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Shoes for Industry! The Best of the Firesign Theatre

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Album Review

In 1977, two years after dropping the Firesign Theatre from the label, Columbia Records attempted to summarize the comedy group's nine-album catalog on the two-LP set Forward into the Past (An Anthology). With the two-disc Shoes for Industry! The Best of the Firesign Theatre, which has the advantage of spreading out across two and a half hours, Sony's Legacy reissue division undertakes the same task for the CD era 16 years later. The dilemma faced by compilation producer Bob Irwin is the same one from 1977, however. The Firesign Theatre generally conceived its albums as albums, often with continuing themes and repeating bits, so excerpting them on a best-of is not easy. Irwin has the further difficulty that he seems to have been tasked (or to have tasked himself) with pulling at least something not only from each of the group's albums, but also from most of the spinoff LPs. (These include Philip Proctor and Peter Bergman's two duo albums TV or Not TV and What This Country Needs, as well as Philip Austin's Roller Maidens from Outer Space; there is nothing from David Ossman's How Time Flys.) In his liner notes, Steve Simels opines that the recordings went downhill after the third album, 1970's Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers, and quotes the group members in general agreement. Some fans may take issue with that, especially those who made 1971's I Think We're All Bozos on This Bus Firesign's highest-charting effort. But Irwin may agree, since he only includes "The Holygram's Song (Back from the Shadows Again)," a brief musical joke, and "The Breaking of the President" from Bozos, segments that only suggest the overall structure of the disc. Similarly, the one eight-and-a-half-minute piece from the 1973 album The Tale of the Giant Rat of Sumatra, "Not Quite the Solution He Expected," only hints at the whole. Happily, the CD length allows for the inclusion of the complete 28 minutes of "The Further Adventures of Nick Danger" from the second album, 1969's How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All. And fans will appreciate the digital appearances of both sides of the 1969 single "Forward into the Past"/"Station Break." On the whole, though, they may feel that even with two CDs to work with, the job of capturing the magic of the Firesign Theatre's Columbia years onto one album is too hard. Neophytes probably would be better off starting with 1968's debut album, Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him, and going on from there.

Customer Reviews

Some of the Funiest stuff i have ever heard

Nick Danger is my hero for ever. Thank you Firesign Theatre for writing such amazing comedy

Great Introduction to the Brilliant "Beatles of Comedy"!

This is a nice "greatest hits" collection of the Firesign Theatre (called that because all 4 of them happened to be born under the "Fire" sign of astrology, though none of that kind of silliness shows up in their humor). This collection will whet your appetite for more! Temporarily Humbolt County is amazingly sharp both in sound and satire, but others are just fun, like The American Pagent, Further Adventures of Nick Danger ("When I came to I had a head full of ideas and a mouth full of cotton candy..."); High School Madness (totally fun send up of old 40s/50s juvenille movies you instantly recognize) and The Army Training Film. Enjoy!

Outstanding Collection...But

My late older brother introduced me to the Firesigns back in high school, when I was a naive sophomore and he was just home from various hippie communal houses where
he lived with junkies and potheads who worshipped the group. I was at first puzzled, but quickly fell in love with the puns, the double-meanings and the hidden refferences to
rock albums, the Beatles and all the things I now treasure from the era. This is a pretty great anthology -especially since it features tiny nuggets from the group's latter-day
CBS/Columbia albums (out of print for the most part today) and the whole original "Nick Danger" routine. Now if only CBS/Legacy/Sony would get off their collective backsides
and reissue the Firesign Theatre's entire catalog...How about at least "Everything You Know is Wrong" and/or "The Tale of the Giant Rat of Sumatra", huh? Perhaps -this is
me going out on a limb- Phil Proctor & Peter Bergman's Firesign-like debut album "TV or Not TV" (a spot-on parody of early cable and public-access television). Oh well,
maybe someday...Until then, this is the ideal starting point for anyone wishing to renew their love of the group without buying all the currently-available albums or for the true
novice who wants to know what the surreal humor of the late-60s and early '70s was like...


Formed: Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Comedy

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

By fusing the high-concept comic vision of Stan Freberg with the expansive studio experimentation of the Beatles, the Firesign Theatre singlehandedly dragged the comedy album into the psychedelic era. Creating densely layered montages of improvisational routines, overheard dialogue, media manipulation, commercial parodies, and sound effects, the four-man troupe devised a hallucinatory brand of surrealist comic performance and Joycean satire laced with puns, metaphors, and obscure literary allusions...
Full Bio

Top Albums and Songs by The Firesign Theatre

Shoes for Industry! The Best of the Firesign Theatre, The Firesign Theatre
View In iTunes
  • $16.99
  • Genres: Comedy, Music, Spoken Word
  • Released: Sep 07, 1993

Customer Ratings