"WEIRD AL" YANKOVIC; "Poodle Hat" (Volcano) ***

In order to get the full impact of the new "Weird Al" Yankovic album "Poodle Hat," fans need to be in the music loop. This time around, Yankovic takes on Eminem, Nelly and Avril Lavigne. He also lampoons Billy Joel and the Backstreet Boys, with hilarious results.

Eminem's "Lose Yourself" becomes "Couch Potato," as the parodist rants about how "Ozzy's family/Sho' love profanity/Woa the insanity."

Nelly's "Hot in Herre" . . . yes that's spelled correctly . . . gets dumped on in "Trash Day." Instead of chanting about the heat, Yankovic mumbles, "Rotten/So rotten here."

Lavigne has probably tried to analyze the affects of Al's loopy version of "Complicated." In the "Yank-ed" version, the tune is known as the "Complicated Song." "Why did I have to get myself decapitated?" laments Yankovic after standing up on a roller coaster.

Yankovic's wit is still intact, and his grasp on pop culture is as tight as Peter Parker's spandex Spider outfit. In fact, Billy Joel's "Piano Man" gives a nod to Spidey in "Ode to a Superhero." "Sling us a web, you're the Spider-Man . . . " You get the picture.

And when Yank rewrites the Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way" as "eBay," the possibilities are endless.

This album also contains quite a few originals, including a typical Yankovic title, "Party at a Leper Colony."

But it's his tribute to Bob Dylan that boggles the mind. "Bob," sung in Dylan's style, is a song made up of palandromes. And what's more, they rhyme!

This might not be Yankovic's best album, but it's one of his most imaginative.


E-MAIL: scott@desnews.com