Classics: Was (Not Was) – Out Come The Freaks (Extended Version) (Island)
As a matter of fact, the 1981 memorable ‘Out Come The Freaks’ happened to be the first episode of a trilogy. With ‘(Return To The Valley Of) Out Come The Freaks’ seeing the light in 1984. Then ‘Out Come The Freaks (Again)’ in 1988. With each of them, although presenting similarities, coming up with different lyrics in the verses depicting different societal matters. But also an updated sound in regards to their release dates, a rework of the melody and the use of different arrangements.
The opening cut to their eponymous debut-album, ‘Out Comes The Freaks’ would be the first in a series of classics such as ‘Walk The Dinosaur’ and ‘Spy In The House of Love’. Not to mention their cover version of The Temptations‘s classic ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’. Pretty much illustrative of that mutant Disco sound which the group developed along with time. With the same applying to the vocal arrangements in terms of excentricity. This bringin’ Was (Not Was) like at the crossroad between Players Association, Ready For The World and The Conway Brothers…
Was (Not Was)… Say wot? Quite a strange name to a certain extend. But the one from the association between David Weiss and Don Fagenson who adopted the David Was and Don Was stage names. With the “Not” coming from a habit which Fagenson‘s son to play with contradicting expressions like “Blue” and “Not Blue” by the time he was beginning to talk. I suppose, although without of course knowing it, he couldn’t have been more prophetic. With Was (Not Was)‘s music being pretty much a blend of Disco (Not Disco), Funk (Not Funk) and Jazz (Not Jazz). If ot ‘Rock (Not Rock)! With this being for much on its originality. But also the fact that famous label ZE Records happened to first sign them in America, and Island for the rest of the world.
A quick look at their origins brings us back to the Detroit, MI. And, by that, illustrates one more time the versatility of the local scene. Even though they moved to Los Angeles, CA soon after their formation. Weiss and Fagenson teamin’ up with vocalists Harry Bowens and Sweet Pea Atkinson. With Donald Ray Mitchell whom Ray Parker, Jr. had discovered, joinin’ them later on.
‘Wheel Me Out’, their debut-single, saw the light back in 1980. With Elizabeth Elkin Weiss, an actress and a radio pioneer but also David‘s mom providing the so to say spoken word performance. And their eponymous album followed the year after, featuring the seminal ‘Out Comes The Freaks’. Meanwhile 1982 saw them producing Sweet Pea Atkinson‘s debut-album, ‘Don’t Walk Away’ featuring the memorable ‘Dance Or Die’.
Was (Not Was) released their second album – ‘Born To Laugh At Tornadoes’ – in 1983. But they would have to wait for another 4 years to score their biggest success. This by the likes of ‘Walk The Dinosaur’ and ‘Spy In The House Of Love’, although to a slightly lesser extend. Two of the definitive highlights of their ‘What Up, Dog?’ album which hit the streets the following year.
The band released another album – ‘Are You Okay’ – back in 1990. Featuring a memorable cover version of The Temptations’ ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’, it would preceed a long period of silence. Was (Not Was) resurfacing 13 years later with ‘Out Comes The Freaks’ (the album although more of a compilation). And another five years before the release of their fifth (and last) studio album to date, ‘Boo!’, on Rykodisc. The latter including ‘Mr. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Any More’, co-written some twenty years before or so along with Bob Dylan.