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Born to Laugh at Tornadoes

Born To Laugh at Tornadoes is a 1983 album by the art-funk band Was (Not Was). Rolling Stone declared it "conceptually, the best album of the year" shortly after its release.[2] The advance publicity did not endear itself to the listening public at the time, and the album made little fanfare in a year dominated by Michael Jackson's Thriller and Prince's 1999.

Born to Laugh at Tornadoes
Born to Laugh at Tornadoes.jpg
Studio album by Was (Not Was)
Released September 1983
Recorded November 1982-June 1983; Sound Suite Recording Studios, Detroit
Length 35:31
Label ZE Records, Geffen
Producer Jack Tann, David Was, Don Was
Was (Not Was) chronology
Was (Not Was)
Born to Laugh at Tornadoes
What Up, Dog?
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3/5 stars link
Robert ChristgauB+[1]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars link

This album boasted an impressive array of guest vocalists, ranging from hard rocker Mitch Ryder (on "Bow Wow Wow Wow"), heavy metal shock rocker Ozzy Osbourne ("Shake Your Head"), rock band The Knack's lead vocalist Doug Fieger (on "Betrayal" and "Smile"), Marshall Crenshaw ("The Party Broke Up") and torch song vocalist/songwriter Mel Tormé (lead vocal on the closing song "Zaz Turned Blue").

The album also displayed a wide variety of musical styles, ranging from pop love ballads ("Betrayal") to rock ("Bow Wow Wow Wow"), psychedelic synthesized mod music ("Man Vs. The Empire Brain Building") to soft, easy listening cocktail jazz ("Zaz Turned Blue"), a ballad about a man who nearly chokes to death in a park ("Zaz turned blue/What were we supposed to do?/When Zaz turned blue?").

Also noteworthy is a credit to Robert Kinkel as Assistant Engineer, who went on to be the co-creator of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The front cover illustration, "After Compton's", was credited to Dan Chapman and Jeri McManus was the art director.

Track listingEdit

All tracks written by David Was and Don Was; except where indicated.

Side one
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
1."Knocked Down, Made Small (Treated Like a Rubber Ball)"Sweet Pea Atkinson3:07
2."Bow Wow Wow Wow" (Thomas Brzezina)Mitch Ryder3:10
3."Betrayal"Doug Fieger3:06
4."Shake Your Head (Let's Go to Bed)" (David Was, Don Was, Jarvis Stroud)Carol Hall, Madonna, Ozzy Osbourne3:55
5."Man vs. the Empire Brain Building"Ada Griffin, Carol Hall, Chris Blackwell, Felix & Jarvis, The Was Bros.4:02
Side two
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
6."(Return to The Valley of) Out Come the Freaks"Harry Bowens4:22
7."Professor Night" (David Was, Don Was, Felix Morris)Harry Bowens4:10
8."The Party Broke Up"David Was2:14
9."Smile"Doug Fieger3:15
10."Zaz Turned Blue"Mel Tormé4:19



  1. ^ Christgau, Robert (January 24, 1984). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Born to Laugh at Tornadoes". Rolling Stone. 1983-10-13. Retrieved 2008-05-29.