Thursday, December 17, 2009

Road Trip Album Picks: Bill Cosby's "Revenge"

WHAT: Cosby's fifth comedy album
LABEL: Warner Bros. Records, 1967
WHERE TO FIND IT: Your local library, some record stores
LENGTH: 42 minutes

If you're roughly 30 years old, odds are your parents raised you in a home with albums from Bill Cosby. My dad had several, but I didn't hear Revenge until just last month. It's a little looser than some of his other stuff and much more personal in the sense that it's about his person rather than Noah's Ark or bad drivers. Tales include "Revenge," a classic bit about saving a snowball for summer, and "Buck, Buck" which is seemingly the genesis of another famous character, namely Fat Albert.

In this disc you'll get all sorts of tales, and it's a little slower-- and naturally, significantly cleaner-- than the sort of things we usually cover in this column. Cosby, like Steve Martin or George Carlin, is one of the few comedians that works on some higher ethereal plane and his older albums, like this one, were a big part of the wave of fame he continues to ride to this very day. Sure, he's done great new stuff since then, but these things were bought and kept in homes in the pre-VCR era when records were the only way to play back your favorite people and shows for most people.

Cosby's voice carries well and it's a pretty great release overall. There's clearly a missing visual component which rears its head when you hear some of the laughter on the album, which was recorded at Harrah's nearly a million years ago ago, but it's worth hearing. It's worth picking up a Cosby album or two to see how the form evolved over the past half-century. A lot of things have changed, but the funniest stuff tends to resonate the longest.

No comments: