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The Vinyl Cafe Storyland

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Album Review

Recorded at various concerts given by McLean throughout Canada in 1997 and 1998, this two-CD, two-hour-plus collection gathers nine of his one-man storytelling performances of tales from his CBC The Vinyl Cafe radio program. All of them feature the Toronto family at the heart of The Vinyl Cafe: Dave, his wife Morley, their daughter Stephanie, and their son Sam. They're lovable, if typically fractious, in their good-natured struggle to get along and navigate life's minor problems, though perhaps more prone to comic misadventures than your average next-door neighbors. The launching point for each of these tales is ordinary: a Christmas party, the family cat, playing hooky from work, a deranged bum, a trip to Holland during the uneasy first year of a marriage, the awkwardness of buying the first jock strap for your son. The tales themselves, however, aren't ordinary. They're pretty funny, as things often go awry, as when a mix up of the bowls at the Christmas party results in the kids getting drunk, or an attempt to toilet train the cat ends up with someone nearly jumping to their death. They're also funny, though, because they're told with a wry, well-paced humor and a compassionate insight that offers not just jokes, but also an appreciation of the compromises and sacrifices that make life as a family survivable.


Genre: Humour

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Stuart McLean is the host of the Vinyl Cafe on CBC Radio, in which he performs humorous story-monologues about the Toronto family of Dave, who runs the Vinyl Cafe record store; his wife, Morley; their teenage daughter, Stephanie; and their younger son, Sam. Often involving mishaps based around well-intentioned deeds and ideas that don't work out quite as intended, McLean delivers the stories in a droll, inviting manner that's both satirical and affectionate. He's written three short-story collections...
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The Vinyl Cafe Storyland, Stuart McLean
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