Weird Al Yankovic - Straight Outta Lynwood

(Volcano 82876-899581-2, Dualdisc)

Weird Al Yankovic has been going a very long time with his humour, his parodies and his music making his way into the hearts of many a fan across the world with classics over time such as Fat, Eat It, Smells Like Nirvana and Pretty Fly For A Rabbi. Since the 2003 release of Poodle Hat, a lot has happened to Weird Al, both his parents passed away tragically and understandably he took some time out for himself. And then went into the recording studio and came up with a new album for everyone.

One of the first things I noticed was that the album got a release on the dualdisc format, that is CD one side and DVD the other. This was the one to plump for, and as I'll explain later, the only real choice if you want to truly enjoy the work here. The artwork is also funny, clearly a homage to rap artists, but also with some nice touches - the number plate is a small tribute to his parents for example. The dog on the cover is actually an image of his own pet dog too, so that's quite nice. And so it's time to check out the album.

I played the CD side first, so I could listen to the tracks on my rig as most people will experience them. "White and Nerdy" has already gone top 10 stateside and is a brilliant parody of Chamillionaire's "Ridin'" and it really keeps to the rap theme well with Weird Al layering on lots of clever witty lyrics about being white and nerdy and how much of a nerd you can be as he rolls off things like "MC Escher is my favourite MC" and "I'm a whiz at Minesweeper, I can play for days", "At Pascal I'm number one" etc. The video for the single (not on the DVD, sadly) is hilarious and you should be able to find it online - spot Donny Osmond in the video dancing, yes it's true! and it's addictive listening.

"Pancreas" is the first of many original songs on here, and it's a loving tribute to part of the body while trying to sound all Beach Boys on here, certainly it has some weird instruments playing throughout too which blends into the song really well. There's so many little bits that remind me of all that surf sound that it just is such a relaxing tune compared to White and Nerdy. And then - genius! Weird Al does Green Day and thrashes out "Canadian Idiot" (get it?) in two and a half minutes and changes all the words to mention just why people from America dislike people from Canada from some reason. There's a great line which I love which says "Well maple syrup's and snow's what they export, they seem to think that curling's a real sport" which made me giggle quite a bit I have to say. And I have to say that Weird Al's band here are playing really tight. Certainly the guys in Green Day should be impressed - I'd love to see Billie Joe belting out Weird Al's lyrics!

However, the best track of the album is next - and it's an original Weird Al piece! Imagine if you will Weird Al and his gang doing Rage Against The Machine mixed with some rap and you're pretty much there, and "I'll Sue Ya" affectionally tells about large companies who for some odd reason you'd want to sue and why, and the humour is prevalent throughout. "I sued Ben Affleck.. well, do I even need a reason?" - you get the idea. The chorus has some really dirty guitars with Weird Al ranting "Sue! Sue! Yeah, I'm gonna sue" and the whole thing just works as a complete rock out. I can imagine this being a right blast when being recorded!!

Of course no Weird Al album would be without a polka medley and "Polkarama!" carries this on nicely. It even features the likes of Franz Ferdinand and Coldplay being parodied, a bit of The Birdie Song at the start and also the Black Eyed Peas' "Let's Get It Started" - and to be honest it's fun, not least as he even gets in a bit of that Killers track that everyone knows by the tune but like me forgets the name of. "Virus Alert" is next and that's great fun for all the computer geeks like me who know to ignore those fake messages, but how people panic if they don't forward it on to everyone and what they fear will happen. It's hilarious to say the least!

"Confessions Part 3" is a neat mickey take of Usher, and musically it's spot on, and the words itself just detail all the things that you wouldn't want a partner to tell you in a relationship about themselves, and what those confessions would be. Some of them would make you cringe but it's always done with a straight face and with such enjoyment. Nice touch to add the multiple Al vocal harmonies to make it sound R&B like too, which is top stuff. "Weasel Stomping Day" is sheer silliness, and the one track I'd probably skip, the subject says it all, it's also done in the style of a Christmassy cheesy tune as well. Could have been left off.

"Close But No Cigar" is another original tune, and it details how close you can be in relationships but it just doesn't work out for you, it's quite quirky and rocks out nicely, and certainly is classic Weird Al. As is the parody of the American Idol winner Taylor Hicks that comes up next, which is "Do I Creep You Out?" I know that American Idol creeps me out a bit, and this is just a really neat mickey take of how someone can be really creepy by following you around and be obsessive, so that's quite witty and clever at the same time to be honest.

Then there's a ten minute plus workout which is a parody of R Kelly, extended style, and it's "Trapped in The Drive Thru" which is a lengthy tune about how couples can make just going for food into such a big polaver, and how you end up being stuck in the drive thru for ages on end, deciding to order food for so long, finding there's no money to pay for everything and then when you leave it's all wrong, with the last line "there's no onions" saying it all. Lastly, there's "Don't Download This Song" which is an affectionate plea not to download things illegally. Although things have moved on since he wrote it a while back, it's still quite apt for some people and it's also a little clever rant into saying how the artist gets nothing and instead to listen to it and buy the CD. As someone who buys CDs, I really liked the sentiment how stealing turns to crime etc and it's done in such a warm feeling. Nice one.

So, the album itself is rather good, and up there wtih his best work, but let's turn the disc over and you get a DVD full of stuff. Not only do you get the whole album in PCM stereo and 5.1 surround sound (the surround mix sounds absolutely superb - just a shame it's not DVD-Audio quality) but also instrumental versions so that if you really want to you can sing along in true karaoke style. And that works pretty nicely too. It's also good that you have a choice of sound quality options although I went for the 5.1 mix, of course.

The videos? Yes, there's six animated videos for six of the songs, but sadly not the brilliant video to White and Nerdy, which, if you look hard enough, features Seth Green and Donny Osmond, but the animated videos are superbly done, they are: I'll Sue Ya, Don't Download This Song, Weasel Stomping Day, Close But No Cigar, Virus Alert and Pancreas. The video for I'll Sue Ya works perfectly with the song too and has that real riotous gig atmosphere with Al and the band rocking out in animated form just right, and cleverly disguising the name of all the products in the video so as not to get sued, hehehe.

You also get a nice video short of Weird Al in the studio doing the recording of the album with most of the tracks featured so you can see just how it all came together, and you can see that there was so much effort put in, but also plenty of laughs with him and his band - not to mention the meticulous sheet music he managed to put together for each track as well, which shows dedication, even when a certain MacOS application crashes on him!

Overall then, what do I think? It's clearly a great album by Weird Al standards and even an enjoyable one if you're not a diehard. The fact the album's top 10 in the US at the moment says a lot, and White and Nerdy's also been in the top 10 singles, says everything I need to know. He's back and with an album of just sheer immense fun and enjoyability. The dualdisc version is the one to get, don't wait for some lame UK release in November, I'm sure Amazon or Play should be able to help you out..

Warren's rating: 86%