Archive for Richard Pryor

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Comedy Albums! (NSFW alert)

Posted in Rock Classics! with tags , , , , on November 20, 2010 by 30daysout

The holiday season begins in a few days, and it’s going to be the same old blur of unnerving family members, unappetizing meals and unwanted gifts … and that’s just Black Friday!  There are a couple more holidays in there someplace, so today we’re going to give you something to share – excerpts from some of our favorite comedy albums of the late 1960s-early 1970s!  Now I can tell you these are fine to share with grandma and the kids, but I would be lying: in fact, these are EXTREMELY not safe for grandma, work or children.  You will be warned again!

In the 1960s, comedians reached their audiences in the night clubs but the bigger names were given recording contracts so they could cut albums of their material.  People like Allen Sherman, Bob Newhart, Bill Cosby and even Lenny Bruce and Woody Allen were all committed to vinyl, mostly performing the same stuff they did in stand-up.  But with the onset of freakiness in the mid-60s came new comedians, reflecting counterculture sensibilities and a sense of social outrage against racism, war and modern times.

The Firesign Theatre came out of Los Angeles in 1966, and their comedy was a free-form blend of Lewis Carroll, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett swirled through a prism of LSD and pop culture.  Their primary medium was the long-playing album, where the Firesigns’ could multi-track masterpieces of storytelling and comedy that hold up to repeated listenings.  One of those masterpieces was Everything You Know Is Wrong (1974), a spoof of UFO/aliens mania that swings everything from late-night TV to New Age nudists and even Nazis into its paranoid gunsights.

The Firesign Theatre (Phillip Proctor, Peter Bergman, David Ossman and Philip Austin) are certainly the American answer to Monty Python, but they dwarf their British counterparts in terms of surrealistic, stream-of-consciousness comedy.  Everything You Know Is Wrong is the comedy X-Files of its time: aliens walk among us, Nino Savant sends telepathic messages and daredevil Rebus Cannebus jumps into the sun in the center of the earth.  We piece the story together as channels flip past on the TV, and we catch fragments of a crazed paranoid fringe in between newscasts, ads for car lots and “Bear Whiz Beer.”

MP3: “Happy Hour News”

MP3: “Bear Whiz Beer”

MP3: “Army Training Film”

NOTE: NSFW material after the jump – proceed at your own risk!

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Sampler Daze: WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 9

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by 30daysout

RecordsLikeThis works

If you’ve been with us this long, you already know the Warner Bros./Reprise Loss Leaders series wasn’t about hit records – although the 1970s entries managed to have one or two hit singles on each sampler.  But with the coming of 1975’s I Didn’t Know They Still Made Records Like This, the label rolled out its big guns.  Of the 26 songs included on this two-LP set, six were bonafide Top 20 hits and a few others were FM radio staples.

And another thing about this one – it was aimed squarely at MOR audiences.  Singer/songwriters abound: James Taylor does his No. 5 “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You),” which was actually an old Motown song; Arlo Guthrie does the No. 18 hit “City Of New Orleans,” which was actually written by Steve Goodman; Gordon Lightfoot offers the No. 26 “Rainy Day People,” which was actually written by Gordon Lightfoot.  Add to that Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” (No. 11), Seals & Croft’s “I’ll Play For You” (No. 18) and the No. 1 smash “Then Came You,” by Dionne Warwick and the Spinners.  “I Can See Clearly Now,” a hit for reggae artist Johnny Nash, pops up here in a version by country singer Rex Allen Jr., the first appearance, I believe, on the Loss Leaders by an artist out of the Nashville stable.

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