17 August 2003
The poodle chews it
I'd gotten away from "Weird Al" Yankovic for a while. Partly it was his erratic release schedule, but mostly, I think, it was the discouraging notion that pop hits these days are largely crap, and not even Weird Al-level parody can save them from their fecality.
Nova tossed me a copy of Poodle Hat. "You need to hear this," she insisted.
I took it home, shoved it into Drive H: and was promptly informed that I needed to upgrade QuickTime to at least 6.0. Nine point something megabytes later, I got to see the Enhanced features, including a genuine set of Yankovic family home movies with up-to-the-minute commentary. Good enough, I suppose, but isn't this what AL TV is for?
Finally, to the music. And yes, the hits, as expected, suffer from high crud levels, though Avril Lavigne's "Complicated" is handled beautifully. What you want here are the Al sort-of-originals, and Poodle Hat contains two of the best he's ever done: "Bob", a Dylanesque (circa "Subterranean Homesick Blues") number in which every single line is a palindrome, and "Genius in France", arguably the first successful Frank Zappa pastiche in recorded history, complete with bizarre changes in tempo, lyrics stuffed full of innuendo, odd noises masquerading as vocals, and serious guitar-hero riffing some of which is contributed by FZ's son Dweezil, a serious guitar hero in his own right.
Then there's "Party at the Leper Colony", a spiffy update of "Willie and the Hand Jive" that...um, maybe I'd better leave it at that.
And, oh yes, there's a polka. Some things never change.