‘Wheel Me Out’

Although they had their biggest successes with a much heavier, commercial sound in the late 80s, it’s worth remembering that Was (Not Was) started the decade as “art funk” artists that saw them play alongside fellow Detroiters like A Number Of Names. The next generation of musicians who went on to start Detroit’s techno scene often cite early Was (Not Was) material amongst their biggest influences.

Their first single, ‘Wheel Me Out’, a funk-driven mix of new wave, punk and disco, was released on both Celluloid and Ze Records. Ze were initially unconvinced by the track, but due to the demo being accompanied by a positive letter from a newspaper critic, they decided to release it. The letter was written by Was (Not Was).


The identity of the band was kept deliberately mysterious, so that no-one knew if the artists were black or white – this meant that both black and white radio stations were happy to play the song. Their cover was eventually blown by Vivien Goldman in an article she wrote for the NME (the same Goldman who released the awesome ‘Launderette’).

Posted by Manny Z

Related Entries:
A Number Of Names
‘You Shook Me All Night Long’

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