“The Chicken Dance” AKA “The Bird Dance” by The Emeralds – A Canadian Polka Band from The 80s as Featured in The New Weird Al Yankovic Biopic on Roku

The song had been done by other polka groups before. I remember hearing it on the radio but with lyrics and in German by some other group. The Emeralds did an instrumental version which became an international hit. Soon it acquired a goofy dance routine to go with it. You may have seen it at performed a wedding reception.

Shortly after I first heard the song on the radio, TV commercials started to air for a hits compilation titled Bird Dance by The Emeralds (Show and Dance Band), a group from Canada. It came out on K-Tel Records which had some distribution in the USA, especially in the Midwest.

There are two versions of the song. This one was recorded and released first, but also appears listed as “version 2” on the compilation. Originally called “Bird Dance” people quickly nick named it “Chicken Dance” and that became the alternate song title.

This exact recording is heard in the Weird: The Al Yankovic Story while the actors do the dance. You can watch it for free on the Roku Channel. If you have not you should. it’s a great time. The song also appears on the forthcoming CD and Vinyl soundtrack to be released in January 2023. I’ve heard the new mix and I prefer the original. The new mix is too tinny.

I believe my Grandma found her copy on a merch table at the Yack Arena in Wyandotte, Michigan. Dozens of ethnic festivals were held there every year in the 1980s. Polka music was popular among the elderly population that had immigrated from Central and Eastern Europe decades before.

But because I was a weird kid, the story does not end there. You see, ever since I was about 9 years old I knew that I wanted to own a radio station some day. I was also a bit of a nerd that liked to tinker with things.

One Christmas I received an electronic projects kit from Radio Shack that looked like this.

You would follow the wiring instructions in the manual to create a host of different circuits. It was fun to put them together. One of the projects was a low-power AM radio transmitter.

I put that circuit together but I wired in my cassette recorder and connected the TV antenna located on out roof. The tape in the cassette recorder was of course Bird Dance by The Emeralds (Show and Dance Band). I went out to the back yard to find my grandmother. I tuned her radio into the broadcast and it worked like a charm. Good times. :)

courtesy of discogs

“This Is Halloween” by Danny Elfman from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas Motion Picture Soundtrack

Today is Halloween and this might be the most appropriate song. Released in 1993, it became an instant classic. It’s not quite as ubiquitous as Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” or Bobby Picket’s “Monster Mash” but it fit’s the occasion like a spooky glove.

“Danny Elfman, who has scored many of Tim Burton’s imaginative films (Edward Scissorhands, his two Batman films, etc.), is a perfect musical partner for the somewhat macabre director, and never more so than here, where, Elfman gets to play the main character. The Nightmare Before Christmas is an animated movie musical about the abduction of Christmas by the denizens of Halloween land, and Elfman sings the part of Jack, the Pumpkin King.” (allmusic, edited)

Danny Elfman is the man. He’s having a moment right now having recently performed a career spanning concert.

“Anything Can Happen on Halloween” by Tim Curry as The Grand Wizard in A Bewitching 80s Made-For-TV Movie

Tim Curry appeared in a made-for-tv movie called The Worst Witch in 1986. He played the role of The Grand Wizard of The Witch Academy. Charlotte Rae also appeared as Miss Cackle the teacher, and Agatha, the teacher’s evil twin.

Curry performed a rather fetching number about Halloween Night in the film.

The movie was then released on VHS and DVD. You can still buy it on amazon but we have not found a streaming service that currently offers this film.

still frame from The Worst Witch

The movie was followed a TV Series of the same name. It can be found on free services tubi and Freevee.

“Viva Las Vegas” by Dead Kennedys ~ First Made Famous by Elvis Presley

Las Vegas, Nevada is facing a water crisis. Things are not looking good. I think this shows that efforts to terraform other planets in the future may prove successful at first but ultimately fail.

The song “Viva Las Vegas” was written by Doc Pomus & ‎Mort Shuman for Elvis Presley to record as well as for the Movie of the same name featuring Elvis.

In the early days of Punk Rock, a lot of bands actually did cover versions of pop and rock songs from prior decades. They would dare to “punk-up” a song almost as a gag. Sometimes they were just out to piss on the concept of pop music itself.

The problem is that most of these cover versions never made it to release. The band may play the song live but it never appeared on an album or 7 inch record. The reason was because of the licensing fees required to keep it legal. These fees were partly due up-front. This made it a risky investment for a working class band to afford.

We got lucky with Dead Kennedys. They included “Viva Las Vegas” on their 1980 debut LP, Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables.

The song had been a part of their live set almost since the band’s inception. Their version strips the musical arrangement down and uses a slightly faster tempo, yet maintains the song’s melodic structure. It features satirical lyric changes by Jello Biafra, the lead singer at the time. It was later featured in Terry Gilliam’s film adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

The band exists today but without Jello. There is bad blood there. A new remaster of the album was just released. The problem here is that Biafra was not consulted and he has been vocal about his dissatisfaction with the results.

I have listened to the new mixes and I concur totally. Stick to the OG mixes. Good luck to Las Vegas with that predicable global warming water crisis thing. I hope that all rich people in charge are properly compensated for their losses when they file with the IRS.

“Vibrator” by Prince & Vanity – Unreleased 1983 Demo – Yeah THAT kind of Vibrator


The song was written by Prince for Vanity 6 back in 1983. It was intended to appear on the second Vanity 6 album timed to release around the same time as the movie Purple Rain.

Vanity (the singer) and Prince ended their romantic relationship around this time. She was also unhappy with her royalties and pay. So she decided to leave the group and not to participate in the Purple Rain movie. The album and the song were shelved and never officially released.

The rather long track is a tribute to a battery-powered sex toy. The narrator (Vanity) reaches for her vibrator. When the batteries run out, she goes to a store and encounters a clerk, who offers to “carry it downstairs” and install new batteries. The narrator then takes the device to a different store, where she meets a cashier (Prince in his Jamie Starr accent). The cashier gives her the batteries and sends her out of the door.

The song concludes with the narrator achieving orgasm. Nice. I can only imagine what Tipper Gore would have said.

This demo leaked long ago. So far every example that I have found includes the sound of cassette tape hiss. They are from a cassette with a rough mix demo that Prince handed out in limited number. The example that appears on soundcloud is someone’s remaster of the track.

It is unclear if Prince’s Estate will release this song in the future. Vanity sadly passed away in 2016, the same year Prince died.

source: PrinceVault

“Tequila” by The Champs (as seen in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure) PLUS Collecting The Vinyl & Cassettes

Today is National Tequila Day and I can’t think of a better track to mark the occasion. I don’t drink hard liquor anymore but I used to enjoy Tequila shots.

“Tequila” by The Champs was first released in 1958 and hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was re-released in 1987 as the demand for the track suddenly rose because of it’s appearance in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.

It was available as a 7 inch 45 RPM disc. That version have a long and short version on sides A and B. It had a similar cover to what we see below, which is the 12 inch 45 RPM version.

The surprising thing about the 12 inch version is that the B side contains a rather wacky hip hop track called “Pee-Wee’s Dance” by Joeski Love.

courtesy of discogs
courtesy of discogs

Now I have a new record to add to my list of “grails”. If you are not a vinyl collector, let me explain what a “grail” is. The term comes from the Monte Python movie Quest For The Holy Grail. The records on a collector’s list of grails are usually hard to find items that may have special appeal to the collector.

It was released as a single in it’s own right. As a kid I remember hearing the Joeski Love track on the radio. I had a compilation cassette called Rap’s Greatest Hits that included the song. I used to bump this in my little boom box all day. I would love to find this on vinyl in good condition.

By now you must be wondering what this song sounded like. Well we won’t let you down! Here it is!

Note that the vocals are a little too low in the mix and hard to understand. It’s not you. They needed a better compressor on the vocals. I hope someone finds the master tapes and does up a nice new mix. Then they can re-issue the 12 inch double single again as a remaster.

TAKE MY MONEY!

“Blame Canada” by Robin Williams LIVE at The 1999 Oscars

This was supposed to be the song of the day for yesterday. July 1 is Canada Day and this time it’s actually Canada’s fault that we are a day late posting this blog.

Blame Canada. Yesterday several fans from Canada decided to send up compliments on Discord. They kept distracting me with all the nice things they kept saying about the station. I was supposed to be getting my work done but Canada decided to interrupt me. I can’t help it. It’s Canada’s fault!

The video on this page looks like it came from a VHS tape of the live program. I have never seen a professional release of this. I hope they don’t take it down. I’ve been a Robbin Williams fan for most of my life. I was very sad to learn of his death.

The photo above is by Bruce Reeve/CBC. You can blame Canada for that too, although I added Robin’s face.

How do you like to celebrate Canada Day? Do you play certain songs? Let us know in the comments.

-Wacky Alex

“Corporation” by Jack White

I have a lot to say about Jack White. I’ll try not to spend all day on this!

First of all, I knew the guy back in the day. Jack was known as John back then but I will continue to use the name Jack for the sake of simplicity. He and I went to both the same grade school and high school. I was one grade ahead of him. I didn’t know him in grade school. We met in High school.

The grade school was actually part of a Catholic Church complex called Holy Redeemer. Jack appeared in a movie that was filmed on location. He played an alter boy in Rosary Murders in part because he was an alter boy in real life.

About one hundred members of the church community were invited to play church goers as extras. I got to be part of that crowd. Filming was a lot of fun. I was way in the back so you won’t see me in the movie.

Just like Jack, I had considered going to seminary school in Wisconsin but ultimately decided to go to public high school. We both ended up at Cass Technical in Detroit. I first met him in his second or third year. I wasn’t cool enough to get invited to watch his band practice but some mutual friends got to see them.

I remember asking Jack if his band could play at an environmentalist demonstration. He said maybe, but the band didn’t show up. I also remember asking him if he liked the new classic rock radio station, WCSX. He told me that he liked it but they played “Oye Como Va” by Santana way too often. I agreed but yeah, good song.

After high school, I went off to Michigan State and Jack went to work as a furniture repairman. While still in college, I tried to do what Jack ended up doing. I recorded music and tried to start a corporation, that is, a record label and promotions business. It went nowhere fast. I had naive dreams. Jack has the real talent to do it, obviously. I admire him.

We play “Corporation” on the air all the time because it is a bit odd. It reminds me of the excitement a child feels when the ice cream truck shows up on your street. The more serious meaning of the lyrics though strikes a chord with me personally. I own this track on vinyl. I purchased the LP Boarding House Reach at Third Man Records in Detroit.

I wish I could say I took the photo below but I found it in this very cool article on TapeOp about his record pressing plant.

What is your favorite Jack White track? Have you met him? Tell us your Jack White story in the comments.

-Wacky Alex