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"Weird Al" Yankovic

Running With Scissors

Volcano

Surely, I don't need to explain the power and the majesty of "Weird Al" Yankovic at this late date. Al's still the master of musical comedy, and Running With Scissors continues his incredible track record of sharp musical parodies and cutting-edge original tunes. This time out, Al slices up Puff Daddy's "All About the Benjamins" ("All About the Pentiums"), the Cherry Poppin' Daddies' "Zoot Suit Riot" ("Grapefruit Diet"), Barenaked Ladies' "One Week" ("Jerry Springer," with the hook "It's been one week since we got to see/ Cheatin' lovers and cousins that marry/ Five days since they had the show/ With the hermaphrodite, the slut, and the crack ho"), the Offspring's "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)" ("Pretty Fly For a Rabbi"), and the piece de resistance, Don MacLean's "American Pie," which metamorphosizes into "The Saga Begins," an encapsulation of the entire plot of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace . "Saga" even has its own website, www.sagabegins.com, which brilliantly parodies www.starwars.com.

   But Al's parodies always get all the attention, and his original tunes are just as funny. The Nine Inch Nails-style parody "Germs" is a complete deconstruction of Trent Reznor's style -- the final product sounds like "Closer," "Terrible Lie," and "I'm Afraid of Americans" were thrown in a blender set to frappe. Al goes zydeco with "My Baby's in Love With Eddie Vedder," insurgent country with "Truck Drivin' Song," and third wave ska on "That's Your Horoscope For Today," and there's the requisite centerpiece polka medley. "Polka Power!," with polkafied versions of the Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, Chumbawumba, Marilyn Manson, Hanson, and a bunch of other people whose songs are vastly improved. The real jaw-dropper, though, is the album closing "Albuquerque," a ten-minute-plus stream of consciousness epic that cannot be ignored. Trust me, you can't do anything else while you're listening to it -- I tried to listen while writing this review, and got sucked a magical vortex that took the entire length of the song to escape!

   Al's humor is still razor-sharp -- unless someone surgically removed your funny bone out, you'll laugh out loud at Running With Scissors . You should also be amazed at his musical skill -- who else do you know that could excel at playing everything from swing to industrial to hip hop to polka to punk to country to ska? Face it, Al should be President! http://www.weirdal.com

--Julio Diaz