Hey! Welcome to the second annual Weird Al Week! Over the course of seven days, Milwaukee Record will fill your feed with fresh, funny, and slightly fanatical Al-related materiel. It all leads up to Weird Al’s “Strings Attached” show at the Miller High Life Theatre on July 27! Fun!
In 2017, “Weird Al” Yankovic fans were treated to the release of Squeeze Box: The Complete Works Of “Weird Al” Yankovic. The mammoth 15-album box set included all 14 of Al’s studio albums, a 100-page book, and a box made to look like an accordion. Oh, and it also came with a 23-track album of rarities called (you guessed it) Medium Rarities. Everything from demos of songs like “Yoda,” unreleased tracks like “Pac-Man” (a parody of “Taxman” by the Beatles), and TV-only ditties like “Homer And Marge” (a parody of “Jack & Diane” by John Mellencamp) were included. It was glorious.
But Medium Rarities didn’t include everything. Because what collection of Weird Al rarities possibly could? We’ve already covered some really rare Al rarities, but here are a few more.
Peter & The Wolf / Carnival Of The Animals–Part II
Al has penned a couple of children’s books—2011’s When I Grow Up and 2013’s My New Teacher & Me—but he’s rarely ventured into children’s music. (Well, his music has always been best appreciated by wise-ass children, but you know what we mean.) The exception is the frightfully rare and utterly bizarre 1988 album Peter & The Wolf / Carnival Of The Animals–Part II. Along with collaborator Wendy Carlos (who composed the scores to A Clockwork Orange and The Shining, for goodness’ sake), Al narrates the classic orchestral works and makes them his own. Are you sitting comfortably? ARE YOU!!?? (Listen to the whole thing HERE.)
“Who Stole The Kishka?” – Frank Yankovic & Friends: Songs Of The Polka King, Vol. 1
Oone of life’s great mysteries is the fact that “Weird Al” Yankovic and polka legend Frankie Yankovic are not related. “Kids were offered a choice between guitar lessons and accordion lessons,” Al once explained. “Since Frankie Yankovic (no relation) was America’s Polka King, my parents opted for accordion lessons, perhaps because they figured there should be at least one more accordion playing Yankovic in the world.” Weird. Anyway, the two accordion-playing Yankovics did collaborate before the elder Yankovic’s death in 1998. Weird Al appeared on Frankie’s 1996 recording of “Who Stole The Kishka?” and the two goofed around for the 1986 Grammys.
“Bite Me” – Off The Deep End (hidden track)
Remember CDs? Remember when CDs occasionally had hidden tracks? Like, you’d have to skip through dozens of blank tracks to hear a secret song on track 69 (Tool did this), or wait 10 minutes after the final song ended to hear the hidden song? Well, Al did the latter on 1992’s Off The Deep End. Keep your original-pressing CD playing 10 minutes after “You Don’t Love Me Anymore” and you’ll hear…this. (It’s a tribute to Nirvana, of course.)
“What Is Life” – George Fest: A Night To Celebrate The Music Of George Harrison
One of the unexpected pleasures of 2018’s “Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour” was when Al and his band would play a different cover song every night. Like, a straight cover song—not a parody, not a polka re-working. Just a cover! In Milwaukee, we got to hear a terrific version of Tom Petty’s “Breakdown.” Likewise, this straight cover of George Harrison’s “What Is Life” (from the 2014 live album George Fest: A Night To Celebrate The Music Of George Harrison) is terrific.
“Bad Hombres, Nasty Women” – Songify The News
Yes, Al did one of those Songify The News things back in 2016. (You may know Songify The News from the 2010 classic “Bed Intruder Song.”) If you can possibly stomach reliving the 2016 presidential election, it’s pretty good!