Pick Of The Litter (sub-titled "Hey, King Kong!") is a long-overdue collection which assembles the best of Was (Not Was), the funkiest, yet artiest funk-rock-jazz — or whatever you want to call it — collective of musical miscreants to ever rise up out of the mean streets of Detroit.
Honestly, where else on earth could you find a collection which places such seemingly musical opposites as Ozzy Osbourne, Marcus Miller, Mel Tormé, Iggy Pop, Leonard Cohen, and the recently deceased Doug Fieger (of the Knack) under the same roof? At one point, even actress Kim Bassinger gets in on the act, dueting with Ozzy on 1983's "Shake Your Head" from the album, Born To Laugh At Tornadoes.
I mean, how wild is that? Was (Not Was) may have been primarily a studio concoction. But this was not your typical group of glossy Steely Dan styled session cats — not by a long shot.
Was (Not Was) — helmed by producer/bassist Don Was (Fagenson) and multi-instrumentalist David Was (Weiss) — was more like an ever-evolving community of musicians committed to the singular ideal of maintaining the fun in funk, even as they ever-so-subtly slipped in a bit of politically charged commentary in the process.
The David Byrnes of the world could only dream of accomplishing what these guys did in such seminal eighties dance singles as "Tell Me I'm Not Dreamin'" (with its politically incendiary Ronald Reagan samples), "Out Come The Freaks," "Walk The Dinosaur" and "Spy In The House Of Love." This was white-boy funk with a touch of MC5 radicalism, chased down with a shot of New York Dolls attitude. Funky, yes. But neither chic nor pretentious in the least.
What they accomplished in the process was to basically turn the traditional sounds of Motown completely inside out. Don Was in particular has long since gone on to become a producer of considerable renown — working with everyone from Dylan on down. What this collection does is serve as a reminder of just what got him to the big dance in the first place.