Rock & Roll Records, 1986
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/29/2002
After his disappointing third album Dare To Be Stupid, "Weird Al" Yankovic had two choices for his fourth album: release something that would raise the bar of expectations for his kind of comedy, or put out something that could well relegate him to "Trivial Pursuit" material.
From the cover of Polka Party!, one can almost guess which route Yankovic took. If Dare To Be Stupid was merely disappointing, Polka Party! is almost a complete flop. One almost wishes that this one was merely a "contractual obligation" album.
Granted, there wasn't much in the form of popular music which was deserving of Yankovic's style of parody in 1986 - quick, without referencing any book or website, name a major hit from that year. 'Nuff said. Yet Yankovic and his dedicated backing band continue to hack away at the dreck that passed for pop music at this time. Unfortunately, the saying "garbage in, garbage out" proves to be true.
Yankovic tries to put a good spin on DeBarge's "Who's Johnny" with his tribute to Johnny Carson, "Here's Johnny". Yawn. Yankovic tries to take an already piss-poor attempt at pop with "Ruthless People" and turns it into "Toothless People". Yuck. Yankovic even falls flat tackling the "hardest working man in show business," parodying James Brown on "Living With A Hernia". It's almost enough to make you wish that death was imminent.
Normally, Yankovic can pull his fat out of the fire when the parodies fall flat through his original compositions. Yet even these can't save Polka Party! from itself. "Dog Eat Dog" has its moments as a Talking Heads-style number, while "Good Enough For Now" is a half-baked attempt at humorous country. Even the "legendary" "Christmas At Ground Zero" fails to impress. (Post-9/11 reference: The "Ground Zero" reference is to nuclear war.)
Like its predecessor, Polka Party! sounds like Yankovic is going through the motions, churning out product just to have it on the shelves. Rightfully so, Yankovic would take a break for a few years after this turkey hit - and would revitalize his career with his parody of Michael Jackson's "Bad". But Polka Party! seemed like it could well have been the "last call" for Yankovic, and you'd be wise to avoid it.