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  Was (Not Was)



Click below for a Was (Not Was) sample:

Tell Me That I'm Dreaming

Some of the quirkiest dance music ever released can be attributed to the group Was (Not Was).  The Detroit-based act was conceptualized by Don Fagenson and David Weiss, who both adopted the Was surname after failing to find success on their own.  The vocalists they recruited were Sir Harry Bowens and Sweet Pea Atkinson.  Sir Harry handled the smoother stuff, while Sweet Pea was a straight shouter from the old school.   

Fittingly for a group that found ways to write humorous lyrics about the JFK assassination and trips to jail and proudly aligned itself with society's outcasts, they landed on the Ze label, well-known for its stable of quirky artists. "Wheel Me Out" was a funky groove that introduced them to the world.   It was a disco hit that nearly made the top 40.

From their self-titled debut LP came another disco hit, "Tell Me That I'm Dreaming."  Around the same time, Don Was produced Orbit's "The Beat Goes On," the first outside project he'd taken since the group formed.

Their commercial breakthrough was What Up Dog in 1988.   The album had two singles that climbed the pop charts: "Spy In the House Of Love" and "Walk the Dinosaur."  The latter became something of a national craze, as that nonsense phrase "boom-boom-lacka-lacka-lacka-boom" would not leave your consciousness. "Dinosaur" would be their lone top 10 record.  

In the wake of Dog's success, Don Was became a big-time producer for rock acts, most notably Iggy Pop and Bonnie Raitt.  Tensions within the band regarding Don's outside productions eventually led to Was (Not Was)'s breakup. 

Was (Not Was)'s Deepest Grooves

"Wheel Me Out" (Ze, 1980)

Was (Not Was) (Ze, 1981)
"Tell Me That I'm Dreaming" and "Out Come the Freaks" set the pace for the oddball perspective of the Was brothers.   

Born To Laugh at Tornadoes (Geffen, 1983)

What Up Dog (Chrysalis, 1988)

Are You Okay (Chrysalis, 1990)
Swan song includes a decent modern version of "Papa Was A Rolling Stone." 

Hello Dad...I'm in Jail (Polygram, 1994)
Not definitive, but the only Was (Not Was) retrospective on the market.  

Copyright 2001 B.Graff.  All rights reserved.

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