Was (Not Was)

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Boo! Review

by Andy Kellman

Closing in on 20 years since their last album, the whole gang is here, pretty much -- the core of Don and David Was and Sir Harry Bowens and Sweet Pea Atkinson, along with Was (Not Was) vets Luis Resto, David McMurray, Wayne Kramer, Donald Ray Mitchell, and Randy Jacobs, as well as roughly a couple dozen additional accomplices, from Booker T. Jones to (of course) Kris Kristofferson. Mixing and matching funk, rock, and soul with a little jazz and blues, and enhanced on occasion by some seamlessly incorporated electronics, Boo! delivers robust party material with plenty of straight-faced, sidesplitting/head-scratching humor...precisely what you'd expect from them, then. They've remained ageless all along, balancing their adolescent pranksterism with sharp social observations and deliriously random humor, deploying it all over sturdy grooves that roam unselfconsciously across the history of R&B. Most of it here is dressed up in the absurd: the opening "Semi-Interesting Week" is filled with it, just to ensure that the proper tone is set, while one of the album's more riotous vocal refrains goes "High in fiber, low in fat/Come at your mama with a baseball bat." But they occasionally pull the rug out for something disarming, as on "From the Head to the Heart," where the heartstrings get a firm tug while waiting for the punchline that never comes. And yes, "Needletooth" is about as nonsensical as an admirer of "Hello Dad...I'm in Jail" could possibly hope.

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