Born to Laugh at Tornadoes

Born to Laugh at Tornadoes
Born to Laugh at Tornadoes.jpg
Studio album by
Released September 1983
Recorded November 1982-June 1983; Sound Suite Recording Studios, Detroit
Length 35:31
Label ZE Records, Geffen
Producer Jack Tann, David Was, Don Was
Was (Not Was) chronology
Was (Not Was)
Born to Laugh at Tornadoes
What Up, Dog?
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars link
Robert Christgau B+[1]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars link

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.[2] Despite the glowing reviews, Tornadoes made little commercial impact in a year dominated by Michael Jackson's Thriller and Prince's 1999. (It did manage to become the band's first release to make it onto Billboard's album chart, peaking at #134 in a nine-week stay in the fall of 1983.)

This album boasted an impressive array of guest vocalists, ranging from hard rocker Mitch Ryder (on "Bow Wow Wow Wow"), former Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne ("Shake Your Head"), rock band The Knack's lead vocalist Doug Fieger (on "Betrayal" and "Smile"), Marshall Crenshaw ("The Party Broke Up") and torch song vocalist/songwriter Mel TormΓ© (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 rock ("Bow Wow Wow Wow"), psychedelic synthesized mod music ("Man Vs. The Empire Brain Building") and even easy listening cocktail jazz ("Zaz Turned Blue", a ballad about a man who nearly chokes to death in a park).

Also noteworthy is a credit to Robert Kinkel as Assistant Engineer; Kinkel went on to be 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 are 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 TormΓ© – 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
  • Michael "Smitt E. Smitty" Smith – Simmons 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


  1. ^ Christgau, Robert (January 24, 1984). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
  2. ^ "Born to Laugh at Tornadoes". Rolling Stone. 1983-10-13. Retrieved 2008-05-29.

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