Music

Great American Novelties

SPIKE JONES, THE BEST OF SPIKE JONES (1967) Legendary singles like ''Der Fuehrer's Face'' showcase Jones' hysterical, lightning-fast lyrics and sound effects -- recorded live before the age of samples. The '40s bandleader won admirers like director Spike Jonze, who renamed himself in Jones' honor, and author Thomas Pynchon, who wrote liner notes for a 1994 compilation.

FRANK ZAPPA, OVER-NITE SENSATION (1973) Zappa combined satire and sexual innuendo with classically informed heavy rock, creating a formula few could copy (though Primus and Ween tried). Sensation includes some of Zappa's most enduring songs, such as ''Camarillo Brillo'' and ''Montana,'' about moving out West to grow dental floss.

BUCKNER & GARCIA, ''PAC-MAN FEVER'' (1982) The theme song for the national obsession with that dot-chomping yellow sphere sold millions. Follow-ups ''Do the Donkey Kong'' and ''Frogger's Lament'' didn't fare quite as well.

''WEIRD AL'' YANKOVIC, IN 3-D (1984) ''Eat It'' brilliantly mocked Michael Jackson's tough-guy posing and brought Yankovic fame, but ''The Theme From Rocky XIII,'' a.k.a. ''The Rye or the Kaiser,'' is ''Weird Al'' at his best.

THE DEAD MILKMEN DEATH RIDES A PALE COW: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION (1997) On singles like ''Bitchin' Camaro'' and ''Punk Rock Girl,'' the alt-rock jokesters aimed barbs at frat boys, punk poseurs, and trailer trash.

TENACIOUS D, TENACIOUS D (2001) Jack Black and Kyle Gass call themselves the Greatest Band on Earth, and they might be right. Armed with acoustic guitars, power chords, and collaborators like Dave Grohl and the Dust Brothers, the vets of HBO's Mr. Show earned accolades with gems like ''Wonderboy'' and ''F -- -Her Gently.''

Originally posted Jul 11, 2003 Published in issue #718 Jul 11, 2003 Order article reprints
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