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Craig's Music Club
Music/CD Reviews
Spoken Word and Comedy Albums

Non-musical works reviewed with a discerning ear.

Firesign Theatre, I Think We're All Bozos on This Bus

I Think We're All Bozos on This Bus does not reach the manic highs of such masterpieces as Don't Crush the Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers and How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All (and those of you who are not Firesign Theatre fans are scratching your heads at those titles, or, perhaps, like me, you are intrigued), but it is still a solid effort from the "four or five crazee guys" and certainly one of the most cohesive in terms of staying with one storyline.

The science-fiction element of this album is not overwhelming, so do not be put off by that. The main thing is the humor. Any Firesign album is good for several laughs, and this one is no different. And the best things about their albums is that one is actually rewarded with repeat listenings. New nuances are constantly being discovered. Also, this album is part of a trilogy consisting of the two above albums, so it is interesting to see how the two link together.

Also, the Firesigns are always self-referential, so listening to more of their albums makes one realize that, not unlike Stephen King novels, these actions are all taking place within their own separate consistent universe.

Although, I would not recommend this for someone starting out with the Firesign Theatre (that title goes to How Can You Be...), it is certainly a good third or fourth buy for the newly burgeoning fan.

Bob Newhart, The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart

The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart is a classic for a reason--it's still funny. But timelessness is a hallmark of Newhart's brand of comedy, however. Otherwise, people would not still have been watching his hit sitcoms The Bob Newhart Show and Newhart all these years.

The format of this album is simple: Bob on stage in front of an audience, generally enacting one side of a conversation. His ideas are what is termed "high-concept," which means they can be summarized in one sentence, or in his case, in a few words. Case in point, track one, "Abe Lincoln vs. Madison Avenue." Now from the beginning you know exactly what this is about, and just in case Bob introduces each skit with an explanation.

It's low-key (hence "button-down") and it's clean, so the whole family can listen (although as you can tell from the track listing, a basic knowledge of history is helpful). Only the Krushchev skit may be entirely unfamiliar to modern listeners.

Button-Down Mind holds up to repeated listenings, but at just over 30 minutes, $10 may be too much to spend. Something Like This...The Bob Newhart Anthology is a much better deal, as it contains a lot more material and is not much more expensive.

Henry Rollins, Live at the Westbeth Theater
Henry Rollins, Eric the Pilot

Henry Rollins is the lead singer of the Rollins Band and spends a lot of time on the road. When he's not doing rock concerts, he's going on spoken word gigs like the ones recorded on Live at the Westbeth Theater and Eric the Pilot.

Rollins is a great storyteller. Eric the Pilot in particular, just flows off his tongue as if you were sitting at a table with him over coffee. Both albums, though, have their high points. Live at the Westbeth Theater, along with various random thoughts, contains two long riffs. One is on when Henry went to a Ratt reunion concert and saw all the relics from the 1980s (himself included) trying to fit into their old clothes. The other is a lengthy tale of when Henry submitted to domesticity and finally went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. The album is a two-disc set and is well worth the one-CD price. Also, a dollar from each purchase goes to an orphanage.

Eric the Pilot is one story on one disc, but it is even funnier than Westbeth and is an hour long. It regards one time when Henry had to make it to a gig and all the other planes had left the airport, so he had to ride a puddle-jumper piloted by Eric. Eric is quite a character and Henry Rollins will have you laughing in your seat. Don't play this one in public; people will think you're crazy.

Henry Rollins, despite his appearance, is very well read and articulate. But he's also very opinionated and easily bored (hence the constant gigging) and he has a lot of stories to tell. If you enjoy spoken word albums and you don't have at least one Henry Rollins disc, then buy one of these right now.


Bring this Spoken Word icon, with over 100 shows a year, 17 years and counting, into your living room with these dynamic live acts and enjoy the trip over and over again.

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