The late polka king Frank Yankovic recorded more than 200 albums and capped off his reign with the release of Songs of the Polka King and Songs of the Polka King, Vol. 2, which were issued just before his passing.
Those two historic Grammy-nominated albums have been digitally remastered, and Cleveland International Records has just announced it'll also release Songs of the Polka King – The Ultimate Collection on CD and vinyl on Nov. 12.
Cleveland’s Drew Carey collaborated with Yankovic, who lived in Cleveland for much of his life, on the song “Too Fat Polka" and also wrote the liner notes for the new Ultimate Collection package.
“I remember being nervous because there were actual singers and performers doing this project," says Carey in the liner notes. "Also, there was the Frank Yankovic thing. This was not some guy. It was America’s Polka King, Frank freaking Yankovic. Side note. I played accordion when I was a child. From around age 5 until around age 8 or 9. So yeah, I was very aware of the legend of Frank Yankovic. I was going to be doing a duet with the legend himself. We did the 'Too Fat Polka,' and although I like to think I’ve grown as a person since then and no longer think it’s cool to fat shame, it’s not called the 'Fat Polka.' It’s called the 'Too Fat Polka.' So, I sleep fine at night. This whole thing, including writing these liner notes, is a good example of the super cool things you get to do because you’re famous. I can look back on all of this and smile and have nothing but good memories and nice things to say, and I love the album. You will too.”
Steve Popovich, Cleveland International’s late founder, had a vision for Yankovic. Popovich assigned Riders In the Sky’s Joey Miskulin to co-produce the albums, and the recording sessions for both albums attracted numerous nationally recognized polka and country luminaries. Yankovic's recording partners included Cowboy Jack Clement, Little Joe Hernandez, Riders In the Sky, David Allan Coe, Don Everly, Kinky Friedman as well as Eddie Blazonczyk and Lenny Gomulka.
For the first time, Yankovic recorded with Weird Al Yankovic who, though not related to Yankovic, once said he was given accordion lessons as a child because his parents thought that “there should be at least one more accordion-playing Yankovic in the world.” On Songs of the Polka King, the two Yankovics collaborate on “Who Stole the Kishka,” also reprised on the album by Yankovic and Kinky Friedman.
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