www.zerecords.com CAN YOU IMAGINE ALL THAT MILK?

The year 1980, and was getting ready to play host to thousands of Re- publican conventioneers who were holding their quadrennial shindig in the Motor City. In a breathtaking moment of silliness, someone decided to install brand-new awnings CAN WE WHO on the windows of the recently abandoned Statler Hotel, so as not to offend any of the visiting GOP functionaries with the depressing urban financial realities of the day. Meanwhile, the members of Detroit band Was (Not Was) were engaging in a bold mu- sical experiment, splicing the genes of , rock, R&B, and . With their futuristic grooves and intelligent (if twisted) lyrics, Was (Not Was) didn’t hide the local decay MAN TH E SHIP behind fake awnings. It gathered its ethnically diverse ranks, dressed the decay up in some fine threads and took it out dancing. The band’s ringleaders were (Donald Fagenson) and (David Weiss). These brothers (of the soul variety) were in a good position to point out the absurdities of American life in the early ‘80s. Hailing from the scrubbed inner-ring De- OF STATE DENY troit suburb of Oak Park, the pair met in eighth grade, appropriately enough when they were both waiting in the principal’s office for discipline. The young friends cut their teeth listening to the homegrown sounds of singles and the MC5. Add plenty of LSD and a healthy dose of the Firesign Theater to their natural mischievousness, mix well, and you’ve got a good idea of the part of the woodwork these freaks creaked IT IS SOME WHAT out of. Don spent some time as a journeyman jazz player around Detroit, while David moved to Los Angeles and worked as a jazz critic for the Herald Examiner. But the pair kept in touch and eventually formed the band in a bid to go down in glory. Along the way, OUT OF CONTROL they assembled a crack team of , including glorious frontman , a former Detroit auto worker whose rich vocal qualities recall Otis Red- Ronald Reagan • State of the Union Message ding or Sam Cooke. Also bringing soul to the ensemble was former O’Jays singer Sir Harry Bowens. The rock edge came from ex-MC5 guitarist , while the on Economic Recovery • February, 18. 1981 jazz tinge came from trumpeter who performed for decades with the bands of and Ray Charles. Parliament/’s flamboyant percussionist Larry Fratangelo brought the funk, and the group was rounded out by saxman David McMurray, guitarist Randy Jacobs, and pianist . It would be hard to understand the self-titled debut by Was (Not Was) apart from its political context-especially with Brother Wayne in tow. (As noted when talking about in the liner notes of the MC5’s , « There is no separation »). But the band steered clear of didactic rambling, instead choosing to work in character studies. There’s motorcycle Michael who hasn’t been the same since Vietnam. There’s the chick from Ecuador who wants to talk about the moon. There’s the father who hallucinates that the sky is ablaze with ladies’ legs. All of them are interesting characters, if slightly askew. It may have been 13 years after the rebellion that saw the Motor City burn when this record came out, but Ronald Reagan was soon to win the nomination and declare it « morning in America. » But if it was morning in America, it sure seemed pitch black in the Motor City. In fact, even Reagan acknowledged that not all was right. “Can we who man the ship of state deny it is somewhat out of control?” he asked in his State of the Union address on economic recovery in 1981. A sample of that assessment features prominently in the Was (Not Was) cut « Tell Me That I’m Dreaming, » Another line from that same song seems to sum up the ‘80s gimmie gimmie gimmie culture. The song asks: « One man liked milk, now he owns a million cows. Can you imagine all that milk? » Sure. But where do I get me a glass? Now that we’ve got the context out of the way, we can talk about the music. This de- but Was (Not Was) album is a glorious postmodern statement. The nuclear glow over suburbia on the front cover is an invitation to the party. All of the earmarks of later Was (Not Was) were there: the cast-of-thousands backing band, the razor blade smile lyr- ics, the burbling funk. It was that kind of metallic cool that only really plays in Detroit and Europe. This set begins with « , » an essential cut that comes off as a dance manifesto. Next up is « Where Did Your Heart Go, » a dark, sinister, steamy- manhole, sunglasses-at-night soundtrack to the rain-soaked streets of a blaxploita- tion thriller. On the aforementioned « Tell Me That I’m Dreaming, » Don Was crafts a bassline every bit as catchy and primal as « Flashlight » or « Good Times/Rapper’s Delight » behind surreal lyrics. « Oh, Mr. Friction » closes out the first side of the vinyl. The flip begins with « Carry Me Back to Old Morocco, » a soaring cut filled with mystery. « It’s an Attack, » is a hard funk ode to paranoia, while « The Sky’s Ablaze » is a noir radio thriller. Closing out the album is « Go…Now » is a powerful, fist-of-god stomp that showed a sense of hope alongside the postmodern angst. Kramer plays a blister- ing solo that dissolves into a wash of hard funk horns. Goosebump time!Rounding out this release are some remixes and other hard-to-find tracks including three remixes of « Tell Me that I’m Dreaming » and two remixes of « Out Come the Freaks. » Among the notable songs are « Wheel Me Out » and « Hello operator...I mean dad...I mean police... I can’t even remember who I am, » which comprised the first Was (Not Was) single on ZE Records. The band submitted a demo tape with a letter from the jazz critic of the LA Herald Examiner (who, you’ll remember happened to be David Weiss). Also included is « Dance or Die » from Sweet Pea Atkinson’s solo album « Don’t Walk Away, » (which, inshallah, will be re-released in its entirety someday). A few years after this record was first unleashed, the inventors of Detroit Techno began mining for butt-shakin’ gold. But many of those aesthetic innovations were al- ready present in the oeuvre of Was (Not Was)-the cool, metallic sheen; the futuristic settings; the strange voices, the infectious hooks. Now, 23 years later, those tattered awnings still hang on the Statler, which is still empty and decaying. But this music is more durable. So enjoy, and if we’re lucky and dance all night, maybe when we leave the club it really will be morning in America.

Brian J. Bowe, Editor in Chief Magazine : January, 2004.

OUT COME THE FREAKS She wants to talk about the moon, can’t teach me OH, MR. FRICTION! She says it used to be her frien What the river said that night When the sun goes down they hit the streets But the doctors put an end to all of that I jumped into its beauty Drink from bottle when I home alone In the bars to try and meet A part of me is lost for good And drifted out of sight Spank the kids with a fork Some other stranger to ease the pain Do you really understand Run the appliances high-speed all day I do says Johnny Of living alone ‘till it drives them insane TELL ME THAT I’M DREAMING Switch stations every 5 seconds The woodwork squeaks As he grabs her hand

And out come the freaks I pulled into your town We are mostly mute with one another Yeah, the woodwork squeaks WHERE DID YOUR HEART GO ? Saw two signs Sounds of unexpected voices shock us And out come the freaks “West and West” Talk is rarely squandered Where did your heart go? Tell me that I’m dreaming is it a favor or a threat? Like little Michael on his motorcycle Did you put it on a train? Turned down a “No-way street” Long term plan or just a scam? With leather pants & a leather brain Did you leave it in the rain And saw another sign What’d you say? He ain’t never been the same since Vietnam Or down in Mexico? “Drive in reverse” Say it over! Keeps his heart locked-up in a vest Or something like it You know, your hands give you away And his eyes inside his shoes I spend my nights down on the wharf (We talked like men Is it evil or selfish or for criminal gain? Doesn’t ever want to lose them in a fight In unlit alleyways And ate fish at the end of the pier) If it takes 20 seconds You never know what might go down tonight Next to the church downtown can you repeat it again? Where Sally prays I tried to walk, but how ? The woodwork squeaks Come down sometime The rest of you were dancing What’s it mean And out come the freaks We’ll eat a rusty can of corn With pointy shoes on Straight out with it And listen to the radio Somebody pinch me Or don’t say it at all Open the door & there’s Suzanne I love you, I love you Am I -- ? I can take it, She eats her breakfast from the pan It says Was I ? Call me Judas She never even burns her tongue Did I -- away the night ? I’m a bastard, And someday she’d like to Where did your heart go? I’ll admit it Get hung up on a millionaire Did you put it on a train? New Shoes, laser breakfast, I’m Mr. Friction She don’t even care Did you leave it in the rain Fast target vehicles (Girls: Oh, Mr. Friction!) If he ain’t got no hair or down in Mexic? Leather house, I can force you to tell me She says “Long as he signs the check Dreaming, somebody pinch me! Friction accepts no lies / I accept all lies I figure what the heck You cry but I don’t I am the main lie I’ll get him a toupee I’ve seen it all before Nightwatchman at a bank You can’t lie to a lie What more can you say? There it goes again Made some pirates walk the plank Johnny Yuma was a copper The slamming of the doors Tell me that I’m dreaming Johnny Yuma... The woodwork squeaks Sometimes the river calls me One man liked milk, See what you done now??? And out come the freaks In the night it calls my name Now he owns a million cows Now I’m a gangster, Says put your troubles down beside me Can you imagine all that milk? Can’t speaka no ingles: Detroit Johnny don’t wear no tie Things have always been the same Tell me that I’m dreaming Hopsa hopsa Lorry. Cause he says it hurts his neck Quanna quanna quanna may He’s got a chick from Ecuador tonight Iomtali. Iomtalo. Hey hey hey Drink from bottle when I home alone You said you’d come back soon it’s an attack! GO…NOW ! Spank the kids with a fork But it’s too late They’re teasing all the young girls, Run the appliances high-speed all day It’s too late Digging holes in my driveway We are small switch stations every five seconds Peace and love that’s a joke! But we’re all there is Carry me back to Old Morocco It’s an attack! It’s you and I Don’t bring me help Where the tea is strong and so are the people Why look to the sky I don’t like it when you stare Rama Rama Rama - watch me now Sharpen all your kitchen knives, We all know how What’s wrong? Get out of the bath right now There ain’t No Doubt Water’s running everywhere I was choking on the fish I ate for dinner Turn on all your T.V. sets, The time is now Hot water even on my lawn It was good while it lasted Money cannot help you now That’s all we know about Don’t ask what’s wrong I should’ve fasted, I almost had it yesterday It’s an attack This is intentional Song tied up my ankles Put out your hand Blang, blang, blang, blang Couldn’t walk, couldn’t wiggle THE SKY’S ABLAZE Get all you can who called the cops? Then you came along Freedom! I said I’d be alright United the song My father All across the land I-I-I gotta get th-the carrots out And let its long golden fingers Used to take a drink or two Put your feet on the floor I said I’m coming with dynamite!!! Grasp the wind When I was young Walk on out the door It was good while it lasted It was then hallucinations There’s air to breathe CARRY ME BACK It was good while it lasted Always dangled from his tongue Who could ask for more? TO OLD MAROCCO The sky’s ablaze with ladies’ legs IT’S AN ATTACK! He used to say Go...now! Carry me back to Old Morocco They’re kicking from the clouds Go...now! Where the tea is strong and so are the people They’re coming out the hills Shoes fall through the morning haze Go...now! Rama Rama Rama - watch me now They’re coming out the water And splat like eggs amongst the crowds Go...now! They’re pouring off the prairie, Can you see them, son? my father asked You made a song disappear It’s an attack! Now they’re dancing plain as day Life on earth is a carnival ride I was hearing in my head They’re screaming like banshees, His eyes were rolling fiercely, On a blue balloon Now the cactuses are talking They’re coming fully loaded There was little I could say Passin’ by the moon And I sleep in the wind They’re coming for your blood, boy, How can you go on? I’d like to ask What time it is? I was really getting there It’s an attack! How can you bear the night? Huh! It’s always time Then you came and all was bare Instead I hold my tongue, That’s all there is Fire in the sky tonight, Because I know we’d only fight The rest is in your mind Carry me back to Old Morocco Rumbling from the moon tonight The sky’s ablaze with ladies legs, he’d say Where the tea is strong and so are the people Restaurants no serve tonight, They’re kicking from the clouds, Rama Rama Rama - watch me now... Nobody’s gonna sleep tonight Shoes fall through the morning haze And splat like eggs amongst the crowds, I was really almost there They’re leaping out of airplanes, Can you see it, boy? Pulling handfuls of white hair Moving fast like locomotives From the surface of the moon It’s a shock and a nightmare; WHEEL ME OUT (RETURN TO THE VALLEY OF) The woodwork squeaks and Papa’s Got A Without a place to call my home OUT COME THE FREAKS Brand New Bag Sharing a square in the park with the pigeons Wheel me out We’re talkin’ ‘bout... Combing my hair and feeding them bread Wheel me out The woodwork squeaks and The Shadow Of They bobbed their heads and walked right up Eddie Harold used a tape recorder Wheel me out Your Smile Their cup is filled but mine got spilled along the way When he had one of his girlfriends over Wheel me out Ooh, we’re talkin’ ‘bout... At 2:00 a.m., I’m off the streets, sitting in a donut shop He didn’t want to miss a single scream The woodwork squeaks and take the Last Train A sad-eyed girl mops the floor next to my feet His friends all laughed when he played it later I’m rolling on these wheels To Clarksville The light in here is far too bright, the radio is You had to wonder, did he really hate her? I’m really in the mood today Mmm, ahh, the woodwork squeaks and out playing “Silent Night” Girls always made him nervous, that’s to blame I’m the former scientist come the freaks, oh I sit and watch the traffic pass, it sails away And makin’ love was just a crazy game Now I’m a realist Look at this...It’s Christmas Day... And I was discouraged by you The woodwork squeaks and out come the freaks, CHRISTMAS TIME IN MOTOR CITY You, who have never pushed the wheels Christmastime in the Motor City oh yeah You did it to me Christmastime in the Motor City But things ain’t really pretty The woodwork squeaks and out come the freaks, And I’m next But things ain’t really pretty Yeah, the streets are pave with rusty pennies oh yeah Leather, streets of paper, rusty pennies Smell of moneys in the air Then I was discouraged by you Smell of money in the air (Air, air, air, air, air, air...) In her apartment was a plastic altar Then I was discouraged by you But you kip on a dollar anywhere! She’d light a candle when her courage faltered You did it to him Sometimes the world got a little hard to bear And I am next I’m out of work, it’s been awhile It wasn’t easy living in the city You... you... you dit it So don’t ask me to smile She wasn’t clever and she wasn’t pretty Then I was discouraged by you I ain’t no scrooge, I liked December She chanted in the night but no one cared But I can’t even remember I am really in the mood today Seeing Santa Claus this year The woodwork squeaks and out come the freaks Well I heard he got a job The woodwork squeaks and out come the freaks Then I was discouraged by you And he’s changing me to Bob Discouraged by you Took a shave in the lobby of a Cadillac Hotel Freddie’s wife became a topless dancer They gave him unemployment but no food Had bondage parties with a Turkish bouncer You never pushed the wheels stamps She’s been evicted, the police have got her car “We’ll give you jobs She tried to sell an antique shotgun You did it to him But there’s no free soup for the tramps” She said she knows some crazy guy who wants one And I’m next Christmastime in the Motor City Her parents said “You’re not our daughter, you’re But things ain’t really pretty a whore” Now I’m next Yeah, the streets are paved with rusty pennies “It’s over and you don’t live here anymore” Smell of moneys in the air And I’m next (Air, air, air, air, air, air...) The woodwork squeaks and out come the freaks The woodwork squeaks and Strangers In The Wheel me outWWW It was not a night to be with birds Night Christmas Eve without the tender words WHEN THE DANCEFLOOR SQUEAKS, OUT COME THE GEEKS Left to their own devices, Was (Not Was) were like The Bonzo Dog Band, the Merry Pranksters and Gang of Four on a New Orleans funeral parade It’s not hard to understand why Michael Zilkha & Michel Esteban’s ZE Records led by Parliafunkadelicment. On their extended remixes, though, their music and the whole punk-funk, -not-disco thang of the early 80s has been became more streamlined and honed down to a razor smoothness. The rediscovered by a new generation looking for their own answers to music’s remix process and the dancefloor forced Fagenson and Weiss to focus on eternal mind-body problem. ZE offered a seductive vision of the world where one idea rather than the 30 they had running around their heads. Their wild style collided with substance, where deconstruction made a reconcilliation eclecticism was restrained as was their tartness. Where most remixes are with melody and hooks, where groove embraced distortion, where punk’s created simply to get more bodies on to the dancefloor, the mixes collected outcast geek was transformed by the fairy godmother of disco into a « , on « (The Woodwork) Squeaks » actually shed light on the messages of the ... » clad suavecito with a social conscience and a brain. songs rather than merely their grooves. Of course, the goal of the best is to get you to think with your entire body and that’s exactly what Was If this moment in dance music history can be seen as the revenge of the (Not Was) succeeded in doing. After all, it’s not merely the détourned words nerd, the class valedictorians were undoubtedly Was (Not Was). The group of Ronald Reagan that let you know that « Tell Me That I’m Dreaming » is was formed in 1980 by two childhood friends (Donald Fagenson and David not your ordinary hands-in-the-air disco stomper; it’s the astringent riff, Weiss) from Detroit who had spent their adolescence locked in each other’s the dub alienation, the comedic voices, the sibilant hi-hat that would soon basements listening to The MC5, Frank Zappa, and Firesign become the hallmark of house music. Theatre. Such listening habits inevitably led to a surfeit of ideas which came tumbling out every which way on their records: reggae skank guitar, Robert The early 80s were a time when every musical genre seemed to converge, Quine-style solos courtesy of The MC5’s Wayne Kramer, surreal, sarcastic when a tangent that began in, say, punk would suddenly be picked up a lyrics via Dylan and Lenny Bruce, James Brown/Nile Rodgers chicken scratch, month later by hip-hop, when the currents that would become house and rudimentary synth riffs, basslines that alternated between ’s work techno were coursing through the wires of dance music. Don Was’ partner with PiL and Terry Lewis’ Minneapolis sound, paranoia that seemed to come on the first two remixes here, the Traditional 12» mix of « Tell Me That I’m straight from a 1950s public service announcement. It was all wrapped up in Dreaming » and the Predominantly Funk version of « Out Come the Freaks the brittle production values that marked the 80s - the eggshell sound lending » was Ken Collier, a legendary Detroit DJ who was a crucial influence on the a piquancy to the rueful observations of the façades of the age of Reagan and then-emerging techno scene. Collier’s credentials as a house and techno Thatcher. However, while they probably combined dub, jazz, punk, funk and pioneer can be seen all over his mixes here, particularly in the bassline and studio alchemy more elegantly than any other group of the time, Was (Not sparse rhythms of the « Out Come the Freaks » remix. Collier died of diabetic Was) could also be victims of their own intelligence and refusal to recognize complications in 1996, and these sterling, groundbreaking mixes stand as a boundaries. fitting testament to his influence. Even without Collier, though, these remixes are often extraordinary.« Wheel Me Out », produced and mixed by Don Was and longtime partner in crime Jack Tann (who was in Was’ early punk bands The Traitors and President Eisenhower), represents everything great about the merging of post-punk and dance music in the early 80s. It was cathartic yet eerie and uncomfortable, cryptically political, full of nuance and intrigue. Another reason that Was (Not Was) and the whole punk-dance schtick resonates now is their sharp, acidic, left-wing cynicism. It’s a voice that almost the entirety of today’s popular music has silenced. This isn’t the bedazzled groove of Timbaland or The Neptunes embracing money, glitz and technology with equal verve. This is dance music as a way of shaking off the heebie jeebies, shedding off the skin of the daytime daze, jolting you out of your nightmares, only for you to realize that you weren’t imagining anything. Please, « Tell me that I’m dreaming ».

Peter Shapiro, december 2003. ORIGINAL ALBUM

01 • Wheel Me Out Long Version (Bonus Track) • 7:06 02 • Out Come The Freaks • 5:39 03 • Where Did Your Heart Go? • 4.57 04 • Tell Me That I’m Dreaming • 5:00 05 • Oh, Mr Friction • 3:33 06 • Carry Me Back To Old Morocco • 6:01 07 • It’s An Attack! • 3:10 08 • The Sky’s Ablaze • 2:15 09 • Go ... Now! • 5:30


10 • Hello Operator Short Version • 2:51 11 • Out Come The Freaks Again • 4:37 12 • Tell Me That I’m Dreaming 12 • 7:48 13 • Out Come The Freaks 12 • 7:10 14 • (Return To The Valley Of) Out Come The Freaks • 4:20 15 • Christmas Time In Motor City • 2:55 16 • Out Come The Freaks Dub Version • 6:30


Produced in Detroit by Don Was, David Was & Jack Tann fot John Lewis productions • Recording & mixing engineer : Don Was • Dance mixes : Ken Collier Recorded at the Sound Suite January>March 1981 Executive producer Michael Zilkha

Original Artwork Front Cover & Liner photography : Dirk Bakker • Airbrush : Terry Robeson Typeset/Keyline : Bill Thomas • Art direction : Maverse Payers

Reissue Digipack & Booklet Art direction & Design by Michel Esteban Photos (not photos) Pages 4,8 & 9 by Robert Matheu • Pages 6 & 19 by Paul Natkin Special Thanks to Robert Matheu, Paul Natkin & Brian J.Bowe MUSICIANS David Was : Alto Sax, , Vocals Don Was : Vocals, Bass, Moog , Vibes, Clavinet Marcus Belgrave : Trumpet, Flugelhorn Luis Resto : Oberheim Obx & Arp synthesizeres , Accoustic Piano David McMurray : Soprano, Alto & Tenor, Sax Larry Fratangelo : Percussion Wayne Kramer : Guitar Bruce Nazarian : Guitar Ricky Rouse : Guitar Kevin Tschirhart : Percussion, Electronic Handclaps Franklin K. Funklyn McCullers : Drums Jerry Jones : Drums Jervonny Collier : Bass Lamont Johnson : Bass Irwin Krinsky : Piano Carl ‘Butch’ Small : Percussion, Rap Vocals Armand Angeloni : Tenor Sax, Piccolo Flute Mack Pitt : Mandolin Mark Johnson : Moog Synthesizer Raymond Johnson : Rhodes Electric Piano Sweet Pea Atkinson : Lead Vocals on « Where Did Your Heart Go? », « It’s An Attack » Harry Bowens : Lead Vocals on « Out Come The Freaks », « Tell Me That I’m Dreaming » Marzanne McCants as the chick from Ecuador Liz Weiss as the former scientist, now on wheels Backing Vocals : Carol Hall, Carolyn Crawford, , Michelle Goulet, Sheila Horne Johnny Allen : Strings Arrangements on « Where Did Your Heart Go

This Selection Selected and Produced by Michel Esteban Original Sound Recording Made by ZE Records © 1981 Remastered by RV at Translab Paris, December 2003 This Reissue p & © 2009 ZE Records Mundo Ltda Special Thanks to David & Don Was & Michael Zilkha