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
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