Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Born to Laugh at Tornadoes

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September 1983

Born to Laugh at Tornadoes (1983)
What Up, Dog? (1988)

Release date
September 1983

Geffen Records


Was (Not Was)


David Was, Don Was

Born to Laugh at Tornadoes httpsimgdiscogscom8ITy5BjPf7o21HyrggpofWzArN

November 1982-June 1983; Sound Suite Recording Studios, Detroit

Was (Not Was) albums, Other albums

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. 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.


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"), pop 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 heavy metal ("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 listing

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


  • Marshall Crenshaw – organ, guitar, vocals
  • Ozzy Osbourne – vocals
  • Mitch Ryder – vocals
  • Vinnie Vincent – guitar
  • Joseph LoDuca – guitar
  • Mel Tormé – piano, vocals
  • Carol Hall – vocals
  • Sweet Pea Atkinson – vocals
  • Wayne Kramer – guitar
  • Marin Alsop – violin
  • Chris Blackwell – vocals
  • Sir Harry Bowens – vocals
  • Jervonny Collier – bass
  • Michael Edwards – vocals
  • Doug Fieger – vocals
  • Kathy Kosins – vocals
  • Yogi Horton – drums
  • Bob Kulick – guitar
  • Jay Leonhart – bass
  • David McMurray – soprano & tenor saxophone
  • Bruce Nazarian – guitar
  • Luis Resto – organ, synthesizer, vocorder
  • Paul Riser – horn & string arrangement on "Knocked Down, Made Small (Treated Like a Rubber Ball)"
  • John Robie – synthesizer
  • John Sinclair – background vocals
  • David Was – keyboards, saxophone, vocals
  • Don Was – synthesizer, bass, vocals
  • Randy Jacobs – bass, guitar, background vocals
  • Lawrence Fratangelo – percussion
  • Debbie Caponetta - production co-ordination
  • Michael Zilkha - Executive Producer
  • David Thoener and The Detroit Wasmopolitan Mixing Squad (Duane Bradley, Ken Collier and Don Was) - mixing
  • Songs

    1Knocked Down - Made Small (Treated Like a Rubber Ball)3:07
    2Bow Wow Wow Wow3:10


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