Was (Not Was), Out Come The Freaks

Barry Walters

By Barry Walters

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Only on this unconventional Detroit band's 1981 debut did ZE's signature blend of punk and disco combine with sounds inspired by Funkadelic, the MC5, the Temptations, Gil Scott-Heron and other then-unfashionable influences. When they wanted to, David and Don Was could clearly write a lovely, potentially commercial tune: A faithful 1986 cover of the dramatic ballad “Where Did Your Love Go” was Wham!'s final single before George Michael went solo. (Indeed, nearly every Michael ballad echoes this track.)

The debut album of Detroit’s most surreal disco group.

But mostly they wanted to create surreal musical montages like “Oh, Mr. Friction!,” where horns, vibes, slapping bass lines and other niceties waft over a pounding four-to-the-floor bass drum as a diva choir sing lyrics like “Spank the kids with a fork/ Run the appliances on high speed all day.” Expanded in 2003 to bring the pair's equally warped dancefloor debut “Wheel Me Out” together with the album's cult club hits “Out Come the Freaks” and the Reagan-sampling “Tell Me That I'm Dreaming,” this is the ultimate Was (Not Was) statement, and it's nearly unrecognizable as being created by roughly the same people behind 1987 pop hit, “Walk the Dinosaur.”