of the tune.
+ To this day, the song makes me think of leaving Beatles records out in the sun.
- It's not really a 'funny' song, which you might be expecting from the title.

"Polka Party!"
+ Many particularly good early-to-mid 80s hits find there way on here.
+ I'd list them, but it's a shame to spoil the surprise.
+ The ones that you mightn't have heard have lyrics that sound sublimely ridiculous in this format.
- Using a polka as the title track was probably a mistake, at least in terms of making the album marketable. Unless, of course, Al had gone all out and made a polka epic. Could that sort of thing hold up over an entire album, or perhaps a third or half of an album? I'd like to think so, though the later "Bohemian Polka" is a bit tiringly long.

- - -

"Here's Johnny"
parody of "Who's Johnny" by El DeBarge
+ It's an amusing send-up of Ed McMahon.
+ This kind of song helps anchor the album in time, both in style and content. It's a classic 80s synth-tune about an 80s television personality.

"Don't Wear Those Shoes"
+ Musically, this is the most rocking track of the album.
- The idea seems like it would be lame...
+ But the execution is top-notch!
+ The things he would rather endure than this woman wearing "those shoes" are incredible, eyebrow-raising, well-sung, and well-rhymed.
KEEP (this one would go right to the top of my list)

"Toothless People"
parody of "Ruthless People" by Mick Jagger
- The original is so dour and depressing that it's challenging to parody without depressing your audience - on a comedy album, this probably isn't what you want.
- I wouldn't play this song for any of the dentists I've had, because I'm pretty sure they wouldn't like it, since it's not actually funny.
+ I guess I should go brush my teeth.

"Good Enough for Now"
+ This is a fine lampoon of country love songs.
+ The lyrics verge on laugh-out-loud. "You're sort of everything I ever wanted... You're not perfect, but I love you anyhow..."
- Is there settling down without settling for? It can be a disquieting question.

"Christmas at Ground Zero"
+ The "happiness" of this yuletide tune is a hilariously twisted foil for the apocalyptic lyrics.
+ "You might hear some reindeer on your rooftop, or Jack Frost on your windowsill... But if someone's climbing down your chimney..."
+ In my opinion, this is a better 'Christmas tune' than "The Night Santa Went Crazy".
+ It's placed well on the album - it is about the End, after all.

Considering it's Al's poorest-selling album, it's really not so bad, though consider that from it we're only keeping two parodies, and the parodies are what drive sales to casual fans. The originals (including a few style parodies) fare far better, as we keep all five, and we also keep the polka. The running totals now are 19 originals, 13 parodies, 2 polkas, and 1 cover.

Second opinion:
allmusic - 3 out of 5 stars
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