Was (Not Was) “What Up, Dog?”


Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#506 in the Series) is Was (Not Was), What Up, Dog?

Have you heard this one? I’m guessing many of you have not. Well, you may have heard one of the singles, “Walk the Dinosaur” or “Spy In the House of Love,” but like many great albums, the singles don’t tell the story.

Was (Not Was) is the brainchild of Don Was and David Was. Two outstanding producers/musicians.
Don Was has done many things you’ve heard. From the great Bonnie Raitt album, Nick of Time to The Rolling Stones.

The majority of this album is a hard funk/ jazz sound, with a couple great ballads tossed in. The band’s sense of humor also is shown on almost every song.  I think that’s one of the things that always attracted me to Was (Not Was). The first thing that always jumped out was the musicianship. Then the variety, then the humor. They could go from a beautiful ballad like “Somewhere In America, There’s a Street Named After My Dad” to an out and out funk tune like “Spy in the House of Love.” Heck, Steve Winwood also had a song called “Spy in the House of Love” with nearly the same bass line.

What do I mean about sense of humor? Well, besides some interesting lyrics to say the least, another cool thing has always been the guest vocalists that would stop by. For instance, I give you the likes of Frank Sinatra, Jr., and on other albums even Mel Torme!

I really suggest you grabbing this one.  Like I stressed earlier, the musicianship is unbelievable, and it’s a fun, and easy listen.

–Larry Carta

A Couple Quick Notes

  • Rolling Stone Magazine named What Up, Dog? One of the 100 best albums in the 80s.
  • “Love Can Be Bad Luck” was c0-written by Marshall Crenshaw.
  • “Shadow and Jimmy” was co-written by Elvis Costello
  • “I Can’t Turn You Lose” was of course, written by Otis Redding.
  • The rest of the album was written by Was + Was

Track Listing

Side A

  1. “Somewhere in America There’s a Street Named After My Dad” 3:42
  2. “Spy in the House of Love” 4:18
  3. “Out Come the Freaks” 4:36

    Atkinson, Was, Was, Bowens

  4. “Anything Can Happen” 3:57
  5. “Boy’s Gone Crazy” 3:44
  6. “What Up, Dog?” 1:48

Side B

  1. “Love Can Be Bad Luck” 3:52
  2. “Walk the Dinosaur” 4:22
  3. “Shadow & Jimmy” 4:18
  4. “11 MPH (Abe Zapp Ruder Version)”  4:05
  5. “Anytime Lisa” 4:15
  6. “Dad I’m in Jail”  1:25


  • David “Michigan-Boy Snake” Was — flute, keyboards, harmonica, vocals
  • Don “Rope Drink” Was — bass, keyboards, guitar, mandolin
  • Sweet Pea Atkinson — vocals
  • Sir Harry Bowens — vocals
  • Bruce Nazarian, Dann Huff, Paul Jackson, Jr., Randy Jacobs, Steve “No Wonder” Salas — guitar
  • John Patitucci, Marcus Miller, Neil Stubenhaus — bass
  • Ron Pangborn, Russ Kunkel, Winston Watson, Yogi Horton — drums
  • Aaron Zigman, Al Kooper, Amp Fiddler, Daniel Schroeger, John Van Tongeren, Luis “Louie Restaurant” Resto, Paul Wicken, Robin Smith, Vic Emerson, Martin Phillips — keyboards
  • Alex Acuña, Carl “Butch” Small, David Friendly, Debora Dobkin, Frank Ricotti, Kevin “Guido” Tschirhart, Larry Fratangel, Michael Fisher — percussion
  • Bill Reichenbach Jr., Dan Higgens, Guy Barker, Jerry Hey, John Barclay, John Thirkell, Kim Hutchcroft, Pete Beachill, Phil Todd, Chris Davies, Stuart Brooks — brass
  • David McMurray, John “Birch” Weiss, Larry Williams — saxophone
  • Buddy Childers, Marcus Belgrave, Mark Isham, Oscar Brashear, Rayse Biggs — trumpet
  • Arnold McCuller, Arthur “Buster” Marbury, Carol Hall, Coral Gordon, Dee Lewis, Desy Campbell, Donald Ray Mitchell, Geoff Fieger, Sir Harry Bowens, Helen Terry, Juliette Roberts, Kathy Kosins, Pete Steinfeld, Richard Feldstein, Rick Shoemaker, Ruby Turner, Sweet Pea Atkinson — background vocals
  • David Bates, Michael Zilkha — Executive Producer

Posted by Larry Carta

1 Comment

  1. Tom` (30 Sep 2011, 14:50)

    Hello Dad……I’m in jail……say hi to Mom………FROM JAIL!

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