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Was (Not Was)

Was (Not Was)

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Was Not Was: Born To Laugh At Tornadoes (Geffen)

Review by Richard Cook, New Musical Express, 6 November 1983

AMERICA HAS been dressed by improper minds. Corralling the year's important American records – Swordfishtrombones, Girl At Her Volcano, Burlap And Satin and Born To ...

Audio interviews

Was (Not Was) (1987)

Interview by Mat Snow, Rock's Backpages audio, 1987

Don and David talk about American culture, the Kennedy conspiracies, musical juxtapositions and growing up on Detroit rock 'n' roll.

File format: mp3; file size: 86.6mb, interview length: 1h 30' 12" sound quality: ***

Was (Not Was) (1990)

Interview by Andy Gill, Rock's Backpages audio, Spring 1990

Don (left channel) and David (right) Was talk about their early Detroit influences; seeing John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk; going from Island to Geffen, and Born to Laugh at Tornadoes; studio techniques and proto-sampling; their new album Are You Okay?; current American culture; singers Sweet Pea Atkinson and Sir Harry Bowens; keeping a big band on the road; comparisons with Steely Dan; becoming more cheerful than back in '81; producing Dylan's Under the Red Sky, and Don winning a Grammy for Bonnie Raitt's Nick of Time.

File format: mp3; file size: 61.5mb, interview length: 1h 04' 05" sound quality: *** (background noise in second half)

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Was (Not Was): A Subtle Fabrication Not of the Norm

Interview by Vivien Goldman, New Musical Express, 20 June 1981

Imagine Vivien Goldman’s surprise to discover that the brains behind Ze’s hottest American soul act are not black but two nice middle class Jewish boys. ...

Was (Not Was): Was (Not Was) (ZE/Island ILPS 7015)

Review by Paolo Hewitt, Melody Maker, 27 June 1981

Was is not the Was that was ...

ZE Records

Profile and Interview by Peter Silverton, New Sounds New Styles, July 1981

New York record label ZE is the product of a remarkable partnership between August Darnell and Michael Zilkha. Peter Silverton profiles the Z of ZE... ...

Michael Zilkha: The King of Mutant Disco

Profile and Interview by Mary Harron, The Guardian, 4 July 1981

Mary Harron meets the rich kid behind ZE Records' success. ...

Was (Not Was): Was (Not Was) (Ze ILPS 7015)

Review by Mark Cooper, Record Mirror, 4 July 1981

WAS (NOT WAS) are as good an example of post-Vietnam paranoia as you're going to get. While all around them are losing theirs, Was (Not ...

Was (Not Was): Mudd Club, New York NY

Live Review by Richard Grabel, New Musical Express, 24 October 1981


Was (Not Was): Back Come the Freaks

Interview by David A. Keeps, New Musical Express, 22 October 1983

Was (Not Was)'s major problem was that they could never sing. Their voices would always come out sounding freaky. To overcome this they've brought in ...

Was (Not Was): Born To Laugh At Tornadoes (Ze/Geffen)

Review by J.D. Considine, Musician, November 1983

FOR AN ALBUM that boasts such a pointedly diverse array of vocalists — would you believe Mitch Ryder, Mel Tormé, Doug Feiger and Ozzy Osbourne, ...

Was (Not Was) Just Can't Play it Straight

Interview by Michael Goldberg, Rolling Stone, 8 December 1983

LOS ANGELES — They would meet on the highest bleacher seat at the high-school field. Shivering in the cold Michigan night, they would talk about ...

Was Not Was: Born To Laugh At Tornadoes

Review by Roy Trakin, Creem, January 1984

THE WOODWORK SQUEAKS...and out comes Ozzy Osbourne, rapping? Ex-Knackster Doug Fieger making fun of himself? Mitch Ryder barking like a dog with Good Golly Miss ...

Was Not Was: All Over The Road With Two Motor City Outcasts In A Studio Tornado

Interview by David Gans, Musician, February 1984

"WHEN BLACK people hear our music," proclaims Don Fagenson, "they know we're white. Even our funkiest stuff. I think it happens to be a plus. ...

Was (Not Was): Caught in an Elevator

Interview by Sam Sutherland, High Fidelity, April 1984

The assortment of artists on a Was (Not Was) album appears accidental. But it's not. Really. ...

Was (Not Was): (The Woodwork) Squeaks (Ze Records IMA 10)

Review by Adam Sweeting, Melody Maker, 7 April 1984

ALIAS A mini-LP commemorating the finest moments of the (St) Was Bros, the saboteurs of funk. My advice would be to wheel it out, soon. ...

Was Not Was: That Was The Freak That Was

Interview by Ian Penman, New Musical Express, 19 May 1984

O Dialectic, says the philosopher, when he notices that perhaps the true philosophy laughs at philosophy. ...

Was (Not Was): I Love This Band, I Hate This Band

Interview by J. Kordosh, Creem, July 1984

THIRTY MONTHS ago, John Neilson did a story on Was (Not Was) for CREEM. (It's the issue with Pat Benatar on the blue cover — I ...

Was (Not Was)

Interview by Tom Hibbert, Smash Hits, 21 October 1987

■ Who on earth are Was (Not Was)? How did they split Wham! up? Why do they think Madonna can't sing for toffee? And will ...

Was (Not Was): Spies Like Us

Interview by John Aizlewood, No. 1, 27 February 1988

Was (Not Was), as we all knew, are spies in the house of love, but did you know Don Was is a CIA spy? Or ...

Was (Not Was): Freakshow

Interview by Ian Gittins, Melody Maker, 26 March 1988

"BOBBY Maggot was a big attorney/Through the courtroom down to hell he'd journey/Baldheaded piece of garbage that he was/He'll defend you if your money's honest/Do ...

Was (Not Was): Disco Infernal

Interview by Mark Sinker, New Musical Express, 30 April 1988


Was (Not Was): Brothers of Invention

Interview by Mat Snow, Sounds, 16 July 1988

WAS (NOT WAS) still people their songs freaks, but compassion now nestles satire. MAT SNOW helps The Was Brothers find the heartbeat of their absurd ...

Was (Not Was): Hammersmith Odeon, London

Live Review by Caroline Sullivan, Melody Maker, 16 July 1988

TWO JEWISH comedians backed by the JBs. There — that's as close as anyone will ever come to describing the Wases in seven words. Unless ...

Was (Not Was): What Up, Dog? (Chrysalis)

Review by James Hunter, Musician, November 1988

DURING THE early '80s, Detroit-based songwriters and producers Don Ferguson and David Weiss competed with New York City art-funksters under the name Was (Not Was). ...

Was (Not Was): Spies In The House Of Funk

Interview by Dave Zimmer, BAM, 2 December 1988

MASTERS OF funkified musical left turns, that was one way to describe Was (Not Was) after listening to their 1983 LP, Born to Laugh At ...

Was (Not Was): What Up, Dog? (Chrysalis)

Review by Don Waller, Los Angeles Times, 18 December 1988

AS CONCEPTUALISM goes, this mutant brainchild of Dee-troit unbrothers David and Don Was is semibrilliant, taking something from everybody who ever contributed anything to the ...

Was (Not Was): Hitmen

Interview by Andy Gill, Q, June 1990

THERE ARE SEVEN of us round the microphone, and I, for one, am a little nervous. I should be, too: three of the voices present ...

Was (Not Was): Motown Brothers

Interview by Stuart Maconie, New Musical Express, 2 June 1990

WAS (NOT WAS) make perfect pop (not poop). They also know the names of several philosophers! STUART MACONIE wants to lick the barbequed goat pizza ...

Erasure, Was (Not Was), Adamski, Electribe 101: Milton Keynes Bowl

Live Review by Caroline Sullivan, Smash Hits, 19 September 1990

THE FINAL date of Erasure's world tour, "The Wild Party", takes place on a windswept grassy slope so the atmosphere's not especially "partylike", but everyone ...

Was (Not Was): Are You Okay? (Chrysalis)

Review by Amy Linden, Spin, November 1990

WHILE THE last Was LP was a tribute, if you will, to '70s soul, this time the beats are more current. Purists will cry sellout, ...

Was (Not Was): Was it Good for You?

Interview by Gavin Martin, Vox, January 1991

Far-out funksters Don and David was have worked with all the greats: The Stones, Dylan, Madonna — and Jonathan Ross. Gavin Martin caught them relaxing ...

The Was bros who weren't

Interview by Bruce Dessau, The Guardian, 3 January 1991

Middle-class Jewish boys from Motor City, Was (Not Was) have set out to show that white men can make soul music. Bruce Dessau reports ...

Was (Not Was): Wizards Of Was

Interview by Nick Coleman, Time Out, May 1992

Until 'Walk The Dinosaur', the funky, cosmic pop of Was (Not Was) remained a cult. Now they've reached the giddy heights of supporting Dire Straits, ...

David Was' Top Ten

Interview by Andy Gill, Q, August 1992

David Was of Was (Not Was) invites us into his lovely garage. Much of his collection stems from an earlier career as a jazz writer: ...

Don Was & Glyn Johns: Speaking for the Record

Interview by Mark Rowland, Musician, August 1994

From Get Back to Backbeat Glyn Johns and Don Was Have Produced a Rock 'n'Roll Hall of Fame. ...

Don Was: What Was Was and What Was Is

Interview by Richard Cromelin, Los Angeles Times, 23 March 1997

After years as a top producer and bandleader, Don Was lost his creative vision. Then Francis Ford Coppola and Hank Williams gave him an idea. ...

Was (Not Was)

Interview by Bill Brewster, MOJO, May 2008

Detroit Art-Funk Weirdos Find It Again ...

Was (Not Was): Islington Academy, London

Live Review by Ian Gittins, The Guardian, 1 May 2008

IT'S CLOSE ON 20 years since Was (Not Was) last played in the UK, and Don Was is feeling nostalgic. "Is anybody here old enough ...

Was (Not Was): Boo!

Review by Bill Holdship, San Antonio Current, 28 May 2008

IT'S BEEN 18 years since this Detroit-born funk-jazz-pop-art collective released its last album — and the world's grown a whole lot crazier during that time, ...


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