Not Insane Not Insane

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Recurring Characters:
George Tirebiter, George Papoon, Edmond Edmond

Category: Audio
Not Insane takes place in "Radio Prison," an Earth-girdling sphere of ever-expanding radio and TV transmissions colliding in the ether, watched over by W.A.L.T.E.R. - the Supreme Watch And Listen To Everything Robot. A splintered Shakepeare parody, the radio adventures of a Japanese detective, and an out-of-this-world political convention round out the festivities.

Not Insane (1972)

Review from Benway's House of Firesign

This is one of the Firesign's most disjointed albums. However, there are some excellent pieces - especially the Shakespeare parodies - throughout, which makes it all doubly frustrating. The material that makes up this recording is much more effective when seperated and presented in the form in which it was (apparently) originally intended. Basically, the album is made up of three components.

The first is the Shakespeare material, which is hilarious and a lot easier to follow than on "Shakespeare's Lost Comedie," the fleshed-out version of the Shakespeare routines. It's also helped along considerably by being able to hear the interaction and reaction between the Guys and their audience.

The second part is the National Surrealist Convention and "Young Guy, Motor Detective." Both of these are performed (mostly) live and featured in the "Martian Space Party" film. The Convention is extended in the film, which, again, helps it impact. "Young Guy" is actually in a longer form than in the film, but is not one of their stronger pieces (it's a somewhat confused take-off on Japanese action films which was a smaller section of a once-proposed album "theme").

The third portion is random, studio-recorded & live commercial parodies, which are funny but almost second-nature to the Guys. The "theme" of the album was rejected at the eleventh hour, so what remains is a extremely confusing premise involving radio prison and an all-seeing robot named "Walter." So, what we have here are truncated portions of several different pieces, none of which totally satisfy as none of them are complete, immersed in a muddle of half-baked linking concepts and strange audio effects. Any one of the album's components could have been extended to make a strong record, but it seems as if the Group was experiencing too much professional turmoil to see any of it through.

This record caused the group to take a break, pursue solo projects, and rest up for their "comeback." It stands as the final moment of the first phase (some say "Golden Years") of the Firesign Theatre. They would produce good-to-excellent material after it, but no subsequent work reflects the out-and-out surrealism of their first four studio albums. They would have involved, cross-referencing linking material on other albums, but it would be more grounded in reality from now on (i. e., narrarators & TV crews as opposed to stream-of-consciousness whimsy).

-- Phil Buchbinder

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