She took me to her bedroom
To show me her computer,
She asked me if I liked it,
I told her she was cuter.

Donald Fagenson and David Weiss (a.k.a. Don Was and David Was a.k.a Was (not was)) were already established names in music business when they gathered their little collective around them for their fourth album. After three albums that were once described as "demented P-Funk" (a term that Don Was decided was nice but a "soul redundancy") they got together in 1988 to make one of the finest albums ever produced. Not only the production values were top notch in this early age of digital mastering, but the sheer amount of contemporary music styles the band was going through was impressive. Accompanied by their long time compadres Sweetpea Atkinson and Sir Harry Bowen and a humungous amount of studio musicians Was and Was steered between R&B, Lounge, Pop, Soul and Dadaism.

The lyrics are clever, memorable and subtle and mostly analyze the state of humanity: whether commenting on the plight of a woman who was happier being sexually used by scores of men ("Being in their arms is better than being alone") in Anytime Lisa, describing the intellectual poverty of two gamblers getting married after a couple of hours on the slot machines in Las Vegas ("All night preacher does the ceremony, his wife throws Minute Rice, the tears are phony") in Wedding Vows in Vegas or human waste like the typical creepy lawyer in Out come the Freaks. Even though quite humorous, they reveal a profound doubt in the state of the human realm (at least in 1988) and rarely become optimistic.

I what is a rather ironic twist of fate, only the nonsensical, even dadaistic track Walk the Dinosaur made the U.S. top ten, probably due to the rather infectious chant:

Boom Boom, akalakalaka Boom,
Boom Boom, akalaka Boom Boom!

Walk the Dinosaur is nevertheless still the song most punters remember when thinking of Was (not Was) (a bit like Matt Bianco's notorious "Wanker" moment). This is of course a crying shame, as the second single Spy in the House of Love was heaps better (both the lyrics and the track itself are a true stomper), but only peaked somewhere in the lower echelons of the U.S. charts.

After listening to What up, dog? for now over 16 years, it still occupies a prominent space in my 600+ CD Collection and the album stays one of the 5 most played on Itunes. Therefore it is good to hear that Was (not was) have reformed and will again bring their intelligent branch of soul to the masses.


1/2007: Got an email from David Was thanking me for the writeup. What else does a man want?

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